Deep in a dark, almost forgotten forest, sat an enchanted girl. Her light brown hair gently blew in the careless breeze. She stared at the flowers, wishing to touch one. How long had it been? She couldn't recall, nor could she recall the feel of its silky petals. Her arms longed to reach out and caress them but she couldn't, and sadly she knew she couldn't. Her father would be angry with her if she did.
Above her were branches she could never climb. Her shoulders fell as she sighed. Why do I continue to come here when there is nothing for me to do, she asked herself. She looked at her surroundings and thought, not for the first, that it was beautiful.
Her cold lips curved when she saw a chestnut squirrel run up the bark of a nearby tree. It paused on the closest branch to stare at her. It's whiskers wiggled as it tried to figure her out. Pushing its nose out it sniffed the air. She thought she saw something spark in its innocent eyes before it turned, and ran off. Her body collapsed on itself in disappointment. "It sensed my sickness," she mumbled to no one. She had no friends. She couldn't with her sickness. It wasn't allowed.
The sound of a trig snapping turned her head. Her eyes grew with fear when she saw a blond hair boy standing beside a small bush. There was no fear in his face, only slight curiosity. "Why are you on my father's land?" he calmly asked.
She didn't understand what he meant. Land? "Land cannot be owned by any man."
With his eyes on her he stepped away from the false safety that the bush provided. "If he has enough money it can, which my father does."
Money? Her head tilted to the side as confusion filled her violet eyes. "What is money?"
Laughter that started in his chest erupted from his lips. "Silly child, it's why you are wearing the clothes on your back."
She looked down at her gold fitted dress her mother had made her. Her lips pushed out as her narrow eyes settled on him. "I'm not silly."
Her leaned forward. "Yes you are and I'm Josh," he happily stated as he forgot about the trespassing. He held out his hand.
Jumping away she pulled her hands close to her chest. "What are you doing?"
"Shaking hands silly. That's what people do when they first meet." He looked from his palm to hers; he didn't understand her fear. He scanned his palm once again. It was clean. With brows down he dropped his hand as he sadly shook his head. "What is your story?"
"I don't have one yet." She stared at the proud grass. It took a lot to hurt it. She wished she could be that way.
"Why won't you shake hands?"
She shrugged, not caring to talk about this.
Now his soft lips pushed out in uncertainty. "I heard you say you had a sickness, what kind?"
Her eyes grew. Needing comfort only she could give she pulled her hands closer to herself. "I can't touch things."
He smiled a charming smile. "Why not?"
"Because my father said so."
"And why did your father say that?" He had never met anyone sick before. His family kept him well protected from everything, even life when they could.
She turned her attention because she needed something different to look a. "Because bad things happen."
"Like what?" he challenged.
She shrugged again, not wanting to talk about this.
"Nonsense," he exclaimed. He ignored the stunned look on her face. "Parents always tell lies to us as a way to keep us in line." He proudly smiled. "But see, I know this."
Lies? She didn't know what those were. Instead of admitting this and looking silly again she decided to play along with him. "Really?"
"Yes," his chest was slightly pushed out. "With that cleared up; let's play a game." Excitement made his voice a little higher. He hadn't had a friend in quite some time thanks to his family and their fear.
"What kind of game?" Her head rose with interest. She liked games; she liked games a lot.
Her brows fell in confusion. "I never heard of that one."
He laughed. "Of course you haven't silly. The way it is played is you count to twenty and then come look for me. You want to find me and tag me before I tag this tree." He walked up to the tree the squirrel had disappeared into and touched it's bark. "See? Simple."
"Did you tag that tree?" Ugly fear curled in her belly.
"Of course I did." He shook his head. Poor girl, he thought. Her parents must have kept her locked up more than mine. "Okay; close your eyes and count."
She stared at him as disbelief grew inside her. "But you touched it."
"Oh," he groaned. "Not that again." He met her eyes so he could will the truth into her. "They lied to you." His eyes softened. "You can touch things."
"Do you want to play?"
Her heart skipped a beat. She had never played with a kid her age before. She wanted to; she really wanted to. "Yes."
It was settled. He smiled his charming smile again. "Then trust me."
Wanting to trust him she nodded. "Count then find you."
"You got it."
She closed her eyes. I'm playing with a kid. A friend, her mind corrected. She smiled and giggled to herself. Maybe now her loneliness was finally at an end. "Twenty!"
She turned. At first she didn't know which way to go. Slowly through the hunt it became fun. She froze when she found him. He grinned at her before taking off for the base. She laughed then chased. This is fun, real fun. She laughed when she saw him skid. Oh no, her mind gasped when she saw how close he was to the tree. She took a deep breath before pushing her body to go faster.
"I got it," he yelled as he turned.
It was too late for her to stop. As she tried to halt her run she stumbled like all children do. Without thinking she reached out. Before grabbing onto him she saw his face change from happy joy to confusion then it settled on horror. Her heart sank. He finally sensed my sickness. She could already feel her tears gathering in her eyes.
She felt his warm flesh beneath her cold skin. There was nothing she could do as the skin below her fingers turned to ash. The condemning curse spread all over his body. In a matter of seconds he was gone. She stared at her own hands in disgust as the sobs began.
Her father found her as a crying mess. He looked at the ashes the breeze was slowly taking and knew. He shook his head. "You know the rules," he softly said, not wanting to be too harsh. "We cannot touch mortals." Her tears hurt him. He didn't know how to stop them.
Her arms tightly wrapped around herself as she rocked back and forth. "He was my friend."
His heart broke. Dropping to his knees he wrapped his own arms around her. Her body trembled next to his. "Death has no friends," he sadly told her the cold truth. Her head fell in defeat as a wail escaped her throat. He closed his eyes. Tonight would be long and painful for both. He mumbled the words to take them home.