“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, happy birthday! Happy birthday to you!”

“Go make a wish and blow your candle dear Ayesha,” Mama said while smiling after she and my papa sang to me a Happy birthday song.

I was celebrating my birthday and I was beyond blessed. We may not have a lot of food on the table, but seeing my parents healthy and happy was enough for me.

I looked at the flame on the tip of the candle. The way it flickered from my sight amazed me. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. But since I was a child, I‘d always been fascinated with fire.

I closed my eyes and wished.

I wish my parents to live longer with good health and always be happy.

I smiled, opened my eyes and blew the candle of my cake in front of me. Happy sweet sixteen to me!

“Happy birthday dear,” Papa said smiling while handing me a small box that was wrapped with red paper. It had a yellow ribbon tied up to it.

I was teary-eyed when I held it in my hand. We were poor. And we were actually living in the slum. Scala Town, where I live right now, was one of the slums of the Kingdom of Zoara.

Receiving a gift from my papa was really touching for me. My papa and mama were working in the farm nearby, but still I was proud that they were my parents because they raised me well.

I pulled the ribbon and opened the box. I almost gasped when I saw the beautiful necklace inside. It was a white gold necklace with a flame like pendant hanging on it.

“I can’t take this Papa,” I said while putting back the necklace inside the box.

“That is yours dear. Take it,” he replied and put it back in my hands.

“But I think this is so expensive. I know we don’t have a lot of money,” I mumbled sadly to him.

“Don’t worry dear. That is not that expensive as you think,” he reassured and then smiled at me.

I bit my lower lip and hugged him. “Thank you, Papa.”

“You’re welcome, dear.”

***

I didn’t have visitors on my birthday. Our house was just small and it was made of wood. It was kind of located in a mountain area. And the next house was also far from our house. So we were done celebrating it. I also didn’t have friends. So what was the use of inviting someone? As if I also got someone to invite to. All of our neighbors of the same age of mine hated me and I didn’t know why.

I would sometimes look at myself in the mirror if there was something wrong with my appearance. My hair was straight and black, and it was long up to my waist. My skin was pinkish white and my face was so small with a little freckles on my cheeks and nose. My body was petite and my height was only five feet. I was normal. My Mama even told me that I was beautiful. But why couldn’t others see it?

My parents were also aloof to others. They didn’t have that much of what they called friends too. Sometimes I wonder why my parents were like that. It was like they didn’t want us to get closed to other people here in our town. Our town was just small compared to others.

The land of Anteras was divided into five Kingdoms. The kingdom of Zoara, Krishna, Cenchrea, Havilah, and Gethsemane.

Scala Town belongs to the Kingdom of Zoara and it was not really that big too compared to other Kingdom,

I even heard a lot of rumors that each kingdom was being protected by dragons. The Fire Dragon of Zoara, Water Dragon of Krishna, Earth Dragon of Cenchrea, Metal Dragon of Havilah, and Wind Dragon of Gethsemane. It was kind of talk of the town but I hadn’t seen one in my entire life. Maybe it was just a myth or something. But I didn’t really believe it. Not unless I saw one.

“Ayesha, dear?” Mama called outside the wooden door of my room. I was inside while looking at myself in the mirror.