Authors Note: This story is an example of where I’ve come from as a writer, as it was written when I was 12-13 years old. My purpose in sharing it with you, completely unedited, is to show that no writer starts out perfect and everyone comes from being a beginner at some point.
It was an early spring day, and the last winter frost had melting away. The flower buds were blooming, and the trees were turning green with leaves. The apple trees had little pink flowers sprouting all over their white branches, and the smell of the apple blossoms permeated the air. The birds were settling in their new nests, and flying around with high spirits. Little animals were scurrying around in the forest, breathing in the new air. Villagers greeted each other with merry smiles, their faces aglow with the touch of spring. So many happy faces, and so little stress.
No one understood how hard that time was for me. No one knew how stressed life was for me during that beautiful moment. With eight sick siblings in my family, and a sick mother with a child on the way, things were pretty hard in my house. I was the only one not sick, so it was up to me to take care of everyone while papa was off hunting.
He was almost always away hunting. The only times we ever got to see him was when he came home with the fresh meat, or when he got tired, and decided to come home and sleep for awhile. Just a month before, he had come home because it was my birthday. As he stumbled through the door, his eyes looking heavy and his shoulders slumped forward, He sputtered out in a slur of words, “happy thirteenth birthday, Addy.” First off, my younger sister’s name is Addy. I’m Audrey. And second, I hadn’t turned thirteen, I was turning fifteen. He had been gone so much, that he couldn’t even remember which child I was. Time seemed to have completely slipped away from him, and he didn’t show that he cared whatsoever.
On top of papa being gone so much, mama had been expecting the baby any day now, so she just sat around and did nothing. She said she didn’t want to push the baby out sooner than it should come out. She said that too much movement can cause the baby to come out too early, and perhaps mess up the brain. It may end up not being able to think straight. Mama said that that’s what happened to me. She said being that I was the first born, she didn’t know how to handle a human being in her womb. She spent so much time getting ready for my coming, that she just pushed me right out while she was busy working, and because I was born early, I came out cursed.
I always daydreamed, and my imagination would always get ahold of me, making me see imaginary people. I would see short people the size of a small child, but they weren’t small children, they were full grown adults. I also saw the flower pedals from the apple trees floating in the air in the shape of a human girl. The weird thing was that they even waved at me. I tried to make the illusions go away, but they never did. I just kept on seeing things. I tried so hard to be normal, for my mama’s sake. I really did.
But no matter how hard I tried to get better, I always failed. I kept on seeing things without wanting to. Sometimes I thought I was going crazy, like I had no sanity left at all. Other times I thought it was because I was lonely, and I had no friends, so my mind projected things. I know it’s weird, but it all seemed so real. I couldn’t help it, and mama said that I could, but I just didn’t think I could.
Perhaps I am going insane, I had thought to myself. Perhaps all of the things I see are really just my imagination, and I really am cursed. Thoughts like these would enter my mind so often, and I would let them tear me apart until I felt weary and worthless.
“Audrey,” a weakened voice said to me outside of my mind.
“Yes, Addy?” I answered my sister, who was only two years younger than me.
“I… can’t… sleep,” Addy said, struggling to push the words out in between forced breaths.
“You must try, dear sister. It’s hard, I know. Rest now. Or you won’t get any better,” I soothed. I had been sitting on the window seat in our tiny home, but had moved to sit next to Addy to stroke her sweaty brow.
Addy gave a half nod. She forced her eyes to close, her lips slitted open to struggle to keep breathing. She kept her eyes closed very tight, trying to sleep. It was apparent that she was desperately trying to sleep, the lines across her forehead saying so. She would make an occasional weak sigh as a sign of frustration.
“That’s it, close your eyes,” I said, rubbing her cheek with the back of my hand. I ran my fingers through her ashy-brown hair, trying to comfort and sooth her into sleep. I would occasionally press my hand against her brow again, doing everything I could to help her rest.
“Your hands, they’re so cold. Are you cold, sister?” Addy asked me, using as much strength as she could to clasp her shaking fingers around my hand.
“No. I’m fine. Rest now, you don’t want to wake mama,” I said, shushing her. I gently lifted her hand off of mine, and placed it by her side.
She closed her eyes again, and soon I could hear her breathing in long breaths, showing she had fallen asleep. She breathed heavily through her mouth, and had a fistful of the itchy blue blanket in between her fingers.
I gave her one final stroke, and then returned to my spot upon the window seat. It was heartbreaking to see my sister and the others so terribly sick. “God, Why did she have to get sick? Why did anyone have to get sick? And why does papa stay away so much? Why can’t he just stay home and take care of us?” I whispered softly but angrily, staring out the window. “Dear God’s, why couldn’t it be me lying there?!” I said in anguish, a single tear slipping down my cheek.
“Audrey, close the drapes, you’re letting in too much light. It’s giving me a headache,” mama said, sitting up from her bed on the other side of the room.
I hurried to pull the pathetic cloth we considered to be curtains over the window, making sure all outside light was blocked. “There, no lay back down before you stress yourself more, mama,” i said softly.
“I’m fine, don’t try to help me. I know perfectly well how to take care of myself.,” mama said. “Of course you do, mama,” I said. “I won’t bother you anymore now,” I said.
“Now I don’t see how that will be possible, you’re a bother to me no matter what!” Mama said. “It had to be me to have you, didn’t it? You are certainly an odd one, aren’t you?” She said. She talked so freely as though she figured I wouldn’t be able to grasp the concept of anything she said.
Her words stung, however, as I bit my lip to try and suppress the tears that wanted to come forth. I didn’t want her to see that I was hurt. I only wanted her to be happy. “Yes mama, I am. Now, please try and sleep,” I said, trying to sound less commanding while hiding my pain.
“Alright. I shall. But I expect those drapes to stay closed. Now no silly imagining things while you’re sitting there. I don’t want you to start talking and wake the poor children with your nonsense,” Mama said, lying back down on the bed.
“Yes mama,” I said, looking at the eight sleeping children that were all across the floor.
Normally me and Addy would share a cot, but because she was sick, mama made me give it all to her, and I was to sleep in the barn up in the hayloft. I didn’t mind it so much, sleeping with the animals and all. It was private, with no children to awake me for a drink or a pillow, or to go out to the toilet room. Although it was rare that I actually got to sleep at all. I had to stay with the little ones, and tend to their needs, while mama slept the night away, peacefully.
It was good enough to know that mama was getting enough sleep while I did all the work. Seeing her lying there all quiet was my strength to keep on staying awake, and not abandoning the children to go and sleep. Although mama regularly said unkind words to me and they pierced like swords, I loved her dearly, and all I ever truly wanted was to see her content.
So yes, seeing her and the children sleep as I worked tirelessly everyday was enough to keep my weak, aching, broken heart at ease. It was just barely enough to help me last, just enough to keep me from giving up.
As the nights would progress on, I would sit and stare at the multiplying stars, wishing to be up in the sky with them. I would be free of all grief and stress up there, no longer having to carry the burden I carried. And I could watch papa, and make sure he was safe… and mama wouldn’t have to worry about having me around to burden her further. Wouldn’t life be wonderful then?
“Audrey, I’m thirsty,” one of my little brothers, Eli, said from his cot. His what used to be round cheeks were growing thin and boney, and the adorable chub that a toddler should have was disappearing from him as his limbs were growing thin and fragile.
“Alright. You don’t worry about it. I shall get you a drink right now,” I said, standing from my seat.
I grabbed the water pitcher from the tiny room that was our kitchen and took it out to the well in our yard. I pulled on the long rope to bring up the brown bucket of cool, fresh water, and pour it into the water pitcher. I took it back inside the house, and poured some of the water into a wooden cup for Eli.
“Here you are, little one. Drink it all,” I said, handing him the glass.
He drank it all as though he had not had a drink in ages, and wiped his tiny mouth. He handed me the glass that was empty of all water, not one drop left in it.
“There, there. Now lie back, and go to sleep,” I said, tucking him in under his blanket. “Audrey,” Eli said as he closed his eyes.
“How come you don’t sleep?” He asked, opening his faint blue eyes again to look at me.
“So I may take care of you, and all the rest of our dear siblings,” I said, stroking his blond hair. “And mama?”
“Yes, and mama. Now go to sleep,” I said.
“Goodnight, Audrey,” Eli said,. He reached up and grabbed a strand of my light brown hair and played with it for a second. He then let his hand lower, and closed his eyes to sleep.
“Goodnight, dear one,” I said. I bent over and kissed his sweaty forehead affectionately. I watched him fall asleep, and then walked back to my window seat.
I slid open the drapes just a tiny bit so that I could stare out at the nighttime sky. The stars were twinkling joyously, without a care, their never-ending light serving as a comfort to me. Oh how I longed to be like them, without a care in the universe. I kept staring up at the sky, though my eyelids were growing heavy and my head would nod occasionally.
“Audrey, I give you permission to go to bed now. I don’t think the children need anything else. If they do, I shall ring the bell for you to come,” mama said to me.
I smiled in the dark, overjoyed to get some rest. “Yes mama. Thank you,” I said.
“Now don’t oversleep. I need you to be up with the sun for the children, so no dreams,” mama ordered. “If that it possible for a curse like you,” she added.
“Yes mama,” I said in reply to her order. I walked quietly to the front door. “Goodnight mama.”
“Go now, I don’t want you to awaken the children!” Mama hissed.
“Yes mama, goodnight,” I repeated. I opened the squeaky door as quietly as I could and walked
out to the barn.
The crisp midnight air was refreshing, though it nipped at my bare arms, I quite enjoyed the coolness of it. The sky was even more beautiful when not accompanied by the sound of snores and moans. The green grass my legs were shuffling through was moist with dew, and it felt good against the rough calluses of the souls of my feet. This was my favorite time, my favorite experience I was able to have only a few times a week, perhaps only once.
I quietly slid open the big brown door to the barn once I reached it, not wanting to stir up the animals, and I started to sing an old village lullaby that they seemed to enjoy. “How I wish that the wind would carry me, like a silence in the night against the wings of a bee. How I long to say hello to a distant galaxy…”
As I continued to sing the song, the animals stayed asleep, snoring to the tune. I climbed the ladder to my hayloft, and fixed the hay into the right position for me to sleep on. Though I did not get nearly the amount of rest that I should since I had to train myself to wake up with the rising of the sun, it was the best rest that I knew, and what I knew of it was enough to help me survive…
As the sun was rising, I too arose with it. I walked quietly inside, trying to not wake anyone. But mama woke up to the sound of my even footsteps like she usually did. She stirred in her bed, and was quick to begin her regular scolding.
“Audrey, be more quiet next time. You probably woke the dead, the way you walk in,” she said sternly.
“Yes mama. I’m sorry,” I said. I quietly went to the window again, which was my usual spot.
I sat staring at the blazing red sun and the soft pink sky, that hugged the ball of fire. Layers of different colors lined the sky, looking like a marvelous painting. Orange, red, pink, and even a bit of left over nighttime purple sat near the top of the sky, only a few stars left. My heart was warmed by this beautiful scene, and even though I had seen hundreds of sunrises in my life, each one just grew even more magnificent.
Suddenly, the apple tree pedals began to swirl around, each one coming off of the tree, and forming the shape of a girl. She floated by the window, and waved gracefully to me, and what looked like a smile spread across her face. I stumbled backwards and away from the window, not ever seeing her this close up before. I scurried back to my feet, and stared at her strange, yet lovely face.
Every pedal helped shape every part of the girl, the single strands of hair, her nose, eyes, mouth, fingers, legs, toes, everything! There was only the pinkish-white color of the pedals on her, but it
was enough color to make her look strangely beautiful. Her eyes looked soft and friendly, and her lips forming a perfect smile.
“Um… Hello,” I said, trying to see if she would reply.
Her mouth didn’t move at all, rather it stayed in the form of that pleasant smile, and yet I could hear her speaking to me. “Hello, my friend. I did not mean to startle you.”
I stared in awe at her. How was she speaking? Oh great! I’ve gone completely insane, I thought. Yet I couldn’t help but continue talking to her. “That’s alright,” I said. I hesitated to speak my next thought, but I just had to ask. “Are you… Are you real?”
The girl laughed sweetly, her hand covering her mouth as she did. “Of course I am. Don’t worry, you are far from insanity,” she said. “I have been watching you for some time now,” she said.
“You… You have?!” I exclaimed. I then remembered the children and mama, and was quick to lower my voice. “Why is that?”
“I have seen your struggles, and I want to help you,” the girl said kindly. “Help me? How?” I asked.
“I shall give you a medicine that can cure any sickness, if it is what you would like. All you have to do is come with me.”
“If I would like? Are you kidding! I would love it, but, I’m just not sure if….” I didn’t want to finish.
“You’re not sure if I am real,” the girl finished for me. “Well I can assure you that I am, and I’m sure if you were to see the others you would be confident as well,” she said.
“The others? There’s more of you?” I asked in amazement.
“Yes. half of the trees in the world have a nymph in them, while the rest are left for humans to use, or for a tree nymph to move to, as long as it is the right kind of tree. I am a white nymph, which is a nymph from an apple tree,” the girl explained.
“A white nymph. How majestic sounding!” I said, forgetting to keep my voice low.
“Audrey, stop talking! You’re being terribly loud, and it’s giving me a headache,” mama said from her bed.
“Yes mama.” I turned back to the girl. Should I go with this strange yet wonderful girl? Did I want to? Yes, I surely did, but was it right? Should I go?
“I… I can’t. Not now. My family needs me to take care of them. I can’t just abandon them,” I said. “Do not worry, Noble strength. You will not need to be gone long. Would you not like to receive
the medicine for your family?” the white nymph said.
“Noble strength?” I asked, not understanding exactly why she was calling me that. I didn’t think about anything else she said, rather I thought about this name she had given to me.
“That is your name, is it not?” The girl said, still not moving her mouth.
“No, my name is Audrey. Audrey Caoiliainn Solada,” I told her in a hushed voice so I wouldn’t make mama further angry.
“Yes, as I said, you are noble Strength. Noble Strength, the Pure Listener,” the white nymph said.
“No, no I am not! I am not noble, I have no strength, I am not pure. I am cursed, and the only thing I listen to is my brain. And that doesn’t help me at all!” I said, my voice raising.
“Dear, you are more noble and strong than you let yourself think. And you are the purest in the village, let alone the land! And you are a strong listener. Can you not see that?” The pedal girl said.
“No, I cannot see that!” I said. “So stop calling me something I am not,” I said.
“But I am calling you what you are. I am simply calling you by name, and by what I see,” the white nymph said.
“Oh really? Tell me what you see,” I said. “Tell me!”
The nymph sighed. “I see a girl of fifteen, sitting by a window, completely helpless in her mind,” she started to say.
“Yes! You see, helpless,” I said, interrupting her. “That’s all I am!”
The nymph continued. “But you are noble in helping out your family. You stay by their side. You have more strength than all the men in this valley put together. You carry a heavy burden on your shoulders, trying to save your dear brothers and sisters lives from this terrible fate of death. You are of pure heart, having not a doubt or grudge in your mind about others. You think purely of the world, and of man kind. You are a strong listener. You can hear me without me having to speak words from my lips, and you listen to your conscience telling you right and wrong. Now why not listen now?”
“Not true. I am none of these you speak! Stop telling me these things. I am not the person of which you speak. Go, before I burst!” I said, holding back my tears.
“As you wish, Noble strength.”
“And do not dare to call me that again! I am Audrey, the cursed and broken, now Leave,” I said, wiping away the hot tears rolling down my cheeks.
The nymph looked sad as she sat there watching me. “I will leave if it was you wish, but please think about what I have said. I can see you are struggling now, and you want to give up, but try to hold on,” she said. She turned to leave, but then stopped, having one other thing to say. “If you change your mind about coming with me, then I am in the apple tree in your yard.” She then disappeared in a swirl of pedals, and was now resting upon the branches of the apple tree.
I stood up quickly, and ran outside. I walked as far away from my house as possible, and away from other houses as well. I stopped just before the woods, dropped to my knees, and began to weep. All of the emotion I had been holding in for years was pouring out now. I moaned and screamed, curling up into a helpless ball, my face buried in the grass. I grasped the grass under me with my hands, turning my knuckles white. The ground under my eyes became a small wetland of tears, and my cheeks were stained with streaks from the hot teardrops that would not stop rolling down them.
I slowly sat up, still wailing, as I screamed at the sun that was still slowly rising. “I can’t take it any longer!” I screamed through my sobs. “Should I die right now I would never be more happy,” I said angrily, tearing at the grass. “I have nothing to offer this world! So why should I not just die?!” I continued to sob, though I had cried all the tears I could, and I had worn down my voice. I simply curled up and kept sobbing, my shoulders heaving with every cry.
“Audrey?” A small, weak voice said..
Startled, I sat up quickly, and turned around. I could faintly see my six year old brother Fagan standing there, watching me. I wiped my eyes, and tried to steady my voice. “Yes, Fagan, what is it?” I asked.
He walked carefully over to me, his legs shaking with every step. He collapsed right by me, placing his hands on my arms. “You are crying. Why are you sobbing so?” He asked, a sad look filling his greenish-blue eyes.
“Fagan, you should not be out here. You are not well, and the cold air is not good for you!” I said, completely dismissing his question.
“But I saw you leave, and I knew you were sad. I do not like it when you are sad, dear sister. It makes me want to cry as well,” Fagan said, a single tear slipping down his cheek.
“Do not cry for me, dear brother! I do not wish to see you so sad,” I said.
“I do not wish to see you so sad either,” Fagan said. “Please don’t die, I don’t want you to go,” he said, his voice quivering.
I was ashamed. My little brother had heard me, and I know felt awful for saying such things. Was I so selfish that I was going to just wish myself away? I wrapped my arms around Fagan, and pulled his head to lean against me.
“Dear Fagan, I will not leave you,” I said. “Come, let us go back to the house. You must sleep,” I said. I scooped him up into my arms and carried him back to the house. I set him on his cot, and brushed his hair with my fingers.
“I love you, dearest sister,” Fagan said with a whisper, and he soon drifted off into sleep.
“I love you too, dearest brother.” I bent down and kissed his forehead, and then went over to the window seat.
How was it that I had wanted to give up? How could I so easily forget about my dearest Fagan, and all the other of my siblings? I was ashamed of myself. No longer did I wish to die though. I was now determined to do all that I could to save my family. No more tears, no more pain. I was going to do all that was in my power.
But then I remembered the nymph girl and her words. She had said something about a medicine that could cure any sickness. Wether it was real or not, I didn’t care. I was willing to find out.
“Dear nymph, I shall see you tonight, when the sun is gone, and the stars are out. Please be waiting for me, for I shall be waiting for you,” I said, hoping she could hear my words, for I felt that she would be able to.
“Audrey, get Addy some water, and Jack needs his pillow shaken out a bit. Oh, and don’t forget to get Fagan some broth. Audrey! Are you listening to a word I am saying?” Mama was saying to me later on that day.
“Yes mama?” I asked, hearing my mama say my name, but I had not heard anything else she said. I was too busy thinking about the white nymph.
“Huh,” Mama sighed, exasperated. “Hopeless child. Now get Addy some water, Jack needs his pillow fluffed, and Fagan needs some chicken broth,” Mama repeated.
“Yes mama. Oh, and we’re out of chicken broth. We only have turkey,” I said.
“Doesn’t matter, just get him something hot. I don’t care if it’s just boiled water, just give him something,” Mama said, shooing me away.
“Yes mama,” I said. I walked out the door with the water pitcher.
The well looked so pathetic and worn down, fitting right in with the rest of the farm. As I was scooping up the water, I stared at the apple tree, thinking about the pedal girl. Suddenly, something cold splashed on my arm. “Ah!” I gasped as I realized the water was overflowing onto my arm. I took it back to the house, and gave Addy a glass.
“Audrey! Don’t waste any time. Get on with the work. Or don’t you care for your family?” Mama scolded.
“Yes mama, I care. Very much,” I said. I picked up the pace, and tried my hardest to make sure I was doing over the best that I could.
I grabbed Jack’s pillow from under his small head. I quickly shook it out. I then put it back under the boy’s head and walked into the kitchen to pour a bowl of heated turkey broth for Fagan.
“Here you are Fagan,” I said. “I’m sorry, but it’s all we have,” I said, noticing the look of distaste on Fagan’s small face.
“It’s okay. I’ll take it. Thank you, sister. Did you make it?” Fagan asked. “I did,” I said, as I helped him hold the bowl.
Fagan smiled very happily, and sniffed the bowl. “Then it’ll be really good if you made it! Thank you,” he said. He sipped the steaming broth, carefully making sure to not drop it or spill.
“You’re welcome. Now drink it all, and then rest some more.” I stood up, and smiled lovingly at the young boy.
Fagan frowned. “Why must I rest all the time? I don’t get to walk anywhere. I only get as far as one step, and then you’re at my side. Now why’s that?” Fagan asked, still frowning. “How will we know that I am better if I have to lie in bed all the time? Won’t walking help me get better, even if I do fall a lot?”
“No, Fagan, it won’t help you. You’re not strong enough to be moving around. You need to rest still. Now don’t frown at me, please. It makes me feel sad,” I said, frowning back at him.
Fagan sat pondering. He then smiled, and stroked my dirty foot. “No sister, no sadness. It’s not good to be sad. It makes things look grey. Please don’t be sad. See? I’m happy,” he said, smiling wide.
“Good. Now sister isn’t sad anymore. Be good, and rest. I’ll be there for you when you need me,” I said. I walked away, looking at the eight children lying on the wooden floor. They looked so restless.
“Audrey, have you finished?” Mama asked from across the room. She was sitting up in bed, her hand resting on her rounded belly as she waited for the baby’s kicking to cease.
“Yes mama. I did everything you said to do. Anything else?” I asked.
“No. Why don’t you go outside for a bit now, you need some fresh air. I’ll handle things around here for now,” mama said. Although her voice did not sound kind, she meant well.
“Yes mama, Thank you!” I said in excitement. I ran out the door, eager to get some time alone.
I sat down under an old oak tree that was in our yard. I smelled the fresh bark, and picked a leaf off of the brown branch, twirling it around between my fingers. I had not felt so happy in a long time, and it was god for me to have this relief.
“Noble strength. You have left your home now. Have you decided to leave early?” Came the white tree nymph’s voice.
I jumped, not knowing she was there. “No, not yet! I can’t leave in the middle of the day,” I said. “Why not now?,” the pedal girl asked.
“I already said tonight!” I hissed. “Didn’t you hear me?”
“Yes. I heard,” the nymph said. She waited for a minute to see if I would change my mind, but once she saw that I was not going to come with her, she gave up. “Alright. I shall go then, but do not forget. You said you would come tonight. I expect to see you by my tree.”
“I will be there, no go, I am trying to enjoy some peace,” I said.
The tree nymph nodded, and with that, she was gone with the next gust of wind.
The rest of the day went by in a flash, and it was soon nightfall, and all the children were fast asleep with no more complaints or cries for water.
“Audrey, make sure all the kids are tucked in and asleep,” Mama whispered to me that night. “Okay mama,” I said. I walked around all the children, and tucked them in.
“Now you can go out to your bed. I don’t want to hear you come in until morning, when you should come in. I’ll take care of the children one night. Go on now. You need sleep desperately,” mama said, her motherly love showing a little. Deep down she really cared. She was a loving mother, who cared for me, but didn’t ever pull out the feeling, except on a small occasion.
I walked out to my hayloft, and lay down for an hour, so I could sleep a little before going to meet the tree nymph.
I woke up to the soft chirping of the crickets. I looked around, trying to remember why I woke up. “The white nymph!” I said, jumping down the ladder. I grabbed my little shawl off of the hook next to the barn door, and wrapped it around my shoulders as I ran out to the apple tree. I was anticipating this moment. Could the nymph really give me medicine? I didn’t know, but I was willing to find out.
“Where are you?” I whispered. I had been standing in the cold, midnight air for sometime now. She hadn’t shown up yet, and it was testing my patience. I sat holding my arms against my chest, trying to stay warm. Had she forgotten, even after telling me not to forget? I decided I would
wait only a little longer, and then, I would have to head back to the hayloft. If she wasn’t going to show up when I did, then she would have to wait another night. I’m not made up of pedals like her. I’m a human, who can’t sit around in the cold of the night, waiting for a probably imaginary creature.
“Hello Noble strength, I’m glad you came.”
I recognized the white nymph’s voice. “Finally! I’ve been standing here for- oh. You’re not her.”
In front of me stood a young girl who looked to be my own age. She was slender, and had glowing whitish-pink hair, and deep, beautiful lavender eyes. She was very pale, but it didn’t affect her beauty except making her even more pretty.
The girl looked at me with a questioning look. “I am not who you’re waiting for? Then tell me please, who are you waiting for, Noble strength?” The girl asked.
Just then a gust of wind blew in, and it twirled the girls hair all around her girlish face. I noticed her ears were very pointy, like an elf.
I stared at her with perplexity. “Um, I’m waiting for the tree nymph who lives here. Do you know her?” I asked. I could have sworn that I heard the tree nymph’s voice, but this girl could not be her, for she was human!
The girl gave a sweet giggle that was like a thousand sweet silver bells. “Why, I should have guessed this is how you would be,” she said. She stared at me for a little, like she was trying to tell me something with her eyes. “Can you not tell, Noble strength?”
Just then I realized that she wasn’t using her lips to speak. She never even moved her mouth. I stumbled backwards. “It’s, it’s you! But, but how is it you? You’re human!” I said.
“You do not have to remind me of who I am. I know. I am who you are thinking, yes. But I am more than what you have seen. In the darkness of night, I am able to turn into what you see as, human. And in the light of day, I stay safely as my normal form of apple tree pedals, so only those who are of pure heart can see my true self.” The girl walked closer, so close I could feel her perfumed breath on my face.
“Or someone who is insane,” I said, turning my face away.
“But you are not insane. You are pure of heart,” the tree nymph said, laying her slender white hand on my shoulder.
I was shocked to be able to feel the touch of her hand. It was something I had not expected. I quickly snapped out of my state of amazement and came back to reality. “Alright, you said that you know of medicine that can help my family, but you also said that you and the other nymphs need me. What for?” I asked.
“Come with me. We shall go to meet the elder tree nymph to discuss the matter. Come, we shall walk together,” the white nymph said.
“Where are we going exactly?” I asked.
“To the forest,” the white nymph said.
I stopped in fear. “The forest?” I questioned, but I had heard her clearly. “Yes. Now come on,” the girl urged.
I still didn’t move. “ I can’t. It’s forbidden to go in there,” I said.
“Why not?” The girl asked.
“Because. It’s land that doesn’t belong to us. The men of the village are planning to clear the woods that surround us. They’re just waiting for the hunters to come back, which should be very soon,” I said, still holding back.
The tree nymph’s arms dropped suddenly to her side. She looked at me, turning even paler then I thought possible. She looked like she was trying to see into me, like I was a wall, blocking her view.
“What?” I asked.
“How soon?” She asked.
“Within the week, I think,” I said with a sigh. “It’s terribly sad, since I truly enjoy the beauty of all the trees,” I said.
Suddenly, the tree nymph had grabbed ahold of my wrist and hurriedly began running for the woods.
“Stop! I can’t go in there,” I said, pulling my arm away from her.
“But you must! It’s the only way you can save us,” the nymph said. “This is more severe than I thought, so we must hurry!”
“Save you? I can’t save anybody! I’m still struggling to save my family. How am I supposed to save you?” I asked.
“I just know. Only so few can see and understand us. And you are the chosen of the valley. Please! I need you, we need you!” The girl begged, dropping to her knees.
I had not thought it were possible, but the girl began to cry. They were the most beautiful tears I had ever seen though. They were like little diamonds rolling down her fair white cheeks, shimmering in the starlight. I watched those crystal tears roll down her cheek, and I too started to
cry. Not because I was upset, but because she was so helpless looking, and because she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, except for mama of course.
“All right. I will help you. But do not cry. I see enough tears in my life,” I said sadly, helping her up.
She smiled beautifully. “Then tonight, we go and save the forest,” she said. “Thank you,” she said. “Come, let us enter the woods!”
“Oh boy,” I whispered. For I knew that what I was about to get into, wasn’t your daily things to do. It was going to be an adventure that I would probably never have the chance to see again. But I was ready, or so I thought. For little did I know the dangers that would lie ahead of me. Little did I know how much sacrifice I would need to make, how much pain I would need to endure, how much darkness I would see.
The forest’s trees flashed by as we ran through the woods, the white nymph pulling at my hand as she ran swiftly ahead. I breathed heavy through my mouth, trying to keep moving as fast as her, but it got harder by the minute, me not being a tree nymph and all. I held tightly to her wrist, struggling to keep my legs moving. “Slow down!” I said, stumbling over my own two feet.
“Come, Noble strength! We haven’t any time to lose. Don’t stop now!” The nymph said, still pulling me along.
“I can’t keep up like this! I can hardly breathe,” I said, letting go of her arm. I came to a stumbling stop, almost tripping to the ground, but I was able to catch myself on a tree. I struggled to steady my breathing, gasping for more air.
The nymph stopped running as well. “Then we shall walk, but we cannot stop to rest. Come on,” she said, turning and walking again. And I could see that she was eager to move quickly, for she walked faster than should be counted for a walk.
I tried to match her strides, still gasping for sir. “So, why are you so anxious to get there?” I asked.
“Let us not waste time by talking. It’ll only slow us down,” the nymph said. She kept on moving as quickly as before.
“Why can’t you just tell me what’s wrong?” I asked, getting a little frustrated.
She didn’t answer. She only walked faster. She eyed the pine trees around us like she was waiting for something to pop out. She walked even faster, her strides clearing the tree roots that were sticking out of the ground. “Sh! No talking now,” she shushed.
“Why-” I didn’t have time to finish what I was going to ask, for the girl grabbed my hand again, and we began to run faster than I thought my feet could go. Part of my hair fell loose from its ponytail, leaving only the back half of my hair in a tail at the back of my head. The loose strands
whipped my face, stinging like little needles. “Stop! Stop!” I tried to say. The words seemed to just reach my lips, and go no further, disappearing into the wind.
“Hurry! We have to get through now, or we won’t make it!” The white nymph said.
“Won’t make it? What do you mean?” I asked, pulling her to a forced stop.
She fell on her knees from my pull. She stood up quickly, not taking the time to brush off the dirt caked onto her white gown and hands. “Do not stop! Or we will not make it! Come, Please!” She begged.
I stood my ground, not giving into her cries. But something in me told me that we needed to run. Something big screamed violently inside, trying to tell me to go, telling me we had to move. But I didn’t listen. I wanted to know why my arms and feet were practically being torn off by this girl. “we aren’t moving until you start giving me some answers,” I said with my hands on my hips.
The girls eyes went helpless. She moved very close to me. “Theses woods, they’re possessed by the pine nymphs. They are the only nymphs to have turned on all others. They are dark in color and manner. They possess great power in them. Much more than I have. Faced up against them, I am no match. I’m like a twig that can be snapped with your pinkie finger. Now please! We have to move,” she cried. She sounded so desperate, that I felt her fear seep into me.
I trembled at the thought of these strange creatures jumping out at us just standing there. I held in a scream that I wanted to let out. I grabbed her hand, and looked at her desperate eyes. “Come on. Let’s go,” I said, squeezing her long hand in mine.
She looked into my eyes, as if searching for something. She took in a deep breath, and then pulled me along the dirt ground.
I soon started getting tired, my feet no longer able to carry me. I fell over, dragging the girl down with me.
She landed with a grunt. “Come on Noble strength! Don’t stop. Please don’t give up on me now. We have to keep moving!” She cried, picking me up to my feet.
It was no use. I fell to my knees again, gasping for air. “Just, just go. I’ll be fine. I’ve been in these woods before when I was younger. I think, I think I know how… to get back.” I said hoarsely, trying to breathe while I spoke.
“No! They’ll get you. They’ve seen you with me now. They know that you’re with me. Please! Let’s go now. You can make it. I know you can!” The nymph said.
My vision was growing faint. I had never run so much in my life before, and my body was telling me that. My stomach was knotting up and turning, and I soon threw up the little amount of lunch that was in me. I then began seeing white spots, and my vision began to fade. I was losing consciousness, and I knew it.
“No! No you can’t!” I heard the white nymph screaming.
The last thing I could remember was walking, no, running with her through the forest. Yes. And then I, I think I had fainted from so much running.
I tried to sit up, but I was already up. I tried to move my arms to rub my eyes clear. But they weren’t able to move. Something bound them behind me. I opened my eyes only to see the nymph on her knees a few feet away from me, crying harder than ever. She was clenching her fists, her knuckles whitened.
I looked around me, and when I looked to the right, there stood a big black caped figure. It had a long hood, and a whiter than white face, with pure black eyes that had no sign of white or even red veins, and a tight, twisted, sneering smile across it’s face. It stood above my head like a tree, taller than any man I had ever seen.
“Hello Noble strength, and goodbye. I’m sorry we have to end your pathetic life so suddenly, but we’re in sort of a rush. So if you have any last words, then please, feel free to speak,” the figure said. It was a man. Not a woman. He had a deep, menacing voice. He sounded like he was dead set on my death.
I closed my eyes. The last thing I heard was the nymphs screams and wails, and then I knew I was dead. I knew I had died. For a darkness swept over me, and when I thought I opened my eyes, it was just as dark, and the only thing that could be felt was fear and torment. That was it. I was sure that I had died.
The darkness was like a blanket of black so thick, I couldn’t breath. It was so dark, that it was almost blinding. My eyes tried to get used to it, but they never did. It only got worse. It pained me to just keep my eyes open, feeling the darkness all around me. It was a terrifying experience. The darkness brought to me my biggest fears. All of them. They were displayed before me like I was watching it happen.
I saw my family dying from the terrible sickness, while I stood there helpless, unable to do anything. I tried to move, to run to them to help, but I couldn’t. I was all tied up still. Then I watched mama die, and the baby never made it, as mama lay dead on her wooden bed. I tried to scream, to cry my hardest, but no sound escaped my mouth. I couldn’t even whisper. Nothing would come out. Not even if I tried.
Then I watched papa get eaten by a giant bear, as he stretched his arm out to try and reach his gun. But the gun was too far away. He was devoured by the black bear. I tried to scream again, my emotion was tormenting me. I tried to fall on my knees to weep, but I was stuck. My voice was gone. I had no tears, no screams. I could just sit and watch my fears portrayed before me.
Then, the worst one came. My newest, and most terrifying fear of all. I watched as I got dragged away to an insane asylum, and got placed in a straight jacket. My mother was smiling, more happy than should be. Papa held Fagan back from running to me. He reached out his hand to try and hold me. I tried to reach out as well, to comfort him and tell him sister was okay. But my arms were stuck around me. Unable to move.
Again I tried to let out a scream, one that, if it would have come out, would make others fall to their knees and hold their ears in terror and pain. It would have bled my own ears. Inside of me, everything was bleeding. The pain was too much, and I knew I would burst. I wanted to hold onto my sides, to try and stop the pain, but I was unable to move my arms from behind me.
I bent my head down, and tried to make it all go away, but the taunting face of the man sat on my eyes, not leaving me. He was smiling his evil smile, his eyes were dark and piercing as ever. A laugh came from his lips, and it only grew louder and louder.
The darkness didn’t seam to leave. It was sitting there, like it was enjoying my grief. My pain. My sorrow.
I felt all the old feelings of helplessness, and I was about ready to give up again. But then I remembered the other night when Fagan had come out while I was crying. I remembered that sad face, those big eyes that were pleading for me to stay by his side, those wise and loving words that flowed from his mouth. I remembered all the times we used to play outside together, everyone running around and laughing like there wasn’t a care in this world. Through all the pain I was feeling at that moment, I couldn’t help but smile. I felt joy as I focused on those memories, and slowly, the pain began to melt away.
Something changed. Something was different. It didn’t brighten. No. But something got lighter, like the sun was out, but it was just behind the clouds. I could just feel it’s warmth, like it was breaking through the darkness, and almost at the point of peaking through.
I suddenly felt so much joy, and I didn’t feel older than my age. I didn’t feel like a slave to my pain. I felt like I hadn’t any problems anymore. Yes, it was…. peaceful. Even though my arms were tied behind me, and my eyes were blind, I was the happiest I’d been in a long time.
The man seemed to melt from my vision, taking the evilness and fear with him. I looked in the direction I was sure was up. I saw a piece of the black had gone, and there was where the light showed. It was showering down on me as I tried to look at it, but at the same time hide from it. It was even more blinding than the darkness and the sun. This light was shining on me, like it saw me, and knew me. It was so warm, so comforting to me. It was a comfort and a friend.
Where is light needed, but in the darkest of places? Where is the light to show but in the places of dark? Where the darkness grows is where the light shows. Where the light shows.
I felt relieved and pressed of all my energy. I let my head drop, and my screams out, now able to as the darkness was slowly fading. Even though I was happy, I still had those trapped emotions inside. I cried every last tear. I cried enough tears to last a year.
“Noble strength. Why do you cry? The light has broken through the dark wall. It is over. Be relieved.”
I looked up at the white nymph, who was radiant as ever. She was glowing with joy. I could see the light had shown on her too. I looked around, trying to spot the man. “Where…”
“He has been defeated, Noble strength. He has been melted away by the light. He is gone,” the girl said.
“I saw him. When the light broke through, I saw him disappear. I thought it wasn’t real, and it was just like the other visions…” I said.
“Other visions?” The nymph questioned.
“Yes. I saw all my biggest fears, playing out like a story in front of me. Like I was standing right there, watching everyone die away,” I said.
“It’s over. Come. I will help you with your binds,” the girl said. She went around and untied the brown rope that bound my hands and feet to the tree.
I fell to the ground, my legs weak. “How good it feels to sit,” I said. I scooped up a handful of the rich soil under me, and smelled it. I poured it out over the ropes that lay on the ground before me, watching each little grain hide those ropes. I was free, but not only from the ropes.
“Come on. We are waited for,” the white nymph said, standing between two large trees, the sun bending around her. The sun! How beautiful it was. But then I thought of something- my family.
“I can’t! My family. They-”
“It is too late. We must go now. Do not worry. The darkness is helping us. For it has moved on over the village, and now it will stay dark for hours to come. But we are limited of time,” the nymph said.
I stood up, and walked to her side. She grabbed my hand, not to pull me as we ran, but as a friend. Now we ran in joy and freedom, not fear and anticipation. We were ready to move on, and with more courage and strength than before.
As we ran across the forest, I watched the blurred images of trees and flowers go by. I smiled. It felt good to run in freedom. I was free. For the time being….
“We have about a mile to go, and then we’ll be there,” the tree nymph yelled over her shoulder.
I opened my mouth to speak, but it was too much. I had to just smile and nod at her to let her know I acknowledged her words. I looked ahead again, trying to stay on my feet. Once I tripped on a tree root, got smacked in the face by a branch, and ate a few bugs. By the time we stopped
to rest, I was all beat up. My short dark skirt was tearing at the bottom, and my shirt was smudged with dirt. My hair had fallen out, and framed my sweaty face. I could now feel the stinging of the cuts on my face from the tree branches. I made a face that showed that I was disgusted with myself.
“You look like a disaster!” The white nymph said, laughing at my scowl.
“Yeah, well, you don’t look so lovely yourself,” I said.
The nymph walked over to a little pond to look at her reflection. “Oh!” She gasped. Her long white dress was ripping all over, and her white hair was twirled around her face. Twigs were entangled into her hair, and her face was covered with dirt.
“So, who are we meeting anyways?” I asked, wanting to change the subject.
“The nymph elders. They oversee all the nymphs there are,” the girl said, brushing the twigs out. I stood up and walked over to her to help her pick them out. “Even the pine nymphs?” I asked.
“Yes. Even them. But they never listen to the elders, so they have been banished from all meetings and goings on with the tree nymph counsel,” the nymph said. Thanks,” she said, as I pulled out the last twig.
“So, why do they want to see me?” I asked.
“Because. You are a listener. You are Noble strength, the pure listener.”
“Yes. But I don’t understand why you think that I can save you. I’m not strong at all. And even if I was, no one would listen to me. I cannot be a leader,” I said. For I thought it true. I was a weak, small girl. No one would want me as their leader.
“Come on. We should be leaving now,” the nymph said. She started walking, not waiting for me to catch up.
“Alright,” I said. I ran to catch up. We walked for awhile, just enjoying the woods. “Come on!” The nymph girl said. She started running, not waiting for me.
“Hey!” I said. I sprinted to catch up with her. I suppose I should have been used to her randomly bursting into a run, but I wasn’t. We ran side by side, through the woods, to the end, where we would meet the tree nymph elders.
“Don Fadel! I am here,” the nymph girl yelled to the wind.
I watched the trees around me, waiting for some elderly man to come forth. When I looked back to the white nymph, she was transforming into a pedal girl again. Such a pretty form. Her hair turned to pedals from tips to top, along with the rest of her.
I then watched a tree that was in front of us. It wasn’t sending forth pedals in the shape of a man, but was growing a long face. The bark twisted into a nose, then a mouth, then two little knots turned into eyes. Above the eyes grew green leaves, making bushy eyebrows.
“Malaya Ava! And have you brought me the Listener of whom you have spoken of?” The tree asked in a booming voice.
I jumped back in fear, not expecting that to happen.
“Yes elder. I brought her. She denies being the one, but I see it in her. Not just anyone can see us in our true form,” the nymph girl said.
“Very good, Malaya Ava,” the tree said to the nymph.
Malaya Ava. Such a beautiful name. While I was stuck with Audrey.
The tree made a strange groaning noise. And then, from out of the nearby trees, came forth more tree nymphs. They surrounded me and Malaya Ava. They danced in a circle, singing a beautiful tune I didn’t recognize. They were very graceful in their movements. I was in awe of the glorious creatures. They seemed so full of joy, so welcoming and friendly. For once, I felt like I belonged.
“What is your name child?” The tree asked me.
I trembled in fright. He had spoken to me. “Audrey,” I answered weakly.
The tree stretched his roots. He opened his mouth in a big voice. “Welcome then, Nadiva Delilah.”
After spending sometime with the nymphs, the elder and Malaya Ava began to explain to me everything that was going on, and why they needed my help. They then explained to me why the men of the village must not be allowed to chop down the trees of the forest.
“So you’re saying that if a tree gets chopped down, then a nymph dies with it?” I asked, trying to understand.
“Yes. And if what you told me is true, then all the nymphs in this area are in danger,” Malaya Ava said.
“So it is true. The humans are planning to destroy our home. Barbarians!” The elder said fiercely.
“Elder! Need I remind you that all humans are not as Barbaric as others. Noble strength is quite the nicest human I know,” Malaya Ava said.
I didn’t blush at all. Her kind words didn’t mean anything to me. I was worried about the tree nymphs lives. If we didn’t do something, they would all die!
“I do have one question,” I said. “Please, ask,” the elder tree said.
“Malaya Ava explained to me that half of the trees are not inhabited by nymphs, so why don’t
you all just move to ones that aren’t inhabited?” I asked.
“That is an excellent question, which deserves an answer,” Don Fadel said. “Although it is possible for a nymph to move to a new tree, it is impossible for me to move, and the inhabitants of these oaks and other trees, besides the pines, cannot all stick together, and all who are here are the counsel of nymphs. If we are separated, the pine nymphs will be able to take over.”
“And, because there are more pine forests, the pine nymphs know they will be able to inhabit somewhere else,” Malaya Ava added.
“So, how are we going to save the forest?” I asked.
“We aren’t doing anything. It is you who has to save us. We cannot do anything if the people are so ignorant that they cannot see. You must make a way for them to see. If you can at least show one, then soon, more shall follow. I would suggest starting with your family,” the elder said.
My family. Now that didn’t sound so easy. Maybe the children would see, but mama would make excuses that they’re just children. Their imaginations run all over. Mama would take a miracle to make see. “How do I make them see? Mama would probably banish me from my own house forever, and papa would just stand and do nothing. Whatever mama says is what goes,” I said.
“You cannot make anyone see,” the elder said.
“I know that already! I’ve been trying to say that from the start. I can’t help you,” I said. Finally they saw it my way, I thought..
“No one can make anyone do anything, but you can help them out by giving them the right ideas and roads to follow. If you can only find one to convince, then things will get a little easier,” the elder said.
“You people don’t get it do you? I, cannot, help you! What power do I have? I’m just a crazed teenager, with a sick family that everyone knows will die, no matter how hard I try. They’re gone. And it’s all my fault. I should have known that eating that meat would make them sick. And I just didn’t care. It looked wrong, but I just cooked it anyways. And now, I have to suffer by watching them suffer,” I said. I fell to the ground and put my head in my lap, trying to push back tears.
It was all flooding my mind, how they had gotten sick. It was my fault. I fed them some meat that had gone bad. I should have guessed by the way it looked, but I didn’t. I just cooked it up and fed them all the meat. Of course I had skipped out on eating that day, since I was feeling so downcast. But now, now they were sick, and it was my fault.
“Noble strength! It was not your fault that the meat was bad. You didn’t give them the sickness. If your mother told you to cook it, then you had to listen. You couldn’t have known it was bad,” Malaya Ava said.
“Yes. She did tell me to. But I still thought it looked funny,” I said.
“You thought. You didn’t know. Please! I’m begging you. Do not give into this. Not everything that goes wrong is your fault! You’re parents have said things to you, and they have formed you to believe that everything that is bad that happens around you is your fault. It isn’t! Most of it isn’t your fault! Please. Do not be sad. We tree nymphs are very emotional, and can easily fall under the emotions of those around us. Please. Be happy,” Malaya Ava said.
The way she said the last few sentences sounded just like Fagan. He was very easily consumed by my emotion. How I missed my brother. He was the only one who cared about me. He was the only one who heard me when I was hurting and needed comfort.
“That’s it! I know someone who I know will see,” I said to the nymphs. “Who? Tell us, Nadiva Delilah,” the elder said.
“I have a younger brother named Fagan. He’s the last of my family who truly cares and understands me. He can hear me when I’m hurting, even if I say nothing. He knows things that normal children don’t understand. He is easily consumed by my grief and sorrow. He will surely be able to see and listen,” I said. I rose to my feet.
“Then go, and bring him hither. We shall meet this brother of yours,” the tree nymph elder said. He closed his eyes. “I shall be waiting here for you to come back. Malaya Ava, you must go with her to test the boy,” he said. His face twisted back into the tree. He now looked like a normal big oak.
“Come on. We should hurry. I know a quicker way back,” Malaya Ava said.
I followed her as we walked through the forest of oaks. I watched the trees, not wanting any surprise visitors, even though these were all friends.
As we arrived at my house, I could see the darkness again. It shrouded the village. Though it was not as dark as it was in the forest, it was still bringing on the heavy blanket of fear. I looked at Malaya Ava. What I saw was a screaming figure on fire. I grew panicky and afraid.
Malaya Ava looked at me with a tormented, blazing face. “What is it?” She asked, her voice like normal, even though she looked to be in terrible pain.
“You’re on fire! Can you not feel the burns?” I asked.
“It is the darkness. Do not be fooled. Nothing you see is real. Trust not your eyes, but your conscience to lead you. Do not let your eyes deceive you. Listen to the voice telling you what is true and false,” the nymph girl said.
I calmed myself down, and I was soon able to see her clearly. “Yes. I can see you now. You’re fine,” I said, swallowing the panic.
I stared at the door that I thought was covered in spiders. When I touched it, it felt normal, and the bugs disappeared. I looked at the sleeping figures. Mama was sweating more than she should, and I thought I saw her belly was growing so big, so fast, that the baby was going to kill her. “It’s not real, it’s not real,” I said to myself. I looked at Addy, and she was a very pale white. Her eyes were open, and they were a blank white. She was drooling a thick red slime. Not blood, but it was something. “It’s not real!” I said, turning away from her. And when I saw Fagan, I just about fainted. The boy was sweating, his arms were scraped up. His chest was bleeding, oozing blood. His eyes were rolled back, and his mouth was slit open, a stream of blood poured forth. He was dying. “Fagan!” I shouted. I ran over to him. I scooped him into my arms. “No! No! Fagan, no!” I screamed. I rocked him back and forth.
“Noble strength! He is fine. It is not real. Whatever you see, it is not real!”
“No. It, it is real! It’s my fault that he is like this! I left him, and now I have to suffer more,” I cried.
“Audrey? What, what happened to you? Mama! Audrey’s dying, mama,” Fagan’s dying body screamed.
“Fagan, Fagan I’m fine. Who did this to you?” I asked.
“Did what? I don’t know what you mean. And why do you say you are fine? You’re dying as we speak! sister, what happened?” Fagan asked, sitting up.
I then realized that the darkness was misleading us both. “Fagan. Neither of us are dying. It’s the darkness that is over the village. I was in it in the forest. It’s really early in the morning. Don’t be fooled Fagan. Just trust me!” I said.
Fagan closed his eyes. He squeezed them tight. And when they opened, he smiled at me. “Hello Audrey. Now I see you, he said. He then looked at Malaya Ava. “Who are you?” He asked.
He saw her? Did he see her clearly, or was she like a monster to his deceived eyes.
I looked back at Malaya Ava, trying to guess what Fagan saw. But she looked normal to me. “Fagan, now don’t get scared. If what you are seeing scares you then-”
“It doesn’t scare me. I see a girl, but she’s made up of pedals. Is that unreal sister?” Fagan asked. “No child. I am real. What you see, is what I am,” Malaya Ava said.
“So, you’re nothing but apple pedals. And you speak?” Fagan said, sitting up from my lap.
“I am just apple pedals yes. But you are not hearing me speak. Only those of pure heart can hear me without me using my lips. I am very well capable of speaking using my mouth. But I was sent to test you. To see if you are pure. And you have passed,” the nymph said.
“So, what exactly are you?” Fagan wondered.
“I am a tree nymph. I am from the apple tree in your yard,” Malaya Ava said.
“From our tree! That’s amazing,” Fagan said, his old boyish tone ringing out. He seemed to be getting better already.
“Yes. I found your sister could see me as my true form, so I came here for help,” the girl said to Fagan.
“For help? Why?”
“Fagan, that’s why I came back. I knew you would be able to see her, and we need you. The men are planning to cut down all the trees,” I started.
“Yes, I know. Is that bad for the nymphs? Since they live in the tree,” Fagan asked.
“Very bad. If the tree is cut down, then the nymphs will die….disappear. It’s up to me and you to help save them. We have to help others see,” I said.
“Yes. We do. I don’t want the nymphs to die,” Fagan said, a tear trickling down his pale cheek. He stood on his weak feet, and leaned on my shoulder.
I scooped him into my arms, not wanting him to fall. “Come on,” I said. I carried him to the door.
“Unfortunately we have to take the pine forests way back to the elder. We can’t go back by way of the shortcut. Come on. The darkness is fading, and we have only an hour to come,” Malaya Ava said. She led the way. She started to run, but I was unable to keep up, with Fagan in my arms.
“Malaya Ava! Wait,” I cried.
She stopped. She extended her arms out to me. “Let me carry the boy,” she said.
I was hesitant to hand her Fagan. Wouldn’t he just slip right through her arms since she was only made of pedals.
“Come, Noble strength. Do not be hesitant. I am strong enough to run and carry the boy at the same time,” Malaya Ava said.
I decided to trust her. I handed over my dear little brother, ready to catch him when Malaya Ava’s
pedal hands fell apart from his weight. But they didn’t. She grasped him like it were me holding him. She ran ahead, not slowed down the slightest bit by Fagan.
“So, the pine nymphs won’t come out now will they?” I asked as we slowed down to rest a little. “No. I do not think so. Not until the darkness has faded completely,” the white nymph said.
“A pine nymph?” Fagan asked.
“Nothing, dear brother. Don’t worry. We’ll be safely across the forest in no time,” I comforted. Malaya Ava started to run again, thinking we had rested enough.
I followed, my mind focused on not tripping or running into a large branch.
as we arrived at the Oak woods, I realized it was brighter now. It was probably about seven or eight. “How long do you think the darkness will last over the village?” I asked.
“Maybe another hour or so. Probably less,” Malaya Ava said.
“Oh,” I said, not happy. For that meant I had only an hour or so of preparations of making mama hate me further.
Malaya Ava walked up to the elder. “Elder! We have come back,” she said.
The elder’s face twisted back out. Fagan enjoyed this new experience. He laughed with joy at seeing something new and magical.
“And is this the boy?” The elder asked.
“Yes. This is my brother, Fagan,” I said.
“Stand boy. I must see your full size,” the tree nymph elder said.
“Um, elder, sir. My brother is sick. Very sick. If he stands, it will weaken him further, and he will fall on his face. Can’t you just look at him like he is?” I asked.
“Do not try and change what I have commanded. Stand boy. I will heal you. Just stand for me to see,” the elder said.
Malaya Ava set Fagan down on his feet gently. He walked forward, using every last ounce of strength to do so. He wanted to look at the tree closer up. “Hello sir. I am Fagan Solada,” he said, smiling warmly to the tree. He reached out his hand, wanting to just walk forward and touch the elder’s bark. “May I?” He asked.
The tree gave a chuckle. “You may. Though I feel no different from an ordinary tree,” he said. Fagan walked forward. He reached out. His little fingers brushed the bright, aged bark.
My what a soft hand,” the elder said. 22
Fagan looked up at the long face. “You are so wonderful. I have never seen such a creature as you, or Malaya Ava,” he said.
“What a fantastic little boy you are! Come, climb on my branch and we shall play,” the elder said. He stretched forth a long branch.
Fagan climbed the long limb carefully, using all his strength to get on. The elder threw him up a few times, bouncing him amongst his leaves.
“Ha, ha, ha!” Fagan laughed like a boy again. His sickness now left him for the moment. He laughed and smiled at the elder. Once the elder brought him to his face. Fagan bent to his nose and kissed it.
“Thank you, child,” The elder said. He threw Fagan up once more, this time above his leaves.
Fagan drifted away from the soft landing of leaves. He began to plummet towards the hard ground. His head raised in terror and excitement. He was going to fall to the ground, and nothing was there to catch him!
“Fagan!” I screamed. I started to panic. I didn’t know what to do. How could I save him? Even though I scurried around to find something to do, I knew I could do nothing but watch him fall farther and farther.
Fagan looked exceedingly calm. It was an excited calm, but calm. He didn’t show any signs of fear, but rather he was joyful.
“No, Fagan!” I screamed. I fell to the ground, watching him fall closer and closer to the grass. I closed my eyes, wishing that nothing was real. Like I had never met Malaya Ava, or the elder. I wished I had never gone into the forest, or brought Fagan into it all. It was my fault that Fagan was plummeting to his death.
As I looked up, I watched the elder reach out a branch, and catch Fagan in his safe, leafy arm. He bounced up, and slid safely down the wooden twists. He stepped to the ground, a little shaky from the excitement, but happier than ever. He walked over to me, and grabbed my shaking hand. He turned sad. “Sister, why are you crying again? And you are shaking so. Please tell me your trouble,” he said.
I grabbed him into my arms, not wanting to let go. I didn’t want to remember what had just happened. I had never been so scared in my life. “Fagan, I won’t ever let you get in any danger ever again! You’re staying with me,” I said.
Fagan pulled away. He stroked my hair. “Audrey, I was in no danger. The elder was just playing. It was quite fun,” he said with a glowing smile.
I smiled at him. “Yes. You were safe, I see that now,” I said. He was happy. I didn’t want to dampen that. I stood up, steadying my balance.
“Now, enough play. Young Fagan, come forth,” the elder said. Fagan let go of my hand, and walked to the elder.
“Young Fagan. I promised your sister that I would give you the medicine you need to heal, and so I shall keep my promise,” the elder said.
“And I shall be healed? For good? I will be just as normal, and sister and I may play?!” Fagan asked. He grew more excited. He trembled with joy, his legs almost collapsing from the excitement.
“Yes child. Now come here. Take this. Eat it without stopping. Its herbs will sooth your illness. Take it with pleasure, and thank me not, for you deserve it.” The elder handed forth a long root that was white and clean. It looked like it would be satisfying to eat, in fact, better than anything in the world.
Fagan took the root. He took a bite out of it, his face showing pleasure in the flavor. He quickly finished it, eager to be healed.
It was amazing. I watched the color come back to his face, his cheeks flush. His bags under his pale eyes dissipated. His faded blue eyes turned bright like the sea again, his boyish face returning to life. He jumped like something had shocked him, and repeated the action a few times.
He turned to look at me. He stood, not moving. He smiled wider than I had ever seen, and ran to me as fast as his legs could manage. He rammed into me, almost pushing me over. “Sister! I can walk. I can run! Now we may play together in the fields, and climb the trees, picking the luscious fruits, and I may stay up late at night, and watch you sleep soundly. I may gain peace now by watching you slumber like a child does. And you shall wake up and see me pulling the blanket over you. Now won’t that be just wonderful! I just want to fly. I can hardly contain myself. Oh Audrey, it’s the second most wonderful feeling in the world.”
I kissed his hair. “And what is the first?” I asked.
“When you hug me at night, and breathe your warm breath on my hair, and the sweet shimmer of your watching eyes comforting me,” Fagan said, squeezing me tighter.
I watched as a crystal tear fell onto Fagan’s head. It was my own. “I love you dearly, Fagan,” I whispered.
“And I you,” Fagan said.
Malaya Ava walked up. I could see she had cried a few tears herself. “I’m sorry to break up the happy moment, but we are out of time. Light is dawning upon the village. We must make haste to get back,” she said.
I let go of Fagan, not wishing to, but having to. “Then let’s go,” I said. Oh if only I had known how those words would come back to taunt me.
I stood in front of my house, looking at the door, waiting for my hand to reach out and grab the door’s handle. “Come on Audrey. Just reach out, and grab the door.” I said to myself. I tried to move, but nothing happened. I couldn’t do it.
Suddenly, the door shot open, and my mother opened her mouth to say something. “Au- oh. Good. I was beginning to think you ran off. You’ve been asleep too long. Fagan! what are you doing out of bed? Get inside boy,” mama said.
“Mama, I’m not sick anymore! I’m healed. Audrey to-”
“Fagan’s not sick anymore mama. Don’t worry,” I interrupted. I didn’t want Fagan to give away that we had been gone yet. Not too soon.
“I don’t believe it. People can’t be tossing and turning all night, and suddenly get better. It’s not logical. Get inside now. Fagan, go lay down,” mama ordered.
“Really mama. I’m all the way better. Look , watch me walk without falling or shaking,” Fagan said. He started walking around, completely normal. He then started running. He laughed and smiled, enjoying the wind blowing against his face.
Mama looked horrified. “Fagan! Fagan, stop. You’re not well. You can’t do that!” She yelled. “Mama, he’s a boy again. Just look at him. Does he look sick to you?” I said.
Mama just stared at him for a minute. “Well I suppose he looks better. But he can’t be all the way better. It’s just not possible,” she said.
I had to clench my fists in order to not yell. “No mama. It is possible. Fagan’s healed. He can play again. He can laugh and run. He needs to be able to run like a boy again. Please don’t hold him back. Please,” I pleaded.
“Yes. I see. He is healed. But, how?” Mama asked.
Without thinking, I spilled it all out. “The elder gave him a strange root, and Fagan had to eat it. It healed him right away,” I said. I stopped breathing, realizing what I had said. I felt the color drain from my face.
Mama looked disgusted. “Audrey. I am utterly ashamed to have you as a daughter. Why do I even bother to pretend you’re normal?” she said.
“No mama. I’m not normal, I admit that. But I am not crazy. I feel stupid, and uncomfortable trying to explain this to you, but it’s what must be done,” I paused. “Mama,” I started again. I
had to just say it, and no details. Just spit it out, and watch her forever hate me. “We have to stop the men from clearing the forest. If the trees are cleared then the nymphs will die too,” I said.
Fagan walked over to my side. “Mama, Audrey is telling the truth. I saw them for myself. Their elder healed me with the tastiest white root. I Have never eaten anything more delicious,” he said.
Mama looked at me in hatred and anger. “Audrey. How could you? You have poisoned Fagan’s mind with your delirious nonsense. And now he believes that a tree elder healed him? How pathetic! I am ashamed to have to see your evil face,” mama said. “Fagan! Leave her side. Come and stand with me,” she said, grabbing Fagan’s arm.
It took everything within me to hold back the need to fall to my knees and weep. I decided to not think on the harsh words my mother had just screamed at me. “Mother, if we do not stop them, then we will be destroying homes and lives! Please mother, you have to trust me. I never ever wanted to have to see you hate me so, but if you will not trust me, then lives will be taken. Maybe not on purpose, but they will be taken,” I said.
“Listen mama. She isn’t lying. We aren’t deceiving you. I met Malaya Ava, the nymph of our apple tree. She is a good girl, and if she would only come forth and show herself… Ooh! Mama, there. She is right there,” Fagan said, pointing to the floating pedals outside.
“Fagan. Those are pedals. Nothing more,” mama said.
“Mama, Fagan is right. That is Malaya Ava. She is the one who showed me the way to the tree elder in the oak forest, and where Fagan was healed. Please come with us. If you could only see the elder with your own eyes, you would believe me,” I said.
“So you’re saying you went into the forbidden area, and took Fagan with you? Audrey! I should slap you,” mama said.
“Do what you will, but it will not change what has happened. And it cannot make me change my thinking. Before I thought I was crazy. But now, now I know I am not. Everything is real. I know it, because I saw it. Please come with me to the forest. Come see the elder with your own eyes,” I said.
Mama stood up tall. She pulled Fagan behind her. “Audrey, I do not want to see you near this house ever again. Not until your father has come home, and can send you away,” she said.
I froze. I felt nothing. No pain, no sorrow, joy, or anger. I was like a statue. Did I truly hear her? Banished from my house? And to be sent away? My fears were coming to a reality. I would be sent away. To where, I did not know, but away.
“No, Audrey!” Fagan said. “Mama. Do not take her from me. I love my sister. Do not tear us apart! No! Audrey,” Fagan said. He started to weep. He clenched mama’s hand.
“Look no further upon her Fagan. She is cursed, and cannot be seen with us. Do not acknowledge her as your sister any longer,” Mama said coldly. She turned her back to me. “Go now child. Step away from this house,” she said to me.
“No! Take me with you sister. I don’t ever want to leave you,” Fagan screamed. He was falling apart now, clawing at my mother to try and get past her. “Do not leave Audrey! I love you, my sweet sister! I know you aren’t lying. Do not leave. You don’t have to go,” he cried.
Never had I seen Fagan act so torn and wild. “No Fagan. I must obey mother’s words. Now do not cry dear brother. I shall always stay in your heart. But you mustn’t think of me anymore. Goodbye, dear Fagan,” I said. I turned my back. The tears rolled down my cheek now. It hurt to say those words. My last words to him. I could say no more. I had to leave. I walked forward to the woods.
“Audrey!” Fagan screamed.
Oh how I wanted to turn and run to him. How I wanted to hold him, and kiss him and tell him I loved him.
“No Audrey! No!”
I walked away, listening to Fagan’s cries. Those were the last words that I was going to hear from him, and it hurt more than even the sharpest dagger piercing my heart.
I walked on. Not really knowing where I was going. Did it matter? I had no one now. I knew that someday this would happen. But I never knew how it would feel. Why I even tried to convince my mother to believe was beyond me, and now I am no longer allowed to see my family.
Fagan’s screams rang in my ear, like I was still hearing him. I could see his tortured face. He looked so sad. So broken. I saw him clawing violently at my mama’s arms to get past to me. I saw mama’s face. She looked like I was a complete stranger. Like I had never met them, and she didn’t even want to. Of course she didn’t want to know me. I was an insane teenager who was cursed, who said that the trees were alive.
When I looked around to see where I had wandered, I saw I was getting close to the oak woods. Then I remembered that I was supposed to be helping the nymphs. Helping to save their lives. Why was I being so stupid? I was acting like an idiot, wandering around in the woods, focused on all my problems, and at the most inconvenient time.
I turned abruptly. I didn’t expect to see Malaya Ava there. “Malaya Ava! I didn’t know you were there,” I said to her.
“Yes, I see. I’m sorry about what has happened. I understand it must be very painful. I’m so sorry. It is all my fault. I could see that your mother was already ashamed of you, and yet I pressed you further into all this. It’s my fault,” Malaya Ava said.
“No. It’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself. I could see this coming, and I wasn’t ready to face it,” I said.
“Yes, and I am truly sorry about everything. I shouldn’t have put you through all this. But, we are still dealing with a life or death situation. If you are still hurting too much, I shall report to the elder that you are not ready. I told him all that happened, and he consents to you having time to just think, and straighten things out,” the nymph girl said.
I looked at the dirt. I wasn’t really thinking about how to answer. I was just, doing nothing really. I looked up and observed the skinny bare trees around us. It looked so… dull. And when I looked back at Malaya Ava, she was watching me patiently. She looked at me in pity, and sorrow.
“No. I won’t give up now. I am not going to let my feelings get in the way. I shall keep on helping you,” I said.
Immediately she perked up. She looked glad of my decision. “Good then! We shall go back to the elder, and tell him you’re ready. Then, we await the arrival of the hunters,” she said. She started to run ahead.
I looked back, imagining my house, just sitting there without me. I walked forward, still looking back. Then I broke into a run, and focused forward. As I ran, I left all my old life behind. I had other things to think about now. I may no longer be considered a Solada child by my mother, but I was still Audrey…… Noble Strength.
I arrived shortly after Malaya Ava got to the elder, and sat to catch my breath.
“Nadiva Delilah. Is it not the day the hunters should be arriving back?” The elder asked me.
I thought of the day, and realized that it was supposed to be the day that the men got home. “Yes! They should. That means…”
“Yes. You must meet them at the edge of the woods today. Try and lead them here. If they perhaps see me, then they will surely believe,” the elder said.
“But how do I lead them here? What could I possibly do to make them follow me? I’m just a child to them,” I said.
“You will come up with something as you feel the need to,” the elder said. “I do hope you’re right,” I mumbled.
“Now go! Wait for them,” the elder said.
I looked at Malaya Ava. I had to save the lives of all the nymphs here. I know how she must feel, knowing her family of nymphs could very well die today. “I will do everything that is within my power,” I said to her.
She nodded, understanding.
I looked at the elder. “Thank you. For excepting me as I am,” I said to him. I turned, walking to the short cut. As I thought about the men walking up to the edge, axes in hand, I burst into a run.
There, at the edge of the forest, right by my house, was the group of men, chopping away at pine trees.
“No!” I screamed. I ran towards them. This wasn’t good. They had already started, and now, it would be even harder to try and stop. “No!”
I ran as fast as I could, trying to reach the men. But I seemed to never get there. My legs felt like rubber. But eventually I did reach them. I walked up to my father, almost scared to approach him.
He looked down at me, his face growing dark. “Audrey. Not now. We’ll talk later,” he said. He continued chopping at a pine tree.
I could see the sinister look of the pines as they fled from the trees to go find a new forest, and I was disgusted and terrified. “Dad! You have to stop,” I said in a panicky tone.
“Audrey, I said it before. Not now,” my father said.
“Papa, please! It’s not the tree I’m worried about. Ugh! Just come with me. I’ll show you what I mean. But you have to follow me,” I said.
“No, Audrey. I’m busy now. These trees need clearing, and they won’t just clear themselves,” papa said. He took a large chunk from the tree.
I could feel the panic was growing inside of me. How was I supposed to save all those lives? “Papa, please! I’m begging you. This is urgent,” I pleaded.
He kept chopping.
“I know you and mama don’t believe me. I know I sound crazy, but I’m not! The tree nymphs are real. I talked with one. I’m friends with one. The elder healed Fagan! Did you not see how well he looked after being sick so long?” I said.
“There’s a simple explanation. He just healed over night, and is doing well. No tree elder healed my son. And just because he claims to have seen it for himself, doesn’t mean it is true. He’s just a child Audrey. And I thought that you would have changed by the time I arrived home. I guess not,” papa said. He wiped his forehead, and continued to chop at the tree.
His words stung. “So, you left because of me? Am I the reason you leave? So you don’t have to deal with a crazy girl, and your sick family!” I said, the hot tears streamed down my cheek.
Papa stopped. He looked at me with softness. He looked like the papa who I knew. He wiped away a tear on my cheek. “No, Audrey. I left so I could take care of you all. To provide food for the family. I searched all over for medicine. But it’s all just too expensive. Audrey, don’t think that I don’t care for you. I love you so much. But mama says you’ve been getting worse, and I think that we need to send you away somewhere for a little. Not permanently, but for a good while. Now go away, and let me work,” papa said. He swung once more. A large chunk of wood flew through the air. The tree swayed. It slowly started falling towards the ground. “Timber!” He yelled.
I watched in horror as the tree fell, and thumped to the ground. A tear trickled down my face. Even though the tree belonged to a bad nymph, it meant that I was failing. I had failed to convince papa to stop.
“Audrey, stop,” papa ordered. He looked at me as I cried. “It’s just a tree. And nothing more,” he said.
“Papa, it’s…. It’s not the tree. I’m failing. There are nymphs that I am failing to save.”
“Audrey, I know how you are feeling. When I was young, I had an imaginary friend. It was a tree nymph. It belonged to an oak tree at the back of the woods. We were good friends, the two of us. But my parents were upset, and said I was making believe. And so I decided they were right. I said I didn’t believe, and they disappeared. All the nymphs. All I saw after that were pedals and leaves in the wind. Now, go home. Tell your mother I sent you. Have her give you some food, and water,” papa said, his hand resting on my shoulder.
I looked at his sweaty face. “No papa. I can’t,” I stared into his blue eyes for a moment longer, and then rushed to the back of the woods. I hoped he would follow me back there, so he could see once again.
I just kept on running, not looking back to see if he was following. But as I got tired, I had to slow down, and walk. I glanced over my shoulder to check and see if by any chance he had followed me. I couldn’t see him, but then again, I was running fast, and I knew the woods better.
“Audrey!” I heard him yell.
It was working! He was following me. Never had I felt more happier. Now I just needed to get him to the oak woods. I ignored the pain in my sides, and just kept on moving.
Audrey! You can go home now. You need food. You look tired. Audrey,” papa yelled.
I stopped running, and turned around. I wanted to make sure he was going the right direction. But as I stepped around a large tree, I slammed into my fathers chest. I stumbled to the ground, shocked.
“Audrey. Where are you going?” Papa asked. He lifted me to my feet. I looked away from him, pretending to be mad.
“Audrey, don’t be mad at me. Please just come back with me. You’re mama will cook you up some food, and you can bathe. Just go home now,” he said.
“No papa. I’m hurt. Mama doesn’t want to see me ever again. She called me cursed. I can’t,” I said, still trying to act angry.
“I don’t care. I don’t like seeing you like this. Just go-” my papa began.
“Papa! No. I won’t go home. And you aren’t ever going to see me again now. I’ve been hurt badly. Mama wants me gone, and so I will leave,” I said, looking at my father.
He looked hurt. His eyes were glossy with sadness.
“Papa, don’t be sad. Tell Fagan I love him, and the rest of the children. Oh papa, don’t be so upset. Maybe one day you’ll see me again,” I said.
Papa just looked down at me further. “Audrey, I know how I’ve been. But, you can’t go. Just go back home, and see your family once more. Fagan won’t leave the window. He doesn’t say anything. The only thing he said was, ‘you took her away from me. My sister will suffer, and it’s all your fault’. He’s badly hurting. Just go and see him. Comfort him,” papa said.
I hadn’t figured on Fagan taking my leaving so hard. “Fagan,” I said. Oh how I wished to just hold him.
“Go Audrey. He needs to see you. You know how he favors you the most,” papa said.
I decided to go. “Okay. But only to see Fagan, and that’s it. Then I’m leaving for good. And don’t expect to see me again,” I said. I was still planning where I would hide. I followed my father back to the edge of the woods.
“Timber!” I heard someone yell.
What I saw was horrifying. On the ground, lay four pine trees, just sitting there. “No!” I said. Papa ignored me. He walked away to continue chopping at trees.
I ran to the house, not wanting to waste time. I flung the door open, making mama jump.”Audrey! Don’t barge in so. Make your visit short. I’ll get you some food, and then you must leave,” mama said. She stood up and left.
Fagan was staring at me. His eyes sparkling.
I looked at him lovingly. “Hello Fagan,” I said softly.
He jumped up to his feet. He flew to my side, and wrapped his arms around me. “Audrey! I love you, Audrey. Oh I love you,” he said.
I kissed his hair. “And I love you too,” I said. We sat there hugging, not letting go.
“Please don’t leave me ever again. I can’t bare it without you here,” Fagan said looking up at me, his arms still embracing me.
I wished I could give him the answer he wanted. “Fagan, I have to go and save the tree nymphs. Mama doesn’t want me here, and so I must obey,” I said.
“Then I shall come with you,” Fagan said.
“No. You must stay here with mama and the other children. You don’t need me,” I said.
“But I do need you,” Fagan said, his lips turned to a pout. His eyes fogged up with tears.
I let him go, and walked to the door. “Goodbye Fagan,” I said, smiling lovingly at him. I walked out the door, and walked on to the forest.
“Audrey!” I heard Fagan say.
But I didn’t look back. Not now. I had something important to do. ++++++++++
That night, I sat on a tree stump deep into the woods. I was hoping for my father to show up. I had to save the nymphs. I had to. I didn’t hear or see anyone. I hadn’t even seen Malaya Ava at all. I was getting lonely now. I decided to check back on my father and the other men.
But when I got there, no one was chopping trees. I turned around to head back to the oak woods to see the elder. But as I neared the oak trees, I heard distant voices.
“Papa!” He had come looking for me. My plan was turning out good. Now how to get him to come to the oaks? “Help!” I screamed. Of course nothing was wrong. I just needed something to make my papa come.
“Papa, help!” I yelled. I ran to the oaks.
“Audrey, I’m coming,” papa yelled.
I heard his heavy steps through the trees. He was getting close. “Hurry papa!” I yelled louder. “Audrey, just stay put! I’m almost there.”
I watched as he came into view. He was there, looking worried, and tired. He paused when he saw me, standing there, perfectly fine. “Audrey? What…”
“Papa, I’m fine. I just needed you to come,” I said, backing up towards the giant tree belonging to the elder.
He followed me, and when he looked up at the shadowed trees, he looked like he was lost in a memory. He rubbed his hand on the tree’s wood.
“Papa, now you can see,” I said. I walked to the elder. I said nothing, but watched as the tree came alive.
Papa looked almost scared. Not shocked or surprised, just scared. He stared up at as the elder began to twist and form into his true self.
As the elder came to life, his eyes rested on my father. “Hello Colin. How have you been after all these years?” he asked.
“Y-you’re still here?” Papa said.
“Of course! I was destined to be elder, remember?”
“Yes, but… I, I was just a silly child. You weren’t supposed to be-”
“But I am real. Do you not see now?”
“Yes. I do. Audrey, she sees… and me and her mother called her… Oh Audrey,” papa said. He looked at me, his eyes apologetic.
“No papa. I understand,” I said. I was just happy to see him seeing my fantasies were actually real.
“Colin, what’s the matter? We heard screams, an- whoa!” A man said. He froze in awe. The men behind him were shaking with fear.
“Welcome villagers! I hope you had a pleasant day,” the elder said with a chuckle. He enjoyed the petrified faces.
I watched in joy and relief. I was done. My work was finished. After all this time, all the struggles and pain, my work was finished. I hadn’t failed.
“Well done, Noble strength,” Malaya Ava said, standing next to me. I smiled. It was finished. ++++++++++
“The air, it seems so, happy,” Malaya Ava said, swinging our hands back and forth. Her white hair stirred as the soft wind lightly blew it around. She no longer had to stay in pedal form all day. She was now free to take her human form whenever she pleased.
“Yes, it does,” I said. I looked at her pretty face in the shimmering sunlight. Much prettier in the day than at night.
“Wait up!” Fagan yelled, running up the hill we were exploring.
“Fagan! Not so fast,” Addy said, trying to keep up with the boy. She walked over to Malaya Ava’s side, and grabbed her hand.
Fagan grabbed my hand, and smiled up at me.
I smiled back. I looked up into the setting sun, my face warm from it’s light. I felt good. Very good.
The rest of my siblings came running up the hill, laughing and joyously screaming. Mama was holding the new baby in her arms, papa by her side as they climbed the hill as well to join us.
As we watched the sun go down, we stood there, united. No longer did I have to endure such hardship, and my family was happy again. True, pain will never fully be gone while on this earth, but I knew that I was loved, and that’s all that mattered. Darkness had tried to steal my only
hope, but light broke through and showed itself to be strongest. I found, in the darkest spot of my life, where the light shows.