Author’s Note: So my morning started out with a cupboard in our house coming off the wall and shattering all the dishes in it, some of which we’d been collecting for years.
It was not a great start to the day. I didn’t think I’d have any kind of Tuesday truffle in me, but it actually got me to write this.
“I hate being the mirror.”
“I think anyone would have guessed that,” Alik said, coming up to his sister and looking at the broken glass scattered across the floor. A mirror that large breaking should have drawn the whole house into her room, but this place was ornate enough to have sound dampening that kept the crash from alerting everyone.
“You say my ability is better than yours, than Enadar’s, but it’s not. I’m just a copy. A reflection. I’m not even—”
“Don’t say that,” he interrupted, stepping over the glass to reach her, grimacing when he heard it crack under his feet. She would not like the symbolism of that act. He put his hands on her cheeks, knowing he’d have to move them soon because he did not want to force her to mirror him for immunity to his energy. “You have never been a copy of anyone, Malina. Yes, you are a lot like Mom, but so is Enadar. You just take on more of it because you have her role and her features, but that has never meant that we saw you as just a replacement for her.”
Malina closed her eyes, trying not to let the tears out. “I find myself acting like her on purpose. We might—well, Enadar might—jokingly call you ‘Dad,’ but you don’t act like him. I act like her.”
“You act like calm,” he disagreed, and she blinked, frowning at him. He lowered his hands, not wanting to hurt her. “You say I am safety, but you have always been calm.”
She continued to frown. “I don’t understand.”
“You have always calmed the storm,” he said. He saw her confusion. He swallowed and forced himself to add, “the one in me.”
“I do?” She shook her head. “I don’t think I do. You’re always so… tense, so hard to reach.”
“With an exploitable weakness to you.”
She half-smiled, wiping away tears. “It’s not a weakness. You do know it’s not, don’t you?”
“I need you more than I like to admit.”
“And I love you,” she said, throwing herself at him and clinging to him. He shook his head—why was it she always manage to break things when she didn’t have shoes on? He lifted her up, trying to keep her from touching down on the glass again.
She lifted her head from his chest and looked down at the floor with a grimace. “I should clean that up. I didn’t even think. I was just so sick of the reflection…”
“You shouldn’t be. You’re beautiful,” he told her, and she clung tighter to him. He shifted her around to his back. “I’ll help you find a broom.”
She put her head down on his back, letting out a contented sigh. “I should be too old for this. Are you sure I’m not too heavy?”
“Wouldn’t carry you if you were.” He stopped at the door, pushing it open, and he looked up to see Vred in the hallway. The tracker took them in with a frown.
“Don’t ask,” Alik said, not wanting to explain. Then he grimaced. “We will need a broom, though.”