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Prologue & Chapter 1
“Don’t you think that she’s still too little? After all, she’s still just eight… and I am sure that being her mother you want all the best for her… but, for God’s sake, Eileen… it’s like giving her away as a slave.”
“Do you reckon that it’s an easy decision for me? Of course, I don’t want to give her away. She’s our only treasure… the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to us in our lives, but what awaits her here? Nothing but misery and sorrow. It’s the best solution for her. This way, she will get free from poverty. She’ll definitely be better out of here, besides, this way she’ll face a new, better world, and in the future, she may even have a chance to live a wealthy life.”
“I know that when you say this, it sounds amazing, Eileen. And I’d honestly want it to be true, but…”
“No, let me finish. I’d really want it to happen, but you have to realise that it only sounds great. Such things happen only in fairy tales. It’s not like, when we give our daughter away, she will suddenly meet some knight on a white horse, one that will steal her away from the grasp of those who are not worthy of her…”
“So you are not convinced it’s the best solution.”
“Of course I’m not. And I don’t believe that you are convinced, either, Eileen. I’ve known you for long enough… besides, I can see that in your eyes. And you are her daughter. No mother would ever give her child painlessly.”
The woman called Eileen glanced at her husband, Revelin. It was an impecunious couple; the complexion on both of their faces was equally grey, tired, as though exhausted, even though those people could not be too old. Their eyes, even though sharp, hid some strange resignation, having nothing to do with the conversation, rather formed throughout the years of the life abounding in difficulties and challenges. As though they had long since lost any hope, even though their owners were still trying to fight.
“I don’t want to give her away,” whispered Eileen, forcing her dry, cracked lips to form these words, even though her sobbing disturbed her. She was all shivering, so she wrapped her arms around herself, as if it could help her in any way. Her husband soon pulled her close to his chest, and she burst into tears.
“I know you don’t want to…”
“…but it’s the only way out. If she stays here, she’ll be forever poor. I don’t want that… not for our little daughter.”
Revelin bit his lips, his fingers gripping his wife’s shirt. He closed his eyes and planted a rather desperate kiss on the top of the woman’s head.
“I wish I could have her with me, just like I have you. But… but it’s nothing but a selfish desire. I know… I know you’re right.” His voice, too, broke when he said that, his breathing faster and heavier than usually; apparently he, as well, tried to stifle his tears. “The only way is… is to give our little one away. I just… I’m simply afraid that she won’t be able to do it.”
Those two words were enough for the two to stand straight and, wiping their wet eyes, look towards the entrance to the house, or rather, the dwelling bent under the weight of its years.
In the doorway stood a petite girl. Her eyes, like her parents’ eyes, were filled with bottomless void, her face completely pale, her cheeks hollow. Underneath her eyes were dark shadows. She looked like she was less than eight years old, but perhaps it was because of her being so short, and her limbs seemed to be disproportionately long and skinny. The bones of her elbows, wrists, knees and ankles were unpleasantly visible, barely hidden under the thin skin.
“Love, go back home, we’ll soon join you,” her mother spoke up, but the little one only shook her head. Her greyish hair brushed against her cheeks.
“I’ve heard everything, mummy. You don’t have to be afraid. I… I know I can make it.”
Eileen exchanged quick, scared glances with her husband, who only sighed deeply and squeezed her hand.
“Perhaps it’s better that she got to know about it this way,” he murmured so quietly that only his wife could hear it.
“I know you don’t want it. Neither…” The girl’s lips trembled still so childishly, and tears glistened in her eyes. “Neither do I. And I am afraid. But if mummy says that there’s no other way…”
“Mummy would truly like it if you could stay, love. But if I let you stay, you’ll never get to know what life really is. And I want all the best for you.”
The girl ran to her parents and her mother’s arms sheltered her.
“I’d rather stay with you than get to know what life really is, mummy.”
“But if I ask you to go… will you go?”
Full of tears eyes of the mother and the daughter met.
“I will, mummy.”