Ash had never much liked human children, despite technically being one he felt that he was too old, at the grand age of fourteen, to bother looking for friends now. He had all the friends he needed in the forest, the animals and his ash tree, who was his confidant and best friend. He gratefully patted the trunk of his ash tree and rested his legs against the branches that he sat in and looked down on the earth that was surprisingly far away from his perch in his tree.
Still, no matter how often he told himself that the forest was enough, he still couldn’t bring himself to truly not care like the façade he maintained for the children of his school and his foster family. It was human nature to want friends, he supposed, but that wasn’t going to stop him from trying to desperately not care. To not care when the nasty sneers of the girls in his class stung, to not care as he distanced himself from his body when the punches and kicks of the upper year rugby team were rained down upon him. To not care when his foster mother looked without a trace of concern upon his bruised face. To not care that his real family hadn’t wanted him-
He was crying now, Ash hated crying, it gave him a headache and he felt like his weaknesses were being leaked out of his eyes into the world for all to see. He turned his face into the trunk of his ash tree and he felt his tears soak into the diamond shaped ridges of the grey bark. He stopped crying quickly once the huge swaths of brilliant green leaves that cocooned him began to rustle in the wind, soothing him.
Ash didn’t talk very much, he had a lot to say but knew that no one wanted to hear it. He was a little strange looking he supposed, and that was a big reason why the girls in his class scorned him. He had some sort of Hispanic or Mexican heritage due to his milky coffee coloured skin and raven wing hair, his eyes however, were a brilliant blue-green and sparked with a fractured, fierce shine like light off of broken sea glass. His face was also strange, his cheekbones were very sharp and high arched and his nose was thin and long and his lips were full and dark. The collection of sharp, angular features led to him looking like some sort of half-feral animal. He was tall, with wiry muscle but he had yet to fully grow into his rapidly approaching 6ft frame and was like a gangly wolf cub.
And like a wolf cub, he needed a pack.
Ash was pulled from his musings as a light, mellifluous voice drifted through the canopy of leaves that hid him. He cocked his head to the side straining to hear, words could be heard.
“I was told by Oak, Find Ash, find Ash. I was told told told. I was lonesome and afraid and she said “Find a friend.” Look for him in the Ash.”
Ash hooked his legs around his branch and lowered his head through a gap in the leaves. He saw a girl enter his glen, he couldn’t quite see her face, she was looking down at the bluebells and brushing her fingers against their fleshy, purple petals. She looked up and smiled, “Ah, there you are.”
Ash jerked back, thinking she had somehow seen him.
“I’ve been looking for you everywhere Mr Ash Tree. I’ve found other trees of course but you’re definitely The Ash Tree.” her voice was playful and dulcet yet had a nervous edge running underneath like a live wire.
Ash slowly lowered his head back into the gap and observed her. He recognised her he was sure of it. Her long curly, almost white hair fell down to the bottom of her back and parts were braided to hold it out of her face, her skin was porcelain and her eyes were a flickering pale green light. She was, like him, rather gangly, but she moved with a grace that made up for it. She was young, thirteen perhaps? He felt strangely protective and wondered why she was out here by herself and where she was from.
Only one way to find out, he thought nervously, and began to climb down the tree to meet the strange, jade-eyed girl who spoke to trees.