This story is by Aisha Butt and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The white fog swirled lazily through the trees. Lily stood transfixed gazing into the thick blanket of fog. Dawn was her favorite time of day when the world was quiet and calm. The cracking of a twig brought her out of her reverie. “Just a deer”, she thought. She was alone in this part of the woods. Alone in the world. Absently she tried to rub the early morning chill from her arms as these thoughts whirled through her head.
It was exactly a year since she stumbled her way through the forest and happened upon the abandoned cottage which was now home. Hazy and disorientated, with no idea where she had come from. She yearned for just one memory of her past, but for an entire year, the only gift was the present.
A blur of movement caught her eye. The air seemed to crackle with energy. More curious than afraid, she turned in the direction of the movement and held her breath as the curtain of fog parted, and a young man appeared. Eyes of the brightest green, watched her every move. His eyes were his best feature and accentuated a dangerously handsome face.
“Who are you?” she whispered. A cunning smile flitted across his face. “I’ve come for you”, he said silkily and then vanished. Lily jerked around. “Where did he go?” she wondered. She searched through the eerie fog with her heart banging in her chest, but to no avail. When the sun rose, she admitted defeat.
That night while sleeping, Lily heard someone whisper her name and jolted up. She knew that silky voice, and it sent shivers up her spine. The room was dark and nothing stirred as she peered into it. Outside the wind had picked up and whispered through the trees. “Could this have been the sound she heard? Was her mind playing tricks on her?” she pondered.
Waves of frustration poured over her. She hated not knowing what was happening. The past year was riddled with insecurity and the fear that came with it. She didn’t know anything about herself, except for her name. That stood bright and firm in her mind. Was anyone looking for her? Where did she come from? For months and months, these thoughts had tormented her. She scoured her mind, trying to remember something, anything, but memory eluded her. There were times when all was quiet that she felt something pushing at the corners of her mind, but it was somehow always just out of reach. She tossed and turned until she eventually fell asleep.
The next day, Lily woke to a chorus of birds and the sun high in the sky. Usually, she woke up at the crack of dawn, but her midnight interlude had left her mentally and physically exhausted. A look at her reflection in the mirror revealed a slight build, clear skin and a riot of chestnut curls that framed her face. Blue eyes slightly shadowed stared back at her. Every time she looked in the mirror, she hoped she would recognize the person staring back at her. But, like all the other times, there was simply nothing. She decided to work in her garden to get away from her thoughts.
She gathered gardening tools and made her way to her garden to harvest vegetables for her supper that evening. The garden was flourishing, it seemed that everything she touched thrived. She was humming to herself while pulling out some weeds. “Your mother loved that song,” a familiar voice said from behind her. She whipped around and looked across the garden into luminous green eyes.“W-Who are you? What do you know about my mother?” She stammered. He took a step closer and said, “My name is Metis, I knew your family. I’ve been looking for you.” Lily stared at the strange, yet familiar man. Black, wavy hair flowed down his back and offset dark olive skin. Green eyes seared into her tame blue ones. Everything about him exuded strength and unnerved her.
“How did you find me?” she hesitantly asked. “We all have energy. I can sense the energy of individuals and home in on them. I’ve been watching you for a few weeks now.” His last statement sent a chill down her spine. He had been watching her, stalking her…
She lowered her gaze and deliberately started pulling out weeds, trying to busy her hands and compose herself while her mind whirled within. Something didn’t feel right. She heard him approach and kneel close to her. Eyes still downcast she asked, “Why would you want to look for me?” He didn’t answer immediately and this prompted Lily to look at him directly. His penetrating stare unnerved her, “Deep down you know the answer to that,” was all he said.
“This is all very confusing,” Lily muttered. She dusted off her knees in a casual move and got up. Something told her to get away from Metis. She felt something bubbling up inside her. Was it fear? Anger? But why would she be angry at a stranger? It made no sense. She didn’t want to ask, but before she could stop herself, it all came rushing out. “You said you knew my family? Knew… not know?” “This is not the way I wanted to tell you. They are no longer in this world”, he murmured.
The words punched a hole in her heart. Each word reverberated in her being like a gunshot. “What does that mean?” she choked out. But she knew, deep inside her, she knew exactly what it meant. Her legs moved before her mind could catch up. She plowed into him, knocked him over in the momentum and sprinted past him into the woods beyond. Her only thought was to get away. The trees clawed at her as she crashed through the branches and undergrowth. Lily thought she heard something pounding the earth behind her. She didn’t dare turn around.
An ear-splitting snarl had her skidding to an abrupt stop. Panting, she surveyed the moss- covered trees around her. There was nothing. That in itself was very strange, no birdsong, no sounds of nature. Everything was deathly quiet.
Out of nowhere came the sound of menacing growling, it grew louder as it approached. Fierce green eyes stared out of a hulking black body. Its shaggy coat visibly vibrating with each savage snarl. Every thought left Lily’s mind. Her body started shaking in shock and protest. She raised her hands in front of her in defense. “Please…no!” she pleaded. A cunning glint shone in the eyes of the massive two-headed wolf. It bared its monstrous fangs, coiled like a spring getting ready to leap at her. Lily started backing away slowly. The wolf leapt towards Lily. With a squeal, Lily threw up her hands and a crackle of energy shot out from them. The wolf was catapulted away from her. It was too powerful though, it shook itself, snarled and started towards her again. Lily stared at her hands incredulously, too shocked to comprehend what had happened.
As though in a fog, she heard a voice far away. Run, she heard. Run toward my voice. Her legs propelled her away from the snarling beast toward the direction of the voice. The air in front of her shimmered and a shining, rippling vortex appeared. Fear and confusion warred within and had her rooted to the spot. The snarling seemed much closer now, she could hear the heavy panting of the beast as it charged. The vortex started pulsing, pulling Lily through it. Despite resisting with all her might, she could not pull away from it and fell through to the other side. The vortex closed with a snap.
Disorientated, Lily looked around in astonishment. She wasn’t sure what had just happened. Wispy white clouds floated languidly in a blue sky. She saw gentle waves lapping onto a shore of beige-colored sand and huge cliffs jutting out from the sea beyond. A floating mountain towered into the clouds above. Metis stood to one side watching her. “Where am I?” she gasped. “You are home,” he answered.
“This is the land of Thera, where you were born. I have been sent to find you. You have powers that the savage Mankia tribe wants. They killed your entire family to get to you. In the bloody battle that ensued, your parents managed to get you out of Thera, but at the price of your memory and their lives,” Metis explained. A deep sadness filled Lily, she couldn’t bear the thought of her family losing their lives because of her. “This power is a curse. There’s nothing worse than knowing you are the cause of your family’s death. Because of this power, I am all alone in the world,” she thought. What was worse was that her troubles were far from over. As she stared forlornly out to sea, the sky darkened abruptly and a thick fog rolled in from the sea.