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There was a girl.

She had thin black hair and large sad eyes which often shadowed darkly.

She lived near the flint cliffs over an angry sea that continuously crashed and raged into foam on the ragged sharp edges of the cliffs.

Her house was thin, but looked tall because it was so thin. She felt cramped inside it, like she could never really extend her arms out as far as they would go. She tried to paint her house pretty colours, but because of the grey rain clouds that seemed to hover over the cliffs all the time, the house always looked kind of sad. Like a pretty red poppy in a muddy field in a gloomy winter’s afternoon.

Some days she would walk around the cliff edge and look in the dark rock pools, looking for something light and bright against the gloomy rock, but it was nearly always slippery, and the rain fell from the grey rain clouds so often that she would get wet and cold and want to go back indoors, and try to dry out in her sad, dripping house.

Sometimes, she could see people on a yellow beach far below, playing with colourful buckets and spades and eating red fruit and laughing together, and she wondered why she was on top of the cliffs, where it was always cold and wet and slippery. She wondered why the yellow sun shone so warmly on those people on that beach that was so close to her that she could hear their fun when the sun never seemed to shine near her house, and even when it did, it was still cold and damp, and the wind whipped the salt onto her pale legs and made them sting.

Sometimes, she climbed down to near the beach and  met people and smiled at them and talked to them. They seemed easy and happy and looked like they cared. She wondered whether their houses were damp and whether the wind made their legs sting and whether they sometime felt like the sun was a stranger to them as well. She would point out her house in the gloom, and they would ask her why she didn’t move to where it was bright and shiny and colourful and people ate red fruit. She would tell them that was where she lived, and she didn’t know how to move; she was in the rain, and was always raining, and she lived in the rain, and if she moved out of the rain, it would have been her choice to be in the rain in the first place and so she had to keep living in the rain so that it meant that it was the rain’s fault and not hers. When she got home after talking to the people from below, she often felt scared and sad and guilty.

One day, she didn’t get out of bed.

Her sheets were thin and her bed was a bit cold and a bit damp, but it wasn’t as cold and damp as the wet flinty rocks outside, and her bed never made her legs sting.

The next day, she still didn’t get out of bed.

The next day, she didn’t even wake up.

She stayed asleep. Just about almost asleep, where she could almost hear the rain and the wet and the cold and the rocks, but could at least ignore them for the while.

 

When she hadn’t been down to speak to the people below for a long time, they got worried.

 

The little girl had been lost in a cold, damp, light sleep for what seemed like the rest of her life when there was knock on the door.

There were never any knocks on her door, and she was afraid.

She stayed in bed with her thin, pale arms wrapped around her thin pale legs, and waited for the knocking to go away.

There was more knocking, and she could hear mumbling going on outside.

A voice said

‘She’s clearly not answering the door, she clearly doesn’t want visitors’

But she did.

She really wanted the visitors. She never got visitors, it was too damp and cold and the wind would make their legs sting.

She ached for visitors.

 

Another voice, a softer voice, a voice that the little girl loved in that moment more than anything she had ever known said ‘Yes, she’s in there, I know she’s in there, and even if she’s not answering, I’m going to help. I need to know she’s alright.’

And the front door creaked open, and there were footsteps in the downstairs and there were footsteps on the stairs, and there were footsteps on the upstairs and the bedroom door creaked open.

‘Hello, are you okay? Can I help? Can I just sit here with you for just a while?’

And the little girl said

yes please’

 

Years later, there was a woman with thin black hair, and large, sad eyes that only sometimes shadowed darkly.

She took her bright, loud children out to the yellow sunny beach in their colourful costumes and colourful toys and they looked for red crabs and silver fish and ate strawberries as often as she could get them.

She still looked up at that old sad house and though about a soft voice that until she met her children, she loved more than anything she had ever known. She thought about that cold, damp bed with its thin sheets and sometimes wondered whether she would ever have left it if that voice had not come and tried to find her.

And then her children would shout and giggle want her to play in the warm sand.

She still got sad sometimes, but it was alright, it was okay, because a soft voice had made it okay to not be sad all the time.

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