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Fading

By Ella Chen


The little girl was born from a young mother. She was left in the dumpsters of a bar. The young man screamed when he saw her, for her face was grotesque. Her skin was uneven and raw, her eyes swollen nearly shut from hours of crying.


The little girl was never liked in the orphanage. Her bangs hid her face and she grew small and sickly, so thin that she looked like a twig that would snap at the slightest flick. The other kids laughed at her, shoved her to the ground, shunted her away. The teachers mocked her, scoffed at her, shouted at her. So it was no surprise that she escaped when she was nine. And it was no surprise that no one searched for her.


In the spring, the little girl sat in the corner of the crowded marketplace, in tattered rags, holding out a tin can, begging for sustenance. She grew taller, but she became skinnier and skinnier, until she was barely anything. Every night, she would cross the gurgling creek, into the green field of grass, dotted with spring flowers. She would lay under the shade of the old beech tree, breathing in the fresh spring air.


In the summer, the little girl stole leftover scraps of food from the ground around the market stands. She grew taller, but she became skinnier and skinnier, just skin and bones. Every night, she would cross the gurgling creek, into the green field of grass, dotted with yellow dandelions. She would lay under the shade of the old beech tree, gazing through the branches up at the clear night sky.


In the fall, the little girl received thrown scraps of pumpkin rinds and spoiled fruits from the owners of the market stands. She grew taller, but she became skinnier and skinnier, even though she was somewhat nourished. Every night, she would cross the gurgling creek, into the green field of grass, the crunch of leaves underfoot. She would lay under the shade of the old beech tree, surrounded by a bed of multi-colored autumn leaves.


In the winter, the little girl was spared no scraps of food and the market stand owners glanced pityingly at her. She no longer grew taller, but became skinnier and skinnier, withering and shivering in her tattered rags. That night, she crossed the frozen creek, into the field of white snow, footprints creating a winding path to the old beech tree, where she sat peacefully, hands dry and cracked, admiring the flakes of snow resting on the branches, as a new flurry began drifting down from the sky. She could no longer feel her body, as it was so numb, but she saw herself from afar, from the heavens, under the old beech tree, her soul fading away, into the next life.


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