Nightmares

Following the shadowy figure ahead. He made swift, rapid hand motions as if he was speaking quickly and angrily. She couldn't seem to hear his voice. The man appeared to be far off, almost like a distant memory. His head turned to look at her, but she could barely make out the contours of his face. The figure began to get blurry, almost to the point where she could no longer see him at all. She squinted her eyes the best that she could as she reached out her long arm and tried to touch the man's sleeve. She had the sudden urge to know what he had said to her, it was as if it was the most important thing in the world at the moment. Her slender finger hardly scraped the tip of the man's jacket but the instant she touched him, the man disappeared. Leaving her staring into the darkness, holding out her hand desperately. The veil darkness slowly began to lift, and as she glanced slowly around, she realized she was on a child's playground.

She felt a deep sadness fill her at the sight of the abandoned playground. The dark, stormy skies loomed over the park menacingly. Bare trees lined the empty sidewalk. There was no one on any of the playground equipment. It felt strange to her seeing such a familiar place without the accompaniment of laughing and shouting children prancing along the damp wood chips. The play structures were all black, including the jungle gym and swing set. She could hear the harsh sound of the howling wind as it blew brown leaves into the air, swirling around her. She lifted her gaze from the rustling leaves to the swing set and drew in a sharp, deep breath as she did so.

A child sat on the swing, only moving the slightest bit. The wind blew the child's hair around her tanned face. The child's eyes were trained on her shoe less feet. She wore a faded pink dress that looked as though it hadn't been washed in years. The pink color had begun to change to a dirty gray, and there were large rips and holes that scattered the thin fabric. Her arms and legs remained bare, though it was obvious that she was cold by the way she shivered violently. Her bloodied hands gripped the thick chains of the swing as tight as she could. The child had long, tangled, thick black hair that was covered with mud and sticks. Finally, the child looked up, her eyes were an icy gray color. Her face was void of emotion, but her eyes were stormy. Thick red blood spilled from a long thin cut across her cheek.

She began swinging back and forth slowly, pushing on the ground with her cut up feet. The child stared at the woman, her body had become stiff all of a sudden and the cool air became colder still. Her breath came out in small little puffs. Her nonchalance, seemed to vanish for half a second, but she composed herself quickly. She stopped swinging, planting her feet securely on the ground.

The look the child had given her, the fear in the child's eyes, was imprinted on the woman, she stepped toward the child on instinct. She wanted to call out to the child, she wanted to beckon for the child to come forward, but the little girl remained seated on the swing. Although she had composed her face to resemble a fearless, emotionless mask, she could not help the horrified look in her eyes.

Large snowflakes began to fall lightly, landing silently on the little girl's exposed skin. The instant the tiny crystal landed on the girl's scarred arm, it disappeared turning into a small droplet of water. The child didn't move. She tightened her hand around the blood-stained chain of the swing.

The woman took three steps nearer to the child so she was only a few feet away. She held her hand out to the little girl, feeling desperate once again. She beckoned for the little girl to join her, but the little girl shook her head stiffly. Fear plagued her icy eyes as she stared at the woman longingly. Inside, the little girl was yearning to place her tiny, cold hand into the woman's, but she couldn't.

With every second that passed, the thick air in the park became colder and colder. And with every passing moment, the child seemed to grow more and more distant, as though she were closing herself up completely. The woman began to take another step closer but the girl shook her head at her rapidly. Her mouth formed the word, “no” but she couldn't force the sound from her closed up throat.

A small movement caught the corner of the woman's eye, but she didn't turn to look at it, her eyes remained fixed on the little girl in front of her. The child stared back at her, holding her gaze, it was the only thing keeping her sane at the moment. A light footstep sounded in the woman's ears, but she ignored it as well, noticing that the child stiffened even more and the split second of fear returned to her face, but remained in her cold eyes.

A dark shadow passed over the little girl's face and she no longer masked her horror. She jumped from the swing and tried to run toward the woman, but two long arms wrapped securely around her pulling her back. She struggled against the figure behind her, but it was no use.

The woman felt the need to help, but it was as though she was rooted to the ground beneath her feet. She tried to move, to protect the little girl, but her legs would not respond. All she could do was reach out a hand to the child as she was pulled slowly away. The little girl held out her small, pudgy hand to the woman, she tried to reach out and grab her as tears slid down her mangled cheek.

“Please,” she cried, forcing the words from her purple lips. “Help me!” The wind howled fiercely around her, but there was nothing the woman could do except reach her hand out to the little girl even further. Her heart felt as though it were being torn from her chest. “Help!” the girl cried once more, but the sound was carried off by the howling, screeching wind. The woman watched helplessly unable to protect the little girl. There was no escape for the child, there never would be.

The woman felt the hot, salty tears slide down her cheeks, and despite the cold air, she felt like she was on fire. With her arm still raised in the direction of the little girl, she began to call out to her. But it was no use. The child stopped struggling and fell limply into the shadowy figure, she'd given up. She listened to the woman's screams and pleading to let her go, but she could never be free.





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