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I Want to Dream

I wish I hadn't been born. I wish I had died when I was born. I wish that I had the courage to kill myself.


But I don't, because that's what they want.


I'm Marked, meaning I've got a birthmark that can't be removed indicating that I've got a special power. Thing is, my power is hated in the country of Rotheya. Always has been, always will be. They've grown more "humane" over the course of thousands of years, but it's still the same. I had a choice; live in a far away country or live in jail for the rest of my life. I consistantly opted for the third choice.


You see, no one realized that I was Marked; not until I leapt out of a two-story window. Then I found out my power, and fled. The authorities, because they keep tabs on every child in Rotheya, knew I had run, and guessed why I had.


They can still find me, I've found. They don't know my name; I obliterated all of that crucial information. But they know I'm out there, still breathing, still living.


And if they can catch me, I'm dead; I've taken away all of their supposed grace for me.


I've been traveling around, not revealing my true identity, pretending, when I wanted a change for a night, to be a needy, homeless girl. But I'm really not all that helpless.


My power is to shift into any cat form. Domestic cat? Lion? Cheetah? Piece of cake. But I'm no killer. I vowed that I would never use my power to kill. So the authorities will chase to kill, but I will escape without such a desire.


My official title is "Shape-shifter, feline." Shape-shifting Marked are thought to be rare because so many of them escape to live with the shapeshifter race. I haven't. I know doing so will protect me. I know have a better chance of living if I joined a shapeshifter village. But I don't. Because a part of me doesn't want to survive.


And so now I'm here, standing in front of the tall gates leading into Hyrac, one of the most prominent cities in Rotheya. Perfect place to blend in.


But my luck runs out when a girl sees me and calls out to me.


"Hello, sister!" she greets me, running up to me. "Are you looking for a place to stay?"


"I'm fine," I say shortly, trying to turn away so she'll get the hint.


But she doesn't. She grabs my arm and says, "Look, sister, I've got a place that you can stay. Come with me!" With that, she drags me off, with me only half-heartedly trying to stop her.


She brings me to a shop that has a house attached to it.


"Papa! Look who I found!" she calls as she dashes over the threshold. "Come in sister," she says to me over her shoulder.


Tentatively, I walk into the shop. It's a cozy little bookstore, with shelves instead of walls. Not a single space on the shelves was not occupied by a book. Comfy chairs and small wooden tables were scattered everywhere.


The girl returns with her father.


"See?" she says happily. "I'm going to help her!"


"What is your name?" the father asks me.


"Neka," I lie, instantly saying the first name that came to my mind.


The father nods. "Are you need of anything?"


I'm about to say no when I realize that I wouldn't have to hunt for mice this evening if I took advantage of this girl's and her father's kindness. So I close my mouth and nod.


He smiles and says, "We'll be eating in a few moments. Therla will show you around, I'm sure."




The whole, enjoyable evening replays in front of my eyes as I lie down on the bed I was given for the night. The girl, Therla, went on and on about how she was going to be a ballerina when she grew older. She insisted on showing me some of the moves she had learned.


A tear slides down my cheek as my mind watches her dancing. Didn't I once have dreams like Therla's? Didn't I once wanted to be a ballerina, especially after I had found a talent in it? More tears slide down my face. I put up with running; I didn't enjoy it. I missed my family. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to have a chance at being a ballerina, like I thought I had once had. A sob escapes my body.

What did I do to deserve being Marked? I did not want to live my life as a Marked. I wanted to be free and live the way I had once dreamed.


There's a crash at the shop's front door, making me sit bolt upright in shock. I quickly leap to my feet and run downstairs to see what the matter is.


The kind father has already beaten me downstairs. Standing in front of him are huge officials.


They found me. They found me and have come to annihilate me.


One of the officials grins when he sees me. "Play time's over," he tells me, lunging for me.


I'm too shocked to react and next thing I know, I've got two officials at my sides, each one holding an arm.


I'm caught. I can't run anymore.


They drag me out of the building, and as they do so, one more tear slides down my cheek.



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