The first time I saw her, she was throwing her slender arms around a weeping willow tree, a dryad in her forest kingdom. Auburn strands of silky hair coiled about her head. I took a step, and she was gone.
The second time, she saw me, too. We stood, gazing at each other, her dark eyes brimming with curiosity. Her hair was no longer copper, coal-black in its profusion, pouring in torrents down to her waist. A smile began to grow, dimpling the corners of her milk-white lips, warming her face ‘til it felt like spring had defied winter at last.
Eagerly, I stretched out a hand, but she vanished.
For a year, I did not see her again—that girl with magic hair and luminous eyes, whose very motions whispered lucidity. I called out her many names, I searched the forests wide, sparing no expense that I might see her once more.
She came on a day I least expected.
Her soft touch roused me from a rest among the pine needles. A dull-brown mane framed her elfin face. Two bright stars sparkled in her eyes.
“Hullo,” I whispered, daring to break that beautiful silence. In her place was nothing but air.
Two tears slipped to the ground, soaking into the moist, warm earth. From their resting places, two silver stems rose, twining their arms around each other into a vine. I gingerly plucked a leaf and placed it in my breast pocket.
Five years later, I gazed out the window to the dainty maple lace beyond. It tickled my hand with its silky softness. I wore white. It was my wedding day. I waited for a flash of merry eyes, a tinge of creamy skin, a woodnymph’s graceful wave…she did not come.
Two years passed, and a tiny kitten of a child mewed in my arms. Five little fingers wrapped themselves around my thumb. And for a brief moment, I caught a glimpse of copper hair.
I did not see her again—at least, not for a very long time.
I lay in bed, my two eldest daughters holding my withered hands, counting the breaths, crying for me. Two salty tears managed to find their paths down into the wrinkles of my cheeks.
“Mother, don’t cry.”
I smiled at them, but my thoughts were with that one, starry-eyed creature who I would never see again. I could not speak, but in my heart I shouted, as I had the lonesome day in the pine needles, “come back!”
Then suddenly, she was there, standing by my bedside, stroking my hand with her gentle paw.
She smiled that enchanting smile, and smoothed back the tangled mass of greying hair on my pillow. Dewdrops sparkled in her glossy eyes, jewels in a night sky. She took my hand and squeezed it.
I squeezed back.
She was gone.
As I faded out of life’s grip, I finally understood. She was a fairy, wearing ocean-blue wings, silver-lined. Her eyes were pools, her tears diamonds. Her hairs were rivers, golden in their abundance. She was a butterfly, fluttering, elusive, always just beyond my grasp.
Her elfin glance will always haunt me; she will never leave me alone; but I can never step inside her magic world. My shadow puts out her light…we can never become friends.
I can see her now, eyes sparkling wickedly with laughter, lips luscious, parting to reveal pearly-white teeth. She stretches out a slender hand.
She’s mocking me.
"She" is three of my favorite characters from literature. As far as this story goes, it travels deeper than you may think. There is symbolism in my own life and struggles that you may or may not recognize. At any rate, I hope you enjoy. Can you guess who "she" is?