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by Rachel Lynn Banks

It's your fourteenth birthday and you and your twin sister decided to just go walking through the forest one night, to simply talk and share secrets no one else would understand. You look at the scenery around you -- it's beautiful. Snow is gently falling on the trees and ground, which have a significant amount of snow piled already. Your thoughts are interrupted by a cold crash against your sleeve.

Your sister playfully threw a snowball at you. Laughing and smiling, you attempt to hit her back, chasing her around the woods. She runs down a hill, leading you deep into the forest, and you eagerly follow. When you reach the bottom, you realize you reached a strange location. There is a large circle of bare, flat land, covered in snow. The circle of bare land is surrounded by a thick layer of trees. You glance around. Your sister is not there. Still smiling, you call her name, expecting her to come out of hiding and for this to all be a joke. When she doesn't respond, your smile quickly disappears.

You search more for your sister. But when you look back at the hill, you realize she never left any footprints in the snow. Tears of confusion and fright burn down your face, followed by a cold breeze. You turn around and take another look at your surroundings. What was once viewed as beautiful is now a dark haze blowing over. When you think you knew you were alone, you see a figure slowly walking towards you through the dark.

You begin to slowly and hesitantly walk toward the center of the hollow forest, approaching the figure. You both arrive at the center, and tears flow down your face again. Standing before you, is your sister. Not the sister you thought you knew. The sister you should have known, but couldn't accept. Her skin is pale, and you see her differently now. She is wearing a flowing white dress. Her face shows of no real expression, but her dark eyes that were once drenched in pain speak of years of being set free.

She takes out her hand and convinces you that you don't have to be broken anymore. She knows of a place that can fix you; where no pain can reach. She tells you she has always known of your own suffering, and offers to help you escape yourself.

For a while you merely stood there, considering the offer. Would you really be willing to voluntarily give up yourself, your life, your future?

You grasp her soft, cold hand, leaving everything and everyone behind, as you leave this world and hope for a better one...

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