They say the walls between worlds are the easiest to penetrate in the fog.
She had learned this quite some time ago when she had become lost while out for a walk, to catch a breath of heavy air that weighed down her heart like a paper weight . That was the day she was reunited with her childhood friends.
In the beginning they always came to her. They would stop by for a cup of lavender tea, or a giggle or two, and always when no one was around to witness. They listened to her pour her heart out as she recited sweet poems of innocence not yet lost, they watched her cry, they made her laugh, and they rubbed arnica on the lonely bruises which formed little black welts on her body. Then one day her friends stopped coming.
That was the day she decided to grow up and be a big girl. For big girls don’t cry. Big girls are seen but not heard. Big girls do big girls things, like cook the evening meal, clear away the foul empty bottles, sweep the floors clean, and pour Father his evening bath.
She was taught to read by Mother before Mother got sick, and she traded in her imagination for someone else’s thought up reality, which believed that the other world belongs only to children’s fairy tales which Mother said she had now outgrown.
Mother had an assortment of dusty yellow books stacked neatly in a chest, tucked away for safekeeping. Mother’s books never interested her much, but she did as she was told all the same. Mother knew big girl things that Father didn’t know, for once she lived in a town, though she mentioned this only once when Father was out, and refused to speak of it again.
It was after Mother died that she had grown weary of being a big girl. With no arnica to soothe the lonely welts of bruising spots, she felt the constant pain. It was a pain she could take no longer that drove her out of the house that day, it was the pain that reduced her to tears, to a little girl who cried.
The thick fog masked those tears, covered her sobs, and coated her with comforting invisibility the day she found her friends. She was forbidden by Father to enter the forest that surrounded their farm. Forests are dangerous places for girls. She had only realized after the fog had dissipated that she had broken the rules. But by then she did not care, because the pain by this point was constant.
Her friends started to visit again, but unlike before, they only came when the walls between worlds were easiest to penetrate, on the misty mornings of spring, or just after the storm.
She would talk, she would sing, she would dream aloud of another place, prompted by her friends who adored her sweet voice, her stories of new found imaginings. She would climb up on stage and perform a ballad, or lie down under the willow tree where they caressed her cheeks and rubbed arnica on her lonely bruises.
With each passing spring when the rains were frequent, she would forget about her big girl life with big girl responsibilities, and she would do as she pleased when her friends came around. For these days Father was home less and less. She knew better than to ask why.
One hot summer afternoon, after the storm passed, she knew her friends would appear as they usually did. With Father away she was practicing a poem, and had decided that when the rain stopped, she would pretend to be on a great stage in town. All the townsfolk would come to watch and delight in her clever words of innocence not lost.
She had brought out all the chairs Father had built but never sold, because one leg was too short, or the colour all wrong. Her friends came in the dozens, and filled up those chairs. Excitement filled the air as she belted out to a very large crowd, her poem full of nuances small and great.
She heard a sound, and turned around. There stood Father belt and bottle in hand. Her friends already dissipated into fading mist. Poem forgotten from her lips.
I wrote this short story for Magpie Tales. The prompt was the photo at the top. I saw the photo on the train today. It captured the magical mystical part of my imagination, and from that this story was born. Click on the Magpie Tales link if you are interested in reading some of the other stories and poems others have written.