Chapter 1: The Girl is a Lie
By: Whitney Emeigh
A single, small shadow sailed across her face. Adette tipped her head back and tracked the broad hat as it sailed across white puffy clouds and the clear blue of the late afternoon sky. Bright red ribbons fluttered behind, taunting the young girl chasing after it with an air of amused determination.
Wind gusted beneath the hat and sent it toward a thicket. Beneath the trees, grass and leaves disappeared behind thickly woven branches. One dark blonde eyebrow rose toward the sky. On the invisible tide of air, the hat surged across the final distance between itself and the thicket. It arced toward one of the only openings and sailed through. The girl, a blur of well-pressed blue and white, sprang into the thicket and threw the branches aside.
Adette waited and watched. A tingle ran along her skin. Suspicion grew inside her. She considered the bag of groceries in her hand. It seemed to be growing heavier by the moment. Adette could taste the silence spreading outward from the tall stand of leafy trees.
She sighed and smoothed her skirt. The bag settled onto the cobblestone sidewalk with a ping of cans and crinkle of paper. With dainty precision, she pulled each finger free of her white gloves and set them atop her grocery bag. Her head turned first one way then the other. No one but herself appeared to be around. Thankfully, they were far enough out of town that traffic was unlikely.
Adette’s muscles stretched as she leapt from the sidewalk. She tore down the hill. Her legs pounded against the lush grass in a flurry of peach and tan cotton. The darkness between the branches ahead of her seemed to grow thicker and more imposing with every step. Her eyes narrowed. Her suspicions were confirmed.
At the edge of the stand of trees, she halted. Beyond the branches and leaves the darkness stared back at her. It knew she was there, like a wary animal watching you get too close. In one set of fluid, well practiced movements, Adette set to limbering and popping her knuckles.
When she was satisfied, she pressed her hands against the low-hanging branches and shoved them aside. They seemed to resist. Adette narrowed her dark blue eyes in concentration. A spark, more a popping sound than anything you could remember seeing, snapped at the tips of her fingers. The branches sprang apart. She slipped into the darkness.
Blackness descended on her vision. With careful steps, she strode forward.
“Really, this is child’s play. Please. You are wasting your time.” As if in answer, the trees around her shivered and the blackness brightened until she could see across the small clearing. At the opposite end, the girl lay in a heap of brown hair, blue cotton, and sprawling limbs. She didn’t move, but her chest continued to rise and fall with her breathing.
The forest inhaled. Branches froze as the wind died. The tiny wispy hairs that always escaped from Adette’s bun stuck to the back of her neck. She braced herself and called upon the power within herself. Tingling warmth prickled beneath her skin.
The forest exhaled. Wind whipped against her face and arms. Her eyes cracked open only to be lashed with dirt and bits of leaves. She squeezed them shut again and rode it out, waiting for the creature to tire itself out.
Eventually, she grew tired of the display. She straightened herself and opened her eyes against the whirling dust and debris.
“Enough!” she demanded. The wind died as abruptly as it had come. Darkness and dust peeled away revealing the small clearing as it should have been. Adette narrowed her eyes.
The girl was nowhere to be found. Where she had lain before there was nothing but grass. The grass hadn’t even been trampled. It looked as though it had never been touched. Adette’s eyes swept the clearing until they fell on something small and white just inches from her feet.
Adette bent and retrieved the small piece of paper from the ground. It had been folded neatly into four quarters. On one of the flaps, her name had been scrawled in a neat looping script.
“Well that explains a lot,” she said with an impatient sigh.