In Between Minds: Yuliya

“Yuliya, would you collect the eggs and milk the goats? And no listening in, please.”

“Yes, Sofiya.”

Yuliya took the offered pail and basket and skipped out, singing cheerfully to herself. That kind of happiness seemed unthinkable to me. I turned to Sofiya.

“How did she get the…” I gestured to the left side of my face.

“Old beliefs persist in this part of Russia. At a very early age, she showed signs of the gift. Rather than suffer the stigma of raising a witch, her parents, simple-minded and cruel monsters that they were, locked her in a shed, set it on fire and walked away. I was close by at the time and felt her screams. She had protected herself from the worst of the fire, but she was still severely burned on her left side. I brought her here to my cottage. I did for her what I could, but I couldn’t save two of the fingers on her left hand and the burn scars are deep and permanent. Had she been alone, the pain would have killed her.”

Sofiya reassuringly touched my arm. “But she was not alone.”

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