S was never one to stay angry at someone for a long period of time and this was no exception. By the time the night fell, the afternoon fiasco was long forgotten. But Rey’s gloomy mood refused to leave her for the next couple of days. Everybody thought she would be over the moon when Brynn finally lifted her ban on walking, but Rey barely batted her lashes.
Gaining back her freedom led to Rey spending most of her day away from everyone and everything. A huge part of her life was spent roaming the surrounding woods, so she knew exactly where to go when she wanted to be left alone.
With the memory of yet another attack still fresh in her minds, she always made sure not to go further than the hearing distance. But there was something very liberating from getting away from all the curious stares and prying questions.
Rey knew it was only a matter of time before they would finally leave this place, but the time somehow refused to come. While Brynn allowed her to resume her everyday activities, she did it under the condition that they wouldn’t leave until Rey’s body would completely heal.
Rey hated to admit it, but there were still moments when the physical pain became so unbearable, she wanted to rip all her hair out. And even the mere thought of riding in their wagon caused her nausea.
There was nothing left to do but hope. Hope she would get better soon.
Lost in her thoughts, Rey let her legs take her where they wanted to and soon she found herself on the edge of a familiar meadow.
This time there were no traces of the wolf left. Not even a little bit of his scent.
From what Rey heard, he left the guarding duty to other wolves and spent most of his day guarding Elaine and their not yet born baby. After all, he almost lost them both.
Rey shook her head. She didn’t want to think about the alpha or his lover. In fact, she didn’t want to think about anything at all.
She made her legs move until they took her deeper inside the meadow and there on the grass in front of her, Rey lay down her body.
Soon her eyelids followed.
No matter what she did, the little girl never felt as happy as when she was allowed to roam inside the woods. Her laughter followed her as she skipped over the pieces of wood on the ground or even when she was chasing around the butterflies.
She was barely twelve years old, so she didn’t see much of a world yet, but she was already sure she would never find anything more beautiful than them. Their little bodies were covered with all the colours of the rainbow and she wanted to spend hours staring at them.
The little girl didn’t understand yet that the more she chased them, the more they ran away from her. And the one she chased on this day took her way too far.
It was a black butterfly with blue spots on its wings, one she hadn’t had a chance to see very often, and she desperately wanted to catch up with him.
But then the butterfly flew over the fallen tree.
Years passed since the tree fell and it was nothing more than a piece of wood now, but it held a special meaning for the little girl. Ever since she could remember, she was taught never to run behind it because there were monsters waiting for her on the other side.
The butterfly was way too beautiful, and the little girl was already way too big to be scared of some monsters. She made a choice.
She stopped when she made the first step into the unknown. As if the waited for something bad to happen. But when no one came to eat her, she took another one. And another.
Soon one step changed to hundreds and the further she went, the less she cared about the initial reason for her journey. She was too busy taking in her surroundings.
From the way her loved ones kept reminding her never to go into this part of the forest, the little girl expected to see something horrible. Trees with human eyes or even bloodthirsty animals, but this part of the forest was no different than her part of the forest.
Except maybe ... there were no little boys where she came from.
And there was one right here.
He sat on the ground, his back to her, so he didn’t see the little girl yet. But she saw him. And she saw how badly his shoulders were shaking.
“Are you crying?” The little girl whispered.
The little boy spun around so fast, it made her flinch and she took a step back.
For the first time, it occurred to her that he might be the monster everyone warned her about and maybe she should run away when she had the chance. But her mouth was once again faster than her brain.
The little boy stared at her for so long, the little girl started to think that he couldn’t talk. It gave her enough time to take a better look at him. He had the same two eyes as her, one nose, one mouth, two ears, even hair and all the other body parts. He didn’t look like a monster.
But did the monsters ever look like monsters?
“What are you doing here?” The little boy finally asked, wiping the tears away with the sleeves of his shirt.
“I chased a butterfly,” the little girl said proudly.
“You did what?”
“Chased a butterfly. Don’t you know what they are? Look,” the little girl pointed at one flying close to the boy’s head, “there is one right next to you.”
The little boy didn’t bother to turn his head to the direction she was pointing at. Instead, he said: “Of course, I know what a butterfly is. But why were you following them?”
The little girl shrugged: “Because they are beautiful.”
A simple answer, but an honest one. The little girl didn’t see the danger, she could be getting herself in, only the beauty in front of her. And she had no idea she would spend years cursing herself for the choices she made that day.
“You are kind of weird,” the little boy whispered.
The little girl bristled and wanted to say something equally as insulting but then her gaze fell upon the boy’s hand: “And you are ... hurt.”
The knuckles of the boy’s hand were all torn and red from bleeding: “What happened to you?”
“Nothing. I fought someone today.”
He said it so casually, but the little girl had a hard time to understand him: “Why? My dad always says it is bad for people to fight each other. He says we should always try to talk our problems out first.”
“Well, my dad says a boy needs to show everyone not to mess with him if he wants to become a man,” the little boy explained.
“Well, your dad could figure out a less painful way, don’t you think?” The little girl never had her knuckles torn, but she knew how much it hurt when she as much as cut her finger on a piece of paper. She didn’t want to imagine how much it had to hurt the little boy.
She walked a little closer to him and reached out to grab his hand. He hesitated, but let her take it in her small hands.
“My mum does this every time, I am hurt,” the little girl explained and started to gently blow on the torn skin.
The little boy studied her closely and after a while, he asked her: “I didn’t see you around till now. Where are you from?”
The little girl was so preoccupied with her task, she paid little attention to what she was saying: “I came from behind the fallen tree.”
“What?” The little boy’s eyes widened, and he ripped his hand out of her hands. He stood up so fast, he almost knocked her over.
“Oh, did they tell you there are monsters on my side too? I am not a monster, I promise.” The little girl said, but the little boy was not satisfied.
“Are you crazy?” He yelled at her. “If someone finds you here...”
His injured hand clutched hers and the little girl found herself being dragged behind him. “But I ...”
“You have to go,” the little boy said uncompromisingly. She didn’t even notice when he dragged her all the way to the fallen tree, but there they stood.
“Can we meet again?” The little girl asked. She didn’t have many friends inside of her own village, and this boy seemed like he could be her friend.
“I don’t think, it is wise,” the little boy said.
His answer made her feel sad, but she nodded her head in an agreement: “Okay, then.” She couldn’t push the boy if he didn’t want to be her friend. Even if she couldn’t understand why.
Maybe her dad will explain it to her. Maybe he will even convince the boy it is okay, once she tells her dad, she really likes him.
She thought to herself as she walked over the fallen three back to her part of the forest. She took a couple more steps, but then the little boy’s voice stopped her: “Maybe we can see each other again. But you have to promise me something. It will be our secret.”
The little girl spun around once more to see the boy and smiled a wide smile: “Deal.”
“Will you tell me your name?” The little boy asked.
The little girl nodded and said: “My name is ...”
Rey didn’t know how long she was asleep for, but she was pulled from her dreams by someone’s voice. She opened her eyes and registered a tall figure standing next to her.
The past and the present once again collided.