February 23, 2019

Her earliest memory was of the first time they killed her. The sky was black and the stars bright. She wished she knew enough numbers to count them, but she only knew one thing. Only one useful thing, at least. Hide your fire or you’re dead.

The little girl tripped and stumbled along the path, branches slapping at her face and wet mud coating her soles. There was a chill in the air, a cold presence that followed her. It pinched her cheeks, and sometimes she felt as if a hand brushed hair off her shoulder. She squinted behind her, brown eyes gleaming with tears and salt prickling the dark skin underneath them. But she was alone. Truly alone. Always would be.

At night, she was surrounded by ghosts. When she couldn’t sleep, she heard them whispering. She couldn’t understand them; they were speaking some other language. She couldn’t see them, either, but she imagined dark things, light things, spirits with kind faces, then demons with black holes for eyes.

She ran until she found a city. She learned to hide her hair, her fire, her scars, and then she was invisible. Walking among the same strangers but never being seen.

Never, under any circumstance, could she let her fire burn. It was out of control. It was dangerous. She couldn’t know what it could do.

Sometimes the flames burst from her palms when she was scared. Even when she was sleeping, she could feel them peeling on the inside of her skin.

She had to stay hidden, she had to be alone.

Because every time she thought she could be more than lonely, somebody killed her. Every time she let someone close, they wanted to hurt her. It was a death worse than arrows, or swords, or poison, or drowning, or being so hungry that one couldn’t open their eyes—those things a heart could endure and still make it to the Great Hall of Viara after death.

But being alone was the worst kind of death. A broken, bleeding, lonely heart.

In order to not be killed again, Emery had learned that it was best to never be alive at all.

You Might Also Like


  1. Now that I read it myself, I feel sad. I still got the chills but I am sad about the girl. But nice beginning. Gonna read the rest!

  2. That's a great first line! Love the symbolism of death = loneliness. Heartbreaking and intriguing.


Leave a comment