Between Lost & Found – Chapter 3

She awoke to the gentle splatter of rain on her face. For a second she thought that the roof in the orphanage was leaking again, but then she felt the grass beneath her and the aching in her feet and she remembered what she had done.

She opened her eyes to the new day and found herself in a place that was very unfamiliar. The sky was a clear, deep purple-pink, like that of a glass marble. It seemed so close that she might reach out and dip her fingers into it. She sat up and looked around. She was in a forest, dense and thick with trees and shrubs and ferns. Everything shone with a kind of silvery sheen as if it had been freshly polished.

Insects of all shapes, sizes and colours flittered around the trees and the girl stared at them in wonder. Little pink orbs of light like tiny balls of cotton candy floated around. The girl stood up to get a better look at them. A group of them came down from the tree she had slept under, they circled the girl’s head gracefully, more floating than flying. But she could see them no more clearly up close, but they made a sweet twinkling sound as they moved. The cluster of them got closer to her face, tickling like feathers on her skin, making the girl giggle. They swirled around her once, twice and then they were off.

Then she remembered the black shape, the dog. Was it a dream? The girl had never been much of a dreamer. Daydreamer yes, but night dreamer, not so much.

The girl began walking. The ground in this place was soft like moss below her feet. She looked down and saw that with each footfall the moss sent shimmers of glittering green light off in all directions like glowing roots stretching from her feet. 

‘What is this strange place?’ she thought. She could hear birds singing in the trees and pink light trickled through the canopy from an unseen sun, like water through holes in a roof, making the soft rain glisten like tiny captive rainbows. Was this the end of the rainbow? For surely this place was magical.

Giant pink and brown mushrooms as big as chairs sprouted up from a patch of ground where trees had not grown and light streamed through, warming the mushrooms’ backs. The girl was hungry. And she remembered being told to never eat the red mushrooms, for they were poison, but no one ever warned her about giant pink and brown ones.
She carefully knelt down on the mossy ground next to a particularly fat mushroom and grabbed at its top. She tried to break a piece off when suddenly the mushroom moved. Its shape changed, it unfurled into a stout little man with a bulbous head and a nose to match. His skin was the same colour the mushroom had been. 

‘Oi!’ said the little man. ‘Whatchu doin’? Wakin me up from me sleepin’?’

The girl had fallen back on her rump in surprise. ‘Oh! I … I’m sorry. I thought you were a …’

‘You thought wrong, human girl! Go on, git! Go to the Wastes with the other humans!’ the little mushroom man waddled over to another of the mushrooms and ratted on its hood. ‘C’mon boys! Time to be gettin’ off.’ He turned and glared at the girl. ‘The humans are out.’ 

The group of mushroom men all unfurled themselves, stretching and yawning in the rainbow shower. Then they all simply toddled off, some of them giving her evil stares over their rotund shoulders.
The girl sat on her rump a while longer as she watched the group of mushroom men retreat. She had never seen such creatures or been told about them. Also, she had never been called a human before. She knew she was a human, but in a world dominated by them, it was never really pointed out. And what were the Wastes? Should she go there? It didn’t sound like the sort of place she wanted to go.

She got back up and continued walking. There was no discernible trail in the woods. It was just an overgrown entanglement of vines and ferns and trees and the girl began to wonder how in the world she had gotten there. She remembered before this point, but it was not as if there was a yesterday and the day before that. There was only before and now. 

She must’ve gotten lost while running, but could you get so lost that you simply found yourself in another place, another world entirely? For surely that was what this place was, another world. 
Before now, the only memories she had were of the orphanage. It was a dull place, it lacked luster. The orphanage world looked washed out as if seen through a dirty window. This new world was exactly opposite. The colours popped out at her, each one of them was so vibrant it was like the colour itself had life. The light was so bright it warmed her deep inside.

Despite the beauty of this new world, she walked ahead more cautiously this time. Something told her that she shouldn’t take things for granted, she shouldn’t assume anything in this strange new place.

She walked for an unknown amount of time. Time seemed to be different there. She had always gauged time by the shadows that crept across the dirty wooden floors, but here, there didn’t seem to be any shadows. The light coming from above didn’t change.

Every now and then there would be things that seemed out of place. A broken statue of tiny naked human babies sat dirtying amongst the growth of flowering ivy vines. A group of animals that seemed similar to deer except their necks were far too long and thin, the stag’s antlers appeared to made of trees with flower buds about to bloom and leaves twinkling wet with raindrops. For a moment, she thought she saw what appeared to be a woman, but she was covered in green scales and had a face that appeared more dragon than lady, but as quick as the girl saw the dragon lady she was gone.

Eventually, the girl came to a grove of trees that hung heavy with plump fruit. The fruit was all different, each tree carried several different shape and colour fruits, none of which the girl had ever seen. Not that she had the chance to eat much fruit at the orphanage.

The thing about hunger is that after a while you stop feeling it. In the beginning, you feel it like someone had taken a part of you away. It can be painful, but after years of feeling hungry for food, it goes away. The hunger for other things becomes stronger. But now, seeing all this ripe glistening fruit just hanging there she felt hungry.

She sat back and watched for a while. There were creatures climbing the trees. They looked like cat-sized rats, but with squat smiling faces. Some climbed the trees while others waited down below. The ones up in the tree picked out the red fruit and threw it down to the ones waiting below. 

Quietly, the girl crept up to the tree and tried to reach for the fruit, but she could not reach, she was far too small. 

The emptiness in her tummy grew as she looked at the fat fruit that was just out of her reach and she tried to jump. As she went into the air she felt her fingertips brush the fruit but still she couldn’t reach and she fell back to the ground with a loud thud, landing first on her sore feet and then on her backside.

The smiling creatures all startled and scurried away from the trees. The girl looked around, shocked for a moment before tears stung her eyes. That old familiar emptiness felt heavy inside her, like a paperweight on her heart. She put her hands to her face to hide her tears and sat there underneath the tree with fruit that was just out of her reach.

Then, she felt something fall into her lap. She peeled away her bandaged hands to see a big red fruit in her lap and one of the smiling creatures standing before her.

She stared at the creature and then down at the fruit and then back to the creature. The creature crept close to her and pushed the fruit towards her again. 

The girl couldn’t help the smile that came to her face as she nodded at the creature and picked up the red fruit. 

‘Thank you,’ she said to the creature and nodded again. 
The creature returned the gesture.

The fruit was soft and warm from the sun’s rays. The outside was slightly fuzzy but it was as red as blood.

She put the fruit to her lips and bit into it. Juice filled her mouth and spilled down her chin. The sweetness was like nothing she had tasted before. Tangy and syrupy. It tasted the same way that the colours looked. Vibrant and opposite to anything she had ever experienced at the orphanage.

The creatures began to crowd around her. They chattered amongst themselves and smiled and ate fruit. 

She ate until she could eat no more. Her belly full, her heart overflowing, she leaned back on the tree and drifted off to sleep.
She was home.

I hope you are enjoying the story. If you have any comments feel free to leave them. 

The next chapter will be posted in a week.

Hugs AMC


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