Edmond and Finch were absolutely having a lot of fun playing hopscotch. It was her first time playing the game and she loved it already. Edmond had been very patient, understanding and fair when it came to the game. He let Finch learned the rule of the game slowly, explaining to her over and over again. When she made a mistake, he did not take it as his chance to win but he let her know what she was supposed to do.
The rain had not been pouring down since afternoon that day. Although the clouds were thick, people at the Easton were given some rest from the rain. As the night came by, darkness started to creep onto the land, turning the whole forest dark.
Finch was very used to see in the dark. But Edmond was not the same. When the night came, Edmond would have few candles being lit to light up the house, helping him to see his surrounding. So, when he was taking his turn hopping from one square to another, he had difficulty in seeing the squares themselves as the line he drew had faded along with the night.
Edmond was trying to hop over one square that got his marker. As he stood on one foot, he started to get imbalance and his body started to sway back and forth, trying to balance himself. But he failed and he fell down on his bottom instead.
Seeing this, Finch giggled. “Your balance doesn’t seem very good.”
“It’s because I can’t see properly.” He bit back his answer. But Finch continued to giggle, amused with his excuse. “Stop it, Finch.”
She took five stepped towards him and sat down on the ground with him. “We can play it again tomorrow if you think it’s too dark for you.”
“It’s so dark here. Aren’t you scared?” Edmond grumbled nervously, his eyes darting from one corner to another, looking at nothing but darkness. He could not even see Finch’s face properly. The sky was totally dark and the moon hardly appeared above Easton. Only once in every month, if they were lucky to not have the rain in the night.
“Of what?” She raised her eyebrow. “I’m used to it.”
Edmond inched his face closer to Finch, to get a confirmation that it was really the girl that play with him since afternoon who was sitting next to him right now. He studied her face carefully. His brown eyes fixed on her blue eyes that oddly shone in the dark. “You’re weird.” He commented.
“So are you.” She playfully glared at him, moving her face closer to him in a way that tried to intimidate him. He leaned away from her, making her chuckle. “Are you scared of me?”
“No.” He replied shortly.
Finch smiled at him. She had this urge to suddenly hug him but she did not. However, Edmond’s movement caught her by surprise. He gave her a hug. His hands wrapped around her upper back as he rested his chin on her left shoulder. Finch froze for a few moment before she relaxed herself and returned his hug.
“Thank you for playing with me.” Edmond murmured.
That should be her line, Finch thought. She had been wanting to play with Edmond after their first meeting. Today, she had fun with him and she was happy.
“You can come here everyday to play with me.” She said to him.
“Papa doesn’t like it.” Edmond let go of her. He pouted his lips, remembering what his father told him about not going anywhere near the forest. He had technically broken the rule by sneaking out from his father’s stall at the market and following William here. He could imagine how angry his father would be. That thought itself made him relieved that he was not home that night. He grimaced thinking about what his father would do to him.
“Why?” Finch looked worried at him.
“He said forest is not safe for children.” He frowned. Finch had been fine living in the forest. How unsafe was the forest for children? He then asked Finch, “Why do you live in the forest?”
“I was born here.” Finch answered.
“Is Mosley your mama?”
“I think she is.” She tilted her head to her side. Her voice was full of uncertainty. “But Mosley doesn’t like me calling her mama.”
“She’s blind.” Edmond made a sudden remark.
“She’s not.” Denied Finch. “She can see.”
“She is.” Edmond insisted, “Her eyes are white.”
“It’s always like that. But she’s not blind.”
Edmond’s eyes narrowed at her. “Is she a ghost?”
Finch, who had been knowing Mosley since she was little, could not put into words of what Mosley was. She did not know if someone who could turn their fingers into skeleton forms was a ghost. But Edmond did not know that. So why would he think that Mosley was a ghost? And above of all, how did he know her name? Finch never mentioned about it.
“How do you know her name?” Her eyes looked at him suspiciously.
“She showed me the way to the forest today.” Edmond then told her what happened in the market, from him following William to Thomas pushing him to the ground. He told her how Mosley came and helped him to get to the forest.
Finch deepened the line on her forehead, confused as to why Thomas did not like Edmond and why Mosley chose to help Edmond out of her other friends. Mosley never showed herself to any of her friends before. So why Edmond?
“Where’s your papa?” Edmond probed into her. He was so curious about the girl more than the others.
Finch shook her head, answering him nonchalantly. “I have no papa.”
“I have no mama.” Edmond stated. His voice sounded sad. He knew his mother for the woman passed away after giving birth to him.
Finch noticed sadness in his eyes. She had been wondering about his parents. She did not exactly know how it felt to have a father for she never really cared about having one. She could not said she was sad about it. But Edmond was sad about having no mother.
“Mosley can be your mama.” Finch offered, her tone was serious and certain.
Edmond grimaced at her offer. “I don’t want that kind of mama. She’s scary.”
Finch giggled. Her hand covered her mouth as she said lowly. “Yeah, you’re right.”
Edmond giggled, imitating her movement.
Finch then laid herself down on the ground. Her eyes watching the dark sky. “Lay with me, Edmond.”
He was hesitant. He did not want to lay down on dirty ground. He thought he had been over it since he let his feet got dirty, but he had not.
“Come on, Edmond.” Seeing his hesitancy, she demanded him firmly.
Edmond reluctantly did what she wanted, laying down next to her. His eyes followed her gaze, up to the sky. Even though the sky looked very clear, there were no stars showing.
“Have you seen stars?” Finch turned her head to the side, to look at him.
Edmond nodded his head. His eyes were still watching the clear sky. “Jill read me story about stars before bed.”
“What story?” Finch inched closer to him, she now laid on her side so she could look at him.
“There was a man who rode a carriage full of stars, flying in the sky. He dropped each star that turned into a present to every kid who felt sad at the night time, so they could be happy again.” Edmond put both of his hands behind his head. He looked at the sky harder, seeking for the stars themselves.
“Is that true?” Finch was intrigued by the story. Who knew that there was a good man like that in the sky. “I wanna meet him.”
“You need to be sad.” He told her. “Do you know how to be sad?”
“Of course,” She replied to him. “Should I be crying?”
“Maybe.” Edmond shrugged. He looked at Finch from the corner of his eyes. “Do you want me to make you cry?”
“How?” She raised one of her eyebrow.
“I can pinch you.” He offered. He got up and sat crossing his legs, facing her. Seeing her not responding, Edmond got his thumb and finger ready to grip tightly on Finch. He looked at Finch’s who stare at his thumb and finger, moving closer to her arm. He then started to pinch her sharply, causing her to hiss in pain loudly.
“Aw!” His pinch stung her. Tears started to come out of her eyes. She cried silently. Edmond really did hurt her. She rubbed her arm, trying to soothe the pain away.
Despite her being hurt, Edmond grinned delightedly. He then went to lay down again next to her, his eyes watching back the sky.
Finch, who was eager to meet the good man from the sky, forgot the pain that she had on her arm but watched the sky expectantly, waiting for the man to descend into the forest anxiously.
“Is he coming?” Asked Finch.
“Shsh.” Edmond whispered to her. “Be quiet.”
As the children had their eyes on the sky, waiting for the man from the sky to appear, dropping a present for them, the forest turned to be very quiet. The sound of their breathing, owls hooting and wind gusting through the branches of trees, became so audible. They could hear them all clearly.
Minutes passed, they were still laying down on the ground, watching the sky without uttering any sound. Until a loud bang noise was heard. It jerked them both up as they both got up abruptly searching for the source of the noise. Their eyes widened, staring at a bundle of wooden sticks on the ground, not far from where they were.
“That doesn’t look like a present.” Finch complained. Her disappointment was obvious.