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The day was sunny and bright, only a few puffy white clouds littering the azure sky. My students were all dressed in bright colors, t-shirts and shorts, myself in a white blouse and black skirt. The students were all bouncing and squirming in their seats as the clock neared their forty minutes of freedom.
"Alright kids, line up!" I spoke with a soft smile, watching them all scatter towards the classroom door to assemble in a messy line. As I filed the kids out of the door, I looked down, feeling a tug on my skirt. There by my side was Kyle Davis, the smallest student in my class. His big blue eyes looking up at me innocently.
"Ms. Summers, do you hear the music?" he asked me, his tone pleading, as if no one else had believed him. I was silent for a few moment, hearing nothing except the quiet chatter of my excited class waiting at the stairwell.
"Kyle, it might just be another class playing a video. Let's go to recess, okay?" I smiled at him and the boy's eyes flickered to the outside before looking back to me.
"C...Can I hold you hand?" he questioned and I smiled more, extending my hand out to him. His small fingers grabbed onto my hand as I led the class outside, as soon as the warm air hit their skin they took off like bullets for the playground. Well, except for Kyle.
"Kyle, why don't you go and play?" I asked him, crouching down this time to look him in the face. He wouldn't look at me and he shrugged, letting go of my hand and beginning to wander over to a lone soccer ball astray in the play field. It hadn't been too long, maybe 10 or 15 minutes when another student came and got my attention.
Susie Jo, a bright and talented girl, came to my side and touched my arm. I looked at her and smiled, but strangely, she didn't return it back.
"Ms. Summers, Kyle went out of the fence to get his ball a while ago. He hasn't come back yet," she told me and my smile faded. The fence was put up because of the woods around us, they frequently had foxes and raccoons come into the playground before it had been put up, the gate was for the mindless children who accidentally kicked or threw balls over the fence.
"I'll go get him. I'll be right back," I told her, heading to the ajar fence, going through and looking around the woods."
"Kyle! Kyle!" I called for a minute, slowly heading deeper into the woods. Why would he come out here and not ask me to get his ball for him? I came upon the abandoned ball not a few moments later, resting near a knotted tree root sticking out of the ground.
"Kyle!" I called again, "I found the soccer ball, Kyle!"
This was getting strange, I went passed the ball and kept calling for my student, perplexed at the predicament I was in. Where could he have gone? At once, I stopped. A melody, soft and sweet in tone and slow in tempo began to resound through the woods, casting an eerie silence to the natural sounds I had been hearing priorly.
It was a woman's voice. A very talented woman's voice at that. A part of me was calmed by the singing, but another part was put on edge. Did this singing woman have Kyle?
I followed the source of the sound to a strange sight. A ghostly woman, wearing a pale, nearly see-through gossamer white dress was holding Kyle's hand and singing as they walked along. This song had no real words, but sounded like a single person choir. She had waist length, chestnut brown hair.
Kyle was perfectly happy with this woman, her serene voice putting him into a visible relaxed state. He didn't seem to notice that the woman glided effortlessly over the ground, not tromping through the woods like he was doing. My heart began to race, the strangeness of this woman was bothering me immensely.
I followed them, my heart racing with fear, by my mind telling me Kyle was my responsibility. I paused again, however, when a second voice joined in with the brunette woman and a woman. The exact same as the first, but with platinum blonde hair, seemed to appear out of thin air. Her voice joining the soft choir made the singing even more alluring, a stronger sense of the lullaby-nature of this compilation of melodies.
The woods around us were thick, the branches letting in only a little light, casting a drab air to the darkened forest, a faint tang of must lingering in the air. I had never been through this forest before, but I had never heard anyone speak of a gated property. A tall cast iron gate arose from the damp, musty earth, ivy and thorns weaving through the bars and designs, making seeing through it impossible.
As the two singing women approached it, a third voice joined! The gate being opened from the inside by an identical looking red-head! The new woman was facing me though, and now I could see the face. Soft features, narrow eyes, ghostly complexions, if all these women were the same, they were not human; having an ethereal beauty belonging to an angel, but a sinister feel like a demon.
The song had changed yet again, from a lullaby to a hauntingly beautiful dirge for a lost one. I had to sprint for the gate after the women and Kyle had ventured inside, the gate nearly shutting. I slipped in through the old, ivy covered gate and looked around.
This place was a garden of death, dead or dying bushes holding unrecognizable blossoms and leaves, wilted from long days with little light or water. Such a waste of life. Yet, ivy and thorns seemed to thrive even in death, dried withered stalks trying to shoot off fresh light green buds.
I followed the worn trail, walked by many unseen feet, after the trio of ghostly women. After rounding a bend, I ducked back behind it, seeing a fourth woman who also was singing now. The cataclysm of voices now intertwining together to birth a comforting, but haunting serenade for the young Kyle Davis. This fourth woman had jet black hair, also being completely identical to the others.
The clearing was dark and as the women walked through it, their pure white dresses seemed to absorb some of the darkness around them; staining them with black and grey smudges. Past the clearing there was a great tree—a giant tree—maybe a hundred feet tall with a wide sprawling base full of thick, twining roots.
The auburnette went ahead of the group, the chestnut haired woman letting go of Kyle's delicate hand. The tree roots, laced over with ivy, began to move, putting me into a shocked stupor. The women began to intensify their singing, a trance-like effect being put over Kyle and I. The red-head sang as the tree's roots parted, revealing a bright glowing light, casting Kyle's form into shadow as he blindly began to approach it.
The crescendo building up more as the four voices took on an inhuman quality, Kyle stepping into the thick tree. There was one more climb of the choir as the roots began to close again, and once they stilled.... silence.
"K-Kyle!" I suddenly cried, my voice making all four women turn to me, glaring menacingly, their beautiful ghostly faces turned into harsh scowls. They did not sing as they approached me, but all four gazes held me down to the spot. The black haired woman got to me first, her cold, pale white hand gripping my arm; my other being snatched by the blonde. The red head circled behind me as her two sisters, or I assumed such, towards a blooming bush of roses. Wait... blooming?
All around us; the bushes, flowers, and even thorns, were springing back to life—returning to the previous state of its magnificence. It would have enthralled me for hours to look all around this garden, if my student had not been, what I could observe. A sacrifice of some sorts, and I was not in danger of becoming the same.
With a strong shove, the two women pushed me into the blooming bush, thorns pricking and scratching at my skin. Their sting was short lived, a sort of numbness taking over the areas that were scratched. I tried to move away; but my wrists, legs, and waist had been encircled by the revived rose bush, more thorns prickling my skin as the vines drew me nearer to it.
Leaves and blossoms over took my vision as the numbness began to consume me. I felt scared. I felt anxious. I felt suddenly hopeful that Kyle was in a better situation than I was. After a moment, I felt the stinging all over again. Then I felt numb. I felt... I felt... nothing.