He set the plate before her. It was barely covered, a thin, fatty slice of what looked like baloney slapped alongside hard, molding bread. It had been arranged carelessly, lazily, and the boy snarled at her before he left, sliding the table back with his exit as he walked away, back into the kitchen. Sighing, Alina pulled the plate towards her chest, her elbows banging against the table as she slid the meat off the plate and diligently placed it on the bread, bracing herself for the stale taste as she chewed purposefully. The apartment was empty, the walls barren...
Once, in Beijing, a young girl in a red gown huddled in a doorway.
It was raining, her hair was plastered to her face in a black sheen as she raised her arm to cover her head, even though she was already soaked through. The once beautiful crimson dress made of expensive silk now hung in tatters. Black kohl and the remains of red blush slide down her cheek, collecting in the dimples of each side of her face. The jade hairpin holding up an elaborate hairstyle had long since fallen out, leaving her long wave of black hair spilling...
Monica Albott had never been beautiful.
Sure, she had been cute, pretty even, but never beautiful. She said this over and over, because she believed it and because it was true, but all she ever heard was, "oh Monica, you're just curvy!" and "I wish I were you!". Nothing anyone said ever helped. And so slowly, little by little, the hamburger she at on Friday's for dinner became bread and lettuce, then a tomato and vinegar, then nothing. Her usual coffee in the morning became skin milk and no sugar and her usual snack after school became a salad instead...
He had always loved the smell of lavender.
It grew in his garden in flourishes; soft green stalks blooming and sprouting purple flowers, primed to be picked for the flower sale that next spring.
He loved flowers, and he hated them. The flowers were what had taken her away from him; entrancing her into his garden as she cooed softly to them, the buds responding by peaking through a coat of leaves. The garden loved her, when she stepped into the backyard the grass would thicken and the bees would settle into her long hair. He had always told her...
She could feel the terror drenching and cloaking itself around her. Don't be afraid, it whispered. You've known for years, it whispered. But still she did not know what do to.
Her name was Emma Fairfax, and she was dying.
It approached, back bent and hooded cloak hiding its face. It was terrifying and calming all at once, a simple presence in a simple place.
She was afraid.
A single bony finger reached out from under the sleeve and cricked forward, beckoning her towards the form. "Come to me," it whispered.
And she did.