This was inspired by both Stephen King and Tini.

by Clara

"One, two, buckle my shoe.."

It was ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. What would her friends, her co-workers, hell, even the people that tipped her hat at her when she went out for her morning coffee, say?

"Three, four, knockin' on the door."

She wasn't exactly sure if that's how the line went, being that she hadn't sang the old song in years.

"Five, six, pick up sticks.."

Better yet, what would she say to the people who saw her doing what she was doing right now?

"Seven, eight.. eight.."

She paused in the middle of hopping, then set her other foot down. A perplexed look graced her features for a moment, and she sat down on the chalk drawn design.

"What the hell comes next?"

It didn't necessarily matter, though. She was already at the end of the scattered boxes, and had ran out of boxes to jump in.

"Are you even supposed to sing that while hopscotching?"

For a moment, Yuffie sat frozen. She was, undoubtedly, confused. It felt as if her lips had moved, as if she had used her vocal chords to voice that rather silly question, but the deep, husky sound that escaped her lips was not hers. She leaned back, then looked up, up, up, until her eyes met a silhouette.

"Dunno," she answered the black shadow. In her minds eye, she saw a person, a beautiful man with shockingly black hair and olive skin, with almond shaped eyes that shone green, bright as leaves of grass that stood erect from the ground. She always did go for the tall, dark and handsome type. Her imaginary man would smirk, and raise his shoulders in a cursory shrug.

"You seem a bit old to be skipping boxes, anyway," her imaginary man informed her. He brushed a strand of false black hair from those eyes, and she frowned at him, lips curling down towards her chin in displeasure. He stepped away from the sun, and her eyes darted away from him. She was afraid that he wouldn't match up to her description, and he wouldn't have those leafy eyes, or the shadowy black hair. He wouldn't be tall, tall enough to touch the top of a tree if he so wished, and he wouldn't have molasses colored skin. No, he was a monster. A monster with putrid green skin that shifted around his face, tightening up as if to strangle him, then slackening. His cheeks sunk to his neck and chin to his chest, and he was so short he barely made it past her knees.

His eyes remained green, though. But instead of the erect leaves of grass, they were mold sitting on year old bread.

So she refused to look at him. Refused, since her beautiful man turned into a monster.

"Aren't kids supposed to be the ones who play like you?" Monster snarled. She saw the drops of saliva slither from his mouth like a worm, then fall to the cement with a splash! splash! in her mind. She could almost hear if splattering to the ground if she concentrated hard enough.

"I have a right to be a kid today," she told Monster in a meek voice. If she acted as if she was afraid of it, then it would gobble her up, but if she acted as if it were better than her, then maybe it would hesitate from swallowing her down like a wad of overchewed bubble gum. "I ate a dozen chocolate chip cookies, and drank a half a carton of milk."

"I'm surprised your stomach hasn't exploded." The monster drooled. It was hungry now, and she had already done the job of fattening herself up.

"I have a high metabolism." She stared intently at a swingset seemed like an eternity away. A little girl with golden curls tied up into two pigtails was happily shrieking while her mother, also with golden curls, gently pushed her. Yuffie picked up a small piece of gravel and threw it halfheartedly at the mother and daughter. The rock hung suspended in thin air for what seemed like an eternity, then fell to the ground before it even made it a quarter of a way towards the two.

"How does eating a lot of cookies and drinking a cow's worth of milk give you the right to be a kid again?" Monster asked.

Yuffie drew her knees up to her thin chest and covered her face with her hands.

" dad died."

It was the first time she called him "Dad". It would probably be the only time she would call him that, in fact, it would probably be the only time she would think of him again. In the way a daughter thought of a father, that is.

Monster said nothing. Children didn't taste good when they were upset.

"He was never a good father," she continued, the fear of her imaginary monster fading away to the back of her head. "All he ever thought of was himself or how to make the country more rich, more powerful, more touristy. He died the way I expected him to. One day he went to sleep, then just didn't wake up again."

Once again, Monster was silent. She expected that he had left, but wasn't brave enough to check and make sure he had.

Instead, she just fell into silence with him. It was not compatible.

"I'm not.. sad he's dead," she whispered after a moment. "He means.. meant.. little to me. All he did was shit around the house, either sleeping or ordering me to do stuff for him. O brave and mighty warrior.." she trailed off, then slid her fingers off her face. Monster still hadn't said anything.

The monster was shifting again in her imagination. His green, saggy skin and tightened up again, and was now highlighting a pair of high cheekbones. Slowly, before her "eyes", the green faded into a peach like color, and the fangs disappeared behind his lips. He also grew.. and grew and grew until he towered nearly a foot over her, and sunrise red hair sprouted from the top of his head like a sunflower, spilling across his shoulders then tying itself into a small ponytail. No, the monster was gone, leaving behind a beautiful, yet thin and scraggly man behind.

The green eyes stayed though. The mold mixed with the grass and added in another hue, a blue so bright that it made her eyes hurt.

She blinked a few times, waiting for the image to disappear like the others had. Much to her surprise, and slight chagrin, the person remained, solid and real as the next person.

He crouched in front of her, and it took a moment for her to realize who she was looking at so intently.

"Reno," she greeted.

The tall, dark and handsome monster nodded to her in the same greeting, not bothering to answer her with his voice.

They sat there, looking at each other on top of a hopscotch grid, until the sun fell behind the tall buildings, lengthening the shadows until they swallowed the world and through everything into night.