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gaborrero t1_j2b4dm5 wrote

It was a cruel joke, I figured, that my parents picked a tortoise for my anima. There wasn't much playing to be done with her - I could talk and she would listen. Rarely, she would talk back, voice like tearing paper. Her face was wizened and craggy, and she always gave me her full attention.

I was lonely.

Unlike my friends, I couldn't really play much with my anima. They would chase and laugh and dance and sing, and all I could do is sit with mine, watching their frivolity.

Then, one day, it happened: Andrew's anima passed away. We were all of seven years of age when his anima lay itself down and didn't budge, eyes closed in a permanent, peaceful rest. As serene as it was, I will never forget how Andrew screamed and cried, begging his anima to open her eyes once again.

As we got older, the story was told again and again - friend after friend, person after person, had their anima pass away. On their anima's passing, they were declared old enough to work and told they had to take up an apprenticeship or go into the mines.

My parents were far from what I'd call rich; they worked every day of their lives, in sickness and in health, so that we could be fed. Our meals were humble, our celebrations modest, and we were the talk of the town for so many reasons. My father was a miner, and my mother, a weaver. They just barely held onto life and each other for so long.

Until finally, life too was gone from their eyes. I was only nineteen years old. My mother's raw scream of horror still pierces my mind almost as vividly as the image of how I found her the next morning when she decided she couldn't, wouldn't live without my father.

Still, I had my anima as company. She was slow and gentle, and rested her head on my shoulder as a way to soothe me. For a while, I didn't want to talk to anyone, no less my anima.

I had no choice when the magistrate arrived one morning with a knock-knock-knock on my door. When I opened it, this old woman's gaze fell on my anima. She was quiet for a time, and then informed me that I would have to move and become a ward of the state. As the law went, if you have an anima, you are not done developing and cannot work. I would be put into a home and cared for until the day my anima died.

She didn't speak often, but when the magistrate left, my anima slowly drifted her head through the air until she was staring me down. "Do not worry," she said in her voice like autumn leaves crunching underfoot. "I will always be here for you."