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The first time I saw her, I thought I was imagining things. I was taking a walk through a snow covered field, in the dead of winter, on the way to my uncle's cabin. He lived about a mile walk from my home, and it became a routine to make this trip each day during the winter. After a long shift at my parent's bakery, I trudged through the thick snow to reward myself for the day's hard work, by sitting beside my uncle as we warmed our frozen toes by his fireplace. On this particular day, I remember the temperature was below freezing, and the snow was falling heavily. As I reached the final stretch of land before his house, I noticed a young girl, I would guess around my age, walking barefoot toward me. What I remember most distinctly about her, was her striking white hair that matched the color of the falling snow. Of course I noticed her bare feet as well, which should have been frozen to the point of death, given the weather. My first thought besides wondering if I had gone mad, was that the girl was either on some sort of drug, or she was something not of humanity. My second thought, strangely, was that I dearly cared about the girl's well-being, and wanted to make sure she was okay. As I started toward her, she stopped, watching me come forth. I was about ten steps from her, when she smiled in the most curious way, only for a second, before she turned from me and ran in the opposite direction. As much as I was interested in this strange girl, I did not follow her. My feet were so frozen that they'd become numb, and my mind could only think of the warm fire I would enjoy upon reaching my destination. When I finally made it to my uncle's house, he was waiting for me on the porch, presenting to me a hot cup of cocoa and a large woolen shawl to wrap myself in.
"Glad you made it. I was beginning to worry. It's dangerous out there in the winter."
I sat myself in front of the fireplace, unable to reply before I had been warmed by the fire a bit.
"You know its only snow, it's not going to capture me in its embrace and make me a slave of the winter."
With this, he laughed, a booming belly laugh, something I've always admired about my uncle. He could laugh at anything, and when he did, it had a way of brightening anyone's mood.
"The snow is not my concern, but the things that lurk in its presence. Dangerous things."
I did not know what my uncle meant by this, but it reminded me of my encounter with the girl I had on the way.
"Is there a young girl that lives nearby? I saw a girl with white hair on my way here. She may be poor, she wasn't wearing any shoes."
My uncle looked at me in a way I had never seen before. It was a hollow look, full of fear.
"No one lives in these woods but me. Did she say anything to you?"
"Not a word. She ran from me before I could reach her. I wanted to help her. She most certainly will catch sickness in this weather, with bare feet."
"No! ...I... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to raise my voice at you. Promise me you won't go looking for her. If you see her, you must ignore her no matter how sorry you feel for her... Okay? Do you promise?"
"Yes, but... Why? What harm will come of it? She is only just a girl. She must need hel..."
"Enough. Stay away from her. I understand it must seem strange to you, but there are dangerous things that lurk in the snow."
I did not continue the conversation. I sat quietly, pondering what my uncle thought this strange girl could possibly do to harm me. Before I know it, darkness had fallen. I began to worry about the dropping temperature, and my trek home. With this concern, I said my goodbyes to my uncle and started toward the door.
"Please be careful. Do not stop anywhere. Do not go looking for adventure. Go straight home, do you hear me?"
I replied with a nod, and walked out into the cold night. Once I reached the end of the field, where the edge of the forest began, I started to hear someone singing. I immediately was enthralled by this beautiful voice. I had to find the source of it at once. I steered my course toward the sound which was getting closer and closer. I eventually made it to a creek, where my best friend and I used to skip rocks after school. I looked around in all directions, searching for this mysterious singer. To my delight, I spotted the white haired girl, sitting on a log. I walked toward her, drawn to her beauty and lovely voice. The singing continued until I was close enough to touch her. She stopped singing and smiled in the same curious way she had earlier. The girl put out her hand, and without thought, I took it. She stood from the log and started walking toward the creek's edge.
"Come with me," she said.
Despite the state of the frozen creek and falling snow, I did not think anything wrong about her request, and without hesitation, I followed her into the cold water.
The Following Winter (The Uncle)
The fire was almost dead. I have made a commitment to always keep the fire lit in the winter, for hope that my nephew would return to warm his feet by the fire. My nephew disappeared last winter, around the same time. I miss him dearly, and every day I wonder what could have happened to him. I decided to go fetch some more fire wood from the barn, where I stored it to dry out. While stacking the logs that I would bring inside for the fire, I heard rustling in the snow behind me. When I turned to look, I saw nothing, so I brushed it off, thinking it must be an animal burrowing beneath the snow. As soon as these thoughts cleared my mind, I heard a girl's voice, singing the most beautiful song I had ever heard. I went around the back of the barn to find the source, and to find the most horrid of sights. My nephew, hair white as snow, sadness and fear in his eyes. He was hand in hand with the wicked girl that was responsible for his disappearance. In this moment, my fears were confirmed. My nephew was now in the grip of the snow siren. He was a slave of the winter.