Nera is just an orphan. She is a skinny little nobody, with no past, a bleak present and no future.
But she doesn't know how wrong she is.
Her past reveals itself. Her present will soon be in chaos. The future awaits her.
I watch with an unwavering gaze, as the fiery red orb of light slowly sinks beneath the horizon. Threads of light linger in the sky, as though they were accidentaly left behind. It dyes the heavens orange, then red, then dark blue, until all that is left of the sunset is a chalky mauve. The sun seems to realize that it left some light in the sky, and proceeds to drag the last rays of daylight, like a mother dragging her children from a candy store. The myriad of colors melts away as stygian darkness creeps upon the sky.
As if playing a game of hide-and-seek, the stars come out of their hiding places, one by one. They wink down at me exhaustedly, tired of playing all day long.
A cherry blossom drifts carelessly onto my lap, carried by a light breeze. I cup it gently and bring it up to my cheek. I feel its soft petals. Breathe in its intoxicating fragrance.
To me, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. When the cherry blossom trees bloom for a short time each year in brilliant force, it's a reminder that life is overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short. It shows me how precious and how precarious life is.
What wouldn't I give to be here forever? Here I feel more complete somehow, like the meadow is a part of me, yet it only fills a part of the void in my heart.
I have no memories of my past. Not even the tiniest shred. All I know is my first name. Nera. 'Nera, The Orphan', as I am so famously known in the streets. 'The Orphan' has become my last name.
But I'm not the only one. There are others my age, others younger than me, others older than me, with no family, no connections to anyone. They are all alone, with no one and nothing in the world to call their own. I'm just one of them.
The orphanage is the place I have been living since the past eight years. Not my home. It has never been my home, and it will never be. A home is a place where you belong, where you are safe, where you are loved, and where you love in return. I've never felt like I belonged, like I was wanted, like I was loved in the orphanage. If anything, my life was the exact opposite.
The brook that runs through the meadow glows an ethereal silver. It bubbles along happily, in contrast to the peaceful meadow. Tucking the cherry blossom gently in my hair, I walk up to the brook.
A girl stares back at me. A girl of sixteen to be exact, but she looks older because of her hardships. Hunger has stolen the curves of her body. Her cheeks are sunken. Her raven black hair cascades down to her waist, curling slightly at the ends. She has emerald green eyes, which once sparkled, but now it is dull, lifeless, as if something had slowly sapped the life out of it.
She is me. Nera, the nobody.
This is my first book. I'd love it if my readers comment and review my book so I can improve. A huge thank you to everyone who has picked up my book.
Chapter 1 - Life in the Orphanage
Imbecile. Lousy. Good-for-nothing. Ungrateful wretch. A thorn in the side. Devil spawn.
I've been called all this and more. But words lose their potency over time. These words used to hurt. But not anymore.
Each day would probably start with a box on the ears, which would make my head spin with the pain and the sudden impact, followed by a gale of foul words, even if there was no particular offense I committed to deserve that. Although I know it is wrong, I take refuge in the fact that I'm not the only one who is greeted so pleasantly.
Breakfast includes a slice of stale bread and half a glass of goat milk, if we are lucky. But that luck seems to avoid us nearly always, as if Lady Luck deliberately wanted us to starve slowly to death.
Actually, to us, death is a better option than to live another day in this torture chamber. But we are not brave enough to face death. We fear it. And so we continue our dreary life of torture.
Then there would be chores to do. Chores that sap what little energy we have. We would be made to chop firewood, do the laundry, do the dishes, run errands for other people in return for some money.
Dinner includes a cup of watery broth, which is certainly not enough to satiate the ravenous mice that gnaw through our stomachs.
Considering our intense exhaustion, many think that we fall asleep as soon as our heads are laid down on the cold, hard pillows. But the constant gnawing in our stomachs denies us the right of sleep. Eventually, we drift off, dreaming of a better life. But that is what a better life is; just a dream.
Once most children turn sixteen, they are kicked out of the orphanage. Mercilessly thrown out into the streets, they are left to fend for themselves. Some of the girls who are better in looks are sold off. We never hear of them again.
My time is near. I'm one of the people who will be thrown out in a few months time.
I know that the future holds nothing but darkness for me. An impenetrable darkness.