The Lost Ballerina
A smooth breeze delicately touched his chin. His palms were sweaty. There he stood, crouched, sheltered by brambles, his forehead tickled by a strange gleam. The sensual sunset reddening the canopy of the horizon was saying goodbye to the day. A bevy wove itself into the fabric of the sky.
How long had he been there? A new, unexploited territory was unfolding before him like a lazy cobra. His mind was digging up the ghost of some old memories. Something was urging him to leave the deceiving serenity of the forest, but he chose to ignore this thought. He stood up and followed the path that had brought him into the emerald heart of nature.
No matter where he looked, the only thing he could spot was an unending jumble of trees – hollow ones, majestic ones, trees with tiny fruits and moss-covered barks, trees that resembled humpback giants, all sorts of shrubs and stubs. He paused to take a deep breath. The sun had almost sunk into the forest’s chasm.
the mysterious melody...
Where am I? The last thing I remember is the field… no, my apartment, in the afternoon of my departure. Gosh, I must have lost my mind. This stupid town is to blame.
All of a sudden, a distant melody caressed his ears. It was dainty and melancholic, like the tune of a music box. That’s weird… Maybe there’s a house close by.
'Hello! Is there anyone in this godforsaken wilderness? If only I could get to the bottom of this madness… These weed-grown trees give me the creeps. They’re staring at me.’
There was no trace of any human dwelling. A gust of wind brought a peculiar smell of hyacinths. As he closed his eyes to get acquainted with the unusual perfume, he heard the snap of a twig behind him. Even if darkness had already engulfed the forest, he managed to discern a silhouette. He stepped closer, trembling with fear.
A little girl with a pale, porcelain complexion, wearing a beautiful white lace dress, was heading his way. The strange music and the smell of fresh flowers were still enticing his senses.
‘Hey, little girl! It’s cold outside! What are you doing here? Are you lost?’
The girl didn’t even startle. Instead, she performed a few delicate moves with her arms.
‘People around here are definitively nuts!’ he grumbled to himself.
‘Kids aren’t supposed to talk to strangers, but I’m in desperate need of a place to spend the night. I’m exhausted and confused. The past few days of my life are a blur. I was wondering if you happen to…’
The music ceased. He could hardly see the girl now, dancing, half-immersed in obscurity.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Where is your home?’
‘I live with my father in the blue house. I’m looking for my teddy bear. Do you know where it is?’
Her voice was soft and frail, like a whisper.
‘No… You shouldn’t play here, it’s dangerous. Where is your father?’
‘Tony is this big and he’s made of wool.’
‘Are you even listening to what I’m saying?’
‘I want my teddy bear! I can’t dance without him! Those nasty boys took him from me when we were playing hide-and-seek… They hid him here, in the forest.’
He stepped closer to the girl. He felt the overwhelming need to comfort her. No sooner did he reach his hand to touch her than the little girl started running.
I must have frightened her. I’m such an idiot! 'Please, don’t go away!’
Even if he was obviously running much faster than her, the nearer he got to her, the farther she seemed to be. He stopped to catch his breath. At that very moment, a lugubrious scream shook the quietness of the forest. He blacked out.
When he opened his eyes, he was greeted by a sturdy, middle-aged man with a giant wart on his left nostril. A fly was hovering about his reddish stubble. The man grinned, showing a big gap guarded by two yellow teeth.
‘Praise the Lord! My, my, my…. Come on, Jimmy-Back-From-The-Dead, tell your old pal what happened to you! How long has it been, Jimmy boy? And to see you here, of all places… No one hoped you’d ever return.
Jim… Yes, that was his name. He recognized Garry, his childhood friend, who never left the town where they grew up.
‘Where did you find me?’
‘Sorry for nagging you like that. My silly excitement got the best of me. We found you near the edge of the forest, ‘bout ten miles from here; you were dead-pale and barefoot. Don’t ask me how you got there… I was passing by with some buddies of mine. I guess we wanted to escape routine.
And Larry says to me: “Look, that’s the land of the spirits. Twenty years ago, a little girl was killed by a wacko, right in that forest. Awful thing. She was a ballerina. Her father had worked so hard to pay for her classes. She was his only child.” He tells me that her spirit haunts the forest and sometimes leaves clues. Last year little Stuart found a pink shoe near an oak tree. He wanted to touch it, but a gust of wind blew it away… it vanished.
Jim was gazing at the sky, absently. He was remembering something… It was dark and she was so beautiful. She seemed lost. He couldn’t let such a wonderful creature slip through his fingers. Her neck was so fragile… it didn’t take long to…