A currently untitled short story

I was bored so I wrote this little story. It’s loosely based off one I did for school, cause my plot ideas are rare. Very rare.
And oh this has probably been done before. Sorry if it is.
(comment ideas for titles please if you can 🙂 )

Your voice still haunts these walls.
I can’t take this any longer.

I can feel your breath on my hair sometimes, you know. I can hear you smile. The air turns warmer when you do.
Your ghost is entwined into these walls, these broken, stolen memories that fresh paint can’t fix, no, fresh paint and new furniture won’t take away the memories, the memories that haunt me. You’re haunting me, sister.
Why did I let you go? How did I let you die?
It’s killing me.
You’re killing me.

I push away the cold covers of my bed and pull on my coat and shoes. I put up my hood and push myself out the door. I need to get to somewhere you’ve never been. The city is haunted.
The night air is cold, freezing my skin, but I breathe it into my lungs and it fills me, oh it fills me with such joy to be away from you.
But I can never get away from you.
Your blood is my blood. Your hair is my hair. You are buried with me.
I step over the already frosted grass, and over the wall, and I stumble down to the riverside, the water shimmering with glints of orange streetlights.
Nothing stirs but the far-away roaring of engines. I’m alone.
I let a single tear fall down my cheek.
But I’ve cried too much for you, so I let no more fall.

“Hazel,” I hear, and I turn around to see a woman standing in front of me.  Her hood is up, covering her face in shadows.
It’s probably someone from school, to say sorry for what happened. I instinctively cover my neck, from the scars I got in the accident. I’m not ashamed, but they make people go weird.
“What is it?” I blurt, annoyed at the disturbance. But a little glad for it too.
“I need to talk to you. This is important.” She says. I hear her voice breaking in sadness.
“Okay” I say quietly, and step a little closer. She moves away.
“I’m sorry. But I have to tell you something, and I’m here to save you. You can’t let this kill you. It wasn’t your fault!” She says.
I’ve never told anyone. I’ve never told them that it was me who caused the accident. They all think it was just a fault on your behalf. They don’t know that I was shouting, telling you to turn back, sobbing in despair.
You should have taken me home without question. You should have taken me to them and told them what I was.
But you hesitated.
And in that moment, you killed yourself.
No. I killed you.
But I never told anyone. How does this person know it was me?

“It wasn’t you. I know this. It would have happened to anyone. You could have left the building a few seconds later, it would have happened too. It was just a coincidence. It was the fault of the other car that sped across your path, if it was any fault. I have to let you know this.”
I’ve already thought this through.
No.
It was me.

“I know what you might be thinking. That nobody could know this. But I know this. I’ve tried everything. You have to stop this now. You’re not going to get anywhere by moping around, blaming yourself for this. It could have happened to anyone!” She cries, stepping towards me. I back away.

“If it could have happened to anyone, why didn’t it kill me. Why did I live, and not her. She was my only friend. She was my only family. She could have lived without me! But I let her go, I made her die. I… I even wanted her to die, in that moment before she did.”

I’d never realized it before. Before it left my mouth. I sway and lean onto a tree in shock. I wanted you to die.

“Hazel!” She shouts, “You did nothing! Look at yourself! What are you becoming? Are you going to spend the rest of your life like this? Are you going to simply waste your life here? Is that how you’re going to honor that girl, that beautiful girl, your sister, who you claim you let die?” She comes closer. I see tears streaming down her cheeks. “Do you think she would want that? Would she want you to sacrifice your life for her? Cause I don’t think so. I know she wouldn’t.”

I sit down on the ground and cover my face with my hands, choking back tears.

“Do you want to become like me, Hazel? Do you want to waste your life trying to find some way to get her back? I’ve done everything I could for you, okay? I’ve traveled far, done a lot of things I shouldn’t have. And you know the one thing I’ve realized?”
She pauses. I look up and see her shaking hand wiping tears from her eyes.

“You can’t bring someone back from the dead. You can’t un-kill someone whose time… whose time it was to go. Your sister loved you. She wouldn’t want you to do this. Please, please don’t try to bring her back. Look at what it’s done to me. I could have had a family, a house, a happy life. I could have got through this. I could have lived for her. But look. Look at what you’ll do.”

I can’t grasp what she’s saying.
Through my tears, I see her take off her hood. I see the dark hair, and for a moment I think it’s her. I think it’s her, come back to life.
But then I see the scars on her neck, and I gasp with the realization.

“Look at what you’ll do, Hazel. I figured it out. I discovered how to move through time, all for her. I went into that accident a thousand times. I tried to change little things beforehand, to slow you guys down. But every time, those things affected other things. And every time, she died. I even tried to kill you as well once. I have lived for death. And when I lost count of how many times I’d tried, and failed and said that the next time, I would save her, I became more desperate. And only recently, I realized, I managed to convince myself that she was going to die, whatever happened. And I realized, it hit me, that I’d wasted my life. I’m not old, Hazel, but all that traveling has weakened me. And so I came looking for you. I needed to release myself from this life. You’ve got to let go. You have to save yourself. Please. Do this. For me.”

I stand up, my shoulders shaking in coldness and in pain, and she puts her arms around me and holds me while I cry.

“I’m sorry for letting you live like this. But I don’t know if I can let go.” I sob into her shoulder.
She holds me tighter.
“Release me. Don’t let me live this life of pain.” She says, nearly desperate.
And so I try my hardest to will myself to believe the things she’d said.
She begins to fade.
“Thank you, Hazel, thank you. Live her life too. Live for both of you” She says. Her voice is becoming faint.
And in silence, she fades.

I’m releasing you, okay? But I’m never going to forget you.
And so I turn, and under the shallow flood of orange light, I walk back home.

Tomorrow is a new day.
It’s time to change.

 

 

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The sapling

I wrote this a little while ago

I sit down hard on the rock beside the river. I can see the streaks of red in the sky. The sun is setting. I have to get home, or I will be stuck out here all night. That would be too cold. So cold I could die. But I still hold onto the cold earth in the hand.
I really don’t know where to go now.

This morning, I went for a walk. It was a brisk morning, but I still went.
I just wanted to escape from the house, even on such a cold day where nothing stirred. There is still some ground frost left over from the winter, the cold, cold winter where we couldn’t even move the car for a month it was so freezing out.  I suppose that helped in making everything so much more hard inside.
So today, on the warmest day so far this year, I decided to go for a walk.

Beside my house, on the outskirts of the city, up the hill slightly, there is a forest. A large forest where you can sit for a few hours without seeing a soul. That’s the reason I always go there when my mind is full. I always take my knife, just in case

I decided to walk to the river that runs through my forest. On the way, I saw a sapling.
And not an old one, either. It was a fresh new bud, bursting out of the ground in spite of the cold. Maybe the seed had decided that life was short, and so on the fifth of March, even though it still felt like mid winter, it had set out its new sources of life. I could tell that the frost was taking its short life already, as there was already browning on its leaves beneath the slender rim of tiny, sparkling crystals and it was sagging heavily, crumpling away.
So I decided one thing.
I would save this tree’s small, fragile life.
And so I pulled off my gloves and began to dig through the frozen soil with my bare fingers. At first, I made no mark on the solid ground, but after a while, the heat of my fingers warmed it up and it began to scrape away.
While I was digging fruitlessly, I looked upwards, towards the tops of the trees. I saw the sky, blue and chilling, the silhouettes of the bare trees only making it more cold. Sometimes I like winter, because the coldness and the starkness of everything reflects my thoughts and feelings. In the summer it feels too much like the earth is rejoicing without me. But in the winter it sympathizes with me.

My fingers felt roots, and I gently worked around them. I would not want to injure this delicate creature. After much teasing, it came free of the earth. I slowly stood up, my legs sore and knees cold.
I began to walk. I didn’t really care whether or not it was in the direction of home. I never wanted to go back there.
A jay laughed mockingly in the trees around me. It reminded me of the jeering laughs of my classmates, as they made fun of me. Made fun of my messy, worn, too small clothes, my tangled hair, my hollow, dark eyes, my unusual alliance with trees. They hurt me and they knew I would never tell anyone.
Because the teachers didn’t care any more. They didn’t care about me.

Often, I considered leaving. Going to someone, getting help.
I ran away once. I knew he wouldn’t notice. I left for the whole summer, living in the woods out here. I went back every week at night when I knew he would be in the pub.
But when school started again, I went back. Because I knew that if they noticed that I didn’t come in any more, they would send someone out to find me.

I wandered for ages, deeper into the woods. Although I had lived there for so long, I didn’t recognize this place. But I kept going, because I had nowhere else to go.

That’s how I got to be here.
I sit down hard on the rock beside the river. I can see the streaks of red in the sky. The sun is setting. I have to get home, or I will be stuck out here all night. That would be too cold. So cold I could die. But I still hold onto the cold earth in the hand.
I really don’t know where to go now.
I realize that I left my gloves behind when I was digging up my sapling. I try to follow my tracks backwards but I lose them and see that I am going in the wrong direction. So I crumple in exhaustion beside a tree. I try to pull some branches near, to insulate my body.
I place my head to the ground.
A robin sings beside me. I think it can sense my thoughts and feelings, because as I lie there lifelessly, It hops nearer and looks closely at me. It jumps onto the earth in my hands.  The robin’s beady eye twitches as it cocks its head and looks all around. In the fading light I can see the vibrancy of its red breast, so bright and cheerful.
It looks so happy.

I cast my eyes up towards the darkening sky. I can see a star beginning to shine out. The trees rustle in a gentle breeze.
I wait.
And then I sleep.

I awake the next morning to a blanket of snow over my cover of sticks.
I don’t know if I am dead or not. I should be. But I still sit up, and begin to make a shelter for myself. It’s a long process, and so I start early. At least I still have my knife.

By the end of the day I have finished, and I slip inside. I have kept the sapling, and now I plant it carefully inside my shelter, in a place I will not tread on it yet I will be able to keep it warm at night.

The next day, because of my hunger, I find a few edible plants and feed off them. But I know this is not enough long term. But before that, I have to make a fire.
I begin to construct a bow drill, with a long strong stick and my shoelace. I take off my other shoelace too, so that I can make a basic bow later.
After a long while of tiring, painful rubbing, I begin to create smoke from my drill. I drop that into my tinder, and with some gentle coaxing, build up a small fire. I keep it down, so that I can have heat but minimum smoke or flame. Then I begin to carve away at my bow.
After a few days of painful hunger, my bow is finished and I have three arrows, fletched and sharp.

Finally.
It’s just one bird, but it is enough. My first catch.
The skinning and gutting is a nasty business, but when I set the pigeon roasting over my fire, it is worth it. I go down to the river to wash my hands, delirious with hunger.
That was the best meal of my entire life

And now, three years later, probably many miles away, I still live.
Sometimes I wonder if I actually died that day. My life just got so much better after that one time. Since then I have worked hard, but I have not seen another human. I like it that way.
And for the sapling that led me to where I am, it is now a flourishing young tree. I took it with me when I moved two weeks after that fist time I left and planted it here, in this secret, far away place where I don’t think anyone will ever find me.

Some people may wonder how a seventeen year old lives in the forest on her own.
But I’m born for the forest.
I belong here, with the trees.
And I will stay here forever.