The young woman had always been a patient soul but lately the flare of frustrated irritability was never far from the surface.  Physical manifestations of her feelings had also become common.  It was more often than not that she spent her evenings in a dim quiet room waiting for a migraine to subside.

When she was alone like this she would think of the girl alone in her antediluvian manor.  Previously she may have contemplated some interesting thing to amuse the lonely child yet of late the only thoughts provoked by the girl were questions.  They were burning inklings, jostling queries, infuriating musings.  What's worse, the girl refused to answer any of her questions forthright causing her to leap to her own conclusions as to their answers.

It really was maddening how no matter the amount of time she spent with the girl, no matter the presents brought or pleasant conversations had, the child insisted upon reminiscing over the alleged boy.  Nothing the woman could ever do would compare to him.  But then thinking of her sitting solitary in the crowded attic as if waiting for the decrepit house to fall down around her, it was hard to feel anything but pity and caring for the girl.

The girl knew this day was coming perhaps more to the fact that she had always expected it to then any sort of prescience.  The woman walking back from her part time job waved and smiled at the window; then met the eerie girl at the uninviting parlor.

It was the third change of clothes for the paper mannequin when the girl felt the heaviness around her neck.  The pendant pressed uncomfortably against her chest.  Not even the woman could explain why tears had come to her eyes.

The jewel gleamed a sanguine light as the woman formulated the farewell speech in her mind.  A warmness where the pendant rested made the girl's skin too hot and so she shifted her position on the carpet in an effort to move the stone without scraping most unladylike at her breast.

"Can I keep them?", asked the child gesturing towards the paper dolls. 

"Of course, I got them for you."

"I mean after you leave me."

"What do you mean?", but the girl didn't answer her and the woman didn't have the heart to continue the falsehood.  It was true, she hadn't known it an hour ago but here in this moment her abandonment was inevitable.

"I know you're very lonely.", the woman tried to craft the kindest goodbye she could.  "I don't know why but I feel a touch of madness when I'm in this house.  Maybe you can come with me away from here."

The girl shook her head in a negative reply as she gazed down towards her chest.  "I can't be a very good friend if I'm always frustrated and angry.” the woman explained.

"I understand." coolly replied the girl. 

"It isn't fair of me to just leave like this."

"It's really the only way."

"Perhaps I can visit you sometimes, or if I can bring you things? Really anything I can do.", the woman pleaded.

Forlornly the girl looked up at the woman.  Her words were kind but the child knew the woman wouldn't be able to return just as the boy hadn't.  Although guilt ridden, the young woman knew she couldn't recant.  "Is there anything I can do?", she desperately muttered.

With great intrigue she watched as the girl drew on the chain she always wore around her neck.  She had often wondered what secret lay hidden beneath her blouse. Her anticipation stretched out the short measure of chain until the pendant was revealed.

It's exhibition was appropriately shocking.  The woman inched closer, feeling drawn into the swirling organic amber.  She thought that if she could only touch it her fingers would be immersed into a viscous fluid, sticky, inviting and warm.  She acknowledged the heat emanating from the charm and withdrew her outstretched hand.

Troubled as if contemplating a decision of great consequence, the girl twisted the gem with the tips of her petite fingers.  The way the light reflected off the facets was seductive.  "It's wrong of me to ask it of you.” mused the girl.

"Then don't ask.  I'm offering to do anything I can for you."

"It's a burden, though while small you'll have to carry forever."

"Let me help you.” the woman urged.

The girl uttered a sigh of resignation, then abruptly slammed the jewel against the seared wooden boards of the parlor floor they sat upon, crushing it.  Taken aback, the woman stared in wonder as the child returned the pendant to its hiding place amongst her breast.  Left trembling on the floor was a single sliver of the amber jewel.

The girl deftly scooped up the remnant and offered it flat palmed to her friend.  Finally the woman was allowed to touch the mysterious treasure.  It was surprisingly hard and cold now.

"Thank you.", said the girl.  "It is very helpful to me if you take just a bit of it.  I couldn't ask any more of you."

The woman didn't answer but simply looked at the stone in her palm.  "Hide it away!", admonished the girl.  "Don't share it with anyone.  At times it may grow heavy but take heart in the fact that you are doing me a great service."

The woman obeyed, slipping the quivering splinter into her front pocket.  As she left the decrepit manor her pocket felt deceptively light.


The End

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