Rain poured down hard upon the earth, drowning out any noise of whatever life dared to remain in the desolate woods.
A little girl, holding two bruised apples in her tiny pale hands, was running home. The shrill thin branches which sprouted from the trees, far beyond any chance of reviving, acted poorly as her only umbrella. The hard, pouring rain weighed down her pale green hair.
Her head felt heavy, and despite the freezing cold rain, which had numbed her arms and legs to the point that they had become incredibly itchy. Her face felt suffocatingly hot. But she pressed on, she had to get home.
Sure, it wasn’t much, but her home kept her safe. It had somehow managed to protect her from the many evil spirits and demons, that had threatened to kill her for the past month she had been living on her own.
She wouldn’t have even left it, if not for the fact that she had not eaten in three days, and was desperate for anything to eat. She considered herself lucky to have found those three very bruised apples, just lying on the ground by a faraway tree. She had quickly picked up, and consumed one, before grabbing the others. That was when it had begun to rain, and she realized just how dark the sky had gotten. Now running blindly through the forest in the freezing cold, wearing nothing more than a soaked thin purple nighty, and a pair of rough green socks to keep her warm. She stumbled over something which she could not make out and fell forward, dropping the apples. She let out a desperate cry as the smell of wet dirt filled her nostrils.
One of the apples which she had been holding, rolled away from her, and slowly she raised her head.
She couldn’t hear the rain anymore.
The apple came to a stop by a pair of bare feet, looking up even more revealed a tattered brown dress that belonged to a very tall, skinny woman with long, thin arms and messy brown hair. But it was what hid behind that messy brown hair which caused the child’s heart to almost stop.
Red. Pure red.
A pair of pure red eyes were staring down at her. But strangely, they didn’t look angry, or threatening. They instead looked almost…. confused?
The Red Eyed Girl switched her gaze to the apple at her feet and bent down, letting her long thin arms drape downward. When she realized that she could not reach the apple like that, she knelt on her knees and tried to pick up the bruised fruit.
As soon as her pale-red gloved hand came close to the apple, it phased straight through it. The Red Eyed Girl tilted her head and tried to grab it again, and again. Same result each time.
The little girl on the ground locked a curious gaze on the Red Eyed Girl, as she slowly picked herself up off the ground. Swallowing, she took a shaky step towards the taller girl. Then another, and another. Before she knew it, she was directly in front of the her.
“U-umm…. E-e-excuse m-me….?”
The Red Eyed Girl tried to pick up the apple once more, before she slowly raised her head. She stared blankly into the little girl’s eyes.
She mouthed a single word, but no sound came out. It was only when she closed her mouth again that she heard it. A soft, meek echo of a voice that penetrated the powerful thundering rain.
“… Sor… ry…”
The little girls breathing hitched as the world seemed to fall silent around her once again. She looked down at the apple on the ground and noticed that the Red Eyed Girl had once again begun trying to pick it up.
Swallowing, the little girl bent down and picked the apple up from the ground. The Red Eyed girl following it with her eyes. Shaking, the little girl nervously held it out in front of her.
“H-h-here…Here you g-go…”
The little girl anxiously waited for any kind of response, as seconds seemed like hours. But before she knew it, the Red Eyed Girl held out her hand, and tried to push the little girls offering hand back. Then her mouth opened, closed, and she heard her speak.
The little girl looked at the apple, before looking back at the taller girl.
“A-are y-y-you sure?”
She asked in a shaky, unsteady voice. The Red Eyed Girl pointed a gloved finger to herself.
The little girl held the apple to her chest and smiled a small smile.
The Red Eyed Girls facial expression did not change as she stood back up. For a moment, she only stared down at the little girl, as if trying to think of something that had been long since forgotten.
With another tilt of her head, she outstretched her hand, and let it hover high above the child's head.
The little girl felt a little smile creep its way across her face. The child giggled and she pointed a pale finger at the other.
The Red Eyed Girl thought for a moment, before she shook her head and pointed to herself.
Anya, so that was her name. The little girl pointed to herself. She opened her mouth, wanting to also tell Anya her name. But as soon as she tried to speak, she found herself opening her mouth wider as she took in several deep breaths. Before she knew it, she had let out a loud sneeze, then another. Anya seemed taken back by the child’s sneezing. Her red eyes widening.
“S-sneeze…. Si…ck?... Sick!... Fo…llow ple...ase!”
Anya turned around and begun to quickly walk away from the child. The little girl’s eyes widened as she ran after Anya, following her deeper into the woods, past more and more decaying trees. However, before she knew it, she had begun to recognize where she was, and they had arrived to the end of the woods, where no trees remained, and there was only a long cliff and a barely stable, almost destroyed, but very spacious cardboard box, that had been the child’s safe-haven for the past month.
Tears and holes littered the walls of the box. An old ragged brown cloth stapled to the top of the box acted as a make shift roof. Duct tape had been used to anchor the ‘house’ down, and a poorly made wooden ladder lay flat on the ground, knocked down by the harsh wind that had accompanied the rain. The little girl, although suprised about the fact that her home was even still standing, knew that at this point it would not last long.
Running past Anya, the child headed towards her home, fighting agents the harsh wind and furious rain.
Just as she had gotten close to her self-made home, the child heard a piercing scream. Quickly turning around revealed Anya. She was by her side, but she was curled up in a ball. Her gloved hands clutching her chest, clutching the place where her heart would be.
The child’s eyes widened. She didn’t think Anya would follow her. She thought Anya would have known not to follow her! All the time, she would see evil spirits and demons behave like Anya was whenever they would follow her and get too close to her home.
She didn’t know why this was, but she had always been grateful for it. This time was an exception however. Anya had not tried to attack her. Anya had even helped her get home, and now she was suffering. She was in pain. The little girl dropped down next to Anya. She dropped the apple once more, and tried to shake Anya’s shoulders. But her hands phased straight through her. Tears fell from her eyes.
“Anya! Please! W-w-wait over there for me!” She pointed to the part of the woods that they had just exited. “P-p-pl-lease Anya!”
Anya however, did not listen. She instead rolled over onto her stomach and pointed to something inside the child’s home. She attempted to crawl forward.
“S…sick….ca…n’t…. Sis is…. sick…. warm… blan…ket…”
Imminently the child sprang up off her feet and ran inside. She quickly grabbed the now soaked grey blanket that she kept tucked away in the corner of her home, and ran. Begging for Anya to follow her.
Slowly Anya got up and followed her towards the woods. First crawling, then as they got further away, she stood up and begun walking, then running. Seeing this made the child incredibly happy. Her new friend, she was going to be okay. When they were back in the woods, the child collapsed by a nearby tree trunk and wrapped the soaked blanket around her shoulders.
She was exhausted. Her eyelids weighed down heavily, she just couldn’t keep them from closing. In an attempt to stay awake for a little while longer, the child blinked slowly. It was then that she realized that Anya was sitting in front of her, staring at her with those big, red, child-like eyes.
“Tired…. You… Slee...p…”
Anya then attempted to put her hand on the child’s forehead, as the little girl closed her tired eyes. It was strange, but the younger girl thought she could feel something soft rest agents her head. Something like wool. As she drifted off into sleep she subconsciously wondered if Anya’s gloves were made of wool, or some other material. She wondered if they were just as soft.
She was being carried.
That was the first thing she noticed when her eyes opened. Anya was carrying her. That was the second thing she noticed.
“A-Anya? …. Where are we going?”
She asked sleepily, rubbing her eyes. Anya held the small child close as she walked.
“That pla… ce…. not good…had t… o… not…stay….”
Half asleep, and fading in and out of consciousness, the child nodded her head as she closed her eyes once more.
While sleep crept its way towards her, images of her father and mother flashed through her mind. She missed them so. Her mother stern but caring, wearing the finest of dresses, her dark green hair done up in the prettiest of ways. Her father, handsome and kind, in the finest of suits, his silver cross necklace hanging down from his neck.
The child smiled. She had always loved that cross necklace. Her father had even engraved her name into it, Ayana. His Little Princess.
It was a shame that she had left it back at her self-made home. She almost considered asking Anya to stop here. If her home was still standing and in one piece, she did not want to go too far from it. She wanted to be close to the last thing she had left of her father. But as she fell deep once more into her dreams, as she thought about reuniting with her beloved silver cross, she felt a sharp pain somewhere deep in her heart.
Suddenly, going back for her prized possession didn’t seem like such a good idea.
Written by : Natt Tenshi