They say she was a monster, an unkindness left by God. People say a lot of things when they don’t get their way. I knew her to be more. She was ill-used, ill-treated, and I should have done more to stop them. But I didn’t. Because unlike her, I was selfish. I am what killed her. I am writing this today, before I run out of my God-given time, as a sort of penance – not that I think the act of writing this will earn me forgiveness but I feel I must explain myself regardless. I must explain to others what it is to entangle oneself with the Gifted, and the dangers that inevitably flow from doing so.
The day I met Brigitte des Fleurs was the day I thought I knew what love was. We were eight. She was pretty, with black curling hair and a petite graceful figure. So naturally, on her first day at our school, as my welcome, I pushed her into the lake, to the laughter of all my friends. I was proud of the attention I had stirred. My actions, however, turned out to be a mistake, as Brigitte had never before been in a body of water larger than her mother’s bathing tub and therefore couldn’t swim. The lake was not terribly deep where we were, but she floundered all the same, and I ended up jumping in after her, soaking my uniform through and earning me two weekend’s worth of detention. I got her out and that was when she started to cry.
Perhaps I should have mentioned earlier the peculiarity of Brigitte that had drawn me to her in the first place, but had frightened all my superstitious schoolmates. Her eyes. One eye, the left one, was a bright shining blue. The other eye was a deep emerald green, the colour of its iris seeming to always be swirling around the pupil and flashing out superiorly to that of the blue of its counterpart iris.
When Brigitte began to cry after I pulled her from the lake, a miraculous thing occurred which astounded even me. Her tears left pearls in my hands. I had yet to overcome my surprise when Brigitte was ripped from my grasp and thrown into the clutches of Mme. Moreau. Mme. Moreau hurried Brigitte away from the gawking onlookers, and the pearls, too, were snatched from me by her snivelling assistant, M. Leroy. To my dismay, Brigitte was henceforth hidden away from us all, but her presence in the school never fully disappeared.
I was the lucky attendee of Mme. Moreau’s School for Unwanted and Undervalued Children. I was sent there at the age of five, when I was found wandering alone in a village no one can remember the name of, and I lived in the boarding school for Unwanted and Undervalued Children until my eighteenth year. The students of Mme. Moreau’s School for Unwanted and Undervalued Children had stories all equal to my own, with slight variances, and we were brought up on the belief that no one in this world would accept us unless and until we graduated successfully. The success rate, however, of those who graduated in the hopes of becoming something to the world was uninspiringly low, something which Mme. Moreau ground her teeth about at night. So far, none of her pupils had proven themselves special; in her words, we were all unwanted, certainly, and of no value whatsoever. We were no better than mere shadows on the wall. Her school was the laughing stock, and nobody wanted her Unwanted and Undervalued children as their apprentices.
This was why she clung so desperately to Brigitte. Brigitte had proven herself as one of the Gifted. The Gifted were few, with special abilities to make the world a better place. With Brigitte by her side, Mme. Moreau branded the slogan, We Are Gifted, and publicly declared Brigitte as her proof that her school was not a laughing stock; her students could be of value.
And so Brigitte was taken from us, never allowed to mix with the other students, for fear they may somehow taint her, and although I saw her poster gracing every wall around the school, never again did I get to see my lovely Brigitte while we attended school together. She was given private lessons, private meals, and private meetings with the importants of the city. They came empty-handed and left with handfuls of pearls. It was not long before our school emblem was that of a pearl, with two haunting eyes above it, one blue, one green. Brigitte was everywhere and yet she was nowhere.
I imagined she must have been very lonely. Sure, she had dignitaries to entertain her whenever they were in want of funds, but nobody to simply talk to for the sake of talking to somebody. I was a rambunctious student, often being sent to detention, and there were days where it would be just me in the study hall, charged with thinking of my misdirections and how I could better direct them in the future. One Saturday, they must have forgotten I was there, for I overheard some of the teachers talking about where they were keeping the Gifted Girl. It was in the East Wing of the Iridum Building, on the third floor, past the statue of the sunbathing siren. As soon as I could, I made my way there. Her room was easy to locate, but of course, it was locked. I did not want to draw attention to myself by knocking, so instead I scribbled her a note and slipped it beneath the door.
This began our correspondence. Every Saturday morning, I would make my way up to the third floor of the East Wing in the Iridum Building, past the statue of the sunbathing siren, and to her door. I would slip my note to her under the door. Usually my notes were along the lines of, Saw M. Leroy pick his nose today. Then wipe it off on Wendell’s sweater. While he was wearing it! – R. Sometimes I would hear her laugh through her door, and I found pleasure in the sound. I strived to always make her laugh. On Sundays, I returned for her notes. She would write about how bored she was, how sad it made her to hear people tell her of their troubles. She would cry for them, and with her pearls, she hoped their lives would shine a little brighter. People came to her with their troubles often; she had become a Healer to them.
It wasn’t until about six months into our correspondence that she began to mention the Shadows. No one was sure what exactly her Gift was. The Gifted vary in their powers, and not all powers develop at once, nor will a power that they started with necessarily be the power that they end up with. Other than Brigitte, I have never known another Gifted, and so I cannot say for sure what their norm really is. For Brigitte, we knew she could turn sadness into something good. Her pearls, which she could never take for herself, helped many. But the appearance of the Shadows was a disturbing find. She spoke of them to no one but myself, at least until she could no longer hide them.
Brigitte was blind in her right eye, the green one. She had been so since birth. But every so often, she said, she would see a flicker in that eye. These flickers would sometimes take shape, never anything concise; the best she could explain it was that a shadow passed across her eye. I found it curious that she be able to see a shadow in what was already just dark space, but it seemed that Shadows were even darker than dark. And it seemed the more Brigitte would cry for others, the darker and more frequent the Shadows appeared. They were drawing steadily closer to her with each flicker.