She pushed her hair out of her eyes and stared at herself in the mirror as her mother, aunt and the dressmaker moved around her in a whirlwind of taffeta and chiffon. She shook her head watching as they moved away one by one, only to return with frothy candy colored creations that they held up for her approval. They all looked like cake toppers or overly decorated tea cozies in vivid shades of spring.  They made her want  to gag. Everything in this hurricane of lace and ruffles made her skin crawl , but she was resolved in trying on each and every one of the monstrosities. She took them one by one, trying to find one thing that did not make her want to run screaming into the streets. Hands on hips, she tapped her sneakered toe and popped bubblegum as the women became whirling dervish of color and sound in the small shop. Speaking all at once, all directed at her, but none of them speaking directly to her. She had known when she’d told them that they would erupt into a cyclone of glitter and lip gloss, and she had been correct. By the time they came to her with the cotton candy pink cloud of  fluff, she’d turned her eyes to her younger sister who smiled with satisfaction. She lifted a brow at the girl as she stood dressed as a pink glittering cupcake, her hands on her hips and smiled. “Stand still Abigail.” Mother chided and she slumped her shoulders in defeat. She was going to be a cupcake, a pink glittered, and chiffon encased, cupcake.

“What are you grinning at, Gracie? Next spring,” She held out the fluffy tulle skirt and smiled at her sister with a mischievous glint in her eyes. As she spoke realization dawned and her sister’s face dropped in comical horror. “It’ll be your turn




He sat on the peak of the snow covered hill, his knees drawn up to his chin, his arms wrapped around his legs. He stared across the pristine snow covered valley below, still and silent in its beauty. There were still footprints, a lonely line of three moving in unison from the overturned earthen mound up the hill and into oblivion. They had gone, all of them taking shelter in their warm homes against the threatening storm. Yet he remained, he alone would keep vigil over the solitary valley and its new resident. By morning, the entire valley would be blanketed in unmarred snow, erasing their presence and leaving a new white hill, covering the broken earth in its cold comfort. In a few weeks, once the snow melted and the slush and time had leveled the ground he would not be able to see it. In a few months, spring would give birth to fresh green grass and this white wasteland would be a sea of dandelions and daffodils. From where he sat now he could see the trees with their burgeoning buds of brilliant leaves that would cover the valley in a canopy of brilliant pink flowers, shading its denizens from the unrelenting summer sun. The breeze would be sweet and filled with honeysuckle and laughter as they journeyed beneath that parasol of nature to the lake beyond. Yes, they would all forget the pain and the tears they had all shed today, they would forget the bitter cold cutting through them as they stood in the weak winter sun and tried to be strong. They would forget this day, they would forget him. He rose slowly, looking back at the path that led to the homes where delicious smells and steamy smoke wafted into the night air. He sighed, shaving his hands into the pockets of the dress slacks he hated, the ones his mother had insisted he wear and strolled slowly down into the valley where his new home awaited his arrival



She ran, the heels of her heavy boots echoing throughout the desolate hallways. Where was everyone, she wondered as she peered into room after room. She found them empty as well, the sterile smell of antiseptic burned her nostrils and eyes, but she continued. Once she though she heard someone and spun, to find nothing but more pristine white walls. But the floors, those sparkling white floors were spotted with vibrant dots of red.
She was bleeding again.
She’d taken a header over the ivy covered stonewall that surrounded this fortress, and busted her nose. She’s stayed the blood before gaining entry into this ivory fortress, but it had started again. A slow leak that led directly to her.
“Here! She is here!” A male voice ricocheted through the cavernous halls. They were coming, several by the sound of feet clattering behind her. And they sounded none too happy about her impromptu visit. She had spent so many years living in the shadow of this bastion, always wanting to know what was inside. The only people who ventured in or out were the drivers of the plain white delivery trucks that moved past the rusted gates once a week.
She had stood at those gates, watching, waiting to see the mysterious inhabitant of the mansion only to be locked out again and again. Until she’d seen him. Well, she thought it was a he, standing in one of the windows high above it all. He was think, a shadowy figure who move just behind the curtains, ducking away when she looked his way.
He had watched her. She could feel his eyes following her as she moved along the wall that separated them. Then one day…he was gone. After weeks of not seeing him, and being ignored at the gate, she’d breeched the wall.
“She’s moving up the north corridor.” A male voice echoed over the static heavy intercom. She rolled her eyes and took flight, of course they had cameras. They had probably laughed when she tumbled over the wall like a drunken sailor. What would they do once they caught her?
Who knew but she hadn’t the slightest inclination to find out. She ran, racing around corners until she found herself in a hallway that seemed as if it belonged in another place. The smell here was delicious, warm and inviting, the walls a welcoming blue that made her feel at ease. The sound of her boots had been muffled by rich carpet that she sank into with each step.
She slowed her pace, staring at the oil paintings that line these elegant halls. Each portrait was of a man more handsome and regal than the next. She eased her way to the end of the hall to a door that was slightly ajar. Behind her the men were drawing closing, and with no other option, she slipped into the room, closing the door behind her. She closed her eyes as she leaned against the door, her heart thudding against her ribs. She knew they could hear it. They would find her soon, with the electronic eyes everywhere. It was only a matter of minutes before they found her so, she waited.
But nothing happened. There was no thudding of fists on the door, and there was no static heavy announcement of her location. There was nothing but silence. No not silence, the slow steady sound of someone breathing. No, not breathing…snoring. Soft and gentle, barely audible, but it was there.
She opened her eyes and suddenly everything became clear. The men, they would not come here, they would not dare burst into this room. There were no cameras, no buzzing intercoms, no men with heavy boots. Only him.
He lay in a massive bed his eyes closed, his perfect face still in sleep. He was smaller than she thought, younger, her age. He was about seventeen or eighteen and he was pale. He lay still, an oxygen mask over his face which explained the sound of breathing, snoring. She moved closer, easing onto the bed so she could stare. He was pretty, and very pale as he struggled to breath. The machine beeped for a moment, then stopped. He opened his eyes then and heart lifting as she took his hand in hers. She eased closer, and for reasons she could not understand, she threw her arms around him, tears welling in her eyes. He inhaled in surprise then, she felt his arms encircle her, holding her close.
“I knew you’d come to me.” He whispered.