I saw it before she did. Before the movement caught her eye and she looked up, I saw it: a single feather falling to her, moving like no feather should, with purpose, unwavering, towards the hands gathered in her lap. It was blue, that feather, blue as the sky of the south, blue as a hummingbird's throat, blue as a jewel—blue as poison, blue as the film over a dead woman's eyes—and it was coming home to her like a curse. In that moment I saw it all: the smoke and the screaming, the strife and the slaughter, the rows of heads and hearts, the tall temples and ceaseless wars and the blood spilling and spilling and spilling.
She looked up in surprise, and held out her hand.
And I saw that though she is my mother, though he would be my brother, and though I would not succeed, I would have no choice. Though I would fail, I would have no choice.
I saw her, then, take that feather and accept it into her heart.