Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 10

Why are you all alone in the forest? Alex asked.

The girl did not reply and she did not move, but the bells did. They stopped ringing, and the forest was quiet. The spirits could be seen in the darkness as they gathered in a ring around the heart of the heart of the forest. Their bodies smeared against the light, and their too big eyes stared at nothing and no one as they waited. But they waited.

I know the way out. I can show you, Alex said.

The girl’s face crumpled into her hands and the bells wavered overhead, the glass dropping from the air and shattering in the grass like jagged dust. Her body shook and the balls of fire shook and the spirits drew closer. Alex thought that he should not have ventured away from the village as the fire twisted and turned, sticky and hot and angry before him. And still, the ghosts drew closer.

Did he live, Mademoiselle?

—Not forever, but we shall get to that later.

The fire did not kill him. It melted into a white hot little girl that left scorched footprints in the grass behind her. She could have been beautiful, but she was not real like the ghosts were real, and she killed everything she touched.

Magic is forbidden, Alex said.

The fire looked at Alex and ash ran down her cheeks, black trails that blew away in the wind like she eventually did. The ghosts laughed and laughed at the display until they grew bored and left the broken heart of the heart of the forest alone. The boy paused, and the bells once again rose in the air, crying through the forest over and over.

You are Mona, the bell ringer, he stated.

The girl nodded her head and stood up, her bleeding palms leaving bright red handprints on the wet surface of the ground. She walked over to the boy, closer and closer, until her finger touched his cheek and left a

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