Ring-a-Ring O' Roses
The girl was lying in the meadow as her sister danced around her. Her eyes stared up at the blossoms of the tree swaying above her slender figure. The spring breeze carried a few loose apple blossoms over the wildflowers in the meadow, over the loosely flowing hair of her sister who danced around her. They had spent the afternoon together picking flowers, braiding daisies and wildflowers into crowns like they imagined the fae might do. It seemed to be all they could do now, so many other children seemed to hate the dust of the flowers that rose in puffy clouds from the meadows, they coughed and sneezed and fanned it away from their mouths as they plugged their noses, running back indoors, coughing. It never bothered her, the yellow fluffs of pollen adorned her dress, resting on her arms, clinging to her soft leather shoes. The loose flowers that her sister collected for her earlier were tucked into her cap and pockets now. They framed her pale face and her wispy lashes that wavered in the breeze. Her sister danced merrily around the blooming apple tree singing to the bird that chirped high above them in the crowns of oak trees.
“Ring-a-ring o’ roses.”
The girl was not beautiful, but her rosy cheeks and button nose made the other children in the village tease her mercilessly with jealousy. Her lips were a delicate red, the deep red color of sweet strawberries in summer. The sweet red fruit had not yet ripened that spring but the white blossoms covered the ground at the base of the tree. She and her sister had laid down carefully, pushing apart the tender stems of the buds to lie their heads against the soft earth. Blonde hair was tucked up into her lacey cap, the dried grass stems at the edge of the meadow were not nearly as fine but they glowed the same golden hue in the fresh light of the sun. Her right hand lay outstretched, delicate fingers brushed against the lacey edge of her sister’s cap. Her other hand was draped across her pinner, fingers resting on the sprigs of flowers that were tucked into the pockets of her dress.
“Pocket full of posies.”
The girl’s sister paused for a moment from her skipping, her hands flew to the pocket of her pinner and pulled out a worn pink-stained handkerchief which she raised to her nose. She doubled over coughing for a moment before straightening up and catching her breath. Her feet were not as nimble now. Just a few hours earlier they had danced lightly between flowers. Her outstretched arms had raised above her head as she danced along with her sister and the breeze. The sleeves of her dress billowing up around her elbows as they caught along the spring wind. Now she trembled as she stretched a palm out towards the rough bark of the apple tree. Her voice, which had moments before rang out in playful verse strained as she struggled to catch her breath, so she hummed as she sat down next to her sister in the patch of strawberry blossoms.
She tucked a strand of golden hair that had fallen out of her sister’s cap back underneath the ruffled brim. Gazing down at the open eyes, the wispy lashes that had now caught puffs of dust and dirt. A thin film had covered the glassy surface that had begun to cloud. Her cheeks looked more sunken as the shadow of a bird passed over them. She used her own handkerchief to wipe away a small drop of blood that had streaked down from her sister’s mouth, her shaking hand left a red smear on her sister’s cheek up to her lips where a red foam had gathered.
A small tear traced down her own ashy face as she whispered to her sister, laying her head against her sister’s chest gently. She hugged her close sister close, her hand brushing over the milky eyes, softly closing the delicate eyelids over them. A fly buzzed above their heads and the circling shadow above grew larger as she rested her own eyes. The fly landed on the blood stained lips of her sister and with a final gasping choke, she whispered, “Don’t worry love, we’ll both fall down.”