Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Saved to be Free

Sara walked down the sidewalk adjacent to the identical apartments scrunched so close together they were practically morphed into one elongated building. She looked down at the notes she had taken on her phone. “Building 13 Unit b, 5th building down Maple Street, has new roommate’s police car parked in front of it.” 

After her landlord tried raising the rates once again for the new leasing agreement, Sara finally gave in to finding a new apartment to share the rent with a roommate. For the past three years she had used her secret power to keep the rates the same, and sure she could have done it again, but the truth was, it was exhausting. 

Ever since she was little and shared a room with other kids in the orphanage, she learned that putting her hand on someone’s shoulder meant she had the power to make them do what she wanted. She guessed it was something she always knew subconsciously how to do. It was completely normal to her, as she used to think nothing of it as a child, but the older she got the more she realized no one else could do it too. She kept it quiet, and it was a good thing too, no one would have believed it unless she put her hand on their shoulder and made them believe it. 

She couldn’t really say when the first occurrence happened, but the one that stuck out the most was when Mary Kate sat in front of her playing with the one intact doll in the orphanage and Sara wanted to be the one playing with it. She had stood behind Mary Kate, grabbed her shoulder, and willed her to drop the toys and walk away. She didn’t speak, she didn’t even think, she just wanted it and it happened. 

When she was no more than two years old, she thought that everyone just did whatever she wanted because that was how it worked while she was in their arms and she had her arms around their necks. It took time to associate it with the hand on shoulder, and even more time to practice making her wants and desires into her will, and from that point on she knew they only did it because she made them. 

Still, Sara was not selfish. She learned to share, she learned right from wrong, but since no one talked about willing people into doing things, so she had always thought it was just a normal thing to do when she did it. But again, she rarely ever did it.

In fact, the only reason she had done it with her landlord for three years was because she couldn't afford the normal rent, but she wanted that apartment and it was done because that was her will. Every year the landlord tried raising Sara’s rates, without ever questioning why they were so low in the first place, and every year the landlord never got around to doing so, courtesy of Sara.

Now, Sara was tired of doing it. You would think that touching her landlord's shoulder once a year wouldn’t be all that draining, but it was just another thing she had to do that she didn't want to do. It wasn't about feeling guilty for it as it was just completely normal for her, it was just another step in the leasing process she wasn’t a fan of having to do.

A month ago she had found an ad online for a man, a middle-aged looking police officer, looking to share his rent with someone online. She looked at the photos of the apartment and her would-be bedroom and thought it was nice so she had called the man and made the arrangements. They met first, of course, but Sara didn’t care much at all about who he was. After all, it’s not like he would do anything she really didn't want him to. Even more so, there was something inside her telling her to take the $400 a month deal with him. She had no idea what.

The man, however, was skeptical of the young woman who was at the very least half his age. David, as he said his name was, sat across from Sara at a booth in a nearby restaurant. He stared at her intently with skeptical eyes when she arrived, and Sara tilted her head in confusion. Neither spoke for a brief minute. The silence was awkward but Sara didn’t mind, she was used to getting weird looks from people, though she wasn't sure why people looked at her weird. It was almost like her very presence was strange to them and people grew uncomfortable in it. Although no one ever knew if they were being manipulated, it was as if they felt her power whenever she was near but they couldn't place it and feared it. David was different though. He did not look afraid, he looked intrigued although warry.

At last, David spoke. “So. You are Sara then,” he said. Sara nodded. “Yup. I’m the Sara from the phone the other day.” “So you are.” He replied. “And you're interested in the spare room in my apartment?” It was a question, but he said it more like a statement. “Yup.” She said again. 

Once more a silence befell them. David leaned forward with his fingers interlaced and elbows planted firmly against the surface of the table. A thoughtful expression appeared on his face. “When I put the ad out I wasn’t exactly expecting…” His voice trailed off. “Someone of your age… or even gender for that matter.” Sara replied “I may only be 22, but I can pay.” 

“That’s not really what I mean,” he said back. “It’s not really common for people of our age gap and gender difference to be roommates… especially with no other reason than to split rent, so I have to ask, why me?” Sara shrugged. “I don’t know. You’re a cop so it’s not like I would be in any real danger.” The truth was, she couldn’t care less about his profession. She would have moved in with a drug dealer if it meant $400 a month, but she didn’t want David to know that. “My job has nothing to do with the kind of person I am, Sara. Sure being a cop is probably more secure, but there’s some bad ones out there…. I have a feeling you are more than aware of that. Still, I can’t figure you out entirely. I’ll admit I’m usually a good judge of character. Fantastic even with telling if someones being truthful or not, but you are a puzzle to me. I just can’t seem to figure you out.” Sara tried to hide her smile. She was a mystery to him, and she liked that. He was observant and… different. He was just different. She liked that a lot. Maybe that was why she felt compelled to apply. She was drawn to this man. He was just as different as she was. David sighed. “But regardless, if you really want the room, it’s yours. Your background checks out. Just don’t get any wrong ideas about this arrangement. I’m only accepting you because you were the only one to apply and I could really use the extra savings on rent. That’s it.” “Deal. No wrong ideas taken. Just a place to live.” she said. “Good” He said.

And now, Sara was standing outside of Building 13 Unit B, staring at the run-down brick walls. The building was more of a double home townhouse than an apartment, but it didn't matter to her. A home was a home was a home.

Sara walked up to the door and knocked. Moments later, the doorknob jiggled, the door creaked open and David appeared. When he saw Sara, he nodded and motioned for her to come in.

 “Welcome home” he said, devoid of all emotion. Sara stepped inside and peered at the living room on the right. A couch, two rocking chairs on either side of it, a lamp in the corner and a TV above a brick fireplace. 

“The living room. “ He said. He walked ahead of her and pointed to it, and then across the living room to the kitchen with a small dining table to the right and cabinets and appliances to the left. “Kitchen.” He said. “The cupboards on the right are empty and for you. Please don’t touch my food, but obviously we can share the utensils. The bottom half of the refrigerator is yours. If you need space in the freezer too let me know. Right now it’s full of frozen steaks, but I can work on cleaning out a section for you if you want.” Good, Sara thought. He wants to keep our things separated too. He walked down the hall between the two rooms and pointed to the left “The bathroom. This one is yours. I won't go in it. I have my own connected to my room.” He paused to look at her. “That means you have to keep it clean because as of today, I won’t.” Sara nodded. Keeping things clean wasn’t going to be difficult for her and judging by the looks of the apartment now, it wasn't for him either. “Across from the bathroom is the laundry room, basically a closet with a washer and dryer in it. I don't really care if you use my detergent but if you have your own there's space for that. Do your laundry any day but wednesday. Wednesdays are for mine.” “Not a problem,” she replied. “I do mine every Saturday anyways.” “Good” He said back. He continued walking and led her into an empty room. “This is your room. It’s just a shell now, but do what you want in here. This is the last I will ever be in here, but still, keep it clean as if I’m coming back in. At the end of the hall is my room. Don’t go in there and I’ll do you the same courtesy.” “Got it,” she said “Don’t worry, I’m not messy and I’m not snoopy either.” David made his way out of the room. Sara could hear him say from down the hall “let us hope so” before entering his room and closing the door behind him. 

Later that day, Sara had movers come and bring in her bed frame, bed, dresser and television. She had only a few boxes, mostly of clothing, which she emptied and put away. David had remained in his room the entire time, but Sara took no notice. Well, she noticed, but she didn't care. The two were one in the same to her. 

Around five pm David came out and began cooking a steak that had been dethawing in the sink. Sara was on the couch scrolling through TikTok. He looked up at her briefly and then returned to his cooking. 

“Would you like some?” He said to Sara. She looked up at him. “I thought you said you didn't want me touching your food.” Without looking up, slight amusement crept onto his face. “I did, but there is a difference between you taking and me offering. The freezer will clear up much faster with you eating them as well.” He paused. “Besides, did you even get any food yet?” “True,” Sara said. “All of that, actually.” 

“So your answer is?” He asked again. “Sure, I’ll have some, thank you.” She answered. David nodded as a “You’re welcome”. “Care to help me set the table?” “Sure” Sara got up. David pointed out the drawers and cabinets with the dishes and silverware and she put them out on the placemats. He took the steaks out of the frying pan onto another plate and brought it to the table. “So,” Sara said. “You like to eat at a table?” David looked at her with an eyebrow raised. “How else does one have dinner?” Sara shrugged. “I usually just eat dinner in bed and watch TV.” “I would prefer that you don't,” David sighed. “But it is your room.” Sara laughed softly. “I can eat at a table if you want. It’s not that big of a big deal.” He half-smiled. “I’d appreciate that.” David sat down but Sara remained standing. He looked at her, again with his left eyebrow raised. “Aren't you going to sit down too?” “Oh. Right.” Sara said as she pulled the chair out. “Sorry. I’m just… not used to this.” “Used to sitting at a table?” He asked. “Used to sitting at a table with someone else.” She replied. “I mean I am. I am used to it, it’s just not something I’ve done for years now.” Not since the orphanage or the foster homes, She added, but only in her mind. She doubted he wanted to hear about that, not yet at least. “I assume you lived alone prior to this.” “Yup. Just me, unless the landlord felt like stopping by.” “Why move in with someone now, if you don't mind me asking?” “It got too expensive. Speaking of, I’ve been wondering about something.” “Which is?” David asked. “I’m paying for half of the rent, right?” “Technically no. It’s 1000 a month, I’m only letting you pay $400.” “Oh. Well still, how is a two bedroom so cheap?” “One of the perks of my job, you can get law enforcement discounts on housing if the agency chooses to. Anything else on your mind?” “Always” she chuckled. “But nothing else regarding the apartment.” David nodded while using his knife to cut his steak into bite-sized pieces. “You know,” he said. “I forgot to ask how you like your steak, I cook mine medium rare, so I did yours the same. I assume since you're eating it you're okay with it?” “Mhm’ Sara mumbled with her mouth full. “Yes, I can eat it whatever way. I’m not picky.” “Good. I only cook it to medium rare. After that, the flavor is dead and there is no point.” Sara smiled. David was certainly opinionated and was not afraid to express it. She liked that too about him. It was something she was never really like. Possibly because she didn't need to tell people what she wanted, if she really wanted something, she could make it happen, but also because she was never really one to have much of an opinion about anything. She was used to accepting things the way they were. In this case, however, if David wanted something a particular way, that was all Sara really needed to accept it as the only way. Adaptation and assimilation were the skills she learned the most from her upbringing, despite how ironic it is with her power. Maybe that was why she never really cared to push her will onto others.

Sara was lost in her thoughts and unaware of David staring at her with utter fascination.. And horror? When she finally noticed, she realized he wasn't necessarily staring at her, but at what she was doing. She looked down to see her rubbing the ring on her necklace between her forefinger and thumb. She looked back up at him and asked “What?” David looked back down at his plate and saw it was empty. “Nothing,” he said. He picked up the plate and brought it to the sink. “You just remind me of someone.” “Who?” David stopped rinsing his dish and froze. He didn't respond at first, and for a brief moment Sara thought he wouldn’t at all. His face hardened, but he looked up at Sara again and it softened. Well that's interesting, Sara thought. Usually their faces go the other way around when people look at me.

“A woman I used to know.” He said finally. “A woman I used to know long before you were ever thought of.” “Technically I was never thought of at all.'' Sara froze and then laughed nervously. “I’m so sorry, I don't know why I just said that out loud, but um, if you want to tell me about her, I’ll listen.” Sara got up and put her plate in the sink. David said nothing, but stepped aside and watched her, studied her. “Do you, um, want me to wash this and put them in the dishwasher?” She asked. “No, I can do it. Thank you.” His answer did not seem to match his thoughts as his gaze remained unchanged. Sara wondered if he was contemplating what she had accidentally revealed. “Okay” She said. “I’ll just sit in the living room then. If you want to talk about her, join me.” Maybe I should just drop it, Sara thought, but she knew she was only doing it to avoid her own topic. Still, she didn't want to cause him pain for her own comfort, but on the other hand, if he wanted to talk about it, she was happy to be there.

Sara made her way to the couch where she left her phone, picked it up and returned to the tiktok she left off on. David continued to clear the table, clean the dishes, and load them into the dishwasher. Neither spoke. 

Eventually, David made his way to the living room and he sat on the other end of the couch. Sara looked at him for a moment before returning to her phone. David sighed. “Her name was Rashana.” Sara turned her phone off and looked at him. “You don’t have to tell me, you know. I mean I just moved in today.” She said. “I didn’t mean to push you either. Honestly I was deflecting. I’m sorry.” He shook his head. “I know. You don’t have to deflect. I know all about it.” A confused look spread onto her face. “What do you mean?” She asked. He sighed. “I did a pretty deep background check on you. Something didn’t settle right with me about you. I wasn't going to live with someone who was so… different, not without checking in on them first. I know about your upbringing.” “Oh” Sara said. “I should have told you.” David said. “But the real reason I was willing to let you stay here was because of Rashana. You… well, let's just say it reminded me of something.” “It’s okay.” Sara said. “I understand.”

“You don’t. But you must. You must know about her.” He sighed. “I’m listening.” Sara said gently. David took a deep breath.

“I’m not from America. Nor was Rashana.” His voice had gradually changed from an american accent to that of something exotic and smooth, like speaking the appearance of cursive. “My name is not David. It’s Kelighbr. “ His R’s were no longer flat but rolled and “not” sounded like “naught”. It’s like a Brazilian accent crossed with that of a British one, Sara thought. “This is my native voice. It’s probably exotic to you, but to me it’s natural… yet the memory of it is painful. 

Rashana’s voice was the true exotic one. Her voice was low in pitch, but not so low it was masculine, like mine. She had a certain sweetness but it was so passionate, determined, authoritative. She never said anything she didn't mean and there was never any hesitation in her words. She was daring and bold. Where we come from, a woman’s boldness was frowned upon highly, but being the niece of the king kept her alive. Still, such a society never held her back. If anything, it was her passion to fight against it that kept her spirits and motivation up. 

Her voice was the first thing I ever noticed about her. I met her at a ceremonial ball, a celebration of the general's accomplishments in handling recent riots. The country was in a civil war at the time. The upper class citizens celebrated with an endless bounty of luxuries while the lower classes suffered greatly. As a reward for the General's accomplishments, or rather, destruction, the prince, Rahana’s father, offered her hand in marriage to him. Rashana had wanted nothing to do with the general, but he thought it was a fantastic idea. Something in his perverted, twisted mind convinced him he could tame the princess, knowing it would gain him much praise amongst the other nobles, and possible favor with the king. None of them were too fond of Rashana’s interruptions throughout practically any of the council meetings that took place in her presence. She knew this all quite well, but she also didn’t care what any of them thought. At least she didn’t, until they all felt it was better she was married off sooner rather than later. Rashana was only 17 at the time of their engagement at that ball, the general was 54. Here in America that of course isn't acceptable, but there it was perfectly natural. I myself was only 20. I was there that day because I served the general. I suppose you could think of me as his second in command. The only difference really was I had no real authority. I wasn’t exactly a noble, nor was I a lowly servant. I never really fit in either category. 

I had always known about ‘the stubborn Rashana”, as the servants would whisper in the corridors of the palace. Their voices echoed along the halls. She must have heard the talk through her handmaidens, but she never spoke of it. 

That night at the ball was unlike any other. She paid me no attention, but she was all I could focus on. At first, I had only heard her voice. Such power from such a beautiful set of vocal cords, I just had to look for the woman who spoke them. And there she was. She was more regal than even her uncle. His exotic gold and ivory woven robes could not cover the rotten creature that hid beneath them. Unlike the king, Rashana’s emerald gown could not hide the princess’s beauty if it wanted to. It complemented her soft curves and complexion, of course, but even more so it was only a mere reflection of the perfection it contained. It wasn’t even physical beauty, there were plenty of women who had much more to their physical appearance than her in that sense, but still none could compare to her. It was not her milky caramel skin tone nor the gentle warmth of the sun’s golden rays in her hazel eyes, it was her demeanor that made her so beautiful. The way in which she presented herself, the confidence in her boldness made her stand out like nothing else. She was the true embodiment of a woman. It wasn’t her words that angered the king and his court the most, but her confidence. It was the way her presence loomed over all. She was a threat to the crown simply for existing. No man was ever willing to let their pride down in admitting it, not even me, but it is true. I couldn’t look away. The way just her presence put me and all others in their place deeply offended many. It was this ball that her father thought would be the perfect opportunity to bring her down. At least, he thought her marriage to the general would do so. 

Rashana, despite her body language, had made no objection to the marriage. She accepted her fate. For a woman so bold it was strange to see she had made no verbal objection to the general. All she ever said, as far as I knew, was that she would never love nor respect him. The general, despite what you may think, was a rather calm man. He was not kind, he was deadly and firm, but he was calm. Therefore, he had no care about her lack of respect, and certainly not for her lack of love. Rashana never really bothered him, and I think it was due to an illusion he had that she was so far beneath him anything she said he could easily overcome. Yet, I believe deep down that illusion only existed because his pride would have been affected if it hadn’t. No one dared to point out how powerful Rashana was, even more so than him at times, but it was known. We all knew it. She may have been placed to stand at his side, but it always appeared that she was the true power that loomed in the shadow, and he was only the puppet. It was because Rashana never made an effort to appear powerful, she just was. The general, as I was rather close to him, was always concerned for his appearance. He simply tried too hard and it was evident. 

The general was a neglectful husband. I was the one sent to tend to Rashana’s needs should she have any and to deliver any orders or messages from him. I was the one to fetch her when her presence was requested, although usually reluctantly. It was this responsibility that had me spending much of my time with her. It wasn’t uncommon for most of my days to be at her side, and no one thought anything of it. She was kind to me, possibly more than I deserved. I too was a man threatened by her presence at first, but I also could not help my fascination and admiration for the woman. In the evenings, she would take walks in the gardens of the late queen and one day she invited me to join her. How could I refuse? 

She told me much about herself that evening. About her father, about her mother, her brothers, the king, her cousin. She told me about the current state of the country, the war, and other things from a perspective I wasn’t all that aware of. Sure, I knew well of the current state of the country, but it was Rashana who helped me see it in the eyes of the people who suffered it the most. I learned two very important things about her that day. Not only was she intelligent and knowledgeable, but she was beyond cunning. She was an excellent observer, far greater than anyone I had ever known. The other thing I learned was that no one had a heart more pure than she. She loved her people. Even her lowest servants she treated as her own children. She melted my hardened shell that day. 

As time went by, Rashana and I grew close. I knew from that evening in the gardens I would fall in love with the woman I could never have. I will never know how she felt about me, but I always had some fantasy that one day she and I would run away together. But it was just that, a fantasy. I had taken every opportunity to show Rashana the kind of man I would have been for her, but she never budged. She was right not to, and it took me many years later to realize it. Not only would it put her in danger, but myself as well. She wasn't willing to put either of us at risk, not with our plans. 

You see, as our friendship grew our desires to save our people turned into plans that became actions. We saved hundreds of lives by helping them flee the country. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how, so trust me when I say this. We found holes in our reality. Holes we could slip through and escape with. We built an underground network with the goal of taking down the political system and building a free nation, but we couldn’t do that until our allies had a safe place to gather and plot. Well, with these holes, it became possible. 

I say again, Rashana and I remained plutonic in our professional relationship. We were close allies, nothing more. We knew it was best that way. Still, I was not strong enough to contain my desire, my love for the princess. It grew into what would only become a tragedy, something that could never be. I loved her so dearly, and it nearly killed me knowing I could never have the one thing I desired most.

During this time, Rashana had bore three sons to the general. The first was named Heiline. He grew to be a violent boy, a chaotic evil never to be contained. In a way, his anger stemmed from his mother, but his passion from his father. Although Rashana was not an angry woman, and the general was not a violent man, he became the worst of both, joined the army the very day he turned 13, and was killed two years later. Walmeio was the second son. He died at the age of two from illness. He was never a happy child, the weight of his mother and father’s fractured marriage was too much for him to bear. I think he died of a broken heart. The final son was Jaruned. Jaruned was very much like his mother. He grew to be a patient and well-behaved son. He was more my son than the General, as I was the one who did most of the raising. The general was a neglectful father too. When he was old enough, Rashana and I decided he would be a valued asset to our network of the resistance. He believed very much in the cause, but it was his undoing. He was patient, yes, but not patient enough. All of our planning was to carefully unweave the construct of the dictatorship in the country. He grew tired of gently unknotting the string and, against Rashana’s advice, began cutting it. He severed many ends, ends that traced back to him. He was publicly executed with his final words being “Death upon those that are innocent will be more blood you will drown in.” Jaruned had been the final straw in your mothers heart. She couldn’t bear it anymore. She had lost all hope in her dream of a free world and fell deep into a depression. A mother should never lose a child, let alone all three of her children. And even worse, to such gruesome fates.

When she discovered she was pregnant yet again, she sought out the help of someone rumored to be a great oracle. Her power was something that would be rather unfathomable for you, and for this world. But I think, perhaps, deep down you’ll know it to be true. The oracle was more of a whisper in the walls of the holes we so relied on. Rashana and I went through hell trying to find it, but when we did, I was disappointed to see it was only a mere old woman. At least, I thought so. The truth was, my ability to see it for what it truly was was limited to only what I could perceive. So, I saw a woman. A woman, who reached out a wrinkled palm and gently grasped Rashana’s shoulder and told her she was to birth a daughter. Rashana wept in my arms at the word “daughter”. I’ll never forget what she said. “How could I ever bear a child in a world where she would experience the same silence I was forced upon.” You see, a son could at least have the freedom to choose his own fate, but a daughter, she could never. Not there, not then. So, the pregnancy was kept a secret, and the oracle said she would provide a blessing upon the child, so that she would never be forced against her own will. But, she could only do it if the child was taken to a world on the other end of the largest, most dangerous hole, a world where she could be free. Rashana agreed. She did not want to leave her people, but she believed raising the child away from our world would save the child, and someday, our home. 

For the majority of her pregnancy, things worked according to plan. But, towards the end, it all fell apart. Our allies too lost their patience, just like their beloved martyr, Jeruned. They had enough of waiting in the shadows, hiding in the dark. I couldn't blame them, but Rashana could not bear the pressure, and it pushed her into an early, unplanned labor. She and I were forced to flee for the safety of the child as the capital was raided, and Rashana died giving birth to her daughter in the tunnels of the most dangerous hole. Her last words, the name of her child, was “Sarafina”. In our language, that name means “saved to be free.” The child slipped through the dimensions of our world to the other side, to this very world, where she was found and brought to the police of this country. I wasn’t able to save Rashana, but I vowed to save her child. The child we would have raised together, if she hadn’t fallen through the cracks. I spent the remainder of my days here, finding the allies of ours who had lived in this world. With their help, I became an American citizen. Thousands upon millions of our people hunted for Sarafina. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones. 

Many of the loyalists to the crown discovered the truth about our holes, our plans and of Sarafina. One day, an ally of mine found an infant on the side of a road right here in this city. She was, in fact, Sarafina. We all rejoiced, and she was brought to me, but I knew I could not keep her. The loyalists were hunting me first, they knew they'd find the child through me, and I couldn't let them harm her. They’d take her and use her as a weapon against us. A child blessed by an oracle was powerful. Even more powerful than the woman that bore her.

 So, the remaining network for the liberation of our world became a network of protection for one young, but most important child. With her, Rashana lives on. After that, hope. 

The oracle paid me a visit and gifted me a ring that was called “The Ring of the Lost”. Its power was strange:  to return the ring to the owner but only when it was safe for the ring bearer to do so. It worked in a similar way that the child’s blessing did. It bends the laws of reality. So, I fastened the ring onto a necklace and gave it to the child before delivering her to an orphanage. There were a few people there who were part of my organization. When the loyalists got close, she was moved across the network, family to family. There were always allies keeping watch on her as she grew older. I kept my distance, became a police officer here, across the country from where I had to leave her, knowing one day she would find me. After so many years, I had practically given up hope that it would ever be safe for her to be around me. I stopped keeping in touch with the organization and completely fell in line with the life of an average american. I thought she would never find me. I kept a spare room open all these years, praying I would one day have my Sarafina here with me. But it was never to be. I lost all those years I could have had raising her, the only thing I had left of the woman I loved so dearly. 

At last, I decided to rent out my room. I had honestly never realized the only reason any of this happened at all was because of the ring. This whole time, fate had woven the entire thing together. 

When I first heard your voice on the phone, I didn't think anything of it. When I saw you in that restaurant, I didn't think anything of it. I didn’t connect your name to Sarafina or even your background, but I knew there was a reason you had intrigued me so much. I knew there was something about your voice, your demeanor, your presence. After all these years I had forgotten what it was like to be in the presence of your mother, to hear her voice, to feel her power exuding through my body. That is, until I heard your voice on the phone, and saw you and felt you. Mentally I didn’t know it then, but my heart knew exactly who you were and I felt it. It didn’t connect to me until tonight when I saw that ring in your hand and when I looked at you all I saw was Rashana. All I felt was Rashana. 

So now you know the truth. Who you really are. Sweet Sarafina, you were all millions of people ever thought about, every minute of every day. You were never forgotten or unloved, and I am so sorry you had to feel that way for so long. I promise, you are all that has ever mattered. And now, you are safe and you are home.”

With a single tear shed from her eyes, Sarafina knew it to be true, all of it.

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