When I see her, my breath catches and for a few seconds I forget to breathe. When I do, it condenses from my lungs like a steam train, blocking my view of her for a second.
She winds her way through the ethereal naked trees towards me, seemingly unaware of the intense winter cold that bites my nose with every breath.
I didn’t realise she was a ghost at first. She seemed so…solid. As real as I am, as real as the forest we share in space if not time. She wasn’t spectral and wearing floaty drapes don’t follow her. I can’t see through her or anything, you know?
It wasn’t until I’d worked up enough courage to talk that I noticed the odd thing about her. At first, I didn’t see her every day, but when I figured out her route and the times she walked down the forest path that intersects with mine, I made a point of being there.
God, I sound like some sort of stalker, don’t I? It wasn’t like that, honestly it wasn’t. She was…well, okay, I’m going to be honest with you.
Oh, boy. Right. Let me start again.
She was simply the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. Long blonde hair down to her waist, easy and relaxed walk, long legs and arms, wonderful body. And yes, I looked at her body, all right? Shoot me for having hormones and being a teenager.
I caught a glimpse of her eyes once, tilted in an Oriental upsweep, and I was lost. Beautiful olive green eyes I wanted to dive into and drown. Eyes I wanted to grow old staring into every night.
I know, I know. I hadn’t even talked to her, and I was head over heels. Don’t roll your eyes, were you never seventeen and in love for the first time?
Anyway, I worked up enough courage one day to walk down her path and made sure we passed. I saw her gliding towards me, a hundred metres, fifty, twenty, ten, oh god FIVE, and everything I’d thought I’d say to her over the weeks vanished somewhere above my head and wouldn’t come back. My head buzzed and my eyes swam, but that was it. Big nothing between the ears.
I knew she saw me walking towards her. I saw her eyes flick towards me from fifty metres away, and she stopped for a second, hesitated, one elegant foot coming forward and down slower than before, that was all. Then she continued at her normal pace, head down, eyes and face covered by that golden corona. I saw her eyes dart towards me a few times, then away again. Her perfect mouth was set in a line of…determination? That was how it seemed to me then.
Five metres away from me, and I managed to squeeze air back into my lungs and one word through my larynx. “Mmmmmorning.”
God, I’m a klutz with girls!
She stiffened, but, of course, she didn’t reply. Well, beautiful girls never pay any attention to me. Ugly ones don’t either, for that matter. Somehow, I’d hoped she’d be different.
My heart breaking, we passed without saying another word, my head down now, studying the snow covered footpath, lost to my own dying dreams.
That’s when I saw it. The odd thing about her.
She didn’t leave footprints.
I stopped in my tracks and looked at the narrow footpath, blinking a few times to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. The ground stayed footstep free.
But…I had watched her coming towards me, watched her walking here a dozen times. I turned to follow her, hurrying to catch up.
I saw her head come up and turn half towards me, aware of my approach. Her pace increased, and I did not attempt to keep up. I must have looked like some psycho stalker or something.
But I caught up with her enough to see it: The way her feet floated four inches above the ground. If that wasn’t enough, when she walked off the path and through a tree without slowing, there was really no doubt…a tree that wasn’t there when she was alive.
Astonished more than afraid, I turned for home, taking glances back over my shoulder all the way, expecting her to re-appear.
“I saw the ghost again mum.”
“Again? In the same place?”
I nod and bite my lip, unwilling to say what happened.
Mum frowns. “Something wrong, sweetie?”
I push the blonde hair back from my face. “Kind of. I think he fancies me.”