I am the bravest boy in my family. I am going the furthest away from home and I'm not afraid of the monsters that lurk around either.
I'm creeping through the undergrowth and playing with the shadows from the moonlight above. Night time helps hide my presence from the monsters, but they are still out there; hunting and I am not afraid.
I follow the path I've been following every night. Its worn trail comforts me until I see the cage. I know it's a cage because she told me so. She is pretty, she is like me but not and at first I thought she was a monster, I am not afraid of her.
We are friends. We play on and around her cage and we try to find a way to get her out, it's another game, but the cage is strong; it does not budge. So we play, using it as another toy.
We talk and she is telling me of her strange life, how this is the first time she sees the sky and smells the wind. She is also telling me that it is her masters who keep her in the cage; she's lived in one her whole life with her mother and siblings and she was taken away to live here. It is just her in that large, empty cage.
She is never hungry; she always has food and water. I envy her for that. I tell her of my life in the undergrowth, between the trees and avoiding the monsters. About my family and how many there are and how every night we have to go far to find food. She envies me, I can tell.
I bring her twigs and show her the buds growing on the end, she likes the flowers with the bugs on them, she shows me her bedding and her wooden toys and this is another game we play. I am sad because she can't go anywhere, she can't come out to play or come home with me. I come every night to be her only friend. No one else will come this far.
The stench of a monster is around her cage, it wants to get to her but can't. She is safe in her prison. I comfort her and look over my shoulder in case they come back. If they see me, they will kill me, but I am not afraid of them.
The nights are getting warmer, the buds are now leaves and the days are longer. I keep visiting her; my family thinks it is wrong, they say we can never be together so why waste my time? We are the same, but they say we are different. She is more beautiful then I remember. I want to be with her.
If I am the darkness then she is the light. I am always happy when I am around her; I feel love and sometimes sadness. She lights the night with her presence. I make her less afraid.
We play less and talk more now as the age wears on; we are sitting against the cage, feeling the other's warmth between the cold bars. Wishing we could be together properly, to hold each other close.
As the nights are shorter I visit in the daylight, wanting to be with her for longer, the sunlight illuminates her beauty. I see her masters, they are giants! Huge, with ugly squashed in faces! I hide because I know deep down they will kill me if they saw me. I don't move but I watch. They never hurt her. I am glad.
They let her out of the cage but she does not run. She does not try to escape. It's so easy! They are slow and we are very fast! She sees me, I am sure of it, yet she stays with her precious masters! I am mad! They fuss over her and pet her and make their stupid noise for a short age until the sun sets and they shut her back in her cage. I wait until I was sure they are gone and approach. She is happy to see me, but should be ashamed.
I attack the cage, hit it, kick it and bite it. I yell at her. We argue. We shout. We cry. My heart breaks to see her cry. I apologise, I want to her to forgive me because I know I can forgive her. We sit together in silence and never talk about it again. I don't understand why she is so afraid to run away.
The masters come every day, and she does not try to escape and I say nothing. I watch to make sure they don't hurt her; if they did I don't know what I'd do. We talk of other things. We share food. We laugh. I love her.
The leaves are changing colour; red, yellow and brown. It is the second most beautiful thing I've ever seen. They cover the floor and the cage. I collect them up and give them to her and she puts them in her bed and around her cage; arranging them so delicately because they crumble so easily.
It compliments her beauty.
Fruit are growing more readily and I share my find with her. The masters don't seem to be coming around every day anymore. She is hungry sometimes so I always find enough for both of us. I make a place nearby to live in, to be closer to her, but far enough away so the monsters and the masters won't find me, even though I am not afraid of them I had to be careful; for her.
The nights are getting longer and colder and we are growing old.
The trees are bare, the ground is hard and the masters hardly visit her anymore. I bring her food, whatever I find or catch. Usually I go without. My legs are becoming stiff. My hearing is going; I almost missed the monster by the cage. I was not afraid of it, although I hide until it goes.
I am showing my age, but hers is a timeless beauty. She ages gracefully and her eyes are bright and alert. Her smile warms my soul and I always feel happy around her.
I give her dry bedding; hers is damp and dirty from both the rain and from the masters failing to bring some fresh ones. I hate them. She is not looking too well, but she still smiles for me.
She is hiding in bed when I next visit. I call to her softly but there is no response. I look around the cage, but there is nowhere else she can be but in her bed. I call louder and still she is silent. I can see her form in the bedding. I keep calling and calling until my calls become a scream and my eyesight blurs with water. I attack the cage, hit it and rattle it until I was exhausted, my heart hurts. I rest, sobbing and clutching myself tightly against the bars. She does not stir.
I am afraid.
I suddenly feel her touch wiping away my tears; her smile is a relief to my soul. She loves me. We are old, but being with her takes away all my pain and sorrow. We are content.
We sit together in silence now.
I miss her voice. I try to make soft noises to comfort her, I see her speak, but no sound comes from them. The world has gone silent for me and her eyes have gone cloudy, she does not look at me anymore even though she tries. We cuddle. We are looking frail, but still I stare at her beauty; my light. I know I'll love her forever.
It's now harder to get up, but I do not give in to my pain and aches. I have to take one step at a time and every passing age I am glad the monsters have not found me. I do not hide in the darkness anymore. I stay with her as long as I can; only going away to find food or to sleep so I can come back later. I have not seen the masters for an age, I am afriad for her. Her bowl is empty now.
The ground is white and it's bitterly cold.
I've slept for far too long! It's difficult to wake up, the darkness keeps trying to draw me back to sleep, but I fight it; for her! I must go to her! My body tries to betray me, but I urge it forward; one step at a time. The cold seeps though to my bones. I follow the familiar trail. The darkness is on the edge of my vision, threatening to engulf me. I'm bringing a nut for her. I'll collect some ice later.
The cage stands as it always has done. I approach as fast as my sore legs would take me, eager to be with her, to see her. I wheeze because I'm out of breath, but I carry on and reach the bars.
The door is open.
It takes me a moment to realise that, thinking my mind and eyes are playing tricks on me.
The door is open!
I climb in slowly, shaking not from the cold, but from relief. I want to shout to her, but it sticks in my throat. I head to her bed, tears of happiness run down my face, but she is not there. I still smell her sweet fragrance, it's faint. I cannot find her. She is not here, she is not anywhere! Her fragrance doesn't leave the cage and now I can smell another scent, one that clutches tightly at my heart.
I am so afraid.
I collapse on her bed, so weak now, sobs wracking my body, my body that has finally given up. My heart pains. It breaks into a thousand pieces, piecing my chest and the darkness fills my vision. I lay silent and still as the cold creeps through me.
A light pierces my darkness, she is standing outside the cage, smiling at me. It grows brighter as I lift my head, she is happy and urging me to come to her, to embrace her, I get up. I feel no pain. I feel no sadness, only her love, her light.
And I am not afraid.