His childlike face was bowed with adult despair. Tears trickled down like tributaries off the river of sorrow inside him. For the first time, she had second thoughts about what she had to do.

Could she really kill such an innocent child?

His chestnut, curly hair bounced with deceptive cheeriness as he vehemently wiped the tears off his face. She could see his father in him, his proud, mighty spirit, his high, smooth cheekbones…

But that’s exactly why I have to kill him, she thought disconsolately. To kill my own son, the flesh of my flesh, the blood of my blood…

Days after the delivery, the father had sent a messenger: Kill the child.

And now here she was. But she couldn’t do it.

“I’m going to take you to a family friend,” she said. She mentally slapped herself over and over for what she was about to do.

“Yes, I’ll give you money,” she said quietly. “But I can’t be here to watch it. I’ll take the statue when you are finished.”

And the friend removed her veil and looked at the child.

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