The Night Breeze

Photo by Jan Van Bizar on

A small white butterfly fluttered around Clara and a clump of buttercups. The girls had been making daisy chains from wildflowers in the garden near Clara’s house.
“I have to go.” Jadzia turned her face to the sun and appeared to study the cloudless sky.
“Wait it’s too early. Don’t go,” Clara pleaded. “You said you would stay. You said.”
“I thought I could but I can’t.” Jadzia shrugged to say I’m sorry. Quickly before she began to cry, Jadzia turned from her friend towards the forest.
“Wait, you said this morning that we would play all day. We could play all day, you said,” Clara shouted, stamping her tiny feet in the green green grass. “You said.”
“I know what I said.” The other girl shrugged as if to say what do you want me to do. Jadzia began to walk away. Clara ran behind her friend shrieking. Jadzia made a beeline for the forest’s edge.
“You can’t follow. Mommy is waiting.” Jadzia walked quickly on her long pale legs.
Stubbornly, Clara tagged behind. Jadzia walked deeper and deeper disappearing into the thin shadows of the saplings. Clara tripped hard over something and scrawled hard on the forest floor. Tears burned in her eyes, Clara fluttered her lashes to stop from crying. She clutched at her scraped knee.
“Did you ever mean it?” Clara asked the treetops. “That you would stay with me, that I would never be lonely.”
A breeze teased the branches and the trees shrugged as if to say “Once, yes. But only once.”
Clara waited a long time in the woods until her legs were cold and stiff. Clara walked home, ate dinner quietly, and cried herself to sleep under her blanket. As her mother washed the dinner plates, she wondered if it would rain overnight and why her little girl was so strange and solitary, and if the good bread would be back in the market tomorrow. Clara’s dad read the newspaper cover to cover and wondered about nothing in particular. Outside the night breeze through the saplings sounded like sobbing.

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