Each time the pickaxe struck rock, Ruby could hear her mother reciting their peoples’ traditions.
“Daughters are named after their mother’s favorite gem in the earth,” she said.
This custom was sweet, but life underground had other expectations— ones that Ruby did not want to honor.
“Every girl receives her family’s pickaxe on her thirteenth birthday. It’s her duty to dig a den for the many children she will have.”
“Your father is choosing your husband who will want children right away. Why haven’t you started carving out your home?”
“Any girl who disobeys is cast below into the Deeps with the creatures who will eat them. I’ll inform the council of your betrayal if you don’t start digging now.”
Don’t worry, mother, I’ll banish myself, Ruby thought.
She thrust the nose of the pickaxe into the boulder with all her strength. The stone crumpled away and something new took its place — light. Ruby let the sun wash over her for the very first time.