the wisp - a chapter.
I hear the rustling and crunching of dried leaves, the crackling of brittle branches against soles. The footsteps sound rushed, urgent, as if trying to run away from someone, or something. Breaths are heavy, chest is heaving, tears are teetering over their eyes' edge. They lean against a thick oak tree—an attempt to unload the weight on their lungs and heart. Their shoulders slump over, a hand clutching the cloth of the shirt over their chest, but I've known too well that that would constrict their breathing even more.
Finally, they chose to have a seat, keeping their heads on their knees, as they speak of words indiscernible amidst their weeping into their hands. The sides of their cheeks glisten against the moonlight, resembling a mystic waterfall located in the space between heaven and hell. I attempt to get a closer look, but they must've felt the sudden freezing breeze, as they looked in the direction of where I was. Luckily, I hid fast enough inside a bluebell flower. The air becomes tepid again and they resume their crying.
I've seen this happen over and over again, and they all end up the same, but I still wonder what would make them still run away to a place as secluded and dangerous as this. Maybe they never listened to the old ones' tales, convinced that they are full of bollocks, that they are nothing but hullabaloo and a product of a too-wild imagination. Maybe they did listen, and that's why they came here. Maybe all they wanted was an adventure. Maybe they yearned for an escape, much like I used to, once. But, I digress.
All those maybe's — whatever they may be — don't have much purpose in this place. They all meet the same fate. I have to do what I am tasked to do.
I step out of the petals, and kneel before the human. Slowly bringing my hands to their cheeks, I raise their head and look them straight in the eye. Their pupils dilate, and their eyes widen. They now have no control over their actions. A brush of conscience could try to scream at them that they need to run, that this will not end well, but it will be disregarded as quick as it comes.
I stand, and beckon them to rise with me. Carefully, I walk front to the path that plain sight cannot spot, and they follow, with eyes still in the same state, and their body moving against its own accord. The trees bow down closer further on walking, as if they wish to be intertwined with those in front of it. No cricket nor owl could be heard. All is quiet, other than their footsteps.
I've memorised these routes like the lines on a hand. For me to get lost would only happen if I had the capacity (and ability) to be. To be lost is a commodity I could only wish to have.
I'm nearing the end of the path, and my own breathing heaves like theirs was earlier. There are no tears to fall, as I no longer have the body I once owned. I've done this times too many, but it still stings. How ironic it is that even I am moving against my own accord. I am a curse that I can't reverse.
The waters bang against the bottom of the cliffside like uneven beats of a drum. I look at back at whom I've lead on to here. Any trace of jagged breaths have left. Words left tethered to their ribs will eternally remain where they are. Their body will never be found. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
I walk past the edge, floating a few feet before them, but more than a hundred feet above the water. I held out my hand for them, beckoning them one last time to follow, with a smile to reassure them even a little. They take little steps this time, almost tripping at a stray stone, but not nearly enough to cut off the trance.
Just like that, one moment they were still standing at the very nib—everything was still, the next you could hear them gasp (or scream) before their bones shatter at the touch of rocks, and be carried away by the currents, as if the ripple was nothing.
What have I done? What have I done? What have I done?
I flee quickly, with the sounds of everything and anything still echoing around me. I can't go back to where I found them. I went to the first place I thought of; the patch of bluebells, away from the cliffside, away from the oak tree, but not far away enough to forget all about it in the morning. I would give anything to forget all about this.
This is what I am. I am a blue wisp. I am tasked to lure these people into the same fate I was once in. And there is nothing I can do about it.