There it was. It stared back at her, challenging her to lose her composure, to shed a tear or a waterfall, to succumb to the grief, to give into the fragile parts of her mind.
A single strand gleamed bright amidst the brown waves.
Her fingers combed through, unthreading the tresses until she held the odd one out aloft.
She stared at it curiously.
So I am alive after all, she thought.
She’d spent many years fighting villains of all sorts, and it had all culminated in a terrible battle against monsters that were no less frightening than the worst nightmares of the world’s collective youth. In the end, she’d found herself in the deepest of pits. There had been a span of weeks when there was no light to be found. She nearly succumbed — but then the darkness lifted into a fog. And then an occasional beam of light would break through.
And now this.
She briefly considered the possibility that she might now have superpowers previously unmanifested.
She ran her fingers down the length of the strand and was pleased that it was white and not grey. She thought of Gandalf. And while he had been undoubtedly impressive as Gandalf the Grey, it was after he’d transformed into Gandalf the White that he became truly magnificent.
Yes, this was a good sign. She decided it was completely reasonable to expect any day now to run across someone — elven or rugged it mattered not to her, so long as he had lovely eyes and longish hair and was decent enough in a crisis — and blowing his mind with her badassness. Worship would be entirely unnecessary, she mused, but a little awe every once in awhile would be fine by her.
Only for a split second did she consider plucking it. But if she denied this part of herself, who knew what else she would be forsaking? So she brushed it back behind her ear, where it lay hidden in the dark strands. She would know it was there, and it would remind her of the battles she’d fought, how she’d come out on the other side, and that there were so many triumphs yet to be had.