This short story was published in New Fairytales, Issue 5 .
“Is that her?”
“Is she here?”
“Did it work?”
A chorus of questions fill the dank air, as she glides through the streets; touching walls, smearing glass, humming softly. Children rush out of the darkness, a sense of celebration filling the eerie quiet as they clutch at her dress and skip around her as she moves.
“Is it you?”
“It is you!”
“You came I knew you would!”
Their words echo about the ruins, splashing into puddles and bouncing off the rusty husks of abandoned cars. Small bare feet sidestep rubbish and spent shell casings with practised ease. The children are moths to a flame, pride and excitement lighting their eyes and puffing out skinny chests. They smell like sweat and fear turned sour, but the city smells of rot and damp, the scent of death is sickly and taints everything.
She remains silent, and wariness creeps in, the current of jubilation deadened by her cool stare. Quiet surrounds her and flattens the city where she treads. Her shawl clings to thin shoulders, and the jade satin gleams and winks as she passes.
The children scatter from her skirts then and hover behind corners, watching as the woman floats above the mud and debris, down streets once busy with traffic and noise and life. Now the alleyways are stained with the memory of the flood, holding secrets much darker than illicit kisses bought and paid for. Disease festers in the ruins, reaching beyond the tumbled walls and shattered glass to curse the survivors two times over. The visitor appears untouched by the decay of the city, and the children grip slimy brickwork, craning dirty necks to catch a better look as she wafts on by.
“I think it worked,” a blonde boy whispers, his eager bright eyes following her passage reverently. “We did it.”
“She don’t look much,” another grumbles, chewing a torn thumb nail nervously. “You should ask her.”
The blonde boy shakes his head, but the others crowd about him, nodding and pushing him on.