Once, there was a little girl named Ella, who lived with her mother in Willow Creek, and who wished more than anything for a friend. Every day, she would try to make friends at school, but somehow, everyone already seemed to be friends with someone else. So, Ella resigned herself to living without a best friend, but still, each night, she would wish for one.
One day, she was waiting for her mother to return from work, when she heard a knock on the door. Standing on the doorstep was a little girl with pale, curling hair, who blinked up at her with icy blue eyes.
“Hello?” She smiled, softly, at Ella. “Can I come in?”
Ella thought about what her mommy had said about letting people in, but she also thought about how nice it was to be talking with someone of her own age, as she guessed the girl was.
“Who are you? My mommy says never to let strangers in the house.” She peered, curious, at the girl, who began fiddling with a piece of her hair.
“My name’s Marnie. I’ve just moved in down the street with my mommy and daddy, and I’m bored. I don’t have any friends to play with, yet, and it’s really lonely. And I saw you the other day, and I…” She stopped short, looking down with pink cheeks. Ella beamed.
“You want to be friends with me?” she asked, thrilled.
“Yes! Can I come in, please?”
“Yes, of course!” Ella tugged her in by the hand.
The two little girls sat at the dining room table, while Ella, thankful to have a friend, pressed her for details. What did she like? Favourite candy, favourite animals? Colours? Did she like music? Did she have any brothers or sisters?
Marnie answered quickly enough. Yes, she had an older sister, she liked a lot of candy, and she liked bunnies, she loved music, and pressing flowers she picked outside, bringing a pretty one out and setting it on the table in front of her. Deftly, however, she turned the questions back to Ella, and soon Ella found she was telling Marnie more about herself than she usually told anyone.
They continued to talk until the door clicked, and Ella’s mother walked in, frowning in confusion at the sound of voices, before exhaling in relief at the sight of her daughter.
“Oh, thank goodness! It’s just you, Ella. For a moment, I thought I heard someone else here.”
Ella blinked, and looked at Marnie, confused, only to see an empty chair sat in front of her. On the table, however, the flower lay where Marnie had put it, fresh enough to have been picked that morning.