Little Roesli was loved by everyone, especially her mother, the strong and moody Selda, who wasn’t liked by the rest of the family. But from a tiny blue-skinned tot Roesli also knew she felt that she could see more of her mother than the other family members, she could see the thirsty urges, she could smell them, but being so little she had no words for them.
She wasn’t the only child in the family, Uncle Akira (the nice man that cooked little sweets for Roesli) had adopted a young boy that had been left orphaned, Beckett, and the two were fast friends.
As the years went on Roesli was almost certain she could smell something rusty but…sweet on her mother’s breath, and it made her mouth feel wet. She didn’t fancy the taste of the tiny little pancakes, or the eggs with the creamy sauce, she wanted sweet but she wanted more…iron?
She never felt different or unloved, in fact she considered herself well-liked, people seemed to smile and laugh at her stories. But she had wonder behind her big smiles, she was curious about where she came from? She understood that she must have some kind of father. But she did not know, so she found peace while caring for the family she did know. And if that meant licking the strange purple fruit from her mother’s garden rather than licking her sweet family, then she would. And maybe she would slurp at the frog from under the bumpy fallen tree when no one was looking.
When her mother goes missing and the townspeople start praying with her Aunt Maria about the night walkers, Roesli has figured out that she is in danger. One dark night she puts on her hood, the dark wool could hold back her mess of curls and hide her shiny face. She intended to find her mother, she didn’t want to believe that her aunt had “banished” her, like Aunt Maria had been preaching around town.
But she didn’t find her mother. She found the quiet stretch of road by the river. She found a stranger. She found a thirst that ached in the bones of her face until it felt like those very bones broke apart and pierced the skin of her mouth, breaching her skin. These hungry bones were slick with saliva when they pushed through her gums. She tried asking the trees like Aunt Maria had taught her, but the only word on their wind was “BITE”.
She did bite the stranger, and no piece of beefy red flesh would ever look the same to her eyes. She fed until the creature withered in her hands and yet seemed to rush through her own veins.
The questions she had about this experience were exhausting her, she knew in her heart that only her mother could explain these strange changes, but she still had not been seen. She sat with her Aunt and asked her if there was any hope to believe that her mother Selda could be alive.
Maria smiles quietly and says in the softest voice, hoping to comfort her niece, that Selda was dead.
Roesli’s eyes dip down to the shining wood of the table and back to her Aunt’s smiling face. Her aunt’s cheeks flush red, almost as red as her hair of fire but not so bright. She hesitates, then tells Roesli that there was a forest, where Selda and Maria lived a quiet life, just the two of them. She recalls that her childhood had been wonderful, there was so much to do in the cool walls of her temple! The forest truly had been a magical place to dwell, and Maria thought Roesli should go there, that Selda had really been a peaceful and calm caregiver to her while they lived in that shady forest.
Roesli nods, tells her Aunt Maria that she indeed wanted to see the place that would have seen Maria and Selda at peace.
The Cathedral of The Forest was tricky to find but Roesli found success. Her Aunt Maria had been right, it was eerie and quiet. She believed it could ease any weary soul, including her mother’s.
It was hard to be in this place without her mother. She had no one to explain why the sun set her skin on fire. She could smell her hair burning, the skin pulling tight and bubbling.
She falls to the ground, and gasps. She pulls herself under the leaves of a bushy plant to catch her breath, then runs to the shelter of the Church and doesn’t ever leave again until she can see the sky fade from blue to orange pink flames, then finally to hushed blue, then black. She believed that she would have to keep her movements to the night time. Like her mother, the alleged Night Walker.