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I am Elani. My name may not mean much to you. My other name will. That name will never pass my lips again as it is the name of a woman cursed.

My parents abandoned me when I was barely six years old.

By then I was already known by the other name, even in the Shadows of the city where my parents had left me to die. At times I wished I had done them this service.

I quickly learned to only come out at night. At first I begged for some bread and cried out in a soft, small voice for a little mercy. As I grew into a woman's body I learned there was good coin in laying on my back for sailors with whiskey in their breath.

Drunk sailors don't bother with light. All they care for is sweet relief. I give it to them and as they sleep I take their fat pouches and escape their stinking rooms.

I don't mind being a thief. Who else cares for a girl who casts the shadow of a man twice her size?

Story by:

Sylvia van Bruggen

23 April 2013