RECAP

After her bizarre dream, Misha finally confronts her mother about the connection between the recent events in her life and their lineage. However, just as she startles Kelly with the eerie details of her dream, she is seized by a throbbing pain. The unbearable pain eventually relents, only to leave her face-to-face with a shocking sight.

…AND NOW

Misha’s eyesight felt like it had been wrung dry with gravel and lava. Her vision was fuzzy as if the whites of her eyes were cotton candy spun too thick. As it slowly came back to her, and her eyes adjusted to the fluorescent light of her small room, she could see her middle-aged mom engaged in an intense conversation with the teen shape-shifter who had been responsible for turning her life upside down.

They were talking as if they had known each other for ages, which they probably did now that Misha remembered the photograph. Her entire body felt numb and cold. Her mother had probably covered her with a blanket. Wasn’t she sweating an entire ocean into the covers of her bed just a while back? Her head throbbed and her hair had become a nest, which Kelly could have made a nice home out of in his avian avatar.

“The matter was getting out of hand, Suri… Well, I had no other choice. I had no one else.”

“I understand that Kalo, but she is my daughter. You know full well why I had to run away. Do you think the forest will even accept her knowing who her father was?”

Misha’s mother and Kelly were speaking in whispers, or at least that’s what they thought.

“Must we do this whole pseudo-whispering thing to annoy me even further? You both need to tell me everything right now before I pass out for the umpteenth time today, please,” Misha grumbled while trying to smooth down her bird-nest head of hair.

“How are you feeling, Mishu?” her mother asked with concern in her eyes while trying to gauge Misha’s body temperature by touching her forehead.

“I’m fine,” Misha brushed aside her mother’s hand and got out of the bed to look at herself in the mirror. Her eyes looked sunken and her lips had dried. She looked down at her hands. Her veins had popped up in her skin and had turned a deeper shade of purple. She tried to feel in her gut if she really had gained any awesome powers, but nothing happened.

All this while, Surini and Kelly kept staring at her as if she would explode any second.

“Alright, I’ll tell you everything,” Surini sighed, “I just don’t know where to begin.”

Misha walked to her mother on the bed and settled down beside her, eager to put all the pieces together before her brain broke down into fragments.

“Begin from the beginning, mother. It’s unlike you to miss any details when you’ve started talking, anyway,” Misha said in an attempt to lighten the mood. Her mother smiled at her sadly.

“Kalo, or as you call him, Kelly, was my best friend back in Oksana,” Surini started while turning to Kelly with grief writ large on her face. Kelly remained impassive staring at the wall ahead.

“We were inseparable as children; our parents thought each of us as an extra child to love and take care of. Time passed, as it tends to, and Kalo was chosen as one of the Dotakis. I couldn’t have been prouder. Kalo’s life changed, but mine stayed the same. Yet he always made it a point to include me in all the adventures of his new life to protect the forest and the tribe,” Surini said.

“Along with his shape-shifting abilities, he aged at a considerably slower rate. So I kept growing like everyone else, while my best friend remained his pubescent self. It was quite embarrassing for a while, wasn’t it Kalo?” she looked at him trying to share a moment of nostalgia with a long-lost friend, but Kelly kept staring at the wall. Dejected, Surini continued the story, “It was frowned upon too you know, letting outsiders into the Dotaki way of life. But we knew the ins and outs of it. And that’s how I met your father.”

“Dad wasn’t from Oksana? He was…” Misha stopped mid-sentence as she realized what her mother had just said. She could feel another wave of unconsciousness overwhelming her mind and body. However, she summoned up every ounce of her willpower to fight it off. Her dad was not even her real dad?!

“How long were you planning to keep this from me?” Misha asked her mother calmly after a moment’s pause.

“I was waiting for calamity to strike. Seems like it has,” Surini replied cautiously.

Misha chose to wait till she had heard everything to have the eventual nervous breakdown this new information would bring about. She asked her mother to carry on. The decision to ignore seemed best at the moment.

“The Dotakis were a proud lot, and they didn’t look too kindly upon a simpleton like me being brought to their secret hideouts and late-night excursions. But that never stopped Kalo from taking me along. However, soon enough, I was welcomed everywhere mostly due to the fact that I wouldn’t go away. Kalo had a lot of Dotaki friends but the best of them was Hodera. He was the only one who didn’t have any problem with me hanging around from the start. Always easy-going and laid-back, he quickly became close to me and Kalo and… perhaps even closer to me.”

“His powers were special. He could actually control the bone trees and all other types of flora as well. This made him quickly rise through the ranks along with Kalo, who was a powerful Dotaki in his own right. But they were not allowed to make a life with anyone outside their own kind. Protecting the forest and the tribe was to be their sole purpose; life that happened along the way may be fine but nothing beyond the duty. So, we planned to elope. Kalo wasn’t really on board with the idea, but I wore him down. He was to be your godfather before everything unraveled.”

Misha was too numb to react but Kelly glimpsed at her for a second before going back to being absolutely quiet and motionless.

“But then the forest was threatened, A woman with an arsenal of machines had come to take away our Mecredotaks, convinced that their rare properties would make her rich beyond imagination. This wasn’t new. A threat like this arose every so often and our powerful soldiers would keep them at bay every time. This time too the Dotakis attacked as one and so did the common folk, for it was our home, our way of living that was under attack. I was pregnant with you at the time. But something went wrong. The big tree cutters were inching closer and closer. Word got around that someone had led them in through a secret route, turning the tide of the battle.”

“And that someone was Hodera, your father,” Kelly spoke suddenly, surprising both Misha and Surini.

“That woman, Shotana, had promised him a life away from the tribe in a faraway city. He would not have to face the repercussions of deserting the Dotakis. Your mother hadn’t known about them. He had made me promise not to tell her. But I had never known he would do something so drastic… so stupid. He had been forced to choose between his tribe and your mother. And he made his choice.” Kelly sighed and got up to stand beside the window, looking out into the night.

“But it didn’t work out as well as he had hoped. The forest, the Mecredotaks knew about his betrayal. His powers were rare enough to have created a telepathic bond between him and the bone trees. In the end, the whole island sank; the rage of the tree deities made it so. And all that were left were me and your mother,” he finished.

Surini inched closer to Misha and put her hand over hers, “All this happened while you were still in my belly. I lost my whole life, my family, my home. I was planning to run away from all that and then I had to see it all die. The guilt, the grief, it would have all sunk me too, had it not been for you. I had to keep going; I had to take care of you. We made a little life for ourselves here in Senncity, and soon enough Hasan came into the picture. He was your dad, and that is the truth. He became an unprecedented home for both of us in a city that was still a little new and things finally started to fall into place.”

Misha kept sitting on the bed, her back to the wall, eyes unblinkingly staring at the ceiling.

“I thought I was the only survivor. I never knew Surini had survived too, and I’m guessing you didn’t know about me, either,” Kelly asked Surini.

“That would’ve ruined the whole tragedy, no.” Surini scoffed as her nose became red and tears started pouring out of her eyes.

“Misha, all these years, I had been searching to restore our ancestral home, to restore the Mecredotak grove back to its old glory. And you are the only one who can help me do it,” Kelly implored Misha, forcing her to look him in his eyes.

Just then, something metallic swooped into the room through Misha’s window and the whole space started to get filled with smoke. Everybody started coughing and crying, and through the tears Misha could see camouflaged figures barging into her room. Just as she was about to pass out, she glimpsed at a woman with no hair looking down at her while consciousness slowly ebbed away from the corners of her sight.

To be continued…

…now that you’re here

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Ria and her love affair with reading
Ria Mishra

Ria is passionate about interweaving fragments of fact and fiction to come up with fascinating stories. Make sure to check out her Instagram handle if you would like to know more about her.

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