Kalimè stared at the shimmering portal in front of her. She swallowed hard before closing her eyes and stepping forward. No matter what she did, they still made her nervous. Some memories are just hard to shake. When her foot hit the ground on the other side, she cracked an eye open and looked around. All seemed as it should and she let out the breath she had been holding in.

Some Months ago

She and her mother had been planning a shopping trip. They had poured over their lists, discussing every shop and crafter they would visit. Lilybeth’s eyes shone brightly at her, with a twist of her hand, the portal opened. Kalimè grabbed her bag and stepped through. The next thing she remembered was hearing her mother’s cry.

They were out in a field, Lilybeth and Kalithil seating on a blanket with food all laid out. Lilybeth’s face was filled with horror and Kalithil had turned to look the other way. Looking down at her hands, she saw she was now holding a ball in her hands. Her twin brother Ælithil was standing across the field from her looking equally confused. He was dressed in fighting gear, covered in mud. She sat down on the ground with a heavy thump.

“Oh for fel’s sake! No! You said it was done, An’da! How old were we? How much time did we skip?” Ælithil’s voice was dripping with anger. Kalimè stared at him, tears rolling down her cheeks. He stormed over to his sister. Placing a hand on her shoulder.

“You were 22 when we arrived today,” Lilybeth said, barely above a whisper. “And now?”

“Twenty five. Three years then. Gone.” He tried hard not keep himself calm and level, but it wasn’t working.

Kalimè sat there, quietly mourning another loss. It meant that this time, her parents did not remember her right of passage. They had missed the ceremony completely now. They had been so proud of her as she laid there, still as possible, while the tattoos were tapped onto her face. Nine hours that permanently marked her for life.

Two years of fighting against herself before coming to terms with who she was. She had railed against her lack of magic. Angry at her inability to be like her parents. Her uncle had worked with her a little, exercises to showcase her speed and agility. Almost no one could keep up with her, certainly not her brother. But then, he was too busy discovering girls.

She slowly stood and moved toward her parents. She wrapped Lilybeth up in her arms, “It’s all right Min’da. We’ll get it. This time skip was much shorter than last time.” She looked at Kailthil, her eyes hopeful. “Right An’da? You can figure it out. You always know what to do.” She reached for his hand, but he didn’t take it. He just looked off into the distance, not saying a word. The realization that she was back to this point with him was the hardest. The father that would willingly embrace her was gone again.

She looked back at her twin, who was still seething. He turned and walked off, muttering to himself. This skip had made him angry. The same with the last one. Unlike the previous skips, these two, he was shaken in a way she didn’t understand.

Kalimè made her way through the city after finishing her errands. Turning the corner, she stopped. She stood in the long hall, portals lining the wall. The question was, could she ever feel comfortable with them again?