Returning home always felt like compulsory act forced on her from an outside source. She dreamed of the rock, and its magnificent fish, swimming in an ocean-blue universe of its own. The miserable edifice she called home barely had three legs of wood left to stand on. She could hear yelling from inside the building.
“I am afraid we have no choice,” A pair of tax collectors said; one a man, one a woman. “She must be taken to satisfy the state.”
“Please, I cannot afford to lose her, I have been out of work. Take the house! Take the furniture, whatever is left, but not my daughter,” her parents screamed. One of the collectors turned, hearing the sound of her panting as she stood frozen in the doorway. They grabbed her and held her in their severe grip.
“I am sorry, there can be no bargaining. That is the will of the people of the state. Debtors must sacrifice their children to the village.”
“She is not even that beautiful,” her mother said, reaching for her daughter. “They cannot want her for—”
“It is not for beauty, but for durability. Beauty wanes very quickly. It is best that they start young; they will become more easily accustomed to the life.”
“Please! No!” they begged. Her father lunged, but was struck down by the man. He coughed weakly, his sickness having extinguished the hate and anger that temporarily gave him strength.
“I have something,” she said, breaking the rough fury of the talk with her voice. “Something of value.”
The adults were all silent. Her weak-constitution mother, her ill father, the tax-collectors; all turned their gaze to her.
“Let us see it,” they said in unison. She headed out towards the stone.