My eyes burned and I looked away. “Emilia, why are you showing me this?” I muttered, pained, turning to the flame-haired vampire behind me.
“To show you how foolish you were, so you can learn from your mistakes... to make you feel again,” she replied, in her silky smooth voice. Well, I certainly realise it now. I suddenly realise everything. I felt cold, even the warmth from the burning silver round my neck dissipated.
“I don’t want to... feel again,” I murmured, falling from her arms and landing on the floor with graceful ease. A moment lapsed before I took off, running as fast I could. I didn’t think about it, I just did it. My legs were carrying me somewhere... past the blur of houses, cars and trees to a place where I was all alone – The forest.
Emilia had not followed me, or not as much as I was aware. The trees bent over the sky, clouding me from the blaringly hot sun. It was here... here everything happened. Every part of my life, every part of me that mattered, was all here. Under the pines, amongst sycamores and oaks, within the brush; every overturned leaf and tree trunk held a memory. Memories I didn’t want to remember.
I laid a hand softly on the great oak I had stopped before, its trunk was old and scarred but its roots run deep, spreading through the whole forest like veins. If I listened closely I could hear the beat, the subtle pulse of the forest and the music that coursed through it. Oh, I missed this. You could not hear such beauty in a city, too much pollution, too much anger and sorrow. Cities are mechanical, they have no heart.
I let the change easily take over; slipping into my true form was much simpler here, with the warm embrace of the naturalistic breeze encasing my form, warming it from Emilia’s clutches. Here, I felt free. I curled up under the tree, placing my paw over a print that lay imbedded in the ground. He stood there so long even the rain couldn’t wash his great paw prints from the land. But now my paw fit it... look dad... I’m all grown up now... look.
I whimpered and placed my nose in the print, respectfully. My eyes slid closed. Everything washed away.
I awoke to Emilia’s fingers threading through my fur. As soon as my eyes opened I shut them again. I felt, I felt something... I felt sorrow, pride, loss. I felt death. She lifted my muzzle, “I don’t need to follow you, you always come here when you’re upset,” she murmured, reading my mind before I had even thought my thoughts. “Though, you still won’t tell me why.”
I licked her hands absently and looked up into her deep golden pools as she asked me the vital question: “What made you fall for the witch like that?” I looked down sorrowfully, I didn’t know the answer. She noticed this, and for once, believed me. Her touch wasn’t as deathly cold as usual; here she seemed so much more human. Here, everyone seemed so much more human and fragile. This was the forest of life, but for me, it was so much more.
I looked at her and changed back into human form; she was all ready for this and had brought a blanket. She encased me in it, lingering there for a moment. “Emilia... would you really like to see?” I muttered solemnly. She nodded slowly and I rested my head on her shoulder, her hands coolly laid on my hot forehead.
The night was a cold one, lightning streaked the sky and rain pounded the floor. My mother had just given birth to my younger sister, but, she was born asleep and never woke. Mother was sat at the kitchen table and I was sat on the floor with a bunch of crayons. I was drawing us when we went for our runs on Fridays. Mum was talking to Dad, I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, but mum seemed upset. A few moments later she came up to me and kissed my forehead. “I’m going for a run, Alex. I’ll be back soon, Darling.”
With that, she turned into the glorious white wolf that she was and took off out the door, shortly followed by Dad’s light brown wolf, barking after her. I didn’t understand then, I didn’t know what was going on.
I finished my picture a little later, the storm had subsided but the rain still pattered lightly on the windows. I remember that moment clearer than anything else. I ran out after them, in my white sneakers, jeans and tee, clutching my picture in my hand, “Dad, Dad!” I called, “Look what I drew, look... look!” I waved the picture around, but Dad stood still. Frozen. Gazing out into the forest blankly.
I stood there with him, gazing at him like the lost puppy I had become. I waited with him until the rain soaked my clothes, and the chill began to set in.
Every morning I woke, looked out of my window at him and then began my usual routine of getting ready for school. I left my picture with him, I figured he could look at it and be happy again. Of course, now I know it probably made him worse.
“That was when I found you in the house...” she murmured, cradling me close to her chest. I nodded slowly. “But... why couldn’t I see your memories?”
“Because... I masked them, I imagined my life as being something completely different so no vampire could see. The only way I remember is when I come here. This is my forest of truth, of remembrance... it also holds my darkest secrets.” I explained, standing to my feet and instantly she clouded over.
“Good, ‘cause now we can get back to prying Thorn away from that witch. He will be mine.” She tightened the choker round my neck and I whimpered, this was the Emilia I remembered... in fact, her true self almost made me forget the soft moment she showed. But now she showed me what Flora was truly like, I was ready to fight back.
I was ready to defend the heart she broke.
I nodded to her and smiled.
Her mirrored smile spread ear to ear and she put her hand on my shoulder.