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Sunlight drips in a silken corona onto the forest floor and the girl’s shoulder. The girl wears a thin garment of fawn hue, tied around the waist with two coils of skinny rope. She is barefoot, but the mossy bank of foliage surrounding her feels like honey on her skin. The girl touches her hair airily, as if it is a single petal of a blossom, and the slightest touch will wilt it to dust. Her hair, massed in chestnut tresses, feels saturated with liquid. Beads of emerald-hued water trickle onto her fingers. Accompanying them are briny, glass-like tears. The girl lifts her arm slowly, as if she is afraid of what her eyes will see. Vertical slits etched in her skin like pencil lines. Crimson-colored. The mark of blood.

Her mind is an urban pulse, a devil’s paradise. The girl’s soft hazel eyes gaze in fear at the viridescent darkness enveloping her. She does not remember much, only the word Nixie, and the meaning of that eludes her as well.

The girl’s forehead begins to ache. Blue veins pulsate through her skin like heartbeats. A wave of nausea overcomes her. Unbearably painful vignettes, perhaps lost memories, spark through her mind. Girls with ugly mouths hung open in mocking laughter. Sneers. The girl tastes something bitter on her tongue. Loneliness. Isolation. In another memory, a girl runs blindly, away from school, into the unknown. A knife sears through her arms. Held against her neck. Her fingers slip through the handle, damp with tears and perspiration. She is trembling with fear of what will come next.

The girl quivers from these memories. She does not know what they mean, or who she is. Next to her, a knife the color of gunmetal with a sharpened blade rests on a bed of leaves. Subconsciously, her fingers grasp the handle. An overwhelming dizziness exhausts her, and the girl falls limp on the forest floor.

*

A starlit sky. A string of ivory stardust adorning fading hues of gold and deepening shades of indigo. These are the first things the girl sees as her eyelids flutter tiredly. Coldness bites at the atmosphere. It is nightfall.

Rain descends like satin onto the girl’s skin. A darkened silhouette, the outline of a figure, slithers through the dark. It edges closer to where the girl lies.

“Hello, Nixie,” a voice, smooth as velvet, whispers in the gloom.

“Who… what is this?” the girl, Nixie, mutters breathlessly.

“I’m Alena,” the figure smiles sadly.

“What… why… but…” Nixie’s mouth opens to speak, but the words fade on her tongue.

“Come with me,” Alena says. She grabs Nixie’s hand. It glows flaxen in the waning dusk. Nixie gapes in awe at Alena. Her slim figure hugs a sleek gown with a metamorphosis of pure blues and soft greens. An amethyst aura hovers below her waistline. Alena’s face is round and innocent, with deep purple eyes that have seen more than they should and strawberry-blonde hair flowing down like strands of silk. A peach blossom ornaments her hair.

Nixie doesn’t question Alena’s command. Hand clasped in hand, they run through this world of mystery, letting the gentle wind blow them towards their destination.

*

Sea and sand. Nixie stands barefoot, her cream-hued garment reflecting the pearly yellows and whites of a lost sunset. She looks out upon the waves, their shiny surface illuminating the fading amethyst of the sky. White foam laps around Nixie’s ankles. Alena stands silently next to her. She smiles and grips Nixie’s hand, afraid of letting go. They stare off into the fading horizon, into the vast unknown that lies beyond. Rain falls, like heavenly tears, from above.

*

They gaze into the heavens. At the edge of a sloping cliff, with midnight-hued rocks, Nixie and Alena watch mountains evanesce into the night sky. The sky, an endless canvas, is painted swirling hues of blue. A soft teal strikes the vanishing point of the atmosphere, forming halos of light. To Nixie, there is nothing but the whistling wind and the vibrant ocean of the unknown and Alena. Her eyes flit to the incisions of sorrow slit on her arms. She aches.

*

“Why am I here?” Nixie’s lips tremble.

Alena smiles wistfully. Her eyes are tinged with sorrow.

“I killed myself. This is where people like me go to after we die.” She stares into the rippling dusk.

“It’s beautiful here,” Nixie whispers breathlessly.

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”

*

Darkness ascends into twilight. A figure hovers over a girl, hand tucked in hand. She caresses the girl’s palm, so small and fragile. Breakable.

“You attempted suicide,” Alena breathes, barely above a whisper.

Her fingers trace the scars on Nixie’s arms. She points to the stars dancing in the sky. “God made no mistake when He molded you from the heavens. You were made to shine.”

“This world is beautiful. But there is even more beauty in yours.”

She pauses for a moment, and the world tilts to the rhythm of her breaths. “There is even more beauty in you.”

The figure slips her hand out of the girl’s. She fades into the mist, until the girl sees nothing more than a trace of smoke.

*

The girl’s forehead throbs with pain. Something lingers, pulses through her skin, but she cannot identify what it is. Nothing more than a rainy memory.

A knife lies on the forest floor next to her. She picks it up, traces its sharpened blade with her finger.

Nixie drops the knife from her hand. She runs away, into the shadows of the night. Back to home, or whatever lurks ahead.

A figure with a silvery outline and innocent face flickers in the rain. She takes the knife from the ground and nods at Nixie. Then she turns around and vanishes into the darkness.




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