Friday Fiction: Changeling, Part 1

Depressingly, I am now starkly aware that the largest barrier to my fiction is that structure and I do not see eye to eye. So, I’d like to say that I know where this is going, but I’m not 100% positive. I actually wrote an outline for this one, so hopefully it won’t go the way of “20th”, which I really must do post-mortem on one of these days, but I’m not 100% on if what I’m crafting up will be a satisfying story in any real way. At any rate, I’ve tried for a bit too long now to offer up excuses if you don’t like how this starts off.

The Changeling

I have never known my true face.

There are no portraits or photographs made by a doting mother and father and hung above a mantelpiece, lit by the warm caress of lamplight and the glow of parental affection. The man and woman I could most accurately call parents have long been quit of me. They raised me as far as they felt was necessary. They couldn’t bear to be associated with “my kind”. I remember laughing at that. They knew what I was as well as I did, which is to say that they had only the faintest inklings. It was about all we had in common.

I envy the orphaned. They have either the certainty of a love lost or the wistful dream of a noble and grand lineage. I can suffer no such illusions. I was abandoned. Worse still, I was abandoned in place of a human child stolen from under the noses of my adoptive parents. The man and woman who raised me are decent people by all definitions, but were unfit for my circumstances and I knew that I was always a poor substitute to the child they created together like gods in their own universe. I don’t need any more details about those who created me to frame a clear enough portrait. They were the sort of parents that leave their children mewling in the bassinets of mankind, lost to the world that they were born to.

When I was very small my parents never noticed anything unique about me. They knew that I was not their child of course. They also were not the sort of people to abandon a helpless infant to fate in spite of a sadness that I know was inconsolable, in spite of the concession they were left with. I was a baby in every way that they had wanted one. I cooed and drooled and had eensy toes that I would put into my mouth. The malleability of youth. Were it not so regular I would call it a portent.

The appearance of an infant changes—in comparison to an adult human—with frightening speed. I do not mean false cosmetic change. Applying makeup or changing a hairstyle doesn’t effect a fundamental change. Babies and toddlers, though, change rapidly and surprisingly. Blues to brown eyes. Blonde hair to black hair at the core. Blemishes fade, marks surface. Body shape forms and shifts. Bones fuse and vanish. It’s no surprise I’m most comfortable around children. It’s not because of shared ancestry.

I was just past two years old that they finally decided something was “amiss”. Much is made of outright insults and slurs. I don’t understand the impact. They are a telegraph of emotion. You know how the wielder of an epithet feels about you. They’ve made it plain as day. Wipe them clean from your life.

Something amiss. And said with a smile and eyes that expected commiseration. I don’t ever expect to wash that away. They both asked for hugs after we had that talk and I could see in their stance that they felt some great weight had been lifted from them. They had been absolved and by confronting this issue head-on, they had graduated to mature adults who were proud of the burden they had to bear. I was to recognize them as noble guardians for their acceptance of my strangeness. They embraced me as if I was their new brother in solidarity and I embraced them to say goodbye. I didn’t leave for several years, but I was homeless from that point on.

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