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|This was the original 50th comment prize for Cecily Webster. The story has been edited and tweaked. Hope you all like it!||
The park sidewalks were littered with multi-colored leaves, and it was obviously fall. The trees overhead was strewn with flame-colored leaves, accompanied by dark purple, brown, and the green of the pines. The smaller, scarcely placed crape myrtles were bare of leaves and flowers, and the light colored bark seemed dry. All the grass was brown or white, and frost touched the few hardy flowers that still dared to show their heads.
All was silent, except for the shuffling of feet as a girl made her way through the empty park. Her brown, leather coat contrasted against her white, almost translucent skin. The hood was pulled up to cover her curiously white hair. Her pale magenta eyes had a lost expression, and she was pointed in no general direction.
As a pair of dark blue and gold dragonflies flew past, she looked up, an attentive look coming onto her face. She smiled, pale lips twisted painfully. The girl gasped, and reached out, grabbing at a pine tree. She clutched at her chest, and her breathing gradually returned to normal. Her soft, tan corduroy pants had holes in the knees, and the edges of the holes were burned.
When she managed to open her eyes against the pain in her chest, she felt small flames dancing in the air around her frail body. Tears of strain streamed down her face as she struggled to stand upright and banish the flames. Her knees shook and she bit her lip.
Once she had managed to stand properly, she continued down the sidewalk. Her breathing was still heavy, but now it seemed normal to her. She turned, and was run off the path as two boys zipped past on their bikes. They skidded to a stop not far from her.
Both spotted her, and their grins dropped. Both watched her eyes, gaping. She said, in a fragile whisper,” It’s rude to stare.”
Both back up, and then the raven-haired stammered,” We’re sorry – I didn’t mean-“
The one with the white-blonde hair shut his mouth. The girls breathing became labored again, and she closed her eyes tight against the pain. The blonde rushed forward as she dropped to her knees, gasping for breath. He held her shoulders, and looked at her.
“Are you oka-“
He was pushed away with a thin, white hand that was stronger than it seemed. He landed with an ‘oof’ five feet away, and struggled to stand as the girl growled, “Leave me alone.”
The wind suddenly blew hard, causing the girl looked up, one hand clutched at her chest, the other pressed firmly to the ground. Her magenta colored eyes had no pupils, and were glowing slightly. The boys were backed away, and their eyes were wide with fright. The girls screamed, and clenched her eyes shut as little flames licked at the grass, and floated in the air around her. “Go! Get away from me! What did you do?!”
The flames caught, and the fire blazed up around her. The wind was howling, and the fire was rapidly getting bigger, spreading.
The boys turned, and ran. A tree near the girl caught, and she could hear the nymph scream as the crape myrtle burned. A pine caught, and the resin flared. Her hood fell back, and she struggled to stand. The flames licked at her from the above branches, and she cried out in pain.
The girl reached out with one hand, and clenched it, trying to quell the power. The fire lurched, slowing, but quickly regained its pace. The whole park was in danger and soon the flames would devour it. The fire was out of control. The girl’s magenta eyes were full of tears – tears of blood. She could feel the forest screaming, and her heart screamed with it. People gathered as arriving firemen doused the park in water.
The park was roped off, and the police began investigating. What could have possibly started a fire that large and wild? A young blonde police officer stumbled upon a curled up bundle at the foot of a crumbling oak. He turned it over, and gasped. It was a young girl. Her silver hair was loose, splayed about her on the ground. Her magenta eyes stared into space, glazed over. He touched her wrist, and got no pulse.
And she wasn’t burned.
He was very scared and puzzled. She had streaks down her face where the tears of blood had fallen. Around her, he could see small plants sprouted in the hard, cracked earth. The plants were an ashy color and looked frail. On a couple, there were tiny flowers – flowers the colors of flames. He marked her place, and how many plants there were. Soon he was back with the others, reporting.
No one saw her leave. No one saw her ever again. The boys forgot, and they were just as confused as the rest about the fire. She watched the police’s reaction when they returned to the scene, and she apologized to trees. The nymphs passed her, one by one, telling her what they had to say. She felt guilty, but a gift that was never trained and was provoked was not her fault. Fire-starting was a rare gift, and when misused, could be dangerous.
When the cops got back to the spot, they were amazed. Where the girl had lain there was no one. A larger version of the tiny plants he had marked was in her place, and it was also flowered. The flower was like the others, in the sense that it was flame colored. A deep red on the outside, melding with orange. What was miraculous was its inner color:
A pale magenta, with white and blue flecks.
|The Seer's Garden*||Repeating Myself *|