"No," I said flatly.

"Why not?" she pouted. I never fully realized how much I hated that pout, or those rosy cheeks, those strands of spun gold, those dramatic hazel eyes like painted glass beads. I hated every perfect feature on her pretty little face. I hated Larena Marya and how she was superior to me in every way.

"Why should I?" I retorted. I cannot think of a single reason why I would choose to find refuge with one of the people who hurt me the most.

"Because we are best friends!" she reasoned. I was obliged to be her best friend because I owed her my life. Either way, I was more of her lackey than her friend. And despite the debt, I didn't care anymore. I was jealous of her completely, thoroughly, entirely, but she never destroyed me as much as she did in this past month.

"No, we're not." And then I left.


People spoke of it in the streets, the street vendors with their wooden carts and the drivers of the horse drawn vehicles. In this world where magic was somewhat commonplace, there was no spell to make the past disappear.

I'm going to find my family. Was that a lame excuse? I just wanted to get out of here. I could hear their comments about me, about Larena, and most of all, about Kaize. "Poor Larena," they said, and "There's something wrong with that Karuri!" when they thought I wasn't listening.

"Karuri!" A stout woman by the name of Sandrin Bullocks called. I turned around. "I heard you're leaving. Is this true?"

"Yes," I nodded. Mrs. Bullocks always pestered Madam Marya for Larena and I to do her weeding but I was usually the one who was sent to go. "I may not return."

"Oh, is that so?" she commented; she was almost shaking in her boots to run off and spark some new gossip with this new information. "That's too bad."

Yeah, I agreed. Now you have to do your own weeding.

"Take care then."

As I crossed the bridge to exit this wretched village, I caught my reflection on the river's surface. When did I become such a cynical person, so full of hatred? I looked at my choppy and short auburn hair; Larena used to twist silk ribbons into it when it was longer. I always felt so pretty when she treated me like a doll; now I looked like a boy. Madam Marya used to tell me I had a sweet face but if I ever did, I'm sure the dark bags under my purple eyes had destroyed the effect. I lost a lot of weight and I couldn't remember what my smile looked like.

It might have seemed subtle, but the most dramatic difference was that haunted black ribbon that was knotted around my upper arm. That ribbon represented the one who had claimed my heart and shattered my weak friendship. The one who was gone. Kaize.

Nothing would ever be the same.