It was hot. Too hot. Though it meant I didn’t have to put up with the bitter, icy winds that blew across the desert and the frost in the morning, I was instead enduring sleeping on hard ground, scorched and baking from the sun of the day. That, on top of the fact I was cramped and aching from the long hours already spent curled underneath the wagon, was almost too much.

            I was desperate to join my family in the wagon itself. My sister wanted to come and sleep underneath with me. She was scared. But Mama pointed out that it was me they were looking for. She didn’t need to worry. In saying that, she implied that I did.

            And I was.

            I had been terrified now for several hours. Lying there in a perpetual state of nervous tension, I covered my glowing golden eyes with one hand, trying to shield myself from attracting their attention. I didn’t want to accidently look them in the eyes. That was not what we needed.

            They had arrived in the village much earlier in the day, but with no power. They never had any power during the day time—the sun stole it, inverted it, and gave it back for good. In fact, I’d never really known them to appear during the day, but they did. Standing there in their black robes, long white hair reaching almost to their waists, face sunken and devoid of flesh, emotion or anything else human, and their eyes. Those eyes. I couldn’t bring myself to look at them and I knew they sensed that, because they looked right at me.

            “Her.” I could almost hear them saying the word. If they did, I was dead. I was condemned to die with no escape. But they didn’t. Not yet, at least.

            “Don’t look them in the eyes.” That was what Mama told me. She’d run into them in the past and she knew what they could do, and what gave them power. “Don’t look them in the eyes, whatever you do. If you keep your eyes shut, or even turned away, they can’t attack you. They won’t attack you.”

            “But Mama,” I had replied, fear turning me back into a little child again, “I can’t spend all day with my eyes shut. How would I work and play and live? I couldn’t.”

            “You don’t have to keep them shut during the day,” she told me, half-laughing. I wondered how she could be so calm about it. Maybe she didn’t think they’d really attack me. Maybe reality had not caught up with her yet. Later, I realised that it was because she wouldn’t let herself show fear. She wouldn’t let terror overtake her, for our sake. She thought that if she acted as though it was not a disaster, we would not be so terrified. That wasn’t true, but it was sweet nonetheless. I loved her for that.

“Why not? Surely they’ll be here? Surely they’ll see me?” Our wagon was open-ended and I peered out, any second expecting to see them striding towards me, knives in their hand, magic ready to strike. And of course, their eyes would be glowing.

Thinking of eyes made me cover my own. Why, oh why, did it have to be me that was born with these? Of course, someone had to. Nobody had ever discovered why, as far as I know, but I’ve been told the gold eyes have been present in our travelling village for hundreds of years. We’re the ones gifted with foresight; we can see into the future and guide our people appropriately.

The End

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