Alexandria closes the book that she had been reading aloud for the past hour and turns to the children sitting in a half circle around her.
“Just one more story?” One of the orphans asks.
“There aren’t any left,” Alexandria begins to get up, ” besides, all of you should be in bed. We wouldn’t want to upset Miss Maria.”
“If there are none left in the book, how about you tell us one you made up?” another orphan boy pipes up.
“Fine, I will think something up as you guys get into bed, okay?” Alexandria smiles and waits for the kids to get into bed. Once they’ve gotten in and are settled, she begins. “There once was a girl who was very strange. From a young age she was running around and getting into all sorts of trouble like sneaking into the stables, getting lost in the woods, getting muddy and playing outside with the dogs. She certainly did not fit in with her family and they definitely noticed. She tried her best to behave and do as they liked, but it was not enough and she failed more often than not. Her way of showing them that she loved them was too mischievous for them, too, such as when she would hide for hours in the dining hall only to sneak out and grapple her father in a hug during one of his warfare meetings with the adults. They were so tired of her. so sad was she and so she tried to change as to not disappoint them. It was never enough. She loved them, but being proper and prim seemed like something she was not born to do. She was so unlike her siblings.
One day her parents decided to send her away. She was sent off to another country. She tried and tried to get back. She even stole a horse! But it was no use. The kids in this new land didn’t like her either. They thought the way she looked and talked was weird, so they shunned her,” Alexandria says. As she speaks she gestures hand signs and paints a picture on the wall using the dust debris from the room and shaping it into figures with magic.
“So what did she do?” a little blonde girl with large brown eyes asks, her blanket pulled up over her nose as she watches from bed.
“Well, the girl was very lonely. During her studies, she discovered magic. The magic she went out into the world and used to help people–but they feared it. She would heal their wounds, build their houses, and help their crops grow big and strong yet still they treated her like an outcast… They shunned her.
She was cried most nights, ever lonesome. One day she wandered into the woods and she came across a still pond. She leaned over the edge of the water and peered down at her reflection. ‘Sometimes it seems as though my only friend is my reflection’ she muttered to herself. As a frog leaped and displaced the water, even her reflection vanished, even her reflection seemed to flee from her. Her heart ached something fierce. Finally, she came up with an idea. She crafted a blade and she headed back to the town,” Alexandria says.
“Was she going to hurt someone? hunt the mean people down?” One of the kids asks as he watches the figure drawn by magic move with a sword in her hands through the forest.
“No, no. She only ever wanted to help those people. She couldn’t change that now. Once she got to her room, she locked herself away. She took the blade and she cut herself in half, right down the middle!”
The kids all looked surprised as the figure on the wall took the blade and tore itself in two. Both halves turned to one another then reached out so they could hold hands. The frown and sad expression once painted on the figure’s face morphed into a smile as the two halves held hands and looked upon one another.
“oh, I get it, ” one of the children speaks up, “its so she would have a friend.” The figures on the wall turn to the boy and nod.
Alexandria turns to the boy as well, “So she would always have a friend.”
As Alexandria left the orphanage, she let out a deep sigh and turned her eyes to the night sky above. Her eyes became watery as she gazed at the lonely moon sitting in a sky of stars. Alexandria held out her arms as if cradling something and from her body a creature began to form. In no time a dark fox with silver claws and golden eyes was sitting in her arms and looking up at her.
“Aura, do you think anyone will ever actually accept me or will they always want me to change?” She asks the fox. Her familiar nuzzles her. “Yeah, stupid question.”
With that, they start the long walk home.