Tea Leaves and Red Silk


Match Eleven: Daphne:

-Years Earlier-

The couple from Maine adored their new daughter. She looked so cute washing in the tub. Her mother smiled as she washed the tree girl's hair.

"Flo, you are so pretty," she said. The little girl looked up, smiling. She still couldn't speak. Their daughter looked like a six-year-old girl with long bright red hair, but she acted like a newborn baby. On the first night of dinner, they tried to feed her food for adults. The child sat there with the food in her mouth. It donned on her parents that she didn't know how to chew. The seedling's father walked over to the cabinet and got out a jam of fresh mashed peaches. Through dinner, he fed Flo like a little baby.

For five weeks, the Maine couple washed, fed, dressed, and changed the seedling's diaper. They found themselves stressed, but their hearts were content to finally have a child of their own. The locals in town wished their blessings upon the new family.

"It's good luck to find and raise a tree spirit," the old woman at the fruit stall told the couple days after they found the child in the woods.

"A tree spirit?" the wife asked.

"Yes," the woman at the stall said. "They only appear every fifty years."

"Why is that?" the husband asked. The old woman shrugged her shoulders.

"Who knows?" she asked. "You will have good fortune because of that little girl. Take good care of her now."

"We will," the husband said. "She is our little girl, after all." Two years in and the family was doing well. In fact just last week, the little girl had just learned how to walk. Now as her mother gave her a morning bath, the father watched his wife and daughter content smile on his face. To him, the picture was almost perfect. Flo could use a little brother or sister or two.

-Present Day, Six Months Ago-

Alfred sat on Florence's bed as she slept through her illness. Despite Arthur's warnings, he still couldn't help but wonder if a relationship between himself and her could be possible. On the surface she looked completely human. He reached forward and touched her face. Three years and it still hurt to see her so sick like this. What made it worse was that each year that she survived could be her last. Alfred tried not to think about that every time September rolled around.

Maybe Art's right for a change. Still, the lingering thought wouldn't leave his mind. Could a healthy and true love grow and thrive in the Wasteland waiting to burst and swallow the countries in a blanket of despair?

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