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Once upon a time, I was incredibly thankful for:

My husband for reading and rereading every single draft that I could come up with without hesitation and with attention to detail.

My Parents for taking the time to tell me the stories I lived off of.

My grandparents for relating so many scary stories from their past to me.

To everyone listed above your thoughts and ideas have spurred my imagination and I am very grateful.

Thank You

“I blame my whole life on one stupid dandelion.”

It is said in the tales of old that if you were to blow every seed off of a dandelion in a single breath, then the universe would grant you one wish, a fulfillment of the greatest longing in your heart.

Sadly, it is one young girl’s wish that has made my life what it is now. Bringing true meaning to the saying, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Contents

Dandelions

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

The Prince

Chapter 3

Lucy

Chapter 4

Almost 12 Years Pass.…

Chapter 5

The Incident

Chapter 6

Day Three

The Old River Gray

Chapter 7

Day Two

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Day One

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

The Innkeeper

Chapter 12

The Cliff at Sea Drop Falls

Chapter 13

Jane and Dane

Chapter 14

Day 0

Lucy’s memory.

The Asylum

Back to the Forest

The Tale of the Wolves

Reality

Below a sea of moonlit treetops in the wilderness of an enchanted forest, there was a young man briskly making his way through. All in black, he wore a frown, one that could be felt for miles around, its heaviness causing gloom to spread with his every step and motion. Looking forward and not at the forest before him, he walked quickly stomping but never stumbling. He turned and swooped between each tree, bush and rock as if he could feel their presence.

He was clearly upset thinking deeply as he walked, reflecting, reflecting on all his time spent in the forest. “Time has done this to me,” he thought bitterly.” I have been here for such a long amount of time.” These thoughts occurred to him and only caused his frown to deepen. Recently, he couldn’t seem to remember everything as well as he once had. His memories hazy, he walked for miles through the forest to find one of the oldest trees, one that was likely to remember for him, one that could tell him.

Upon finding it, he quickly pressed his face against it and embraced the tree heartily as if it were an old friend hoping to feel some type of warmth, the scratchy tree bark against his face giving him little comfort as the still icy air surrounded them. There was no warmth to be found. He breathed out in a sigh while holding on tightly, suddenly remembering that there really was no air to fill his lungs anymore. Then he asked the old oak tree his question, “Why do I kill her?” he whispered in a stifled tone.

“Love,” the tree whispered back into his mind with a voice that shook from age.

“Love,” he mumbled flatly. “What do you know, you old pile of rot.… You don’t know!” he yelled hastily as he quickly let go of the tree and walked away without so much as a goodbye.

Minutes later, he walked back toward the tree face, solemn and subdued. “Tell me the tale…please,” he said an edge in his voice, fists slightly clenched, bothered at having to say such things. Saying please only because he knew some respect had to be paid for this favor.

Being calm, still and kind, the grand old tree knew what it meant to get such a pleasantry, especially from this boy whom the tree knew was no ordinary boy. It was obvious and apparent to the grand old oak that he was in the presence of forest royalty, in the presence of the prince. With that, the wind began to blow, and the grand old oak tree began to whisper in the rustling of its leaves.…

“Once upon a time.”

“Once upon a time, there was a girl from a small village sitting near the edge of the forest. She was a young beautiful girl close to eighteen years of age with hazel eyes and chocolate colored hair, passing the day lazily, sitting on the edge of the cliff that overlooks her town and borders the Dewdrop Forest, fantasizing about the stories she read as the soft sunlight warmed her face.”

Romanticizing these wild tales in her mind, as she thought of them again and again, stories that have to do with gnomes, fairies, daring escapes and far-off places, “How wonderful it would be to have such a fairytale of a life,” she thought, as the wind blew quietly through the long and wild looking grass beside her.

Then, for a moment in time, she felt that something was suddenly different, a difference in that the world had just changed ever so slightly. Looking curiously around herself, she noticed that right next to where she sat there was suddenly a long and beautiful dandelion growing. It seemed to have appeared as if from thin air. Dandelions never grew outside the thick tree line of the forest, and only a fool would cross the tree line in to find one. Excitedly she plucked it from the ground and began to think of the one thing her heart most desired. Then, shutting her eyes tight she took a deep breath before uttering those fateful words that would change our lives forever. “I wish…” she said softly. “I wish…,” she said again holding the dandelion closer, “to be a part of a fairytale,” She said breathing out forcefully. She began to open her eyes slowly so that she could watch the seeds float away, when, in that very instant, a wolf with thick white fur and deep black eyes leapt out from between the trees of the forest and swallowed her whole, causing her fairytale to be over—or so we thought.

She was found days later wandering into town covered in what smelled like vomit, lethargically walking down the main road that led into the town’s market, staring off into nothing. She had been missing for days and now having reappeared, she was a sight. Her once blue dress was now gray and covered in a thick green and black slimy substance. Thick with the slime, her hair clung to her face and neck as well. She walked slowly down the hill from the forest into the village seemingly slowing her pace from what appeared to be sheer exhaustion. Not everyone noticed her at first, but those who did were most certainly at a loss for words. She stopped walking and stood in the center of the town’s market silently stumbling and falling, landing on her knees, continuing to stare at something quite invisible to the world.

Everyone who saw her froze in silence stopping their daily bustle from the shock and sight of her until the stillness was finally broken by her father who finally recognized her, running toward her, tears welling up in his eyes from both the joy of her return and shock of her appearance. Kneeling to hold her, he screamed out for his wife who quickly joined him on the ground in hugging and welcoming their lost daughter home, when a silence came over them again as they began to notice something terribly odd. She had not moved or even looked at them the entire time. It was as if they didn’t exist; no one existed. Frightened, her parents quickly glanced at one another then at their fellow villagers, who had begun to gather around them whispering several fluttering whispers that she had been cursed.

Frightened more still by this, they quickly scooped their daughter up off the ground and carried her home before she could be questioned by the townspeople. Although everyone questioned, in their minds they questioned where she could have been, spreading rumors of curses, hexes and the like. Talking about how it seemed all too familiar because the forest that bordered the very village was the same one in which the stolen children of the Pied Piper’s tale were found, pieces of them anyways, hanging from the trees.”

The tree stopped talking as he could feel that the boy stopped listening.

The boy was sitting on the ground now, his back leaned against the old oak tree, listening to it whisper these many things once forgotten, recalling these events from his life that once were. “I remember this story,” he muttered.

The trees’ leaves began to rustle once more as the wind picked up to continue. When the boy raised his hand in a commanding tone, slightly arrogant in nature, he signaled the tree to stop and the wind to calm. Standing now as he stared off between the trees of the forest, as if seeing his own memories, he decides that he would like to finish the story.

“I can remember it as if it were yesterday, the smell of vomit on her dirty clothes mixing with the smells of rotten fruit and pig’s blood from the market, the silence that seemed to come over the village for three whole days after her return. Although, what I especially remember is the way that I felt my heart beat fast as I saw her walking back toward the village, knowing she was still alive.

I was a young boy then with a huge crush and one major debilitating factor, I couldn’t speak. Every day I would watch her go about her business in town as she glanced at fabrics or shopped for groceries, hoping that she would look at me, notice me, but she never did. I continually placed myself in her line of sight, but she always looked right past me. I had decided that it was hopeless until a week after her return. She reemerged from hiding in her room, and when she finally did, it was obvious that she was strange now, different. It wasn’t just the fact that she kept to herself more, but that she noticed me. She smiled. She actually smiled at me. Never had I felt such joy as I did in this moment.

In the nights that followed, screaming was heard coming from the forest, and the children began to go missing. A village night watch was set up for safety, and the screams heard from the forest stopped, but hers continued. The whole town could hear her scream from her bedroom. It was strange and frightening like a dark cloud over the village; maybe she had lost her mind like the rumors said.

Although none of these happenings were enough to keep me from her, from saying “Yes” to her the very next morning when she asked me if I would like to walk with her. I was elated. An instant smile spread over my face in answer to her question, and she took my arm and led us toward the forest.

As we walked there together, I couldn’t help but be distracted from the happiness I was feeling. It was very strange. I couldn’t stop thinking back to the old tales of the village. The tales explained that this forest wasn’t really ours and that it belonged to the “children.” None of that ever really made sense to me but what I did understand was that we were not supposed to come here. I glanced at her, and she smiled delicately, beautifully, without a word. Crossing through the tree line, I slowed, but she pressed forward. She led us deeper still in silence until the forest was eerily dark. I signaled that we should head back, but with her arm around mine, she forced me forward until finally, we stopped walking. She turned to face me holding and squeezing both of my hands in her own, with a look on her face that seemed as if she were trying to apologize. As I began trying to piece together exactly what was happening, she started to run away. But the strangest thing was that as she ran through the forest, the sounds of her footsteps were drowned out by many tiny ones, the sound of children’s feet running toward me faster than the sound of her feet running away.

Then it hit me, literally, in the back of the head, like someone wanting to drive a hammer into a nail. Part of my skull had been mashed with a jagged rock. A warm gooey sensation came over me, then sleep. I awoke to small voices wondering when I would wake up. Then I opened my eyes to a large gray boulder being held over my head, and for the first time in my life, I made a sound, a roar that echoed through the forest and the village. This was my last memory as a human. When I woke to be what I am; the fury inside me raged. Everything seemed hideous and cold. I was now one of the children. They called me their friend and explained that I could be father if I wanted because I was the oldest. The missing children from the village were all there, as well as the piper’s mangled ones.

Then they told me the story of my sweetheart, about the wolf who ate her but decided to be kind and give these children someone new to play with, how she begged for her life, and they struck a deal. She would bring them friends and they would not kill her. For every night that she did not bring a new friend, they would cut off a piece of her toes to remind her that death hurts. Her story did bring a tear to my eye, but I had surely been wronged. I had to kill her, trap her, make her suffer like me. My mind began to cross to the maddening rage that welled up inside of me when a whisper came on the leaves of the forest. They rustled and shook as the wind blew through them whispering “A hanging!” “Han…ging.” “A hanging.” It would have been beautiful had it not been for the words they spoke. Moments passed as I continued to listen to the soft rustling whispers, “A hanging,” before I finally realized it was her. She was to be hung! Where? When? The children and I ran to the edge of the forest.

The village had heard my roar and were there waiting for her as she ran out through the last few trees. She was ambushed and accused of witchcraft. They screamed at her, accusing that she was a bad omen on the village, a curse on everyone. Her hands were tied. “Witch!” they screamed, pulling her toward me, toward the forest. They threw a thick sturdy rope over one of the tree’s branches that bordered the forest and made her stand on a stool. Her face was covered in tears, and she begged for them, for her neighbors to let her go, but no one would look her in the eyes, let alone answer her. “Please, you don’t understand,” she whimpered. “Let me go, please…,” she cried, as two sturdy looking men stood on either side of her, grabbed her by the waist and shoulders and forced her to stand again on the stool. She couldn’t help but try to step off. “No, wait.” “Look at me.” “Look at me.” Everything seemed to be happening in a whirlwind around her as people screamed at her while staring at the floor and behind her as if she had already stopped existing. They cursed her for making a pact with the devil and being a soulless witch. Then the rope came, tossed around her neck and tightened, the sheer weight and roughness of it made more tears flood forward as she continued to yell and become desperate. “Wait.”

“LOOK AT ME!” she screamed. Then it came. The stool was pulled out from under her feet, and in a preternatural second there was a whisper that escaped her lips, “I’m sorry.” I knew it was meant for me.

A loud snap sounded followed by still silence as everyone quickly dispersed back to their lives, the malignant tone of death shrouded over them.

The wind blew, and she swayed ever so slightly, her hair seeming to lose its brilliance and dark pools beginning to form underneath her eyes. She was dead, and now she would be trapped forever, suffer what the children and I were suffering. Then I saw her once more as she stepped out of her body. I reached out but only caught the ends of her hair on my fingertips. Then turning, she showed me the cross necklace wrapped around her wrist. It glittered in the sunshine as if teasing me.

The rage in me was as strong as ever. I could kill her again, drown her until she realized what it was to be this, to be here.

For wearing a cross when you die is like wearing a second chance. You don’t have to suffer. She glanced back only for a moment then quickened her pace down the road. She was leaving me, running away from me again. “Come back,” I groaned.

“Come back!” “I will make you suffer.” “My love!” I was certain to kill her. With one hand, I wanted to crush her skull like a fruit. I will find her. The love and rage maddened me. I will find her. My love. My Lavinia.”

Once upon a time, in a land far away, deep within the lush and enchanted Dewdrop Forest, there lived a prince of a very different kind. He was a dark prince who was young, handsome and tall with wavy black hair and yet sadly sallow skin. He was an angry youth whom many believed, with no reason at all, caused every single dandelion within the forest to wither down to its very root. No wishes were ever again to be granted. Alone, he was only surrounded by the lost souls who took residence in his forest, said to steal the lives of anyone who entered it without his permission. There were many legends, but of all of them, there was one even he knew to be true, the legend of his sadness, caused by the absence of his true love.

It had been a very long time since she, his true love, had been spotted in the world of the living or the dead and so the prince always began his evenings the same way. He wandered and wallowed about his forest, humming his low, somber hum. As he listened to the sound of leaves crunching beneath the weight of his boots as he moved, pacing there, alone in the forest, the prince seemed to show no emotion on his face. He lifted his hands slightly to touch the trunks of the trees nearest him. Feeling the weight of his dark, long, black coat on his arm, he noticed his hand as he brought it up. Looking from behind the dark straggling messy strands of hair that constantly attempted to cover his face, he noticed how deeply the fabric of his hooded coat contrasted with his own skin.

Causing him to look paler still, he enjoyed this. It gave him some comfort within; it had been a long while since he had last noticed himself. It is a very easy thing for someone to lose themselves in the forest. He touched his face with his other hand remembering how warm he had once felt. Placing his fingertips gently on his nose, which he remembered once appeared slightly pointed, lips that seemed as if they were always holding secrets, and other handsome features that were not covered by his tangled mess of hair. Attempting to remember what he had once looked like, remembering why he was what he was, “I am; I just am,” he said softly to himself and the forest around him reluctantly as he lost himself in thought once more and began pacing and humming once again. The trees breathed out a low and heavy sigh as they watched him, for there was no more comfort that they could offer.

Every day was the same until today. Today would be different. Today, as he stood in the clearing of trees leaning against a tall oak humming away the last bit of sunlight over the mountains, the prince suddenly felt strange and uneasy. He was feeling pain in his chest, although it took him a while to realize that he was actually feeling something. It was a terrible pain that caused the prince to feel as if his insides were attempting to stretch and pull away from him. He stumbled, taken aback by this, causing the leaves on the ground to stir loudly, catching himself with one arm on the tree he had been leaning on in an attempt to hold himself up, as he continued to clutch at his chest fervently with the other. Gritting his teeth now he tried to think more clearly and get better footing in the soft dark ground underneath all of the foliage, irritated that he could not bring himself to stand up straight. Thinking still of the rational possibilities of what could be happening to him, he knew this was different.

“It is a pulling!” he thought excitedly, as he realized what a pulling could mean for him. He gripped himself tightly and tried to embrace the pain lovingly as he thought it through more carefully.

Pulling appears in one’s chest when either a meaningful decision needs to be made, there is a person you should be near or a place that you need to be in. It is the universe in its infinite wisdom telling you there is an opportunity to fulfill your destiny. The prince waited a moment as he tried to feel through the pain. There it was, a pulling in his chest, a pulling that he could feel wanted to lead him somewhere, lead him to some far-off unknown place that he already knew he could not venture to, for the forest was his only home. This made his stomach feel as if it fell further into himself, as he wondered what it was that was waiting for him out there in the world. Gripping himself more firmly, he shut his eyes tight as the pain and pull grew stronger breathing deeply in an attempt to calm himself. The pain began to dull as the feeling of the pull began to settle into his chest, when a strong cool wind blew through the clearing and the trees allowing his heavy black coat to sway ever so slightly. The leaves rustled and shook as the wind carried a name in a whisper, a name he knew well, yet, he had not heard for over a hundred years. “Lavinia…,” they whispered, “La…vi…nia.…” He grew excited at the thought. His eyes opened slowly. As he fully regained his composure inhaling deeply, her smell swirled around him in the thick evening air. He breathed it in with rushed happiness; it was almost time. Soon, they would meet again and settle all of their debts; he would make sure of it.

All the while, there was a little girl named Lucy who lived with her grandmother in a land very far away from this young man and knew much more than anyone would ever come to believe. Lucy was six years old with beautiful chocolate hair and deep hazel eyes that many felt hid a strange darkness behind them. She was a normal little girl in most ways except for one. Lucy was a very frightful child according to the adults who met her. Her imagination was just too big. Lucy worried about many things that seemed odd to others and being very small in stature, Lucy was afraid of many things but none so much as the night.

Her grandmother’s home was small, filled with crocheted tapestries and several small ornaments and figures sitting around the living room of horses, kittens and pictures of family whom she had never met. The house always smelled like some type of food and felt warm due to all the heat from the kitchen. Being the only child there, Lucy had her run of the place, always able to play with her toys, run outside or throw herself into the plush couch cushions for fun. Life was simple and was usually only filled with mild surprises. Lucy could only think how perfect it was to be a kid her age when she remembered that it was not. Something about living there made her feel unwelcome as if this was not where she belonged. Nonetheless, life was always peaceful until night came.

It was evening now as Lucy stopped playing with her dolls out on the patch of grass in front of her grandmother’s house. She grew worried as she stood up to watch the last bit of sunlight on the pavement outside their home disappear, having been swallowed up by the shadows. She felt a sense of desperation creep up her throat, like a small scream that she knew she had to hold back, all this anxiety building inside her, all of this because she knew that for her it would soon be time for bed.

Lucy walked from the grass toward the house with her doll hanging upside down from one hand as she stepped closer to the base of the stairs, watching as every inch of sunlight turned to shadows in front of her. Her grandmother knew this routine to well already and thought to herself how sweet it was that Lucy wished she could play outside all day.

She walked out of the house calmly and noticed the apparent fear spreading over Lucy’s face. Concerned, she realized it was not the want to play that Lucy was worried about, thinking to herself how strange it was that Lucy would be scared of the dark and even more so, scared to come inside the house when it was dark. “It’s all just childish nonsense,” she suggested to herself passively, as she walked up behind Lucy making very little sound with the soles of her soft shoes and gently grabbing her by the shoulders, using them to coax her up the crackled old cement stairs into the small house as little Lucy tilted her head back to watch the shadows further engulf the home behind her and watch the sun sink lower on the horizon.

“It’s time to get ready for bed,” said her grandmother as she closed the front door behind them and walked away from Lucy to fix one of her many living room ornaments. Lucy said nothing feeling her mouth already frowning of its own volition. She walked into her bedroom and began her nightly check. First, she would search under the bed and in the closet, then any corner of the room that might hold a dark shadow in the night. She checked every nook and cranny tediously, craning her neck as she looked under furniture. Lucy had to make sure that her room was empty just in case she should happen to fall asleep.

Once this was finished, she brushed her teeth for an unreasonably long period of time, taking five minutes on a single tooth. Then she changed into her pajamas, which had also turned into an art as she exaggerated every movement. She caused all of this time wasting and paranoia because she knew that once she was finished getting ready she had to face the inevitable. She had to face that night had come, and it was time for bed. Crawling up into her bed, Lucy already had one thought in her mind, “Don’t fall asleep.”

She lay there with her eyes open letting minutes pass when she noticed how comfortable her bed was and how warm. She let her body sink into it, just a little, the cool darkness of the room adding depth to this comfort.

Yet, she was still awake; she was doing well that night. Then her eyes started to become dry from being kept open. “I need to blink at least a couple of times,” she thought. So, she did, each blink becoming longer than the last. She quickly righted herself, opened her eyes, anxious and glad that she woke herself at the last second. Staring at the ceiling now, Lucy believed that tonight she would make it through.

Then suddenly, some minutes later, without wanting her eyelids began to flutter as she tried to keep them open once more, fighting them as they seemed to become heavier, and then suddenly too heavy and with that, Lucy’s eyelids finally closed.

Lucy couldn’t help but try to stay awake every night and though she always fought hard, sleep always won and so she unknowingly had to brace herself for what was going to come next.

It would always happen the same way; Lucy would wake startled as if in a dream. Searching her room with her eyes, she wondered what had woken her, and as she looked around herself, she would notice that the room looked different. Everything seeming elusive, transparent. Her room was now a place where it seemed that things like up and down no longer existed. Then, in the darkness, she would suddenly feel a cold wrinkled hand of a man grabbing onto hers as it firmly pulled her up and out of the warmth of her bed. Blankets slowly slid off of her as she did her best to stand in the cool darkness. She walked sleepily unsure of what path through the house they were taking, for they never used the halls or doorways. Although one thing she was sure of was that at some point she had walked through a wall on the way there.