I’ve looked my whole life and never found it. It’s like it never existed. But I know it did. I only need look at my sister to know I’m not crazy.
Mother was too pregnant then to entertain me, and I was too young to comprehend. I remember the upset when she couldn’t help me load the loom—my fingers too stubby to do it alone, and she too big to bend over and bother with it. I resigned myself to running away, folded some small bits of bread into cloth, and quietly left the house at twilight.
Even then I knew our forest as well as a willow warbler, so when I came upon that strange tree with crimson limbs and gilded leaves, I knew something had happened. Perhaps I’d been looking at my feet too long, but I was not in the forest of my home.
Behind the tree lay a stone house, squat to the ground and roughly hewn. I could see light crackling against the window panes, and crept forward to peer inside. I’ll never forget what I saw. A tall, flaxen-haired woman held a smithy hammer high above her head. A baby lay on the anvil before her, almost shapeless. With each crack from the hammer, another detail emerged—a tiny pinky, the curve of an ear, a cupped palm.
I ran. I ran until the light from home began to wink through the trees.
The next day, my sister was born. Her face stopped the breath in my throat.