“They don’t have power during the day.” Now Mama did give in. She came towards me and hugged me. “Oh, Elyra, I’m sorry. I never wanted it to be you, I didn’t...I don’t know how it happened. And now they’re here to take my daughter from me...”
I didn’t want to let go of her hug. It was so long since we had been that close, so long since Mama had last shown her emotions, because that wasn’t the kind of person she was. But I had to.
“I’m not a child any more, Mama,” I said, my very words contradicting each other. In most households, only very small children called their parents ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’. Normally, of course, I called her ‘Mother’. But today she needed the comfort. If I’m being honest, so did I.
“No, you’re not.” Then she laughed. “But you’re still smaller than me.” I measured my height against hers. Sure enough, I was still an inch or so off. Not long now, however.
“I’ll beat you one day,” I told her. “Don’t worry about that.”
I asked her what I would do when night time came and she told me to hide underneath the wagon. I wasn’t entirely sure why that would help.
“They’ll find me the same there as they would if I was in the wagon,” I said, thoroughly confused and worn out. “Why will it help if I’m uncomfortable?”
“Don’t be like that, Elyra,” said Mama, pleading. I knew this was just as hard for her as it was for me. She never liked people to suffer, especially not her children. Definitely not her children. She was known to give up her own bed, her own food, so that we would not starve and so that we would have a soft place to sleep when we finally made camp for the night. “I am doing everything I can. They are less likely to see your eyes glowing if you are underneath. Then you only have to shut them if they come near.”
I didn’t like the fact that my eyes glowed. It wasn’t how it looked--actually, I quite liked the sensation, and thought that it made me more unusual if not physically attractive (which I wasn’t, in any way). But the thing I hated was the fact that their eyes glowed too. They were silver, true. They were harsh and bright and cut through the night like torches in a catacomb, but they glowed. Like mine.
It was the thing that made us similar which would enable them to find me. That was not good. I hated it.
But I had to live with it. I had lived with it already for fifteen years, and it had got me into trouble before.