THE GIRL WITH WHITE HAIR
(Town photographed by Amanda Watkins Vousden)
Hiding behind closed curtains and locked doors, the residents slept, waiting for the sun to rise on a new day.
The street lights glowed on the sleeping town as the moon hung low in the night sky. Not even a cricket dared sing his nightly song, in the silence that hovered over the town that Halloween night.
Without warning, snowflakes began falling softly to the ground. As the snow settled, a strange mist rose and curled around the buildings and street lights. No one noticed the small, bare foot prints that marked the fresh snow as they skipped past all the closed doors. They stopped at the entrance of a side street.
The clatter of a bin lid rattled the still night air, and two cats tumbled to the ground, hissing and spitting. Their screeching echoed and bounced off the buildings. The foot prints moved forward, then stopped as a white cat ran past. The little feet turned and knee marks appeared just in front of the foot prints. The cat halted its flight and walked back to where the imprints of bare feet and knees marked the snow. It walked back and forth, arching its back, as if rubbing itself against someone who was kneeling.
An engine roared in the distance.
A heavy, four-wheel drive vehicle hurtled around the bend. Tyres skidded. Brakes screamed. The smell of burning rubber filled the air.
Curtains moved and an old couple looked out the window. He took his wife’s hand and they opened the front door and walked out into the snow. His wife put her hand on the driver’s shoulder as he knelt in the snow. He held a lifeless white cat in his hands.
“The little girl! I can’t find the little girl! I know I hit her, but she’s gone! Did you see her?”
“She had white hair and green eyes,” the wife said.
“Yes! You know her?” the driver asked.
The wife smiled and the husband took the cat from the driver. “I’ll bury the cat. Come inside and rest a while,” he said.
The driver was shocked and confused, but followed the couple into their home. He sat in an old armchair by the fireplace while the wife went to make him a cup of tea.
“I’ll just fetch another log for the fire.” The husband smiled and left the room, carrying the cat.
“Do you need help with the cat?” the driver asked.
“No thanks. Stay by the fire and keep warm. We have a special resting place each year for the cat.”
Before the driver could comment, the husband walked out of the room.
The driver looked around the room, and his eyes rested on a photo in a white frame on the mantle. The colour drained from his face. He stood up and took a closer look. This was the little girl he had just hit with his car. The white hair and green eyes were the last thing he had seen in his headlights before he hit her.
The wife spoke softly behind him. “She died ten years ago now.”
“The driver never stopped,” the husband said, as he threw another log onto the fire.