Her name was Ivy, or so they said, and no one knew quite what she was.
I’d grown up with stories about the mad girl who lived in the jungle. She’d been here since my great-grandfather’s time, but she never aged. She watched us often but never spoke.
Was she a witch? A spirit? An immortal faerie?
And what did she want from us?
I saw her only once. I was picking plums on the outskirts of the village. The only sound was the steady plonk…plonk… of plums dropping into my apron. As I worked I became aware of someone watching me. I looked up to the canopy and there she was, a waif of a child, looking down at me with sad curiosity.
I should have fled. Who knows what strange magic she had. But for some reason I didn’t.
I still don’t know why I did it.
I held a plum out to her. “They’re sweet,” I said.
She stared at me, confused.
“I…I can’t eat all of them, so you ought to take one.”
She didn’t move. But as I walked away I looked back and saw something that made me smile. Ivy had come down from the tree and was clasping the plum with both hands, an expression of wonder on her face.
After that Ivy disappeared.
The days turned to years, the years to decades, but no one saw hide nor hair of the strange girl who had once watched us.
After all those years why had she chosen that moment to leave us?
My grandchildren think I’m telling tales, but that day as I walked away from the jungle Ivy glanced up from her uneaten plum to look at me one last time, and there was a change in her eyes. Around that same time I felt a change in the trees around us. The whole jungle shifted.
When the young ones have left and I’m alone in my hut, I ponder that thought. That somehow, in that strangest of meetings, Ivy had finally found what she was looking for.
Note: This is the follow-up to the vignette of the same name.
For more of my fantasy flash: