Earth (flash fiction) Part 1.

(writing club prompt)

Her fingers play across stone. Her eyes fluttering closed, lips mumbling thoughts of those there before — energies long dissipated from years gone by, given off by they who are forgotten. Lost.

Her bare feet pad softly in the dirt and follow steps of ghosts.

“You…are here!” She smiles to the sky.

She is nowhere…and everywhere. She starts to spin, arms out, the stars’ sparkles soaking into her eyes. The strings of existence gently tugging her every direction, she sits.

Her hands push the ground beneath her, waves of breath pushing up and up. Nails scratching, tearing. She pulls.

“Here..” She whispers to herself.

A thousand ancient hands dig with her, pulsing in time with her heartbeat, faster and faster. If there is pain, their warmth conceals it.

The loose dirt pushed aside, musty air entangles and drifts through her hair, her breath, swirling, thick. Slower now.

Her fingers trace the bones, dragging slowly, adoringly. This grave, radiating waves of love that crash over her. Her lips lend soft kisses to each rib, her curls gently blanketing the dead.

“I’ve missed you..” her eyes bright, wild.

She sinks down to embrace the corpse and drifts off with a smile, her dress stained with the earth that has kept him safe, awaiting her.

  • ***

“About an hour ago…..I’m still trying to figure that out…..We have an idea of the general area, but I still need to gather my search party. This girl is..delicate..…I will…..Yes.” Detective Vellis hung up her phone slowly.

There is a gray area between a criminal and someone who is simply mentally ill. Their tendrils stretch and twist within and around one another, and you never quite know where each behavior stems from originally. Vellis had dealt with plenty of criminals, and had assisted those who were mentally ill. Vellis had not, however, dealt with many in the area of gray mist that was this missing girl, Grace.

Grace had always been a girl in a dream world. Grace’s family described her as always being somewhere else. As the years went by, the daydreaming became pronounced. What started as vivid imagination became complete delusion. Grace had ceased to care if anyone was watching her act out her fantasies, and ignored those who spoke to her. If someone was able to bring her back to reality, Grace would react, often violently, as if a terrible god had ripped her from her world and placed her in ours.

Vellis, as a young police officer, had been asked to bring the girl home on many occasions when she had wandered. The years had not been kind to Grace. Vellis had watched the girl’s mental state deteriorate, and watched the parents’ relationship become strained, then broken. Vellis had watched as Grace was dragged to the mental institution where she was to be kept indefinitely. Vellis had seen Grace mumble his name over and over, smiling.

That was nearly a decade ago now.

Detective Vellis sighed and made her phone calls. She sat at her desk staring out the window watching the summer wind make the leaves and branches dance. She sipped her coffee and tapped her pen. She sighed again.

  • ***

“Team: we’ll be combing the forested area east of the river, going north to south. Her name is Grace, she is approximately 5'3”, white. She has long, curly, dark blonde hair. The last person to see her when she disappeared said she was wearing an old-fashioned looking white dress. She did not have anything with her at the time of disappearance. She escaped from the facility when a caretaker left her alone because she was sitting quietly and they had trusted her to continue to do so. They do not know how she escaped at this time, but we have a team questioning the employees and searching for possibilities. We do not know if she is alone, but we expect her to be. She likely will not answer when she is spoken to. She will, however, potentially be violent when touched. If she is found, do not, under any circumstances, approach her without assistance.”

Vellis looked about her into the faces of her team. Four police officers, one other detective, and two community volunteers had joined to assist. Vellis had been surprised there had been any volunteers at all.

This girl, Grace, was feared. Not hated, like one would expect, but simply feared. Her behaviors had led some others to believe that what she saw and experienced was real, in some realm, some dimension. There were those who thought perhaps our reality had pulled the girl in somehow when she truly belonged in another. Some believed she was just a ghost trapped in a dead girl’s body. Vellis almost couldn’t argue that one. This girl was eerie on the best of days.

“If you find anything, contact me. We’ll meet back here at 9pm otherwise.” Vellis put her hair up in a ponytail and walked to her partner, Detective Tripke.

“Why here? What’s the significance?” Tripke asked, staring at her with tired eyes.

“This is where she was found after that boy disappeared.” Was all Vellis would offer.

Tripke was new to the town. He had heard the stories of the boy that went missing, years ago, after becoming obsessed with some girl that wouldn’t talk to anyone but him, or so they said. They were both teenagers, maybe 18 or 19. They were both reported missing. After being found, the girl had been institutionalized. The boy was not found. Both were rumored to have been strange and seemed from a different time somehow, but the boy was charismatic, kind. The girl was…something else.

Vellis nodded toward the forest, indicating their search would begin.

Tripke followed, straining to remember more about the case that involved this girl, and the missing boy.

As Vellis and Tripke made their way through, winding around trees and stepping over fallen branches, the quiet surrounded them. Vellis had a feeling Grace would return here, if only to continue where she left off.

The late afternoon sun was slowly setting as the detectives watched and listened for signs of the girl. Vellis looked at Tripke with curiosity.

“You know what always bothered me about the boy that went missing — he didn’t live here. He wasn’t known by anyone. People saw him hanging around Grace for several weeks, never having seen him before, and no one comes forward as family or…friends when he goes missing. The only reason we know his name is because he was friendly to everyone he met. He seemed to have money…he would go to the cafe on Mullond Street nearly every day. The owner is the only one who caught his name…

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