A Beauty Unveiled by Jerry Bridges

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A Beauty Unveiled

As I huddle in front of the fire in our hotel room here in the human's capital city, I realize that I'm trying less to warm my body than to warm my soul. It feels like a thick fog or a huge block of ice has grown up around up around me in the five years since my folks died. I'm curled up in this chair that's made for big people like my adoptive mother. She's Lorealis, a full elf and a High Elf to boot. I'm only half elf and my dad was a Wood Elf. They have these huge pointed ears that go over their head like mine and are only about four feet tall. I'm between my mom and dad in height, almost five feet tall. Lorealis, well; she's tall, beautiful, gracious, and dignified. Men look at her with respect. They look at me like I'm dirt, because that's what I am.
Lorealis said, "Rana?" Speak of the devil, where'd she come from? It couldn't be that late already. Maybe if I just hide in this chair she won't see me. Oh no, she's putting her hands on my shoulders. She's being nice. I don't deserve nice. She won't let me edge away.
"Rana, what's wrong? You're trembling. Where are the clothes I bought you yesterday?" she asked me.
"I burned them," I mumbled.
"You what? I don't believe I heard right. Did you say that you burned them? Rana, those cost a fortune! They were silk! I..."
I know. I was wrong. Can't she tell I couldn't help it? I can't stand the shame any longer.
I stood in the chair and spun around, grabbed her neck and clung to her for my very life. Lorealis' anger disappeared like a stone dropping into calm deep waters. She laid her head against mine and just held me for a long time. I knew I shouldn't let her comfort me, I am too filled with my shame, but it felt so good.
"Dear, what's wrong?" she finally asked me, "Yesterday, you liked those clothes. I would never have bought them had you not been so enthusiastic about them. Why I think you liked them even more than Lear liked his new leather coat." She shuddered as she said leather, as she thinks wearing an animal's skin is a crime against nature, an abomination, something no civilized person could do.
She has been so good to me for the past half year. She has tried as hard to help me as my own mom would have. I should open up more to her. I can't... I backed away from her embrace and set my shoulders determinately. I will.
I tasted this word I hadn't said like this since I watched my mother's murder five long horrible years ago, "M, Mom. Can I call you Mom?"
Lorealis hid her sharp intake of breath behind her hand before she replied, pausing several times appearing to gather her thoughts, "Honey... I know I can never replace your parents, but if it pleases you to call me Mom, then by all means, do." She wrapped her arms around me as her own tears flowed matching those that I had been shedding since long before dawn.
After a minute, she asked, "Is that what this is all about? Missing your parents? I know they died, what five, maybe six years ago now, and I certainly understand..."
"No! It's not about that!" I screamed. Then I hung my head and said to myself too quietly for anyone else to hear, except possibly an elf within a few feet, "All you have to do to survive that is sell your body for the night...

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