~~~Written by me as part of a writing course back in 2002.
Warning: ending may be a little disturbing to some readers.
Holly held the covers tightly around herself, listening to the wind as it howled at her bedroom window. She heard something else. A voice. A child’s voice. But it couldn’t be, could it? The child seemed to be wailing, crying for help. Slowly, carefully, Holly climbed out of bed, heading for the window. She looked out, unsure what she would see. And saw nothing. It was too dark to see anything. But still she stood there, watching waiting. She wasn’t sure why, or what for, but something held her there.
After a while, her eyes adjusted to the darkness, and she was finally able to see her. A skinny child in ragged clothes. She looked no more than six or seven. She ran across the grass seeming not to notice the fierce wind. But she was crying. Wailing pitifully as she ran.
So, it had been a child Holly had heard. Holly could see her clearly from the window where she stood in her big, white farmhouse near the mountains. But she couldn’t understand why the child was outside. Especially in this weather.
There would have been room for her in the big, white farmhouse Holly’s father had built. Holly lived in the house by herself. Well, apart from Jasper the black and white collie dog, Elsa the black cat and her beautiful, bay horse with a white star on her forehead who’s name was Cassie. Although, Cassie didn’t exactly live in the house with Holly, Jasper and Elsa, she lived in the big, reddish-brown barn to herself. The house was very close to the mountain, close enough for them to be able to go exploring in the mountains if they wanted to. There was no one else for miles, so where had this little girl come from?
Holly ran downstairs, pulling on a jacket and slipping her feet into her boots. She unlocked the door and ran outside, trying to see where the little girl was. But she had gone. So, after a while, Holly decided to go back inside.
When she went back upstairs, however, she saw the child again. Saw her running from the barn to the front door of the big house. But Holly blinked, and when she looked again, the little girl had vanished once again. Sighing, Holly climbed into bed, pulled the covers up close and closed her eyes. Her last thought before sleep took hold of her was that tomorrow, come rain or shine, she would search for that child. And she would search every day, until she found her. She’d search the mountains with their steep, narrow, twisted pathways, she’d search the fields and woodlands surrounding her house and those much further beyond the boundaries of her land, and she’d search anywhere else she had to. But first, she’d search that big, old, reddish-brown barn. Maybe she was using that to sleep in?
She woke with a start. It was so cold. She shivered, pulling the bedclothes tighter around herself for warmth. She couldn’t remember a time when it had felt this cold before. Then she saw her. Her golden hair all tangled and matted, her clothes like rags, and no shoes on her feet. Holly sat bolt upright, and the little girl retreated into a corner of the room.
“I need a Mama,” the little girl said. “Will you be my Mama?”
“Where’s your real Mama?” Holly asked.
“I’ve been watching you, you’ll make a good Mama,” she continued, ignoring Holly’s question.
“What’s your name?” Holly asked, hoping to get an answer to this one.
“Kaylee,” the child replied. “Will you be my Mama, Holly?”
It couldn’t hurt, Holly thought to herself. I could pretend to be her Mama, just until I find out who her real Mama is. “Of course I’ll be your Mama, Kaylee,” she said.
She embraced the child, thinking how cold she was.
“We need to go somewhere Mama,” Kaylee informed Holly.
“Where?” Holly asked. Kaylee didn’t reply. “To get your things? Do you have things in the barn you want to show me, Kaylee?”
“Not the barn. I’ll show you. Come with me,” Kaylee said, holding out a thin, white hand to Holly. She took it and immediately gasped for breath. It was as cold as ice.
Kaylee was cold all over, and so pale. But she let Kaylee lead her, not having time to turn on lights as they went, Holly stumbling over everything, Kaylee, somehow, not even putting a foot out of place.
Down the stairs they went, and out of the door. It was bitterly cold out, but Kaylee didn’t seem to notice.
“Kaylee, where are we going?” Holly asked at intervals, as she let herself be led by the little girl.
“I’ll show you… you’ll see,” was the only reply Kaylee gave.
Suddenly, Holly lost her footing. They had been walking along one of the narrow paths through the mountains, and Holly had gone too close to the edge. She began to fall, and Kaylee just let her fall, watching silently, with a peculiar smile on her pale little face.
Holly remembered hitting the floor. She felt pain, and was sure she heard something snap as she hit the ground. But what happened next confused her. She was stood up, not a scratch on her, and nothing hurt any more. There was nothing to indicate she had fallen, except the fact she was now back at the bottom of the path through the mountain that Kaylee had been leading her up.
She checked herself all over just to make sure she was OK. Then she looked down at the ground. And screamed. There, right in front of her, was a body. Not just any body, it was hers.
Kaylee appeared beside her, and softly iwhispered, “Now you can really be my Mama, Holly! And we’ll be together forever. You’ll always be my Mama. Always!” She looked up at Holly with her soft, grey eyes, and said, “You’re not like my real Mama. You wont ever leave me. You can’t leave me. Nobody can take you away from me. Most people wont even see you. Most people don’t see ghosts.”
“Am I…?“ Holly began, but she couldn’t manage the rest of the question.
“Yes,” Kaylee replied, smiling up at Holly. “You’re just like me now, Mama.”