A single oak
tree - the only object that was brave enough to break the smooth
surface of the heathland - was my destination. I didn't know how
or why, but somehow it was calling me. Its rustling leaves
whispered for me to come, its bendy branches longing for me. And
I was obeying, wandering through the high grass that was
quavering over my head.
I sat against
the steady trunk of the lonely tree and observed my surroundings.
The heath was a hot place, with nearly no cool shades to protect
me from the burning sun - the only one being the shadow of the
giant tree that was currently employed as my back. While
everything else on this grass desert was barren and withered, the
oak's leaves were a healthy green and full of life, like it had a
secret source of water the other plants couldn't
As I leaned
against the rough bark, I bent my head backwards and closed my
eyes. The heat made me sleepy, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to
take a nap... Just for a while, and I'd be back before my parents
would notice I was gone...
fluttered for a moment, and the second my brain turned to sleep
mode, my stingy eyes caught a swift movement in the tree's
branches above me. But before I could focus, I drifted
I didn't know
how much time had passed since I drowsed off, but the sun's
warmth had decreased noticeably. But the slight chill of the
breeze wasn't the reason I had woken
staring at me. I knew it, I felt it, I could almost see it even
though my eyes were still closed. But even though I did, when I
opened them, I was caught by
screamed like my voice never could. But the girl whose face was
only separated from mine by barely two inches yelped and
what she did. She disappeared.
After a few
moments of shock, I jumped up and looked around, but my eyes
didn't detect any sign of the mysterious
But that's not
what bothered me the most. Her face had been tanned, with high
cheekbones and piercing clear blue eyes. Her hair had been long
and chocolate brown, with all colors of flowers braided up in it.
Her expression had been one of shock and wonder. But most
importantly, her picture - without the flowers - could have been
my very reflection.
I wanted to
call her out, tell her not to be afraid, even though I was a bit
anxious myself. But I couldn't. My vocal cords never had been
able to produce any sound at all - and I didn't mind very often.
This time though, I did.
Since there was
nothing I could do, I just sat back again and sighed in
disappointment. Maybe the girl had just been an illusion, a
I smiled a
little warily at my absent-mindedness. But then suddenly,
seemingly coming from nowhere in particular, I heard a tiny
I turned my
head left - nothing. Right - nothing either. Was my mind playing
tricks on me? Seriously,
where? I wanted to ask,
but of course that was impossible. Damn vocal
A light chuckle, like the ringing of little
shimmering golden bells. "Up here, dumb-o. In the
traveled up the trunk, over the bark, to the high branches
covered with leaves and... legs. One pair of legs were dangling
as their owner - the girl - was sitting comfortably on a thick
branch, staring straight at me with those oh-so-familiar eyes.
The ones I used to believe belonged to only
My mouth formed
an O as I took her in. Like I thought before, she was my
mirroring image. The only difference between us was what she was
wearing. Instead of normal clothing, there were slim boughs
wrapping around her waist and upper body, from which leaves and
flowers sprouted and covered the girl's skin. It looked like a
dress formed by nature, and it fit this tree-climbing monkey
perfectly. Like it was made for her - which it probably
I blinked, and
as I gathered my mind, I gestured for her to come
delighted laugh. "No, I won't come down! You come up." And she
patted the empty space beside
Oh no. I was so not going to climb up there. Aside from being
a mute, I was also terribly afraid of heights. I shook my head
violently in response to the girl's
"Yes you are.
Overcome your fear, Willow. You'll have to
No, I would not- Hey, wait a
second. How did she know my
name? I certainly
did not tell her.
"Because I know
you. Now come up, or I'm coming to get you
And now she
could read my mind too? This was too crazy. I must be dreaming
still. Besides, where did that shy girl from barely five minutes
ago go to? Maybe I would've liked her
Her grin was
now permanently plastered on her face. "No, you would not. Admit
it, you love me already." She winked happily, and then let
herself fall backwards, direction ground - also known as:
direction certain death.
caught in shock and surprise, but when my eyes readjusted
themselves, it seemed like my anxiety had been unnecessary. The
girl had held herself up with her legs and was now hanging upside
down, head turned in my direction, brilliant smile still there.
"Come on, it's fun."
On impulse, I
stepped to the tree, put my hands on it and set my foot on a
small bulging on the trunk.
"Good one. Now
the other foot," the strange girl ordered
unwillingly. And then my feet were off the ground. The safe,
steady, reliable ground I loved so
She was easy to
talk! She wasn't afraid of life-threatening falls and breaking
snorted, and when I looked back at her, she rolled her eyes at
me. "Trust me, I know how it feels. I was afraid of heights once.
A lifetime ago..." Her voice trailed off at the end and failed to
keep its teasing tone.
I raised one
eyebrow at her, asking. As our similar eyes met, she sighed and
looked away, to the distance. "I can as well tell you." Something
was muttered under her breath, but I couldn't make out what it
was. "Keep climbing," she added.
I moved my
right hand to another support and pulled up my left leg, and then
waited for the story.
"I'm not human,
Willow." She pointed a quick, measuring glance at
But I wasn't as
shocked as I ought to be. I guessed I could have expected that
much. I hoped that thought didn't sound like I was mentally
insane to the girl.
smile. "Nope, not at all. I'm Aurora, by the way. It's a bit
awkward to hear you calling me 'the girl' in your mind all the
time." When I nodded in acknowledgment, she continued, "I'm what
you supposedly could call a
I used the
short silence that followed to let that sink in. A nymph? This
dream was getting really creative. I had no idea my imagination
was so lively.
yeah right. But I suppose it would be useless to try to convince
you otherwise." Aurora rolled her eyes at me again. "Keep
When I dared moving, I thought,
nymphs are protectors of nature. We protect those who cannot
defend themselves - mostly plants, like this oak. In spite of
what humans may think, they are living creatures too." Her voice
showed a hint of indignation at the end. "We protect the
defenseless and the innocent, because there was no one to protect
us during our lifetime. We used to be like them. When the
innocent die, they become
plants die, they become nymphs?
This was all just too strange for
"Not only plants. Mostly
plants, and only those who die an
unfair death. But many animals, too. Former humans are rare. And
only the children, the
She had been a
human. I could see it in her sad eyes, the way her shoulders hung
when she talked about them. Had she been a kid? A
"Keep climbing," she encouraged me with kind
eyes. Left arm up, right foot set. Don't look down,
don't look down, don't look down, I chanted to myself. Oh dear. This was going
to be my death.
What? No way.
In a fluent
movement, Aurora bend her upper body to her legs and sat back on
the branch. "If you evade your fears, you will never get over
them. Confront yourself."
slowly averted my eyes from her face and let them slip over the
tree's bark, down to the ground. I'm going to die. A
couple of feet below me, the grass was teasingly waving at me in
the light wind that was everywhere here on the heath. It was so
far. Far gone, out of my reach. And I knew I'd fall. I squeezed
my eyes shut in panic.
"No you won't.
Look again and look good."
I did as she
said, and nothing had changed. The ground. Far away. But then I
looked above me, and I saw the tree stretching to the sky. Birds
were crossing it. Clouds were drifting in it. And then I
realized: wouldn't it be a shame if I was clustered to the
earth's surface, my feet clinched to the ground? Wouldn't it be
great if I could - even if it was only for a bit - rise in the
That's what I'm talking about," Aurora confirmed smugly, a glint
of pride and satisfaction shining
clenched their supports and I started climb - really climb, not
the halfhearted fiddling I had been doing before. I flew up the
trunk, until I finally reached Aurora's broad branch. Smiling at
her, I had to admit I was a little proud of myself. I had
overcome my fear!
Not really was
I surprised when I saw Aurora's eyes glisten as she returned my
smile. We really were each other's reflections, undeniably
I was a human. A human baby," she whispered, her features drowned
in nostalgia. "She never told you anything, did she? Otherwise
you would have guessed already."
What was she
talking about? Who hadn't told me
ever wonder why your mother is always so gloomy on your
I had always
thought she was being emotional because of... Well, because of my
nodded slightly, "Because your mother... is also mine. And your
birthday is my birthday too. And my day of
I froze. Of all
the strange revelations and secrets, I never would've expected
"Willow, I was
your twin sister," she managed to choke trough her overflowing
Was. And then I really started to fall.
A/N: Wheeee! ANOTHER short story! I've been on a roll lately :) But I had to, because I joined so many contests :D Anyways, here's my entry for both Unknown girl's Rounds Contest (Second round *Proud smile*) and XPSTiger's Rounds Contest (First Round^.^). I hope you enjoyed! xx Paige