The ship is fast, or Koso was modest in his estimation of its distance. It speeds into our inlet, three figures working the deck. The ship itself is neither large nor remarkable, and I cannot tell much about its seamen from this distance. The waves are soft today, so they will have no trouble coming in. I allow myself a moment to breathe in the shimmery, salty air, and hear a whoop from out to sea, from the newcomers. I can more clearly discern them now, and two of the three appear to be women. One stands at the bow, arms above her head, hair flying. She whoops again, like a passionate seabird call. They veer in, more slowly now, and the woman jumps from her place and disappears.
Finally, Koso joins me, just as four newcomers splash to shore. I’d missed the presence of the smallest, a young boy. This operation is obviously a family affair. Only the one man looks capable, his scruffy chin grizzled with grey hairs. The boy can’t be more than half my age, twelve or thirteen at the most, and is all angles and sharp edges. The women are older, but younger than me and certainly Koso, more girls than adults. Disconcertingly, they look exactly the same. The one’s brown hair is the other’s, the same olive-skinned faces mirror one another from across the sand. I cannot tell which was yelling from the ship. I catch myself staring before I remember the five year old twins that live on the oceanside, with identical yellow hair and gap-toothed smiles. These girls are no different, only foreign. Still, my fingertips are shaking a bit and something feels wrong.
Koso should have been born the politician, for he extends his hand and shakes each of theirs before even offering his name. When he does, they respond in turn.
Isiore is the father, captain, owner. His son is Nicola, his daughters Soraliyn and Eravyn.
“I am Tomas,” I offer, last. The girl named Soraliyn catches my eye, and an inkling tickles the back of my head. It escalates into a persistent itch, unpleasant and unfamiliar. Then, a sudden stop, and a long-dormant bear rises. There is a snap, and my mind is free, no longer itching with another’s presence. Soraliyn’s eyes daze, and her sister’s mirror face casts a worried expression at me. “Stay out of my head,” I say, holding back a snarl.
Mercifully, Isiore turns steel eyes to his daughter instead of to me. He chides her, the foolish girl, who had heard rumors that none of us were Gifted. I barely hear them. My ears are submerged underwater, and I am processing, recalling, turning over the old anger again and again. These strangers, they are Ilene’s. They are Ilene’s and I blame them, for foolishness and for pain and because I cannot blame Her.