I had a daughter once.
No, that isn't right. There was a little girl who lived in this house, and she was flesh of my flesh and blood of my blood,
but she wasn't mine. That delicate, alien creature, with her ancient eyes and ravenous mind, she could not possibly be mine.
Simon was gifted too, of course-- never let it be said that Gabriel and I were not proud of Simon, before he went mad and
shamed us-- but he was gifted as children ought to be. Smarter than his classmates, but not his teachers. We simply skipped
him ahead through his classes, advancing him with regard to his mind rather than his body, and he learned properly, steadily,
putting the pieces together from lectures and books until he saw the world as it was, from precisely the correct angle. No
strange leaps of intuition from Simon, no inexplicable arguments that the way the teachers taught the world was wrong. Simon's
gifts were never frightening. Simon was never frightening.
She was such a sweet little baby in her cradle, wrapped up tight in swaddling clothes, watching everything with those huge
clear eyes of hers. I thought it was charming, then, how she seemed to understand what she was seeing even before she could
speak or walk. I thought it an illusion. I didn't yet realize that she was a changeling.
Not mine; nothing I made. Not Gabriel's. She was a dream made flesh, not a mortal child, and I know who dreamed her. Simon.
Even being normally gifted meant that he had no peers, and I would hear him at night, talking to himself, asking the spirits
of the house for someone to understand him. Somone who would be his, and to whom he could belong. Someone who would share
with him an unbreakable love.
He got what he wanted. Simon created her; she was his, not mine. Not Gabriel's. The two of them moved a bit apart, made
their own little family without need for us or our love. Simon at least acknowledged us, perhaps even believed that he was
bound to us still. River never bothered with such illusions. I knew, looking into her eyes when she was still a child, that
she felt nothing but indifference toward us both. She knew she was not ours and never had been.
They never needed anything but each other. Well, now that's what they have, out there on the run. I wonder if they know
what they've done to us, the cost we've paid for their defiance. Simon, my son, would feel guilty. Simon would grieve.
River, that ungrateful parasite that repaid our nurturing with ruin, would laugh.