The mist settled through the woods as I inched along the trail. Tears threatened to spill over as I slapped away stray branches.
It was hard to see the trail while bawling my eyes out, but it much easier to cry in the silence of the forest, than in the dreary funeral home. The darkness seemed to follow me, because the birds ceased song as I entered their haven.
Greenery seemed to fade as I passed, heading for Harridan’s Horge. An eerie whistle spurred me forward and I bolted down the path. I didn’t care where I was running, or if I’d arrive in the same piece.
I stumbled into the brief clearing, forced to stop and fumble through my pockets to find my inhaler. Several breaths later, my sanity returned. A quick inspection of my outfit showed that I’d only added a few grass stains to the usual smudges from the stables.
The bridge loomed in the distance, a wooden giant in the gray mist. I headed straight for it. From the Rose of Sharon bush, I selected an imperfect bloom, Pam’s favorite. Every soft petal, save for a shriveled one, was perfect.
My footsteps were drowned out by the sound of running water. I leaned over the rail, trying to squint into the foggy mess. The moment was interrupted by a shriek.
“Eeek! Get it away, oh get it away!”
The hyper scream nearly split my head in two. Against my better judgment, I tucked the flower in my hair and hurried to assist.
It was a teenage girl, probably about my age, half-way up a tree from the stable dog, Bario. “Bario!” My anger surged out. “Bad dog! Stop! Go home-now!” I pointed into the shadowy depths, scowling with every ounce of irritation I could muster.
Bario hesitated for a half-second before he dashed off in the ordered direction.
I retreated to the bridge, leaving the victim behind. I found a dry patch under the rail, near the middle. Sitting on the end, I hung my feet over the edge and tugged the flower from my hair.
Soft footsteps came pattering across the planks as the first petal floated out of sight. “Hi…um, thanks for-”
“I’d like to be alone right now.” I twisted, angling my back towards her perky voice.
There was sigh followed by a grunt.
I chanced a glance sideways to see the redhead settling into a comfortable spot on the other side of the rail post. Her skinny hand slapped at her cheeks, smearing the tears away.
I don’t remember how long we sat there.
But it must have been quite awhile. We sat in silence until I tore off the remaining flower petals. As the shadows lifted, the pinkness decorated the water’s surface, before succumbing to the river’s current.
“Rose of Sharon?” The girl whispered.
I didn’t have the heart to ignore her. “Yeah.”
“I thought so.”
“It was her favorite flower.” I leaned against the rail post, letting the tears come
“Yeah.” The tears trickled down, tickling my face. “Pam was my best friend. We rode at the stables together.”
She shifted on the bridge. “What happened?”
“I’m not sure. They say she trying to beat the storm, something happened and Stormy threw her. She died.”
A tiny white hand reached around the post to touch mine. “That’s sad.” She said softly.
“Yeah. I can’t stop crying.” I smeared the tears into my dressage jacket. “Her funeral was today…it awful. I didn’t know she didn’t have any family. That’s why she always wanted to be with mine.”
“Yeah…we were soul sisters. We met on this bridge, actually. We named it Harridan’s Horge.” A giggle gasped out. “I don’t even know what it stands for, it sounded funny and it stuck.” The giggles passed. “She was really special, her family didn’t even know, well, maybe.”
“She used to talk about some Tillie, but it always made her sad. She never spoke about family…I wish-.”
“Pam Westings?” Her puzzlement showed.
The tears melted away. “Yeah…how did you know?” I craned my neck to stare into gold-green eyes.
“You must be Talia.” A tear leaked out. “She used to tell me about you. You’re just like she said. You’re right too. The funeral was awful. Mummy’s producer wouldn’t let her break the contract and Daddy’s in the hospital.” She forced a smile. “You don’t know me, but I think I know you. I’m Tillie…Pam’s twin sister.”
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