Jaycie always held her breath. She learned that lesson once, and she’s a quick learner.
But she never closed her eyes.
A shimmering sea of silver flowed around her, swirling furiously until it was all at once still. Careful not to blink, Jaycie stared ahead intently. Her face began to shake with concentration as perspiration dampened her forehead. Her burning eyes begged for relief, but the pain only hardened her focus. Finally, as if wiping the fog from a cool mirror, a face appeared and returned her gaze: her own.
Jaycie reached up to brush a strand of platinum hair behind her ear. Her fingers then drifted downwards towards a blemish on her cheek. She frowned.
“HEY, HART!” a voice screeched.
Jaycie sighed, turning to face three young girls blocking the entrance to the washroom. The tallest, with sharp features and jet black hair, stood with a ringed finger outstretched in Jaycie’s direction.
“What now, Talia?” Jaycie said with as much vitriol as she could muster.
“I heard from Jacob that you’ve been telling people I have a beak like an owlbear!”
“And claws to match,” Jaycie replied, not even trying to conceal the smirk.
“You backstabbing, coldhearted, fake-ass-hair, tacky-robed harlot!” Talia screamed. In one swift motion she flicked her finger, sending several glowing darts hurdling towards Jaycie.
Instinctually, Jaycie flourished her hand. A gleaming shield of energy sprung forth, causing the missiles to ricochet into the wall in a shower of sparks. While the rest of the girls flinched, Jaycie swung her arm around and pointed two fingers at the floor beneath her assailant. A stream of black, greasy liquid shot out, covering the ground around Talia’s feet.
With a scream and sickening thud, Talia’s head hit marble. She moaned and began to cry between short gasps as her pawns helped her stand.
“If you ever try to touch me again, I promise you won’t be getting up,” Jaycie shouted after them, a satisfied smile creeping across her face. But as she looked back down at the ground her heart sank; a small pool of blood began to mix with the dark grease, forming swirls of dark burgundy.
Jaycie’s eyes began to tear, but she refused to close them. Soon her face was wet, her hair and robes damp and heavy. She was smaller now, standing in the warm summer rain. Jaycie glanced up at the large hand encompassing hers. Her father, dressed in black, met her eyes. He had the kindest eyes she had ever seen, but today they were flecked with grief.
A silver haired elf stood over a gathered crowd, speaking soft words in a melodic tone. Jaycie’s father squeezed her hand harder, but she didn’t cry out, even though it hurt. Her gaze wandered over to the mound of fresh dirt, steadily transforming into mud.
She was too young to fully understand, but as her father began to loosen his grip, Jaycie returned with a full embrace. He choked, wrapping his arms around her. Her father cradled her as she buried her face into his stomach. But still, Jaycie did not close her eyes.
It was warm. The warmest that warm could be. Swaddled in the softest cotton, Jaycie stared upwards, squinting as the sun shone through golden locks. The woman hummed, so gently that Jaycie could barely hear, but still every note caressed her causing tingles to shoot through her head.
Eyes as bright as sapphires watched over her, unblinking as if to never miss a single moment. Brilliant, fierce eyes— they were always open, ever vigilant.
This was peace. This was what she came for. Basking in their glow, Jaycie happily closed her eyes.