We lived in a bad house, at least depending on what others said.

Since I was born, all I saw out of my room was forest, forest and more forest.

Nobody wanted to live in this one, because… well… because they feared. It was too close, almost IN it.

When I was six, I asked;

,,Mom, why do everyone fear the forests?"

,,Because of what lives there," answered mom.

,,What is there?"

,,Something," she tried to shake me off.

,,What something?"

Yes, I was a very determined child.

,,Monsters," she stroked my head.

,,What monsters?" I frowned.

,,Those we do not speak of."

,,Why don't we speak of them?"

,,We have a deal- we don't speak of them and don't go to the forest, they leave us alone," mom lost patience.


I didn't get it.

,,Are they afraid of us, too, then?"



,,We're humans. We can't hurt them even if we wanted."

,,And they can?"

,,They have claws and stings. And they can EAT you if they want!"

,,And why would they do it?"

,,Gwen! Stop it! They are called ,those we do NOT SPEAK OF for a reason!" she hissed.

,,Can they hear us?" I lowered voice.

,,Yes," she slapped my butt. ,,now go play with the other kids and don't talk about them again."

Okay, I didn't. But the same night, the village bell ringed.

My whole family, mom, dad and granny were very startled. My little brother wasn't, he was just a baby, but he probably felt mom is very nervous and started to cry.

,,What's up?" my eyes widened.

,,They are here."

Now THIS I DID understand.

,,What now?" I asked with a bit shaking voice.

,,We gotta go elsewhere," dad suggested.

,,No, it's late for that!" granny shaked head. ,,We have to hide in our own cellar."

So we did, so quickly I felt a bit like flying more than running. Slamming the door after us, dad listened carefully.

There was a silence one would expect more in a GRAVE than a house.

Except for the door creeeeeeaaakiiiiiiing…

We for some reason held our breaths.

Tap, tap, tap. Tap. Tap. Tapping on the floor. It sounded like some kind of animal, like our dog when he came wet inside from the rain, but heavier.

For some twisted reason I found it cute.

,,What's it doing here?" I whispered.

Mom covered my mouth- by a smack, so it quite hurt, but I stayed quiet.

But still, I wondered. What's it doing here? Maybe it was just to scare us?

I couldn't get it into my six-year-old head.

I sneaked past mom and looked out of the keyhole.

Pity was I didn't see much. Just some red-clothed back, with something like hedgehog stings on it's back.

It turned, and slooowly got out of the door, then I heard scratching.

After several minutes, the bell rang again. They were gone.

All family sighed in relief.

,,What was that? What were those? What did they want?" I asked all of them, but nobody seemed to have an answer for me… or they just ignored me.

,,Go to bed," mom said finally, kissing my forehead.

I was a bit afraid. My room, it was near forest, and it was on the lowest floor. But nothing ever happened to me, so… I just crawled into the dark and jumped on the bed, which was large, high and strong.

Just before I fell to sleep, I think I heard growling outside.


At morning, everyone acted as if nothing happened. Mom came to woke me to school as usually, she washed me, clothed me, then sat me on the bed and started to comb my hair.



,,Am I safe here?"

,,Yes, dear. They don't harm anyone unless you get in their way, but they never stay here long. And they never go into other rooms than the hallway and kitchen. Sometimes the stables."

,,Why they come?"

,,I don't know," she said softly, then started to wash my hair.

Since I was very little, mom dyed my hair. Every day.

It was a natural dye, I don't know what it was made of, but it made my hair so dark they looked deep brown, and not- the color they were before.

I wondered and to that day I actually didn't know my true hair color.

But at school, we had an especially rainy day, and the roof broke, so after the rain they let us go out to play.

First it was quite innocent, but then- some animals were set free by the boys, and voila, a real running from a angry goat.

I tripped over and fell into a small pool of mud and water.

The goat kicked me a bit, but then I kicked back and she ran off.

The teacher came to pick me up.

,,Gwen, are you alright?"

My classmates could laugh their asses off.

,,Yes," I snorted and lifted my chin high. ,,I just need to wash myself."

They took us in and the boys got detention.

THEN was the worst moment, when I washed and with a surprise I saw color going off my hair.

The teacher and my classmates stared, as I looked on them too, puzzled.


,,Gwen… your hair," the teacher said carefully, but I sensed fear behind it.

,,What's with my hair?" I frowned.

One of the girls stand and pointed on me with a hysterical shout;

,,It's the forbidden color!"

I stared.


,,Your hair, it's RED, Gwen!" the teacher explained to me with dead pale face, then showed me a mirror.

I stared. I LIKED the color. I often saw it at autumn on trees but… on my head it looked even better…

They called mom immediately, and she came, washed my hair again, so it became dark again.

,,Gwen," mom said to me sharply, when dragging me home. ,,NEVER play outside, when there's pools or rain again, okay?"

,,Okay… mom, why is red a forbidden color?"

,,It attracts the ones we do not speak of."


,,Stop with the questions. And be careful around water."


,,PROMISE you'll be careful!"

Mom stopped, then kneeled down in front of me.

,,If you're not, they might send you away," she said, concerned. ,, and you don't want that, do you?"



,,I promise…"

,,Good girl."

She stand and we went home.


I wasn't allowed to wear red, but still, it troubled me. I liked my hair, so why wasn't I allowed to have my natural hair color?"

,,At least during winter," I pleaded. ,,I promise I won't stick even a nose from the house!"

,,No," mom cut me.

I whined.

But let it go.