The crystal-like tinkle of a young child’s laugh broke Miles from his reverie. He’d slept badly the night before, his dreams filled with terrors he was unable to recall upon waking, slipping through his fingers like grains of sand. He’d gone for a walk in the woods that ringed the park down the street from his house, hoping the jaunt outside in the fresh air would grant him better slumber tonight; he spent too much time cooped up inside his house.
He heard the giggling again, faint and off in the distance. He was instantly curious; there were no children who lived in the area, and these paths were seldom walked by anyone which was why he’d chosen them. His feet took off in the direction from which the sound had come, almost without his conscious will. He could not resist the mystery of the laughter; he had to know if the child was real or if his perceptions were in error. The laughter grew louder while he walked as if in a trance, wending his way along the path through the trees, ending at last at the opening to a small clearing in the thicket.
He was astonished to find that what he’d heard was indeed a little girl, sitting upon a large flat rock. She was positioned so Miles saw only her profile, and he couldn’t tell her age, though he judged that she couldn’t be more than ten years old. Her long flaxen ringlets burned like fire as the light from above struck them. Her dress was the green of a shamrock, made of the softest silk; the neck, wrists and hem were trimmed with intricately woven white lace. Her legs were clad in white hose, and she swung them lazily in the air before her, her small green shoes not quite reaching the ground.