"Hey! You li'l brat! Come back here!" Instantly, my fight or flight instinct kicked in, and considering that the woman in charge of the fruit stall was twice my height and spent her life climbing trees and picking fruits, I chose flight. "Stop him! He's a thief!" she yelled at strangers as I bolted, and she chased. "Jeez" I thought, "I just took two apples!".
A young man wearing a plaid shirt and a flat cap attempted to catch me; too bad for him I had lots of practice at this, and I dodged him with ease. I was used to dodging people, as well as running away from them.
Unfortunately, with her longer legs, the fruit vendor was gaining on me, and there was a long line of strangers trying to catch me. So I swerved into forest. Now the forest was a place people often restrained from going into. There were many stories and legends about people disappearing in the forest, and crazed wolves. As expected, the fruit woman stopped at the edge of the forest, said some ugly words, and stomped away.
I decided to wait a while before heading back into town. I used to believe in the stories and myths about this place. But over the years, the forest had grown to be more of a friend than an enemy. It was a good place to escape cranky vendors, and a good place to hide things (including myself).
I remember the first time I went into the forest. I was five.
Ever since my mother died giving birth to me, her room was given to me. One day, my five year old ears overheard my father talking about refurbishing my/my mother’s room to a carpenter outside the house. “Brings back too many traumatic memories” he said. So I took the paintbrush from under the drawer and into the one most secure-from-humans place my five year old mind could think of; the forest. My logic was, if I was too scared to go into the forest (by now myths and legends were swirling in my head, thanks to my dad), than other people would be scared as well.
I suppose I should explain.
Dad says when I was born, I didn’t cry, wail, or make any noise. He says I looked 80% confused, and 101% cute. My mother held me tightly to her shedding a few tears of joy, and when she let go, dad started rocking me back and forth, bundled up in a blue towel. By my mother’s request, he set me on the bed, and went to fetch a wet towel and some water for my mother. When he came back a few minutes later, she wasn’t breathing, and I was wailing, crying, and shaking my mom’s limp arm with all the strength I could. Thus, I was born.
But that isn’t the whole story.
For some reason, I vividly remember what happened when dad left. After he left, mother weakly reached under her pillow and pulled something out - a polished wooden stick with something looking like the tip of a horse’s tail on one end. I remember it feeling light; but sturdy at the same time. Once I held it, all my senses were sharpened, especially my eyesight.
I could see the whole room!
The window, the drawer near the bed, the patched up blanket, the rusty lamp radiating warm light, even the picture of my parents swimming hanging way in the corner! I was slightly bouncing with excitement! And I could see my mother! And her eyes! Her irises were filled with something unusual; but it didn’t seem threatening. Instead, it seemed warm; and kind.
Although I didn’t think that the thing in her irises was normal, to me, it looked natural. Like a part of her.
My mother then whispered in my tiny ear, “Keep the paintbrush safe, and don’t let anyone know you have it.”. Somehow, I understood every word. As fast as my infant body could, I climbed down the bed, took the stick now apparently called a “paintbrush” and hid it underneath the drawer. I climbed back on the bed. Luckily for me, it was just the mattress so it was pretty low.
After getting back on the bed, I climbed onto my mother’s arm.
I shook it.
So I shook it with all my weak infant might and cried until I had no more tears and wailed until I had no more voice.
By then, my father had already came back, and he was trying to comfort me, hug his wife, and unsuccessfully hold back tears all at the same time.
That’s how I was born.
You know the rest of the story. I hid the paintbrush inside a log. I made sure that there were no bugs inside the log to chew through my paintbrush, and I usually check up on it daily. I sometimes like to hold the paintbrush and look at the river that runs through this forest, since the strange thing filling my mom’s irises also filled the water, and it reminds me of her.
I guess i’m lucky that I was able to at least see my mother and get a keepsake from her before she died.
Some kids have parents that died before they had a chance to see them!
I’m actually holding the paintbrush right now. Right now every inch of the river water has the thing. It’s not on top; under; or inside. I feel like it just is the water, again, probably not normal, but I still feel like it’s natural.
Gotta trust your gut feeling!
I wonder if the water would feel different when I touch it? I stood up, and with paintbrush, went to touch the water.
“Hmm. Not much difference. What if I drin-”
“Hey! What are you doing with that!”
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