Morning sunlight glistened off the cool water as Nettle frolicked and played more than she bathed. This was her favorite time of day when swimming with the fish and jumping with the frogs was more important than duty and responsibility. She floated on her back letting her long, dark hair cascade around her as she squinted up into the bright blue sky.
A doe and her fawns leaped into the brush, bringing Nettle’s attention back to the forest around her. She looked around, sensing the presence but not seeing him right away. Finally, her gaze settled on the tall, lean form in the distance walking casually along the path as he whistled a tune she’d never heard before. Curious, she swam to the water’s edge and quickly dressed.
The birds chirped their warnings but Nettle paid no heed. It was rare she came so close to a human and she wouldn’t let this opportunity slip from her grasp. When she wanted, she could move amongst the trees unnoticed. It was certainly one of the more advantageous perks of being a woodland nymph.
As she moved closer, she got a better look at him. The sunlight highlighted his short golden brown hair. He couldn’t have been older than seventeen. There was still youth in his features which looked almost unnatural with the hints of a beard attempting to grow. She smiled as she watched him pause and admire a pair of birds singing in a nearby tree.
“Nnneeeetttttllleeee,” whispered the wind, “Your father is looking for you.”
Nettle sighed. Father had returned much sooner than she’d hoped. That meant the arrangements had gone well and in two weeks time her hand would be promised to a god, a fact that should have excited her but actually left her with an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach.
“Nnneeettttlllleeee,” whispered the wind, “Leave the boy and return to your father.”
Nettle jumped down from the branch in which she’d been perched and gave the human one last look. She tipped her head from one side to the next trying to decide what it was she found so compelling about him. Just as she was about to run back to her father, the boy turned his head and looked straight at her. His bright blue eyes reminded her of the water in which she’d splashed and for a moment, she felt as though she were drowning. Neither of them moved.
“I thought humans couldn’t see me?” Nettle whispered to a group of rabbits grazing nearby. The rabbits looked up and twitched their noses but offered no speculation. Nettle was caught between wanting to interact with the human and the need to flee. As if fate had decided for her, the boy began walking toward her but stumbled, twisted his ankle, and fell to the forest floor. He cried out in pain sending a flurry of birds skyward.
Nettle heard the wind’s warning caressing her cheeks as it wrapped around her. “Let the boy be and return to your father.”
But he was hurt and she couldn’t turn her back on him now. She approached him slowly. He sat massaging his ankle, looking up at her with a mixture of anticipation and fear in his eyes.
“Is it bad?” Nettle asked, sitting down beside him and pulling her legs underneath her.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Let me see.” She put her hand over his ankle and closed her eyes, concentrating a moment on the feel of muscle and bone beneath his skin. The boy didn’t flinch. After a moment, she was done.
He looked at her with wide eyes. “How did you do that?”
She shrugged. “My name is Nettle. What’s yours?”
“You must be far from home, Adam.”
He looked away and she could feel the flush of heat through him. She understood. He had meant to get as far away from home as he could.
“It isn’t safe here after dark,” she told him.
“I’m only passing through.”
“No matter,” she said jumping to her feet and stretching out a hand to help him up, “Tag. You’re it!”
He blinked his eyes and looked dumbfounded for a moment. She half expected him to protest at playing kid games but even if he thought it, he pushed those beliefs aside and took off running after her.
Nettle ran fast but she’d underestimated the speed at which the human would catch her. She squealed as his arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her close. They spun around and fell into a bed of leaves giggling.
When finally they’d come to a rest, Nettle looked up into his eyes. She only had a fraction of a second to process his intentions before it happened. His lips covered hers and she closed her eyes, knowing she should push him away, but feeling so hopelessly pulled into him that she knew it would take more strength than she had to do so.
Adam sat up and looked out over the expanse of trees that surrounded them. Slowly, she gathered her senses as she joined him, taking his hand in hers.
“Nnnneeetttllleeee…” the wind whispered, “Your father grows impatient.”
“I must go,” she told Adam.
“Wait. Will I see you again?”
She shook her head. “In two weeks I will marry.”
His face twisted into a frown. They’d only just met but somehow she felt as though she’d known him forever and without words she felt his pain, a different sort that she couldn’t make go away with a touch.
“Come,” she said putting out her hand, “And I will make sure you pass safely through the forest.”
Maybe Nettle will choose to run away with her new friend?😉
Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts. Each day I am posting a ‘snippet’ based on a paranormal creature that begins with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. I am using this as a fun writing exercise which I am hoping will also be enjoyable to read, but keep in mind that due to the fact that I must post a new snippet each day in April except Sundays, the posts may be a bit rough. I’ll do my best, however, in the limited time I have available to me. Let me know your favorites or the posts you find most intriguing because I plan to develop those into a full story later in the year!
Check out the other participants in the A to Z Challenge.