Having the ability should have been fun. In another world, a child who could become invisible might play pranks on her parents, might sneak around with friends, might go ride the beasts in the dead of night. In another world, the Ability might have brought freedom and joy. But I was not born in another world, I was born in the Upland, where the Ability was used as a weapon of war.

I didn’t know the Ability existed until the day I learned I had it, when I was five years old. I woke up from a nightmare and began to cry, and my father came into my room, but when he turned on the light, he couldn’t see me. In that way, he learned not only about me but also about my mother. She had sworn that she was an ordinary Leftie, that she had no blood of the Flicker Men, but she had lied.

My mother cried in silence. My father pounded his fist on the table.

“She has the Ability, Rhonda. You have the Ability!” my father yelled.

My mother said nothing.

“You lied to me. You entered the city. You had a child.”

“I never wanted a child,” my mother said. Her voice was soft, and for the first time I could recall in my short life, it wavered.

“You never thought to tell me why not? When I pushed for a family, you couldn’t tell me this might occur?”

“I hoped it wouldn’t,” my mother said. “She’s only one-sixteenth Flicker.”

“You lied!” my father raged. He turned his back to her, faced a window with the curtain closed. After this day, it would remain so.

“Would you have loved me if I hadn’t?”

My mother’s words hung in the air. She and my father didn’t know I was peeking around the corner of the hallway. I don’t think they remembered me at all. One thing I always knew was true was that my parents loved each other. Often their eyes would meet and they seemed to float upward, leaving me below. They spoke their own language, using only their eyes—​his dark brown and hers pale gray-blue.

Flicker and Mist