I’ve been wondering more and more recently why I was reborn.
Would it have been that terrible for the entity to confirm the guess of my actions earning me the honor of reusing my soul? It said it sought me out, so there had to be a reason for its approach. The more I thought on it, the more it bothered me. Why not give young children a second chance? What about anyone unfairly killed? What about those whose lives were misery? There were many reasons one could be worthy of reincarnation, which made the concept that the number of souls could be in short supply suspicious.
What if every soul was reborn? What if a reason was made up in order to make them think the deal was for them alone? That could be why the entity told me nothing of what was beyond, because there was no ‘beyond’ to go to. Everyone could be bouncing back and forth again and again, and my retaining of memories was a huge mistake like I considered at first.
I gave a wink and a smile to each of my siblings that afternoon when no one else would notice. What if we’d come out together because we were each reincarnated? It would be ridiculous if we spent these months acting our best as babies when we all had the minds of adults. Neither Heather, Theo, nor Lucian gave back any sign they recognized my attempt at communication. Oh well. It would have been nice to have a comrade.
And, with no hope of tangible answers, I shifted my focus to the situation that bothered me for a few days: a back itching like crazy. Over my scapulae and down my sides the irritation raged. An ‘M’ with long legs, if you will. No one who changed me ever mentioned a rash or discoloration. The only thing I had been able to do was fuss and cry.
“What is it, Evianna?” Aunt Stella cooed.
Uncle Cedric’s wife, she was the first one to soothe the pain. She and Mother relaxed with Heather and I in the northern gardens on this lovely Addias day— Evthea’s rough equivalent of July. The sun burned high in the heavens, but a low wind caressed ribboning wafts of rose and phlox from the rainbow-drenched bushes around us in a dance. I’d been kicking and squirming in delight in my dress of pink floral until the ache flared once more.
“I can’t figure out what’s wrong,” Mother sighed before taking a perplexed long sip of tea. “She is constantly uncomfortable, yet there’s nothing to be seen as a cause.”
“Perhaps Evianna prefers to be on her stomach more.”
I already adored Aunt Stella. The first princess of Montane, Kingdom of Strength, she was a dark-skinned beauty with soft waves of midnight-touched hair and the warmest of amber eyes. When she took me from my pram to rest against her shoulder and relax the pain with her swirling fingertips, however, I fell completely in love.
“Hmm,” Mother mumbled into her drink.
“That appears to have done the trick.”
“You’ll be an expert by the time you and Cedric have children.”
“That while be a while still. We’re not a year into our marriage yet, and with four new heirs I believe Cedric and I have no reason to rush.”
“Of course. You’re young too. Enjoy these years while they last.”
“You’re young as well.”
“I’ve been feeling impossibly older as of late, unfortunately.”
“You look it,” Aunt Stella teased.
“How dare,” Mother coughed into her tea with a laugh.
I rebuked my lips curling up. I just couldn’t stop myself when something particularly funny happened, but if I didn’t keep myself in check it would be suspicious for me to constantly react to words or situations I shouldn’t understand.
“I’ll buy you some cream from Fyrthe to help with the dark circles,” Aunt Stella continued.
“You know, I will—”
There’s was no preventing myself, however, from jerking as Mother and Aunt Stella did when a shrieking scream abruptly rang out. A second one quickly pierced the tense atmosphere. One of the two royal guards nearby rushed off while the other moved closer to the glass table, hand on his pommel.
“I’m sure it’s nothing serious,” Aunt Stella spoke calmly.
She snuggled me closer. Mother protectively took Heather from her pram, saying nothing. I pretended to rest to calm my own beating heart. Abrupt screaming and the threat of danger brought to my mind an obvious bad memory. Time passed painfully slow to where my stomach sickened with anxious fire, but it was a mere minute later when the guard returned with relaxed shoulders behind two maids.
“It was these causing the commotion, Your Highnesses. This one thought to play a prank on the other by placing a spider on her shoulder, spiders being a right terror to her,” he explained. The maid with brown hair in a bun, the prankster, stared at the ground with her face as white as a sheet. The one with short, ginger hair, the victim, had a face red from the horrified sniffles she fought to contain.
“You two gave me a horrible fright,” Mother huffed.
“We’re sorry, Your Highness,” the maids bowed and apologized in tandem.
“Remember yourselves while serving the palace. You are here to work. If you are incapable of preventing yourself from acting like a bored child or acting as if your life has been threatened by a spider, you are free to leave and not return.”
“We apologize again,” the brunette bowed deeper.
“It won’t happen anymore,” the other promised.
“You are forgiven, but I’d better not hear more of either of you conducting yourselves in such poor manners.”
The maids promised they wouldn’t, dipped a final bow, and were ushered off by the guard who retook his spot. Mother finished off the last of her tea in a long gulp before placing the cup on the table with an audible ‘thump’.
“Would you like to go inside, Reni? I know it still has to be hard for you,” Aunt Stella offered.
Her leaning forward to place her hand on top of Mother’s showed me, now that the maids were gone, how pale Mother’s own face had grown. Her eyes were wide with restrained fear while her fingers shook fiddling with the lace tablecloth. Each breath of hers quivered. Slick eyes hinted at possible tears.
“I’m fine. Thank you, Stella. I just...” Mother held her hand for a moment before stroking Heather’s head and inhaling deeply. “I’m fine. The memories will forever dig at me, but everything in my life is so perfect now. I can’t let myself be dragged down by something that has no place hurting me anymore.”
Mother, you must have gone through something painful, huh?
“Shall we get some whipped lemon tarts to get rid of this unnecessary somber mood?” Aunt Stella smiled warmly.
“That’s a marvelous idea,” Mother perked up.
I groaned inwardly. The whipped lemon tarts the kitchen staff made looked incredible. I needed to hurry up and grow so I could have real food again!