Chapter 19 - The Crushed Gift
Once, a long time ago, Rakiel, the younger of the twins, handed her a pretty candy. Laila was seven years old at that time.
“Thank you, Brother,” exclaimed Laila with a broad smile. It was Laila’s birthday. That candy was the first birthday gift she had ever received, and she thought of it as a treasure.
‘I will never eat this. Is there any way to preserve candy for a long time without letting it melt?’
Laila spent multiple days mulling over this. She wanted to give him something in return, but as she didn’t have money, she gathered lots of beautiful flowers and made a flower crown. She went to deliver the crown to Rakiel and heard the two brothers talking to each other when she reached the door to his room.
“She was like a dog.”
“So, you gave her trash, pretending it was candy?”
“Yeah, I held it together with glue. She might even eat it.”
Laila froze, holding the flower crown in her hands.
“That beggar is driving me crazy. I hate the sight of her smiling all day like that. It makes me sick,” Rakiel said.
Laos listened carelessly to his brother and said, “Oh yeah?”
Ever since then, Laila couldn’t smile. It became an old, faded memory that surfaced once in a while.
Although she didn’t know if it was a good or bad thing, she had decided to not be seen so she wouldn’t have any more memories like this.
But when she was not seen or recognized by anyone, she wasn’t sure what to do. First, she decided to leave the place that had been suffocating her.
Laila folded the blanket, then opened the packet of painkillers and swallowed a pill. She couldn’t even taste any bitterness from this painkiller. Laila blinked her eyes anxiously, then turned around.
She pushed the door open and walked out, and the sunlight that she had not seen for a long time welcomed her. Her dwelling was located mostly under the shade as it was used for storage in the past. As she had to go out when there weren’t many people around, her day usually started very early in the morning.
It was probably around this time. She remembered seeking shaded places all the time back then.
The morning sunlight was beautiful. Laila felt she shouldn’t be out right now, but she stepped out because of what she had suddenly remembered.
Last night, the Evil Duke, Lord Venio, went back after saying they should meet again formally. Because of that, Laila automatically thought she had to go back to the spot near the wall where they had met.
Laila was a little hesitant, but finally set off with light steps, heading towards the same spot from yesterday, stepping around the shadows.
It occurred to her when she arrived that it was morning, and there was no way Lord Venio was going to be here. Laila stared at the empty spot and became sad without even realizing it herself.
She was hesitant to go closer, but she caught sight of the tree that he was leaning against last night. The tree was cast in shadows.
Laila looked at the empty spot silently. Then, she found a place where she could still see that spot and sat down. She took in deep breaths, and when it felt easier to breathe, she wondered if she was overthinking things.
Laila closed her eyes and felt time pass. The strong sunlight she always avoided was starting to fade as the dark night slowly approached. It was still light out, but there were more shadows now.
Laila opened her eyes slightly. Before wiping away the cold sweat that was trickling down her forehead, she swallowed another painkiller. As it wasn’t bitter, it was easy to swallow. The effect was almost immediate.
She liked waiting and she was surprised by that. She took out the piece of paper that she had kept in her clothes after holding on to it all night. It was the paper that contained the doctor’s message. The thin paper was still warm.
And just like that, it became nighttime. She stood up, as if she had been waiting for this time, and went to the exact same spot near the wall. Somehow, it was hard to sit down.
She lingered a little on the spot, like a baby deer who was seeing the world for the first time, and studied the ivy leaves. She didn’t try to put her cheeks to them like she did last night. She put her face near the leaves and closed her eyes as if she was smelling them.
It was right then.
“Is there something there?”
Laila’s eyes flew open. Her gray eyes were filled with disbelief, but when she turned around, it was impossible to deny what she saw.
You are required to login first