I was the first

I was the first. A miracle and a monster, a mistake that should have been learned from. By all accounts, I should have been the last.

Magic is a river. I was a child the first time I heard her say it, still learning to read, more interested in toys and nursemaid’s games than the lessons they put me through, but Father always said it was important. I didn’t forget any lessons; I resented them too much for that.

Other children had friends, other children played, other children walked the gardens without fearing they might be seen. Other children didn’t have to sit through hours of lectures and complicated drills.

Other children didn’t have magic.

Experience fed it like tributaries and, like a river, its current grew stronger with time. The flow of power is irreversible, and yet I find myself endlessly searching for someone—something—with enough might to turn back the current.

They stopped it instead and, when I sit and think of my charge, I think about the dam that holds my strength at bay.

I still recall the way she traced a stream through the condensation on her glass, the way she stared to make sure I was paying attention. All the droplets nearby flowed into it, feeding the rivulet, making it flow faster. She was the one who taught me they had nowhere else to go. So why, then, did she not stop with me?

Every class was a reminder of my shortcomings. Every meeting a reminder that, after all the effort she’d poured into me, I was a disappointment. It didn’t matter what I learned, what I excelled at, or even that I was—all that mattered was the skin I was born into, the one she gave me, the one she made with flaws she faulted me for.

She should have known there was no point in trying again. The path was carved with me and I should have been the end.

He shouldn’t have the same curse, the boy asleep upstairs; it’s not his fault he was pulled into the river, buried beneath the waves of power, turned into something beyond his control. Were there anything right in the world, this wouldn’t be his burden to share.

But I was the first, so I know what he’ll face. I can’t stand against the current, but if nothing else, I can teach him to tread water. If nothing else, he won’t be like me.

He’ll never be alone.

This week’s prompt was “I was the first.”

Megan has provided her own prompt this week, which you can read here: Solving Conflicts with Cookies.

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