Where’s My Daughter?
Illustration by Mark Hansen
Miravell woke Parith early that morning with a pounding on the door of his family’s treehome.
What’s all that about? He lifted his head and tried to listen more closely. Young running feet sounded quickly, then a quiet and quick conversation. Then the door slammed. Moments later, his young nephew threw open the door to his room and jumped on him, rocking and turning the shallow wooden bed basin. Parith grunted as he swayed in the cozy padded mattress.
“Hey, Pari! There’s a lady out here. She wants to talk to you.”
“What’re you doing, ya big slug? Get off me!”
The boy leaned on the bed, rocking it back and forth and spinning it on the floor. “She wants to talk to you! Come on! Get up!”
“Alright!” Parith sat up. “Alright. I’m up, y’slimemoss!” He laughed and pushed his nephew off the mattress and out of the bed. The boy rolled onto the floor and sat up with a silly grin.
“Hurry up! Gre’mama’s got breakfast, too!” The boy stood and ran to the door, his huge bedshirt flowing behind him.
Parith stood, wiping his eyes. He padded to his basin and splashed water on his face. He wet his hair and ran his fingers through, trying to straighten it out. A lady? Who would be asking for me this early? He stood and, after tossing on a tunic and pulling on some leggings, walked out, still tying the waistband.
He stopped with surprise when he instantly recognized the woman. Miravell. Illariel’s mom.
His mind instantly flashed with memories of the previous year. Illariel, the little wood elven girl that had pestered him all the way through their journeys through the forest all winter and into the spring. She and her Arachin friend, the great spider Ari. He pictured the two of them side by side. They were never apart for more than a few hours at a time. She was young and sunny, with long brown hair. He laughed to himself. He had mostly found her annoying, like a little sister. Her youthful cheeks always framed a smile, and her elvish ears always perked up at adventure.
Smiles, until last summer when they had fought the dragons in the palace throne room in Twynne Rivers. That night still made him shake. He had lost his best friend, Korr, and had watched Illariel’s world crumble around her. All of her innocence and optimism was burned away in a single night of swords, magic, blood, and dragon’s flames. After piecing together their lives in Twynne Rivers, and traveling to Korr’s memorial service, they had walked a long and sorrowful path back north to their home in Treehaven.
For Parith, that journey had been his time of healing. They walked mostly in silence, but occasionally talked. It was a good way for Parith to deal with his loss. By the time he had arrived at his home and reunited with his family, autumn was ending and he was starting to feel again.
Miravell had been there to meet them, weeping and embracing her daughter when arrived at her treehome. That was a couple of months ago. Soon after that the winter had set in. Her face today showed tears and worry, not the joy and relief she had felt after the months of her daughter’s absence.
“Parith?” Miravell spoke hesitantly.
“Yes?” Parith responded with tension in his own voice as well. Parith’s family gathered in hushed reverence to hear what was going on. “What’s wrong? Is Illariel OK?”
“No,” Miravell whispered, wringing her hands. “She’s gone.” Her cloak was slightly off-center on her shoulders, thrown on in urgency. He could see that her dress underneath was ragged, like it had been worn for several days. Her hair also had the look of someone who hadn’t had much sleep.
“Into the forest?”
Miravell shrugged. “I assume so.”
“Doesn’t she always do that?”
“That’s what her father says, and the town guard. Nobody cares! She’s been gone for two weeks, and the snows have been heavy, and I’m worried, and she’s not the same as she used to be, and I’ve lost my little leaf!” She dropped her head and her shoulders shook as the words burst out of her. Parith’s mom stepped up to take her by the shoulder and guide her to rest in one of the wooden basin chairs in the common room. They sat in it, and it rocked gently as the two women held each other.
Parith’s mother looked up at him with a pleading in her eyes.
Parith knew that look and knew what he had to do as well. He just nodded. “I’ll go get ready.”
Author’s Note: Where’s My Daughter?
I always feel a sharp pang when I see signs or segments of news shows talking about a missing son or daughter. As a parent myself, it’s one of the scariest things I can imagine. In Illariell’s case, it’s even worse, because Miravell’s daughter is prone to wandering off in the forest for weeks, or in one case, months at a time. That time, she came home with a giant spider as a best friend and a harsh case of PTSD!
What’s a mama to do?
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