Lucinda held her breath, as she raised the glass rod above the vial and tapped the rod to release the single drop of liquid that clung to its end.
The drop fell in the vial, joining the muddy liquid within. The liquid turned ruddy, then clear. And it stayed clear.
Lucinda dared to exhale just as the liquid began to swirl and turn ruddy, then muddy. She ducked under the table just before the vial shattered, spraying red flames and charred bits of glass in every direction.
She did nothing to earn her beauty. It was given to her. And as with many such gifts, beauty was both a boon and a burden to the girl whose name was Imelda.
She was doted on by some, guarded by others, coveted by still others.
Imelda’s mother, who both loved and feared for her girl, spent many sleepless nights wondering when her child would grow old enough to be passed into the protection of another. For she and her husband were humble folk, as their child too would have been. But Imelda’s beauty—while it may not have impressed in a city or even a large town—was quite surpassing in their little village. Surpassing enough to catch the eye of those with greater means. The girl wished to be learned. She wished to explore.
Perhaps her beauty could make it so could do what she dreamed of doing.
“Ours is a family of seers,” Gran would say, before she began one of her tales. “But like everyone we can choose whether to look or not to look.”
Then she would tell us, a varied collection of her grandchildren, of what she had seen when she chose to look. We’d listen raptly as she told us stories about all the odd items in her collection of treasures from her life. She had the usual things that people had: birth certificate, diplomas, love letters from Grandpa, pictures of her children and grandchildren, books, trophies, vacation souvenirs, and so on.
But she also had things that people typically did not have: a petrified dragon scale, pearlescent flecks from a unicorn horn, a shard from the sword of a giant, a seed from a long-extinct and legendary talking tree, and so on. Every odd treasure of hers had a story to it. And every story was an adventure from her own life.Continue reading