It’s not like she could readily erase her mark. She made sure her clothing covered it, as the law dictated. Wearing long sleeves and high collars in the summer made her stand out, but she could play it off as modesty. The stigma of carrying the mark, surely, was clear on her face. She knew it, and knew her life would be immensely more difficult if she didn’t follow the rules.
Placed on her before she was old enough to remember, it was once a sign of favor. Those carrying the same mark were once revered, or at least respected. All that changed. Fanatics ruined it for everyone. Society came to regard the tribe as hostile, as harsh and insular.
Many went underground. Afraid to reveal themselves to neighbors. Rituals were lost, traditions forgotten, folklore was no longer passed down to new generations. Their history was near extinction. Written records were long ago burned. Anyone found with a proscribed book was imprisoned. A few rogue members were made examples and put to death at public executions.
She missed that feeling of belonging to something bigger than herself. She missed family, and ceremony, the sense of wholeness. That was all replaced by fear, and shame. Being labeled a pariah for something she once thought was pure and righteous, was difficult to rectify.
There were rumors of a few who tried to have their brand removed only to die in the attempt. Others rejected their past, but could never completely escape. She just wanted to stop the lies, and be honest about her birthright.
Her end was near and she was done hiding. Plans were in place. There were others willing to expose themselves, who were working to regain their standing, or at least come out of the shadows. With only close friends attending, her favorite hymns would be sung and childhood prayers recited. A handmade cross would openly mark her grave, her name engraved on the stone for all to see.