Note - Experimental story ;-) Revised version
I visit him almost everyday, in the piece of paradise that I know as the forest. Rays of sunlight filter through the leaves of the tall trees, shining into the depths below, making the pool of cool water he crouches by shimmer as if it has been mixed with glitter. If you look up, beams of sun will be breaking through greenery like heaven through clouds, and you'd think: No wonder people believe in heaven!
If you saw the beams shine on him, then you'd think: No wonder people believe in angels!
That's what I thought he was at first.
Laying on crisp autumn leaves.
Golden leaves fluttered onto his slender form, he wore nothing, nothing at all, but he didn't look obscene.
As if no malice tainted his thoughts. His hair was a mess of bright orange and blue veins pulsed under his near translucent skin.
The flowers that I had took so much thought and time in picking that day fell from my hands when I saw him.
Gasping, I took a step back. Gawking, I took a step forward. Barely breathing, I crept towards him on my toes. I stared, not caring if he'd wake up and see me, letting my black hair tumble down to brush against his face.
He opened his eyes.
'Hello.' I greeted
He didn't speak; He just kept looking at me.
He opened his mouth and said in a hushed voice: Gretel
I smiled uncontrolably. 'Like in the fairytale?'
I let out a giggle. 'But that's a girls name!'
And that's how I met Gretel. Eight years later and i'm fifteen years old, although Gretel doesn't look a second older. It's as if he's frozen physically. I've asked him countless times what he is but he always gives me the same answer: I am mortal. Just like you.
Nobody knows why I venture into the woods so often, almost ritually. My mother thinks i'm picking berries and flowers or just enjoying nature. I am doing these things, but the main reason is Gretel.
He floats onto the ground from a branch as I approach, his feet barely touching the soil as he nears me. The corners of his lips rise into a smile when he sees the juice-packed berries cupped in my hands. He crams them into his mouth, only stopping once to thank me.
'Thankyou, Lynn.' He gasps.
Once he's finished, I settle myself on a large rock and admire the forest, taking in its earthly scent. Gretel sits down beside me, biting his lip for no reason in particular.
I decide to ask him again, purely because I didn't believe him.
'What are you?'
'I am mortal. Just-'
'-Like you.' I finish off, not able to hide the disappointed look on my face. Sour as a lemon.
'I'm sorry if I've upset you.' He says, lowering his head.
Suddenly, I'm no longer frustrated, instead, guilt saturates my heart.
'You told me you live in a village nearby?'
He looks unconfortable. 'Y-yeah.' He answers. I know that he's lying. He can't lie to save his own life.
'Would you like to visit my village?' I'm desperate now, running out of options to get him the hell out of here.
He simply shakes his head at my invitation. 'No thankyou. My... mother... will be waiting... for me...' He trails of, getting quieter and quieter with every word that exits his mouth.
I don't want to have to do this.
I pause and then take in a deep breath before I continue. 'I'm leaving.'
Gretel doesn't seem to understand what I mean because he says, 'So soon? Well, I'll see you tomorrow then.' He gets off the rock and clambers up a tree effortlessly. He spies on me from a moss cloaked branch as I stand up to leave.
'You will come back tomorrow, won't you?' He asks eagerly, raising a brow.
I swallow the lump in my throat, blink back the tears and let the lie roll off my tongue. 'Of course I will.'
Truth is, there probably won't be anything left to come back to by tomorrow.
He shoots his carefree smile at me and then delves into the forest, losing himself within her entwining limbs of wood.
That's the last time i'll ever see of him. At least he wasn't sad, or worse, crying.
I make my way out of the forest, not looking back even once, no matter how beautiful it is, because I know it won't last another twenty-four hours. Although, from the corner of my eye, I see monster sized trucks speeding towards the forest, penetrating the thick of trees. It isn't long before the my paradise is up in flames, a blazing inferno of destruction. I hope that he's an angel, so that he can fly, fly away to the real paradise - Heaven (or so they say).
It doesn't matter though. My future lies elsewhere.
As each step draws me closer to my village, I can't help but notice a bird with sharp feathers of a bright orange and wispy ones of a light blue. It flies straight out of the firey forest, gliding through the air above me. Its eyes seem sad, if that's even possible for a bird. It takes a dive, swoops back up, and then disappears into the horizon.