Rowan Crimson couldn't believe how ridiculous she looked with bloody tissues up her right nostril.
Normally she's pretty recognizable with her short, curly red hair and hazel eyes. That combined with the flurry of freckles on her face made her look like a dryad. Yet that's not even the most interesting part of her regular appearance.
Hidden among the explosion of her pale freckles were, not one, but two natural beauty spots that were only about an inch apart on her right cheek. Well, if anyone could call them beauty spots. They looked like small, faint black dots more than anything. She only nicknamed them that since it sounded better than anything else her mind could come up with.
Of course, the constant stream of blood contained by tissues stuffed inside her nose made it a lot harder to take herself seriously. She soon toke out the red-soaked tissues and stuffed in another batch as soon as she saw a bit more trickle down her pale skin. This was the first nosebleed she'd ever had. But that wasn't what was peculiar about it. What was strange was how it just started out of nowhere without a sensible cause.
It toke a bit of time but the blood eventually stopped. She threw away all the bloody tissues into the pale white trash can she kept in the bathroom. She toke the time to push her brush through the mass of hair on her head. She had a job to go to, after all. She was only 19, she was out on her own in the small town of Lakewood.
While her parents lived in the same town and occasionally visited, they had sent her on her way about a year ago. She didn't mind, though. She certainly wasn't bitter towards them for it. It only meant they knew she could take care of herself and didn't view her as dependent on them.
She was a bird that left the nest and was now flying, hunting and most importantly living. That meant a lot to her considering she hated being locked up ever since she was a little kid.
She'd been claustrophobic for as long as she could remember. What was funny was that very little scared her outside of confinement. Not even spiders, heights or snakes caused her to be afraid. But she'd always try to find something that could cause her to shiver- to jump - to feel any terror. Horror novels or stories never did the trick. Scary movies once in a while managed the feat, but barely enough for them to make it out as an achievement.
She pushed the thoughts out of her mind just before they reached a sensitive subject- why she hated small spaces.
She slipped on her red zip-up hoodie over her lime green uniform blouse, her dark green shorts that went down to her knees, mint green stockings and her dark red sneakers. She'd always preferred wearing other the same color theme, or complimentary, such as red and green. She even put on her red baseball cap. Outside of that and necessary hygienic care, she'd never cared much for her looks. She'd simply never saw much of a need for it.
She walked out of the basic apartment complex after locking the door behind her and toke a leisurely stroll down the sidewalk. She once in a while rode a bike to work, but she always preferred walking by the forest. Like the name of the town suggests, there were plenty of lakes and bodies of water near the town, but there were even more tree-infested woods surrounding the place. She'd grown up near these forests, and loved them to death. She could always recall fond memories of playing among the trees, plants and the occasional wild animals when she was growing up.
She put in her ear buds and put some country music on her iPhone, humming the lyrics to herself until it upgraded into singing the entire way. She didn't care if anyone really caught her. It was a small town after all- everyone she knew would be used to it. But she wouldn't have really cared if anyone she didn't know saw her. She never cared for anyone's opinions on her before, so why should she start now?
It hadn't taken long for her to reach the flower shop. It wasn't busy very often, just on holidays like valentines day or the rare wedding, but she absolutely loved working there. She was just a florist, getting paid as much as the store could afford to, but she also got to grow and manage blooming flowers. Flowers, to her, were some of the most beautiful things earth ever made, so she was more than glad when she got the job a few months ago.
She opened the door, causing the bell to ring and alert Aella (or as she nicknamed herself back in 6th grade, 'Tempest'. Rowan preferred to call her Ella though.) She was the floral clerk and one of her best friends. Her blonde hair, which had some light blue dye at the tip was put up into a tight bun. It almost made her look like her hair was the sun and it was taking up a majority of the sky. She wore the required uniform blouse with a sky blue shade, midnight blue skirt that could be compared to the night sky with its faint glitter, small cobalt blue socks and azure blue mary janes.
One could say Aella was the sky while Rowan was the earth. That, or Aella was blue and Rowan was red. Rowan always found those comparisons funny due to how her name meant "son of the red one" when not anglicized from Irish and was the name of a tree, which suited her well for the identity of both red and earth. Aella, on the other hand, was Greek for whirlwind, which suited her relatively well for the sky. The fact she wore so much blue constantly helped her identify as blue without the help of her name's meaning. The same went for Rowan's appearance, as it was commonly composed of the color red with the occasional green. Aella once commented on how it made Rowan look like she was impersonating a rose, but what did she know?
The tree she shared the name of stood for balance, healing, mystery, divination, and transformation in Celtic mythology while Aella was also the name of one of Hippolyte's Amazons in Greek myth. Their names both were related to myth and its tales, which helped their bond grow tighter before they had even meet.
They were inseparable growing up, and haven't grown apart in the slightest. Aella hadn't even had the same interest in plants she had, but still toke the job because Rowan wanted it so badly. Aella actually had always dreamed of being an airplane pilot. While her current position wouldn't help her with it, she still signed up for the job of floral clerk to work with her best friend. That's how loyal they were to each other- as thick as thieves, those two are.
"Hey, Ella. How are ya?" Rowan asked her as she paused the music on her phone within her hoodie pocket, then taking out her earbuds and putting them inside.
"Peachy. What about you Rowa?" the fellow 19-year old replied holding a recently-bought peach and a smirk on her face at the pun. Meanwhile Rowan held back a laugh. She'd just left it on the counter beside a handmade tag that read 'free peach!'. Ella would be making puns since the day she went into heaven, and she knew it.
"Decently enough. A nosebleed and slight case of nausea this morning, but you know that's not enough to keep me from this place."
"Whoa- are you sure your ok? That sounds kinda serious."
"Yes, Ella. I'm perfectly fine."
"...Have you told your parents?"
"I might as well be talking to them now." Rowan cracked with a playful smirk on her face. "I mean it. I'm fine. Stop worrying so much."
"It's my job as your best friend to care and you know that." To which Rowan stuck her tongue out at Ella.
"So, did you hear what's going around on the news? y'know, about those kids going missing?" That opened topic ended up ruining the mood. At least for Rowan. It upset her when she heard that some people's children had just vanished without a trace. She could only imagine how their parents or their siblings must feel. Some of those kids she even knew personally from her old babysitting job, like Keira.
"Yeah. What about it?" Rowan had asked Ella as she sat down at a table near the counter, put her baseball cap on the back of the chair and started preparing a few flowers out in the open. She preferred to do her job where people can see her and see what the next lines of flowers are going to be, how they'll be arranged, so on. It helped customers know if they wanted to buy them or not. Sometimes they even give her advice or their preferences when they see her. The growing and plant care she does in the back. She's able to open up the windows to let proper photosynthesis take place and have a bunch of water close by back there.
"They said something about them all having been near the woods when it happened..."
That struck a cord with Rowan. Hard. Hard enough to snap it in half hard. She'd played in those woods her entire life. The idea that someone was using those sacred grounds as a place to take children away from their parents was despicable- no, just... outright wrong to her.
Ella seemed to recognize some of the shock and pain on Rowan's face, as she then said "It's... going to be ok, Rowa. Really. The police are doing all they can. We just gotta have faith."
"..Yeah." Rowan solemnly agreed, getting back to work as soon as she can. She just had to hope working would make her forget her problems.