Ben saw her hair first, tufts and curls of blue cotton candy, before the rest of her appeared. She was always wearing brown. The outfits changed—a dress, a midriff baring top and skirt—but they were always brown. She looked naked until she was close enough for him to see the hem and outlines of her clothing.
She clapped her hands at the duo. Raccoon yipped and backed off. Cat stretched and washed its paw. Satisfied that the “kids” had listened, she approached him.
“What do you want?”
Ben almost sh*t his pants. “I’m sorry…come again?”
“You have been watching me. You and that woman. You must want something.”
He’d never heard so much melody in anger. Her voice sounded like it had been composed by an enamored Vivaldi in springtime.
“How do you know English?” Ben asked.
Her brow wrinkled. It wasn’t perfect and groomed like what he was used to seeing, but it was somehow better. It suited her. A line of hair as thin as a pencil scratch would have looked out of place on her face.
“My mother taught me,” she said.
“And how did she learn English?”
The furrow in her brow deepened.
“How did you* learn English?”
He hesitated, feeling like he was walking into a verbal trap, but continued anyhow. “My mother taught me.”
“Okay, yes, and how did she learn?”
He opened his mouth, closed it, tried again, faltered.
“It is not all that unusual,” she said. “To have a mother who teaches you how to speak.”
He studied her and hoped he wasn’t looking at her like a science experiment. “They said you had red skin and horns.”
“Who is they?” Something that looked like a smile cracked at the corner of her mouth.
Ben shook his head in a random direction to indicate the village below. “Them. Everyone.”
“Pity that.” She touched the apex of her crown of hair. “I will never be so beautiful as to have horns.”
Ben nearly choked. “You’re kidding, right? Because you are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.”