I blinked at the bright light that poured into my room as someone opened the heavy curtains over my window. I opened my eyes properly and saw Sophie stood by my bed holding today’s attire, I took this as a subtle hint that it was time to get up although I knew if I decided to venture back into my slumber she wouldn’t object. Sophie’s family had been serving mine for many years and Sophie had also decided to do so, she was my ladies maid, chosen because we were a similar age. I examined her closely, her dark hair had been pulled into a tight knot at the crook of her neck and the usual healthy glow was gone. The colour in her face had drained, her blue eyes burning brighter against her unusually pale skin. I sat upright.
“My God Sophie whatever is the matter, are you alright?” I was genuinely worried; Sophie and I had become very close since she had come to work for my family. Sophie didn’t answer me but gave me a tiny nod which I would not have noticed if I hadn’t been looking at her so intently. I knew at once something was wrong.
I got up at once and went to my mirror; my ivory skin was the perfect contrast to my red hair. Everyone I had ever met had commented about my hair, it was actually red. Not the ginger that some people call red. No my hair was a natural blood red. My hair was not my most striking characteristic though, my eyes were. Looking in the mirror the large almond shaped eyes looked strange to even me. My right eye was the deepest blue I had ever seen and my left eye a velvety brown. My eyes always left an impression on the people I met. I quickly brushed my vivid ringlets after Sophie had helped me dress and hurried downstairs into the drawing room.
My mother and father were sat side by side whispering quietly. I shut the door behind me and they both fell silent and turned to face me. They looked almost as anxious as Sophie had; the whole situation was making me feel quite nervous.
“Sit down Juliette” I heard my mother’s voice waver, something was most definitely wrong. I sat as instructed across from my parents and looked at them seriously. My father opened his mouth as if to speak but then shut it again, this action was repeated several times by both parents but neither seemed able to speak to me.
“Mother, what has happened?” I asked hoping that my voice didn’t give away the emotional turmoil I was going through. My mother looked away like she suddenly found the floor fascinating. “Father?” I was getting desperate now. My father took a deep breath and plucked up enough courage to speak.
“There’s something we haven’t told you Juliette but you have to understand it was for your own good.” My father took my hands in his and held tightly. It was as if he thought I would disappear if he let go. “Juliette, you are cursed. When you were born you were very sick, no not sick but dying. We had to do something, we couldn’t just watch are baby daughter perish. So we made a deal to keep you alive.”
“I don’t understand” I murmured, questions were running through my head. The answers to these questions were impossible for me to comprehend. “Why didn’t you tell me I was ill? What do you mean I’m cursed? Who did you make a deal with?” The questions were spilling out of my mouth. My father’s voice shook as he spoke “I will start from the beginning Juliette, I will answer all of your questions. We owe you that much.” He glanced over to my mother who sat silently, tears brimming in her beautiful brown eyes. My father began.
“Juliette when you were born you were so small, so delicate. The doctor told us your heart was much too weak, he told us that there was no hope for your survival.” My father looked me in the eye and continued. “There was hope though! We were visited by an angel, he told us he would cure you but there was a price. We blindly agreed to his deal without knowing the consequences. He cured you and then told us he’d be back in a year. That was the best year of our lives; we had the baby we had always dreamed of and we were happy. Our angel returned like he said he would but he was different. Juliette, he was not an angel. The abomination was Lucifer himself and the consequences of our decision were explained. The moment you turned sixteen the creature inside you would awaken.”
I was shell-shocked, were they playing me for a fool? My father could not possibly be telling me the truth. I examined his face and the realisation dawned on me that he was telling the truth. My father was being the most truthful he ever had been with me. My life was a lie. I was cursed. That one word had the ability to ruin my entire life. Cursed. Cursed. Cursed.
“What creature i-“my voice broke mid sentence, I cleared my throat and tried again “what creature is inside me?” my father shuffled through the pile of papers he had on his desk and pulled out a picture and handed it to me.
The creature was blood red and resembled a mixture between a snake and a crocodile. It was huge with gleaming teeth that made me shiver even knowing it was only a painting. It had spiked wings and black talons. The characteristic that stood out most was its eyes. One was blue and the other brown. I threw the picture back onto the table and sprinted out the door. I don’t know how long I was running all I knew was the forest I had stopped in was very far away from my home.
I sat in the forest until nightfall. The sky had turned an inky black; the only illumination was small pockets of light that dotted the twilight. Everything was still; as if the world had frozen in time. Not even leaves dared to fall in fear of destroying the serine backdrop. On a normal day I would have stopped here and taken out my sketchbook. On a normal day I would have sat for hours drawing the stunning landscape. On a normal day I would be so absorbed in my work I wouldn’t have noticed the darkness slipping away and being replaced by the soft glow of sunrise. On a normal day I would not have found out that in three days I will be able to morph into a Dragon.
Sitting in that forest I made a decision, on that I would keep to. I would not let this ruin my life. I was going to be strong.
The day of my sixteenth birthday arrived and I got a shock. I woke up and I was fine, normal even. I had expected to wake up as a monster but I hadn’t. A wide grin spread across my face and there was a knock on my door. My parents were stood on the other side but strangely their smile’s didn’t match mine. They were giving me a sad ‘it’s ok’ smile. That’s when I remembered the final detail my father had told me when I returned from the forest. “You will only change when you’re in a highly emotional state be it happiness, sadness or anything in between.”
My world felt as if it were crumbling all over again. I ran down the stairs and into the garden then burst into tears. It had the affect I thought it would. I felt my skin tightening and my bones changed places and size. I screamed, the pain felt like it was going to last forever.
Eventually it stopped; I knew without looking at myself I matched the picture I’d seen. I also instinctively knew how to use this new body. I flapped my spiky wings and took off. I honestly had never felt freer in my life. Flying through the sky was like second-nature to me. All my life I had felt slightly empty, now I felt complete.
Five years later I had the normal life I had always craved, I went to the university I had always dreamed of, I had learned to control my emotions and through that I could control my shifts. I didn’t shift very often but when I did it wasn’t out of sadness. All I did was think about the people I love and how happy they make me and my happiness is powerful enough for me to feel free once again. I knew now the person my parents thought was Lucifer was in fact the angel they’d suspected first. I wasn’t cursed I was gifted.
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