Once upon a time, there was a young nymph with vermilion hair.

She thought it was a warm color and liked it. But she was the only one with such a vibrant red flowing down her shoulders and had nobody to tell her how beautiful it was; so she thought it was bad. She only had humans around her, so she began to think she was the odd one. Anxious, she started to shy away from them. And then, instead of reassuring her, they started to treat her as if she was weird. Unnatural.

It hurt.

She cut her hair short and ran away from them, away from everyone. But vermilion prickles grew around her legs, hurting at each step. However, they were part of her own body and she couldn’t cut them off. The nymph was so sad, desperate and lonely… Her mind and body aching alike, she started crying. Was there a tomorrow for someone like her? She had heard that there was a place where she could be happy somewhere, beyond the forest that stood in front of her, but she still had to go through this entire wood before reaching it. It felt unattainable. Hopeless.

It hurt.

As her vermilion tears fell and fell, pitapat, pitapat, a white rabbit suddenly appeared before her eyes, leaping and springing into the woods without hesitating. It felt to the nymph as if he was inviting her. She dried her tears and stood up; then, the deeper she walked into the forest, the more prickles fell from her legs, leaving a vermilion trail behind her. The pain would not go away completely and the memories could never be fully erased, but she felt a little lighter. Although, she was worried she would lose her way. She had no map, no compass, no way to know where she was supposed to go. She was at a loss. Lost.

It hurt.

She had come this far, but she still felt like it was no use. Perhaps everything had been vain. Had she even left a proof of her existence? To someone, somewhere? Would she spend the rest of her life searching for the right path, with no way to know if all her previous efforts had been in naught?

Unnatural, hopeless, lost… words she’d heard, sensations she’d felt, poison she’d unwillingly drunk. If only her hair was not vermilion… a poignant feeling of inadequacy stabbed her through the heart and an instant of unfathomable remorse made her turn back. Perhaps she should just give up and…

But there, on the path she’d walked a few minutes earlier, a trail of vermilion flowers had bloomed. Her hair, her tears, her prickles… it had all turned into beautiful flowers. A warm path made of the feelings she’d carried in her arms for so long. A reminder that she was stronger now. The flowers had grown thorns — radiant, vermilion thorns. And so had she. But she would never let the thorns take away the softness in her heart.

When she turned back, the white rabbit was there, as if waiting for her. As soon as she laid her eyes on him, he jumped forward.

With a smile, she followed him.

Rain would only make the flowers grow.