Her earliest memory is an impossible one: that of her father. He left her, and her mother, when she was only an infant, but he is deep and secure within her memory. He is unforgettable.

The only memory she has of her father is the memory of the night he left her forever.

What she first recalls, however, is her mother's voice, talking to him at the door: "What are you doing here?"

Her father's disembodied reply had been flat, almost mechanical, and as cold as the night outside. As a babe she had chilled to hear it, her whimpers silenced by its stark monotone. "Sintas," he said in the icy voice, "you will let me pass."

"If this is about your possessions, I threw them away."

"Did you, now? I don't think you disposed of all of them.'

There was then the sound of a slight scuffle, then a strange, inhuman visage came into her view, where it towered above her. She was lying on the floor on a thin blanket and could only stare up at him. He knelt down over her, until his blank mask filled her field of vision. "I see one thing of mine is still here," he said.

"She's not yours. You gave her up."

"Not yet."

She stared in horrified fascination at the black visor that inspected her. There was no warmth in his gaze. Were she older, she might have felt as if she were being summed up, or weighed; appraised.

Then, without warning, he reached down and lifted her up, bringing her close to his blank, expressionless visor. He held her as if she were prey-tightly, without care or gentleness. As he brought her close to his concealed face, she whined slightly.

"Hush," he said, and she did. Even as an infant, she knew to obey the voice.

He lightly placed his metallic forehead to her brow, held that touch, then set her back down on her back.

"She is solely yours, now," he said to her mother. "Do what you will. I have no need of her."

He stood up, and he left without another word.

Her mother said to the closing door, "You gave her up a long time ago."

And then there was only silence. And then, much later, she heard the barely audible sound of weeping.

She did not weep.