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57 A Moment for Candied Hawthorn

    How had she gotten here?

    She did not remember, and headaches began to silently come and go as she attempted to retrieve her memory. Once she got a faint glimmer of the sun's blinding rays, her hand instinctively went to cover her eyes. At this point, her mind had already gotten muddled with memories from long ago.

    Her body lying under the great protection of this giant tree, she found herself entering a fog of her own creation.

    There, she watched a child of about five years climb over a tall brick wall, and onto the bustling streets of a grand city. Everyone seemed festive, holding lanterns the shape of little animals, there were some kids playing with small strings of poppers, and there were so many beautiful colors that lined the walls, all the paper was in a bright and brilliant red.

    The color that brought good luck, and kept away the ferocious monster said to roam around on this day. There was a big smile on the girl's face, as she ran along the cobblestone path, smelling a series of delicious foods, there were defiantly great spring rolls, the strong scent of citrus tangerines said to bring good luck, and hawthorns, there was definitely the scent of hawthorns coated in warm honey.

    Something she heard from fairy tales. They were said to taste so good, it was like the sourness wrapped in a cocoon of amber honey. The tastes were of the legends, a speck of sour fruit that accompanied the sweetness of the amber honey.

    Thinking back to that tale, she feels her mouth water as she sniffs the air to find the source of where it is coming from.

    When she finds this stranger of a man holding the rows of hawthorns, she. like all other little children run up, attempting to ask for some, so that they may taste the sweetness of the rare treat only eaten on this spectacular day.

    The man who was a skinny fellow gives a gentle deceiving smile as he tells them to follow him to a place where there is an endless supply so that they could eat to their heart's content.

    They gave their wide smiles and willingly followed him down the alleyway where the joys of the celebration could not be seen nor heard. There were no bright blinding lights or lanterns of glowing red, even the sounds of firecrackers were dying down, replaced with...

    Silence.

    It was as if they had gone to a place that was separated from the outside world of joyous celebration.

    Before they knew it, everything was dark as night, and no strength could be mustered from those small little bodies.

    They woke up in the dark, on a bed of moldy straw. A far cry of the candied hawthorn paradise that they were promised. Only a cage, made of rotting wood, and tied together by some metal wire.

    You see, there was no paradise of hawthorns, only small cage, by which they were prevented from getting away.

    There were sounds of crying from the children, who realized that in their lifetimes they may never be able to set their eyes upon the faces of their beloved parents again. These thoughts made them more agitated and they began to wail their lungs out. Only to be silenced by the echo of a striking whip.

    The girl was the calmest of all the children, it seemed that she had no complaints, or rather she did not want to return the place she had come from, she could settle anywhere.

    Those candied hawthorns were no longer in reach, and no one dared to mention it again in fear.

    What little food they did receive came in the form of a disgusting overly watered porridge soup. It did not matter how unwilling one was, but once hunger set in, there was no saying what one would and would not be willing to eat.

    She took a sip from the severely watered down porridge that was mostly water. The food that was cold, and unappealing. It seemed to not have any purpose, other than filling the stomach to the bare minimum. The food seems to have been left out for a while and nearly spoiled.

    Surprisingly, the taste was fine.

    Wait, this can't have been right, she had clearly seen those who drank it gave faces of distaste and disgust.

    Sure, it did not smell like much, because it was mostly water, but the few grains of rice in there was mostly spoiled leftovers, there was no way it would taste fine.

    She closed her eyes and thought over every meal she had in the past.

    Then it dawned on her...

    Of everything she ate, the food she had, most had an appetizing smell, and she, therefore, thought of it as the taste. The reality was, she did not have a sense of taste for anything, except for medicine.

    No sense of taste... The girl was in a daze, staring into the emptiness as if she was looking for something of which to keep herself occupied.

    She silently hugged her knees and curled up in a small ball. A few drops of tears rolled down her cheeks, and into her clothes. Her thin and sickly frame made one pity her, she was a very frail child, that seemed to be easily broken by the smallest of things.

    It was the first time she felt this way, she could feel a liquid secrete from her eyes. There was a pang of ache that came from her heart. It was the first time she felt something so strange.

    What was this strange feeling?

    How had she become this way?
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