Where Once Lived Red


The ghost moved along the edge of the trees. Clouds of mist wafted out, trailing along behind the woman. Beyond, a little village watched in terror.

For the past three moons, she had risen. The ghost followed the line of trees till she made it to the path, then came up into the village, heading a massive fog bank. A softly howling wind pushed it at her back, and over the town.
In the distance, this wind could be heard as she approach the edges of the town. People watched from windows with the blinds drawn tight. Every time she came, a child from the village vanished in the night without a trace.
Tonight, the wall of mist that bubbled behind her shadowy form was a veritable mountain. It loomed over the town, sending cold fingers into it and all the people huddled in fear.
The cold enveloped the town, and fear turned to terror.
When the sun rose, a mother’s scream pierced the air.


In a large cavern in the woods, she knelt, gently placing the small child on the damp floor. In the back of the cave, a little girl was crying. Ruffling the hair of the child she’d placed on the ground, she started toward the sounds of weeping. She went down in front of the girl.
“Don’t cry,” her voice was soft, airy. “You are safe now. Don’t cry my child.”
The small girl looked up into her face. Then reached out and touched her wispy curls, white as bone. She smiled at the child. “You are safe.”
“I want my mama.”
“She can’t keep you safe,” the words were sad. Lost, even perhaps. Then she smiled. “But I can. I can keep you and all the other children safe forever. And you will never have to grow old. You will never die. You will never know pain.”
Her fingertips trailed over the girls cheek. “You will have everything I could never give to my own children.”
Then the ghost kissed the child, and the place her lips touched against the girl’s forehead turned pale. It spread out over the girl, turning the warm amber of her skin the color or fresh milk. The last bits of shade to leave her were the browns in her hair and eyes, it faded out slowly. The child ceased her weeping, and the ghost stood. Only when the next child began to cry, did she go to them, bleeding them white where once had lived red.


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