Once again I saw her, this time fully awake. Still weeks later my dream left me fragile. I had taken refuge outdoors. I sat with my notepad in an old park nearby my house. In the distance children played. I ran my hands across the damp grass. I was glad for nature’s fresh touch. Slowly my nerves settled. I studied the knots of the oak trees, the patterns in the cobble stone paths. The late afternoon sun shone strong. I breathed and all this I took in.

In time my eyes wandered back to the playing children. Only two remained, one boy and one girl. Young and beautiful, dressed neatly and smiling. Again my mind wandered to my childhood, my grandfather and my time away. Regret rose in my chest again. More and more of my smiles were tinged with sadness since my grandfather’s passing.

To my surprise the children approached me. Neither feared me as a stranger.

‘Are you lost?’ I asked.

‘No sir’. said the boy.

‘Are your parents nearby?’ I pressed him.

‘We each have something for you.’

Of course! I am the object of their game. I smiled warmly.

‘Well then, you had better give me these treasures,’

The boy reached into his pocket and produced a small paper note. It had once been neatly folded but had been scrunched in his pocket. I opened it. You left me. it read. I looked at the boy quizzically. He offered nothing more. Before I had a chance to question him the girl thrust her hand toward me with a giggle. Her fingers unwound, a single razor blade sat couched in her soft palm. Seeing the danger I quickly snatched it from her. It’s sharp edge bit into my palm. I winced and clasped my hand as it fell to the wet ground.

‘Who gave you these things?’ I demanded.

‘She did.’ said the boy pointing across the park.

This time she stood in black, a raven on a stone wall. I gasped. I had been tormented in dreams before, but this frightened me deeply. I left the children bewildered and ran down the stone path. It had started to rain and the cobblestones were slippery under foot. I skated and tripped towards her. She stepped quickly away, rounding a stone wall. The rain fell harder now. The park was shrouded in a monochrome grey. Sheets of water ran across the path slowing my stuttering pursuit. I rounded the same corner to see her black form round the next walled bend. Where I slid and stumbled she would glide ever extending her lead. My hands burned as I righted myself from another fall and thrust forward. The park twisted and doubled like a maze as I ran. My lungs ached. I was at the edge of giving up when I stepped free of the park into the street. I was soaked through. I pushed the water from my eyes and scanned the streetscape. I found the everyday in all directions. Hot blood ran from my fingertips.

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