Me: Yes, I'm sure. I told you earlier: all you have to do is answer the questions.
Emma: I d-don't know . . .
Me: You'll be fine. Velone, back me up.
Emma: *after some nudging from Velone, a purple, kitten-sized dragon sitting on Emma's shoulder* W-well . . . a-all r-right. I g-guess I can t-try to answer . . .)
1. What is your first childhood memory?
Emma: Um . . . I r-remember Mama s-singing to me. She w-was a-always singing, or h-humming, or s-something. And I'd t-try to s-sing with her s-sometimes . . . but m-mostly I just l-listened.
2. What was your best and worst childhood experiences?
Emma: . . . C-Can I p-please answer a d-different question?
3. Fine. We'll come back to that one. What was your childhood home like?
Emma: D-do you m-mean Alyron Village? O-or my h-house?
Whichever you prefer to tell us about.
Emma: I d-don't r-really want to t-talk about the V-Village . . . but I l-liked our c-cottage . . . it looked m-mostly like the other cottages, b-but Mama had l-lots of flowers p-planted outside instead of j-just f-food plants. A-and she k-kept white c-curtains on the w-windows, a-and a l-loom and sh-shelves full of yarn and f-fabric in the f-front room. I think we h-had the p-prettiest cottage in the V-Village.
4. What’s something that scared you as a child?
Emma: *whispering* L-l-lots of th-th-things sc-scared me . . . m-most of th-th-them s-still d-do.
*Velone gives Emma an intent look and seems to be silently saying something which makes Emma perk up a little*
5. Who did you look up to most?
Emma: Mama and Gwen.
6. Favorite and least favorite childhood foods?
Emma: My f-favorite food was- s-still is- fresh berries and cream. L-least f-favorite . . . I d-don't know. I r-remember that I w-wouldn't eat rabbit for a w-while, but I d-didn't n-not like it . . . I j-just felt sorry f-for the b-bunnies.
7. If you had your childhood again, would you change anything?
Emma: Y-yes . . .
Are you going to elaborate?
Emma: I-I . . . I g-guess I'd j-just try to b-be b-braver . . . or s-something l-like th-that . . .
8. What kind of child were you? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?
Emma: I w-was quiet. O-obedient. Sc-scared of e-everything, l-like I s-said . . . I l-liked st-staying inside a-and w-working with Mama a-and s-singing. N-Nightshade c-called me d-dull as a d-dishrag. I th-think she m-might've been r-right, b-but . . . I l-liked w-what I did . .
9. What was your relationship to your parents and siblings like?
Emma: *halfhearted smile* W-which o-ones? I h-had l-lots . . . I loved Mama. Loved her m-more than anyone. I d-didn't s-see much of F-Father . . . I d-don't think he r-really n-noticed me, I was so q-quiet. And I w-was in awe of G-Gwen and Jake and Dea . . . and s-scared of N-Nightshade and J-Jared . . . Th-there w-were a f-few siblings I l-liked, but n-not many . . . only the ones who were q-quiet l-like m-me.
10. What did you want to be when they grew up, and what did you actually become?
Emma: I d-don't know w-what I wanted to be . . . but I kn-know w-who I w-wanted to b-be: Mama. Or m-maybe G-Gwen. I'm n-not either of th-them . . . I'm s-still just me . . . b-but I'm n-not r-really grown up yet ei-either.
Great. Now, remember, we still have one question left: best and worst childhood experiences.
Emma: Oh-h-h . . . D-do I h-have to a-answer?
I'd like it if you did. You can at least do the best experience, right?
Emma: W-well . . . I l-liked l-lessons with Mama, when she taught me t-to s-sew and kn-knit and c-crochet and a-all th-those k-kinds of things . . . And w-when I made my first sk-skirt a-all by m-myself.
See, that wasn't so hard. What about the second half of the question? Do you think you can answer that?
Emma: I g-guess . . . *looks down and whispers* The w-worst experience of m-my ch-childhood . . . I g-guess when m-my ch-childhood sort of e-ended . . . w-when Mama d-d- *chokes out the word, trying not to cry* Died.
*Velone nuzzles Emma's cheek comfortingly, humming to her, and glares at me for upsetting his Emma*
Aaaand that's where the questions end. I think I shall back slowly away from the angry dragon now . . . Thanks, Emma, for answering, and thanks to everyone else for reading. I hope you enjoyed that!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)