The night my life began was not the night I was born.
I had fallen asleep in the grip of that pox which almost all children catch; my face swollen and hot, finding no relief in cool sheets or in the hand and voice of my father. He had stayed long after the doctor came and went , stayed to repeat reassuring things and to draw my fingers away from my body when I might have scratched. The frustration of my hands above the sheets, while my skin writhed beneath, slowly exhausted me. I wept and thrashed my legs and closed my eyes.
That sleep was heavy and troubling, but seamless was my move from oblivion to sitting up against my pillows, and looking into the courtyard beyond my bedroom.
I saw the small flashes of silver in the moonlight, quick and perfect as fish in a night sea, a waking dream that drew me from my bed. They came and went in a heartbeat, and I was gazing at a tall man. He tilted his head back to look at the sky, but his hood did not yet fall, and I moved without volition across the cold stone.
In a sudden movement his hidden face was turned toward me. I heard a sigh, a long, deep sound that reminded me of the wind in a doorway, and he walked toward me.
I was transfixed by the scene in the courtyard as I had first seen it, and I imagine that as he approached I stayed still as stone from my eyelids to the soles of my feet. He paused before me and I waited for the world to fall away. Yet he crouched down, so that he was of a height with me, and he drew back his hood. His great eyes exchanged silent thoughts with me. He smiled.
“If one day,” he said to me, “you are the one to send me to my grave, I will count it fair and true.”
He took his vivid smile away, over the courtyard wall with his hood raised once more.
From stone to grass I went to my father. I knelt and brought his hand between mine, and across my mind I etched the flashes of those steel fish in their night sea.
Later I learned that the assassin who would uncover his face, and speak to the kin of the dead with a smile, was the one called Orison.
This is the prologue to my most recent work in progress. Thank you for reading!
© 2012 Elizabeth Cook