Once upon a time, in the long distant past, there was a young girl of twelve, with skin the shade of topaz, hair dark as coal and eyes black as night.
Being the child to a pair of tailors, the girl spent her days nestled between tall spires of all the colours of the rainbow, needle and thread in hand as she wove shining golds and silvers through fabric, created dreams out of nothing.
“Why do you do this everyday?” Her little brother of a mere six years would often ask when his little legs toddled over to her little sanctuary in the back room of their family’s modest store. “Do you not get bored? Come outside and play!”
He would tug and pull her hand, but the girl would always give him the same soft smile and run a comforting hand through his hair as he scowled.
“I have to help Mother and Father, Abhipadma,” she would say like clockwork, rinse and repeat. “One day, when you are grown, you will understand.”
“I will never understand,” Abhidama would reply just as often, lower lip jutted out petulantly. “I will never grow up so I will never understand.”
It was a half-hearted threat, but his words carried a certain weight a young boy such as him likely did not intend. They lived in a war-torn and troubled Palaedia, in a place where neighbour turned against neighbour, where you could find a knife in your chest if you did not exercise caution. There was a real chance Abhipadhma would never experience the joy of becoming older.
When life was an economy, time was a privilege.
“You should not say things like that,” the girl would admonish, before sighing and setting down her needle. More and more, she found herself acquiescing to those two big, round eyes that looked as if the entire world would collapse if she did not give in.
And then Abhipadma would whoop and holler with glee, dragging his sister out of the room as if life as they knew it was not crumbling around them, was not teetering dangerously on the edge of a cliffside. Because to Abhipadma, there was just him and her, a brother and a sister and a whole, sprawling world waiting for them to explore.
And in those moments, those fleeting pockets of happinesses, it really did seem that way.