A Beautiful New Friendship

There was a nock at the front door. I stuck my bookmark in my book and hoisted myself off the couch. They knocked again. “Okay, okay! I’m coming!”
When I opened the door a lady in her mid thirty’s with shiny brown curls and shining blue eyes stood holding the hand of a much younger girl of maybe three or four, she had long straight red hair and enchanting brown eyes that where flecked with emerald green. They both smiled, showing off perfect, straight white teeth.
I lick my own teeth self consciously and smile with closed lips.
“You must be Jenny”, I say, looking at the young girl, “and this must be Al!” I say cheerfully, meeting the eyes of the older women and holding out my hand to her. When they both lost their smiles and neither took my hand, I let it drop awkwardly.
“Actually. It’s the other way around. Don’t presume to know all the facts Jamie.”
Blinking rapidly, my gaze is glued to the small child. Totally taken aback.
The older women - Jenny? - spoke then. “I’ll pick you up at 5 O’clock sharp Miss Al.”, Then to me, “Be careful. Listen, learn, don’t speak back and remember your place hunter.”
Swallowing hard, I nod. “Yes Madam.”
Jenny turned and left then. Shoes clacking down the stone path and then down the sidewalk, she was gone in seconds.
“So.. Do you like the playground..?” I ask nervously.
Al smiled like she had a dangerous secret. It looked all wrong on her young face and sent cold shivers down my back.
It was gone a moment later, replaced by a childish joy that was all too familiar and much more welcomed.
“Yes!” She squealed.
“Okay, let’s go, we’ll walk and talk?”
“Yeppers!” Her voice was high pitched and girly, but her eyes showed age, knowledge and time.
Something that put me slightly on edge.

****

Watching the children play, kids running and squealing in the sunshine, Al sighed, “Ah, the innocent mind of children. So unaffected by the world around them, so innocent. You know… We were all like that once, so perfect, innocent, unaffected. To bad the world around us kicked in and tore away the veil that once shielded us from the horrors and abuse of the outside world. Of war and neglect, of starvation and abuse, death and slaughter. It disgusts me.”
Looking at her young, childish face, I had to remind myself that she was actually at least a hundred years older than me and not the little girl I told me parents I was babysitting.
As if she could read my thoughts, (who knew, maybe she could?), she turned and laughed. “The age of the face is not the age of the soul.”
Smiling sadly, she jumped up and ran across the playground, laughing and smiling as if nothing had happened, like she was fine and that sunlight wasn’t something she had once feared. Like being outside wasn’t once forbidden and scary. That she hadn't seen unimaginable things. Hadn't watched people die all around her. Hadn't heard the sounds of guns and bombs, of war. Hadn't been beaten, bartered and abused all her life.
Her expression said she was another happy child, one that loved the outside world, one that said she was just like the next child, innocent and unaware of all the bad things this world would one day show them. But now.. I knew all to well that it was a lie, something she had years of practice too perfect.
Climbing the ladder to the slide, she looked over her shoulder at me and grinned. “Come on! I’m going to beat you to the top!”
With that I was off the ground and hurrying to catch up to her small agile body.
Her high pitched, girly laugh rang out across the space between is when my feet got tangled and I fell over them, landing with a thud.
“Come on slow coach!” She called from the top of the slide. Grin making her rosy cheeks dimple.
Scrambling up and shaking off the last of the dirt, I caught her at the end of the slide and swung her around in a circle. We both laughed.
This was the start of a beautiful friendship between a hundred and sixty year old immortal, trapped in the body of a three year old and me, a newly introduced hunter in my terrifically human, sixteen year old body.
Who knew where our adventures would take me next..

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