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  • The rain was pouring. Somewhere off in the night, a dog howled. A little girl in a yellow rain jacket ran across a muddy street. Her yellow boots splashed the water.

    A German Shepherd came trotting out of the rain. His coat was wet and messy. His eyes glowed strangely red.

    Frightened, the girl took a step back. The dog took a step forward. The girl ran away, but the German Shepherd followed.

    It opened its mouth, and a lady stepped out.

    Her brown hair, shaped and colored like a cinnamon bun, was piled atop her head.

    “I am Renewal,” she rasped. “And I am looking for a new companion.”

    She held up her beautiful black gown in her hand and stepped toward the girl.

    “Usually their souls move on,” she said in a tortured voice.

    “Their?” asked the girl, frightened.

    “Yes,” Renewal said. “They stay with me for a while, but they move on.”

    The German Shepherd, having recovered from his corruption, looked around, confused.

    “You’re going to kill me?” the girl gulped.

    “No.” The woman paused. “I’m going to renew you. Make you immortal.”

    “You are?” the girl asked excitedly. “But you’re death.”

    “Child, I don’t like to think of it as death. I prefer to think of it as living forever.”

    “But don’t people reincarnate?” asked the girl, growing more and more worried.

    “They do,” said Renewal. “That’s why they’re immortal. But you won’t move on. You’ll stay with me.”

    “We’re already immortal,” said the girl. “I’m not coming with you.”

    Renewal was enraged.

    “Come with me!” she shouted. "Let me put it simply. I am going to kill you so you’ll stay with me. Don’t be afraid. They are. But you can be strong.”

    Her voice turned higher and very beautiful.

    “Come with me. Please.”

    Then—perhaps it was Life's tiny whispering seemingly telling her to fight back—the girl charged at Renewal. But instead of punching her, the girl hugged her.

    Renewal’s face only had time to look surprised and maybe a little loving—before she evaporated into thin air.

    “No!” she shouted as she dissolved. “Child, please!”

    Tears ran down her cheeks, and the girl felt sorry for her.

    But then Renewal was gone, as if she had never existed.

    *

    Unknown to the girl, Renewal was not dead. Sitting on a throne encrusted with jewels, she laughed thinking of what was to come.
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