The Girl Who Aged

A child is born into a world where nobody ages - time doesn't seem to exist at all, except for Clodia.

On the fifth day of April, during the year of 1990, a child was born in the country of Neumair. Not many of the inhabitance of Neumair could boast that their first sights of the world were of Neumair itself. In fact, a very few - and those that could, wouldn’t, for not only is it not a fact to boast about but they wouldn’t have been able to, anyway.

This child, however, was born on this land. To be exact, she opened her eyes outside of her mother womb, for the first time, on the outskirts of the Hallam forest. A vast area it covers, though it was not nearly as large as the other forests that inhabited Neumair. The forest stands under the shadow of great mountains, taller than the eye can see, and this child awakened at their very feet.

She did not cry with her first breaths of the clean, fresh air. She gazed up at the brightening sky with her own bright brown eyes open wide, her small fists clenched, jerking forwards, reaching out for something she did not yet understand.

She was not cold, for the air warmed to her. It knew she were a newborn, as did the very land on which she lay, naked and alone. Her mouth opened and closed, and she continued to gaze curiously about her; at the clouds with their glowing golden linings; at the pale blue spaces, slowly expanding, in between; at the scarce tree canopies that met her eyes above her, with swaying branches filled with small leaves, almost as young as her.

Over thirty minutes, she lay. When the child’s eyes grew tired and the branches of trees and slowly darkening, yet clearing sky became a weary sight, the girl opened her mouth once again, this time to cry out for somebody. She was a little bored of lying on her back with nobody to hold her to them. Of course, she did not understand the feelings that she felt, but they still existed. She longed for company, for love, for attention and care, and it came.

A pale-eyed woman suddenly appeared before the child’s bemused gaze. She blinked up at the stranger, whose hair was falling over her and ticked her cheek. She had chestnut-colored hair, glistening like water in the light of the falling sun. Her eyes were strangely wonder-filled.

‘You have been patient, child.’ the lady smiled down at the baby as she spoke in surprise, reaching out a hand and stroking an arm delicately with her finger. ‘You did not cry out for me.’

The child simply lay, staring thoughtfully up at her visitor. She even tilted her head a little as she did this, as if to ask for an introduction.

The lady, however, continued to stare back at her, still that strange look in her beautiful eyes, which were almost abnormally extraordinary. She looked thoughtful, too, as she scooped the child carefully into her arms and wrapped her in the long shawl draped over her own shoulders.

‘Nameless, too?’ she asked softly. ‘I see your mother did not choose … no … she did not even know that she was with child…’

The lady seemed to be hearing something that the child did not, for she seemed to react as invisible sources made her sigh and nod or shake her head. She seemed to understand everything, though she did not say all of it out loud.

Soon, the baby was being taken through the forest, further and further from the stony sight of the towering mountains and deeper and deeper into the wild greenery of Hallam.

The baby finally succumbed to sleep, as her surroundings became no more than a blur, until they darkened completely. They seemed to be traveling in a wholly different way to walking now – though she did not see much of it, for when she reawakened, she still lay in the strangers arms, yet they were not surrounded by the shadows of tall trees, but by the darkness of night, and the forms of wooden houses, built about a clearing in the wood. Dim lights brightened the porch of each house, and as the child gazed up into the sky for the millionth time on her birthday, she saw the twinkling of many thousands of stars, greeting her at their first sight.

‘Now, what shall we call you?’ the lady whispered under her breath, leaning in a little so that her breath tickled the baby’s ear.

She thought for a moment, gazing down at the bundle in her arms, at the large, almond-shaped eyes and the round, pink face of the baby. That same, strange expression settled on her face once again. The baby, her thoughts unclear, her memory hazy, wondered what the lady was thinking and why her eyes looked so oddly down at her.

‘Clodia.’ whispered the beautiful lady into her ear – and from then on, Clodia was the child’s name. 'I do not know the meaning of this …’

The lady also whispered something strange … something in another language. She was just muttering the words, yet they were still enchantingly beautiful. Hushed, yet it sounded like song.

Suddenly, it stopped, and everything seemed an awful lot more quiet than before the language was uttered. The lady approached the door of one of the small wooden houses – more of a cabin, really – and knocked on the door three times - softly, yet they sounded throughout the darkness of the deserted clearing, echoing from wall to wooden wall, through the trees, rustling though the young leaves and making the stars twinkle brightly, as they said farewell, for now, to Clodia.

The End

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