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Silver and Elina

Silver walked along the forbidden path in the woods, deliberately disobeying her father on the one rule that he had ever set out for her. Her heeled black boots quickly tapped the muddy ground, the silver buckles gleaming in the occasional moonlight. Her heel came down on a twig and it snapped. Silver froze and her eyes darted around as she searched for the origin of the noise. Discovering that nobody was around and she had created the sound herself, Silver continued quietly through the forest.
    The sound of breaking branches alerted Silver yet again; but this time it was not her mistake. There was somebody else.
    “Going somewhere?” a soft, childlike voice asked. Silver widened her eyes, searching for the source of the voice, which she had determined was coming from somewhere to her right. Upon seeing no one, Silver began backing away.
    “Up here,” the voice offered, and Silver looked up into the trees. In the faint moonlight, between the branches and the shadows, she saw a girl. She was young; Silver guessed around six, and she had these huge brown eyes which stared at Silver, fascinated.
    “H-hello,” Silver stuttered, taking a small step closer to the tree where the girl sat. As quick as she had appeared, the young girl vanished. Dismayed, Silver cried out, “Hello!?”
    Then Silver heard the soft voice again; “Behind you.”
    Silver whipped around, and there she was again, those tremendous brown eyes staring up at her. “Are you a goddess?” she whispered. “Have you come to save me from the horror?”
    Silver opened her mouth to speak, but the young girl interrupted her; “No, Elina, don’t be ridiculous. Mother told you there’s no such thing as goddesses.”
    Seeing an opportunity, Silver looked the girl dead in the eye and said, “So, your name is Elina?”
    Her head shot up and she looked at Silver, wonder dancing in her gaze. “How did you know?” she gasped. “You really are a goddess!”
    “No, no, I’m not,” Silver said quickly. “You were talking to yourself. You called yourself Elina.”
    Disappointment coloured the girl’s expression. “Oh, I suppose I did.” Elina’s voice was full of embarrassment. “So… What’s your name?”
    It was a split-second decision for Silver. Only her family knew her true name. But this poor girl, poor Elina, was asking. And Silver was going to give her an honest answer. An answer her father would never expect her to give.
    “Aria,” she said with a quick, authentic smile. “My name is Aria.”
    “You have pretty hair,” Elina remarked, also smiling.
    “Oh… I… Um… Thank you,” Silver muttered, not entirely sure what she was supposed to say. Her hair was black with dyed silver streaks. She couldn’t imagine what those streaks looked like bathed in moonlight, but she assumed it would be a pretty sight, especially to someone like Elina.
    “You’re welcome,” grinned Elina. Her own hair was frizzy and mousy brown. It fell just past the girl’s shoulders, and was definitely in need of a good brushing.
    Suddenly Elina began backing away. “Your eyes,” she exclaimed, her own filling with terror. “What’s wrong with your eyes!?”
    Anger flashed through Silver. “What are you talking about? There’s nothing wrong with my eyes!” She had to consciously prevent herself from shouting at Elina.
    “Silver is not a natural eye colour!” Suddenly Elina’s eyes were gleaming with happiness. “Which means you must be a goddess! You’ve been joking with me! You’ve come to save me from the torture that is my life!”
    “Elina,” Silver murmured softly, and the bouncing girl calmed to stare at the one she believed to be her saviour. “I’m not a goddess. This isn’t my natural eye colour. My eyes are typically the colour of the lovely pine trees we’re surrounded by.”
    Confusion flashed across Elina’s face. “Then… Why are they silver now?”
    “Coloured contacts,” Silver admitted. Horror at herself tore through Silver. She had crushed Elina’s hopes of rescue. But she couldn’t save Elina, because she’d have to tell her father that she’d snuck into the woods, and that was where she’d found her.
    “Elina,” Silver began her apology, but Elina turned away. “Elina!” Silver demanded.
    Elina turned back to Silver, her eyes gleaming with sadness and a sense of betrayal. Tears were swimming in her gaze. “How could you!?” she cried in despair. “I was so sure of you, but you’re going to leave, just like everyone else! I can’t take it anymore!”
    And Elina bolted, with the speed of someone who had trained herself to run fast and far from sources of danger. By the time it had even registered in Silver’s mind that Elina was running, she had disappeared. Silver felt inclined to search for her, but she knew that she’d never be able to navigate the forest the way Elina could. The mission was hopeless before it even began.
    “Goodbye, Elina,” Silver whispered into the forest. “I won’t ever forget you, and I hope you don’t forget me, because someday, I plan on returning for you."
    And Silver turned back the way she came, as the sun was beginning to filter through the canopy and cover the ground with dappled green light. I will make it home in time, Silver thought with relief. But Elina will never know a home, she realised. Silver knew it to be true, but she also knew there was nothing that could be done about it. As she exited the forest, one thought reiterated; Be safe, Elina. Find your way out of these woods.






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