I'm an emotional wreck. Or at least that's what the doctors have told me. My mother always reassures me that I just handle things differently to other people. I want to believe her, but I can't. I reach out and rest my fingertips on the girl standing in the long mirror, as though she is someone else. I trace my fingers along her hard jawline and thin, deep red lips before I gaze into her enormous blue eyes. I look past them into what lies deep within. What I see haunts me. Bitterness and rage is all that blooms behind them. I've learned to contain the angry outbursts and irrational malice by now, but something dark lingers in my shadow, refusing to leave my side. I carry it's cumbersome weight around with me night after day, and it is slowly but surely destroying me.
Ever since my mother married Lord Pierro, I haven't left the walls that stand around this grand stone house. They said it was for the best, and that I was safe here and it would be easier to conceal the darkness within me. Although, with poverty, there was little time to pay attention to my emotions, but with wealth I have all the time in the world.
I step away from the mirror and walk along the narrow hallway, my feet sinking into the thick, velvet carpet. I reach the door and wrap my fingers around the brass knob before pushing it open and stepping into the world outside. A gust of wind blows my long, raven hair around me and I inhale the scent of morning dew. The garden is quite small, as Lord Pierro, being a kind and generous man, gave most of his land to the less well off people of the town. The people like the person I once was. It truly is a marvelous garden however, filled with the sweet sound of birds twittering and scent of the flowers blooming in the sunshine. There's a small pond, brimming with fish whose shiny scales sparkle in a rainbow of colours. Clematis climb up the stone walls and scented roses shoot up like weeds. The grass is always green here and nasty weeds don't dare expose themselves in this garden. Only forget-me-nots, and to me they are the most beautiful flowers in the world. I guess it's because I can see myself in their purple petals, hidden away from the world, constantly trying to be seen as a beautiful flower and not a weed destroying the gardens glamor. But at least forget-me-nots aren't alone.
The only things missing in this garden are trees, possibly the the thing I miss most of all from my old life. We live beside a very wealthy family who own an orchard. For years I have gazed enviously over these stone walls, imagining what it would be like to climb those beautiful trees, to sit in their utmost branches and to sink my teeth into one of those juicy red apples. Those apples often appear in my nightmares, but in my twisted fantasies they are brimming with deadly venom, yet another tool of death to haunt me with. I shudder at the thought and try to push it out of my mind, but it lingers like it always does, a shadow I just cannot shake off. I take several deep breaths and stare at the sky, something that has always calmed me. My mother used to say that when a good person dies they are given the chance to paint the sky. I wonder who painted the sky on this morning. It's magnificent. The sun sends the worlds into a crimson hue and a distant rainbow stains the sky in a dazzling spectrum. I wonder will I ever get the chance to create such a masterpiece or is my heart too blackened by malice to deserve such an honor?
I'm about to return inside when something unbelievable happens. I hear a voice, a voice calling out to me. I snap my head around, but I witness no one. I sigh, maybe I really am going crazy. As I take a futile glance around the garden, I see him, sitting in the tallest tree in the orchard. My heart skips a beat as I stand there gawking at him. His piercing green eyes shine like emeralds and he has smile that could break hearts. He has a mysterious aura about him and there is something just behind his eyes that I could have sworn I had seen before.
"So are you gonna come over, or are you just gonna stand there and stare at me," he asks, a smirk appearing at the corner of his mouth.
I nod hastily, scurrying towards him. I could feel the wings of a thousand butterflies beating against my stomach as I reach the orchard. By now he's sitting in the tree whose branches overlook the edge of the garden. He leans over holds out his hand. I take it, amazed at how perfectly my palm fits into his, as he pulls me up into the branches. I'm surprised at his strength for he doesn't have a very muscular build.
"I'm Marco," he says politely.
"I'm Ravenna," I reply.
From that moment everything changed. Every afternoon he would be sitting in that tree, waiting for me. We would talk for hours about all sorts of things. Soon, I begin to notice a change inside me. The darkness is beginning to wash away. It's no longer fear that keeps up every night, but the realization that my reality is finally better than my dreams could ever be. I could still feel the darkness growing stronger inside me, but now I had the strength to brush it away.
One warm afternoon as we sit in our tree, our feet dangling over the garden, I reach towards one of the ruby-red apples that hung from the branches.
"No!" Marco cries, knocking the apple from my grasp. "This tree poisonous. Never take an apple from this tree, even if it's the last apple on Earth."
He reaches over to another tree and hands me an apple. I smile at him, sinking my teeth deep into its flesh, and letting its luscious juices trickle down my throat. Marco watches me as I finish devouring it, and wraps his arms tightly around me. That's when it happens. He looks into my eyes and presses his lips against mine. Suddenly the world explodes around me and pure euphoria fills my icy heart. I wrap my arms around his neck, and feel the darkness of the past fade into the rhythm of his beating heart. Soon I cannot tell where my body ends and his body begins.
Later that night the taste of his lips still lingers in my mouth. I smile, and wonder if tonight will be the night. The night where my dreams aren't horrific nightmares. Soon, exhaustion takes over and I drift into sleep, but tonight I'm, not afraid.