Hi, so I'm back today. This is a story I wrote a few months ago but I figured if I'm posting stories I may as well put this up. It's a little...weird. I don't know, read and review! Thanks! =D
Crayon dragged quickly across the page, the purple staining the paper in harsh jerky motions. A tongue was caught between his lips as he wanted to complete the picture before his daddy came to pick him up. Finishing, he held it up in delight.
"Henry, buddy? Time to go!" Henry gently placed the picture into his bag. Good. Then it was time to go to the river.
The river ran past the back of Henry's house. A seven and a half minute walk exactly, Henry had counted. He fled out the back door as his mummy welcomed his daddy home. Jumping through the back fence, he vanished into the forest.
His friend was already there – she always was – with her wild red hair, that same old dress and deadly pale skin that made Henry feel cold.
"I made this for you!" Henry stated without even greeting her but with a grin on his face. They didn't usually talk, he and the little girl, but for weeks he'd enjoyed being at the river with her even if she was a little scary sometimes, like the way she could force him to sit with her. Or the way the blackening around her eyes made the green iris' glow. Henry held out his drawing and waited.
The little girl turned towards him and frowned in confusion. Gently, she reached out a small hand and took a firm grip of the paper. Henry instantly took his usual spot beside her on the large grey and mossy rock on the bank of the river and pointed to the roughly drawn figure.
"That's you!" She blinked real slow and Henry was sure even her eyelids were black.
"That's...me?" Henry nodded and let out an exaggerated sigh like he does with his parents when they don't understand him.
"Yeah, see?" he points again, "that's your purple dress," he tugged at the ratty old dress, his other finger drags across the page, "and that's your hair," he tugged a red curl, "it's you!"
"That's me," Henry grinned because she got it a lot faster than anybody he's ever explained anything to has. The little girl nodded and suddenly hugged the paper close to her chest.
"Thank you..." Henry sat up a little straighter at her quiet yet audible words. Nobody's ever said thank you to him before. Except maybe to tell him off for not saying it. He liked being thanked.
"Oh, it's okay," he muttered, a pink blush spreading over his cheeks, standing out against his cold skin, "mummy was right, winter's coming, we might not be able to meet here anymore."
The little girl shoved away from the rock violently and in surprise, Henry gave a quiet squeak. She took on the on the bank of the river, sinking slightly into the mud, but she didn't appear to care. Her bottom lip began to tremble and there was an odd look on her face that Henry had never seen before.
"You don't want to see me anymore?" Henry almost laughed. He shifted his tiny body so he could face her.
"No, I do! We just can't meet at the river anymore..." Henry was confused as to why she was acting this way, "its cold and the river's getting full." The little girl's expression became angry but her voice remained calm when she spoke.
"We have to meet at the river." Henry thought she was a liar.
"Its fine, we can just meet at my house, or you-"she moved fast, lurching forward to dig her fingers into his shoulders tightly. It hurt and Henry began to wish there was a noise in the forest around them other than the little girl's breathing.
"We have to meet at the river," she repeated slowly, as if talking to a stupid person. Henry hated it when people thought he was stupid.
"No," Henry shook his head, attempting to wriggle out of her tight grasp, "my mummy says-"
"Your mummy is wrong! She's wrong! We have to meet at the river!" Henry threw himself away from her. She let him scramble a few metres away this time as she doesn't move an inch; she just stood alone on the bank, water gushing behind her as her hands clutch her dress into fists by her side.
"You're a liar! My mummy's always right! She's always right!" In a blind rage, the little girl picked up the picture Henry had spent hours drawing and waved it vigorously around.
"This is me? This is me Henry!" She spun and threw it. They both watched in horror as it fluttered through the air before hitting the water and riding the current down the river. Henry was sure he saw it get stuck on a rock several metres from where it landed.
"That was mean! I made that! You're rude!" The little girl still had her back turned and Henry could see her only reaction to his words was the slump of her shoulders and the drop of her arm to where it swung, useless and limp, by her leg.
"You were rude too."
The first time Henry saw the little girl, he'd run away from her. He hadn't intended to but the sight of her sunken eyes surrounded by a blackening that seemed to sink into the skin had scared him. It'd been incredibly rude, he knew that now, but he hadn't returned the next day, nor the day after. It was only when his mummy told him not to waste the summer days because when winter came, the water would be too high for him that he thought of going back. Henry had wondered if the little girl had a mummy to warn her of the water.
So he decided to venture back into the forest.
This time, he purposely looked at the little girl's black eyes and smiled.
"Hi," he mumbled, distracted by the fact that he found the longer he looked at her, the less afraid he felt.
"Hello." Henry liked her voice. It wasn't nasty like the other girls who claimed all boys had cooties. The little girl didn't claim that. She just watched him from her rock, dangling her naked feet in the water.
"Uh, my mummy says winter is coming-"
"She's right." Henry tilted his head slightly. He was glad the birds he used to hear while at the river were all silent because she spoke very quietly.
"How do you know?" The little girl shrugged and kicked water into the air.
"Mummies are always right."
"Yeah!" Henry was grinning so he moved a little closer to her, "well, my mummy said winter's coming and the river will get dangerous and I thought about you! Here, all alone and you...I should tell you..." the little girl stood and Henry watched her approach him with a curiosity dancing through her eyes.
"The river won't hurt me."
"But my mummy says-"
"Your mummy's right," she agreed, reaching forward. Henry stumbled backwards but the little girl already had a firm grip around Henry's wrist and was tugging him back to her rock. Henry shook his head and tried to pull away. Whoa, she was strong. Stronger than Henry.
She sat down while he all but fell to her side. The moss was soft under his fingertips but the rough rock was still firm underneath. While she dipped her feet back into the water, Henry pulled his legs to his chest and rested his head on his knees. Their eyes stayed on each other, drinking in the other child.
He came back every day after that.
Henry blinked in confusion. He had been rude but he wasn't anymore. They'd moved on from that!
"That was you..." he moaned, blue eyes still attached to the white speck that was his picture.
"Yes. And that's where I belong." Henry frowned and she looked over her shoulder, sad hollow eyes gazing at him.
"In the river?" the little girl fell to her knees, her dress becoming soaked through with mud and river water.
"Everybody leaves me, Henry. And I don't want to be alone." Henry really didn't understand. Why was she suddenly talking so much? She rarely ever spoke to him although he usually enjoyed it when she did. He wasn't really enjoying this.
"That was me and I belong in the river because I didn't listen to my mummy when she told me about the river like your mummy told you. We have to meet at the river, Henry." Henry was small but the little girl was more so and it made his stomach turn at the thought of leaving her alone.
"Come home with me. I won't leave you alone," but she shook her head, standing.
"We can only be together at the river." The little girl began to waddle into the water. Henry cried out when she got waist deep because if she couldn't come to his house, maybe...
"Can...Can I come with you?" He stood at the edge of the bank, his tiny body shivering from the cold, his hand out stretched.
A smile blossomed across her face.
She didn't ask if he was sure because if she knew if he was given a chance to think, he'd leave. The little girl just grabbed the little boy's hand in an unbreakable hold and pulled him into the river.
A picture drifts to the bank. It's ripped and torn and the crayon has begun to bleed but the figure it just barely recognisable and that's enough. It is picked up gently, as though it will break.
"That's me." Maya drops the picture in surprise and stares at a little bit frightened by the two children suddenly before her. The little girl picks up the picture carefully, not like it will break as Maya feared it would, but rather as if it is a prized diamond that she would die for.
"Oh! Hi..." Maya mumbles, trying not to look at the blackened skin on the little girl's face.
"Hello." Maya knows it'd be rude to leave now.
"Do you want to play with me? My mummy says the river's getting deep but it doesn't look deep here..." The little girl and little boy share a look, their hollow eyes are gleeful. They'll never be alone again.
"Your mummy's right."