A/N- I wrote this for an assignment in my Creative Writing class, and I really actually kind of liked it...It's kind of based on a sonnet-ish thing I wrote...
When she slept, the shadows danced above her head, and she knew it. Sometimes, she would close her eyes and play at sleep, and then open them quickly, and, once in a while, she would spot a tattered black shape, flinging itself back into the blue painted wall. She was too young-only seven, and a rather frail seven at that- to try to find a logical reason for the twirling dark shapes, but old enough to know not to mention them to her parents. A small part of her believed that if she told anyone, the shadows might go away.
So, every night, she would shoo her parents away as they tried to tuck her in, lay her little blonde head on the crisp white pillow, and close her eyes and wait. It took longer on some nights, but they always came, and she could feel them dancing as she gave way to sleep. She could feel them in her dreams, too; like dark chocolate, bitter and sweet, things that should be terrifying instead singing her lullabies. All she wanted, with all of her heart, was to meet one of her night-time companions, one of those should-be monsters.
She never thought it was a shoe that would do it.
It was not an unremarkable shoe- a white pump, with a small, barely relevant heel, it was completely covered with glitter. A bit too large on her, it was part of her Glinda the Good Witch costume for Halloween, and it made her feel grown-up, tottering around in the pair of them. Still, on All Hallow's Eve, after she had collected all the candy her arms could carry and before she collapsed near-lifelessly into bed, she had thrown her costume carelessly on the floor, treasured shoes included.
Almost as soon as her head hit the pillow, the shadows came out. They seemed more spirited than usual, and, had she been older, it might have crossed her mind to wonder what effect Halloween had on her shadows. But she was already falling into a heavy sleep when the amused shout rang out.
The yelp of excitement flung her from her bed, tottering on one leg as the shadows flew hurriedly back into the darkness. There was a man, frozen in shock on her floor and clutching one of her sparkly shoes: at least, a half man- there was something about him that didn't seem entirely human, entirely real. Thin and frighteningly pale, he looked almost like a skeleton, in an old-fashioned black billowy shirt and breeches, heavy black boots sprawled at awkward angles on her floor.
Swearing loudly, he tilted his head back and looked up at the ceiling, ignoring the wide grin on the little girl's face. She was laughing, small chest heaving uncontrollably, and she dropped to her knees in front of him. "I'm Lucy."
"Death," he grumbled sullenly, gesturing towards himself with the shoe.
Her tiny button nose wrinkled in confusion as she settled down on the floor, idly taking the other shoe into her pale, spider-like hands. "Your name is Death?"
His eyes rolled at the skepticism in her voice. Still, he regarded her fragile form, swathed in a too-large white nightgown, with a strange affection. An odd smile tugged at his thin, pale lips as he murmured, "Death, yes. I am Death. And what are you, Lucy?"
But Lucy didn't entirely understand the question, so she let a few seconds pass before posing her question. "Do you like my shoes?"
"No," he snapped shame-facedly, tightening his hold on the sparkling shoe. "It just...caught my attention."
The grin on the child's face grew wider at the thought of this being, looking as much like a grown man as he did, getting childlike, crow-like over a glittering distraction. It pleased her somehow; it was reassurance that things were how they supposed to be. He was a shadow named Death who could get sidetracked from his midnight revelry by a small child's shiny shoe.
"It's a nice shoe, though," he added, though the distaste that curled his lip contradicted his words.
"Who are you?" Lucy demanded, fingers playing over the surface of the shoe in her hand, gritty because of the glitter.
A mildly irritated look passed over his face, turning down the corners of his mouth. "Death. Don't act dull, girl."
Lucy stuck her tongue out at him, suddenly bewildered by the being before her. "Who am I?"
Affection etched its way back onto his face, and he lifted one finger to touch her cheek. He let the shoe fall to the ground and rose to his feet in one swift moment, then bending back over to help Lucy to her feet. "Someday, years and years from now, you will be Lucy, the girl who dances with the ghosts. But for now, you need to go back to sleep."
The shoe was allowed to slip out of her hands as she let Death scoop her up and tuck her into bed, skeletal fingers like silky moonlight against her forehead as he brushed a few strands of sunlight-colored hair from her face. He grew blurry around the edges as she watched, making even more prominent the feeling that he was not real. As Lucy watched, he became nothing more than an intangible shadow, flickering like a mirage. It didn't take long for him to disappear entirely, although she could have sworn he lingered a moment over the shoes, again thoughtlessly discarded on the floor. Lucy fell easily into sleep, and the shadows came out to dace again; but even in her slumber the thought that she would someday be among them twitched her lips into a smile.
The shoes sparkled in the darkness, despite the shadows swirling above them.