She is there one minute and gone the next; it’s startling at first but you get used to it. Truth is she’s not really gone anywhere else, it’s just your perspective that changed, and if you lean slightly forward or step back, she appears again.
I heard her before I first saw her, a quiet sobbing coming from the back of the library. “Hello?” I called, looking around for somebody else to make it their problem. “Hello?” There was no reply, but the crying stopped. I found her with both hands outstretched, fingertips caressing the book spines, and when she saw me, she turned sideways and disappeared. “Where did you go?” I said softly, for she wasn’t the first paper girl I’d known. When I explained this to the space where she’d stood, she turned back, and her face reappeared, crinkled due to tears.
I guessed she was 14 years old, the same age my sister Sarah was when we lost her. We had been camping on Dartmoor, which had been her birthday wish. The wind picks up so fast there and we reacted too slow. In my dreams I still see her outstretched hand flying away. It makes me so angry that someone so beautiful was made so delicate. When I met the girl in the library, I knew immediately what I had to do, and I knew that mum would love her.
The Girl Made of Paper lives in the space we created for her. Sometimes she cries and I want to comfort her, to tell her she’s strong but the lightest touch could tear her fragile skin. Instead, I lean against the glass until rage wears her out and she folds into sleep.
Carla Halpin is an editor who lives in the New Forest where she writes poetry and flash fiction. Her work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic and A Story in 100 Words. You can find her on twitter @CarlaHalpin where she posts regularly as part of the very short story community.
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