Thorns prick at my ankles while branches from the bare trees try to devour me whole. Beads of sweat trickle down my forehead while I struggle to escape with no effect. The thin, knobbly branches twist across my arms up to my neck. I struggle to breathe in this dark imprisonment.
“Stop,” demands someone behind me. Suddenly the natural prison loosens but sadly not enough to escape.
A figure flashes in front of me. Even though the man is my nightmare I lie to myself it is not. My mind tells me to stand straight but I am met by a piercing pain in my leg.
“Don’t struggle Ariana, don’t make it worse for yourself. Come to me.” The word Ariana sounds almost familiar..
“No,” says a voice exactly like mine but fearless. Proud - but of what? It’s not like I have anything to be happy about. The branches tighten across my neck and the man disappears, leaving me choking in this gloomy hell.
I wake up with a start. Swiftly everything begins to return.
Feeling my arms for imaginary twigs, I look around. I am in a small room made of wood with a window in the far corner with an oak bed in the middle. I throw the soft white sheets off me then stand on the bare floorboards. Though simple, this room feels like it is home much more than my real home ever did. Somehow it is familiar. The wooden atmosphere completes a missing block in my heart that was empty for so long.
“You’re awake. Are you all right?” asks a sweet voice in front of me. A tall woman with short white hair cut to her jaw and striking silver eyes walks towards me. I take one glance at her unnatural eyes but I do not think for some reason i am not shocked almost as if that color is normal. This must be Sky’s mother.
“Yes I’m fine. How long have I been asleep?” I reply after quite a long silence.
“Oh after you dragged poor Forest here you fainted at our doorstep. You slept and slept and we never thought you would wake up,” utters Sky’s mother with a true look of concern.
I remember the sight of Forest slumped on the white snow with blood charred over his pale arm. My cheeks flush a dark crimson. Guilt branded on my face I ask quietly, “Is Forest all right?”
The door creaks open. Forest had obviously been listening to our conversation. Forest, who looks at me with curiosity, appears well with no scratches or marks or tension and almost as if nothing had happened. He wears a clean black shirt and blue jeans.
Sky’s mother shoots a glare at Forest.
“Go on say something seem as though you've turned up,” she whispers.
“What should I say? She’s a human,” says Forest angrily.
“She saved your life for gods sake. Say thank you!”
I look at Forest’s furious face and interrupt, “It’s fine he doesn't need to say thank you.”
Both mother and son look at me with confused looks. What did I do wrong? I try to release their frown from me but with no effect. Through the starry eyes of Forest I focus my attention on myself. My skin is tanned, my hair is a plain black, my eyes are boring color of brown and my clothes are the same that I wore that night but clean.
Forest walks closer to me and brushes his hand across my hair. Without thinking I blurt out quickly, “What’s wrong?"
I push away his hand and try to give them both a serious look but they just wear a face of shock.
"You aren't human" says Sky's mum - is that a compliment?.
Forest studies me curiously and explains, "You just spoke in the language of the white. If you're human you shouldn't know it its the language we speak. Judging by the color of your hair eyes and skin you aren't one of us"
Who exactly is we? This explanation didn't explain anything but rather formed more questions in my mind. Yet somehow i know who they are and what they do...
Next thing i know i find myself in a little room in the heart of the house with wore down sofas and bookshelves full of dusty volumes. Sky is sitting on one of the seats smiling at me and beckoning me to sit down. I burrow into the warm cloth waiting for forest and Sky's mum to sit down.
Sky's mum appears to have gathered some sense and says quietly, "You can call me Selen ... Tell me who are your parents?"
What am i doing sitting here talking to strangers in a forest? You're poor auntie is probably worried sick. Yeah right.
"Er mm i think i should be going back now to Manchester." I stammer trying not to catch any of the families weird eyes.
"Manchester. I'm sorry but Manchester is no-where near here. We are in a different dimension," She says with worry.
Are these people crazy? A different dimension! But somewhere inside this information is being digested as if true. Looking at sky's and forests serious faces, i come to a conclusion that these people aren't lying. I believe them.
I give a 'tell me more look' to forest. He looks at Selen and says, "Well we may as well tell her seem as though she isn't going back."
Forest looks down at me almost bored and carries on,
"You are not to tell anyone that we told you this. Right now you are in a different dimension called Alverdeen or the city of white. I don't know how you came here because you are human..."
Sky has been quiet siting in the corner until now. She delicately brushes away her silver hair from her forehead and interrupts, "She isn't human. She is one of us."
Forest scowls at her for interrupting him. I decide to sit patiently and listen to what these crazy people have to say.
Opening a ancient book of the bookshelf, Selen says calmly to me, "Who is your mother and father?"
There is a silence. My heart thumps inside me as I gather the courage to speak.
"My mother was called Anais White. She died 3 months ago in a fire. My dad was called Aden White and he died before i was born from cancer." A tear wells up inside me. I try to keep it in.
"I'm sorry," says Sky sympathetically. Forest however is trying to avoid my eye. Anger. There is silence for a few minutes.
"I don't see her as you do," exclaims sky looking out through the window, "For some reason to me she looks like one of us with fair hair and ruby red eyes."
There is a thump on the floor. As the silent echo of the book finishes, i notice that selen stands there to dumbfounded to speak. I see that forest has noticed this as well.
"What is wrong mother?"
She looks at me as if staring into a chapter of the sad past and says, "Sky, your grandmother was born with the gift of the truth it is likely you are as well. It means you can see the truth when others can't."
A gift of truth. What is it that I am hiding. A secret that i do not even know about. Sky is looking out of the window. The sky is wide awake now with the ground covered in another fresh sheet of snow. Trees tower above the crooked house now draped themselves in a scarf of green leaves. There a scent of magic in the trees. They bloomed overnight and sound as if whispering to each other about a dark secret. The same trees that haunt me every night.
Selen continues,"That is a rare eye colour and the last time someone was born with those eyes was Violetta's and Flavian's child. When the child was born we never saw of the family again. This was 13 years back."
Fear rushes into my veins. Am I the person whom she is talking about? 13. I am 13.