The Girl In the Forest

"So, who were you?" I asked the girl in the forest politely, off-handedly. I tried adjusting myself so that I was a bit more comfortable, but that wasn't possible. It was an all-around bad position, my torso draped over the rickety, wooden fence and my feet suspended over the knee-height grass. But it was the only vantage point I had of her whole face, since it wasn't like she could move.


The girl laughed, the scurry of small animals through the undergrowth, and said, "Oh, I was you."


I felt the fence crumble away from beneath me, and I had to curl around the beam to steady the spinning trees.


"No, no, please don't misunderstand!" If she could've, she might have taken my hand.


I managed to lift my head back to her without losing balance. She had an apologetic smile that she handed to me very gently; I accepted it graciously.


"What I mean, dear," she explained, "is that our lives are very alike. I lived in your house over there, your room on the third floor, and I chatted with the people I met beyond the fence too. It really is a pity I didn't get to meet you."


"Well, you met me just awhile ago, didn't you?" I said, beaming back at her. "That makes up for it."


The forest was a very silent, peaceful place; the grass was high near the fence and gradually evened out into a neat green carpet, the trees were tall and their leaves waved amiably at passerby, and the sunlight filtered through the feathery canopy, gold and sweet like honey. The fence formed the boundary between my world and hers, that's how the girl always put it.


The girl in the forest laid crumpled up underneath the ground just a foot past the fence, and said she only rose to the surface halfway because the rest of her had vanished into the dirt. I didn't fully understand what she meant, but it was fine that I didn't. Her face was still whole and pretty, after all. It didn't matter that her right forearm was twisted awkawrdly across her chest and that her left hand was no where to be seen. I never even saw her legs all jumbled up in a tangle of white bones and decaying, brown flesh, half-submerged in overturned soil. Her voice was always serene and her smile was always sincere, her pale face ringed with her thin red hair.


As the words left my mouth, I saw the girl in the forest frown for the first time. Then I saw tears slipping out from underneath her round green eyes, which she couldn't even hide.


"What? What is it?!" I felt panic broil in the pit of my stomach, and my voice had risen to nearly a shout.


"I wish I had never met you," she sobbed in a thick, pleading voice. She stole my gaze and I felt two warm breezes brush my cheeks -- they were her hands, holding my face pityingly. The next time she spoke, it was a whisper carried to my ear accompanied by the moistness of her tears on the bridge of my nose.


"Dear, didn't you know? You are going to die."





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