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No other people ever came to her part of the forest. She made markers out of sticks and placed them on the trees so than anyone who ventured over would be able to find her. But if they even existed, they must have preferred to stay where they were or they were very far away, because she never saw them. She did her best to make sure that anyone who saw the markers would know that she intended to feed them, welcome them, and give them anything they needed to continue on their journey, but no one took her up on her offer. Some days, when the sun was too hot and she stayed inside, she would ask herself why nobody came. Maybe they couldn't read her messages, or maybe they would feel bad taking advantage of her generosity. Whatever the reason was, it didn't bother her. As soon as her friends stopped by she forgot all about the idea of other people. Each morning, the robins flew in and ate the seeds she left out for them. They told her stories of their adventures: what they saw when they went beyond the forest. She humored them. She knew there was no such thing as beyond the forest, and they were just giving her hope about meeting other people. They were just trying to help, and the least she could do was accept it, even though she didn't believe it. They told her stories of houses, like hers, but set in the ground not up in a tree. There were roads: long flat things that big monsters with wheels for feet sped along. She could hardly hold back her laughter at the birds' wild imagination. After the robins left to go out and see the world again, she would go out and explore. The forest was endless. She knew, because when she went out to explore, she had never seen the end of it, not even from the tallest trees, and no matter how fast and far she ran. Most days, she preferred to stroll while she explored. She would sing, and dance, and spin around. Her feet just barely touched the ground, and never once did she trip over anything. Every animal in the forest knew how graceful she was. The birds often said that she knew the earth like they knew the skies, maybe even better. Today, after another spirited story from the robins, she felt energized. She wanted to prove to them that the forest went on forever. In her own way – a combination of running and dancing – she ran through the forest, further than she ever had. At first she felt she could run forever, but the forest just went on and on, and she wondered how she was going to prove her point. She started to slow down, sweaty and exhausted, when she came across something she had never seen before. It looked like a long, large pool. It stretched as far as she could see, curving many times. She knelt down and let its cool water run over her hand. She was warm from running, and decided to bathe. She stood near the edge of the water and put her hands at the bottom of her dress. She held either end away from her as she pulled it up and off her body, taking care not to mess up her hair. Slowly and carefully she took it off, and tossed it to the base of an evergreen. The manoeuvre was a success. Her pale blue hair didn't frizz, and even the bow at the back, and the flower nestled in her hair, stayed in place. She sat at the edge of the river, then turned and dropped her legs in. The water was refreshing and soothed her legs. She swung her arms backwards to support her. She leaned back and closed her eyes. She drifted off, letting the water rush around her legs and relax her. Within minutes, she was so calm that she didn't flinch at all when a leaf bumped her leg. When it hit her a second time, however, she opened her eyes slowly, coming out of her sleepy trance, to remove the leaf and send it on its way. What she saw was no leaf. It was a creature she had never seen before. It floated underneath the water, all by itself. It brushed up against her leg again, then backed away. She thought to herself that this was proof the forest went on forever; if she could travel so far and wide and still discover completely new animals.
"What are you?" she asked. She had meant to ask if he needed any help, stuck under the water as he was, but her curiosity won out.
"I am a fish." he said in a low baritone that echoed through the water. She thought it was a very interested name. It was short, and sweet, like bird. But it almost sounded like water, with that funny sh sound at the end.
"Fish. Fishhh. Fish." She smiled at him while she tried the word out on her tongue. He moved to brush against her leg again and she pulled away.
"You can't stop nudging me, I know you're here now."
"I'm not nudging you, I'm kissing you." he said. She didn't want to sound dumb in front of her new friend. She didn't know what a fish was, and she didn't know what kissing was. He seemed to want to do it, and it didn't hurt her at all, so she kissed him back: she moved her leg against his face.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm kissing you!" she said. So many new things all at once had her excited.
"You have to kiss with your lips. I'm kissing you, but you're not kissing me." he told her. She nodded her head, and pulled her feet out of the water. In one swift, elegant movement, she bent her knees then extended them, jumping over top of the fish and landing in the water without making any splash at all. She swam around him, showing off while he turned his head back and forth to watch her. Then she went up to him and kissed him on the cheek. He felt slimy and smooth at the same time, like a wet leaf. The moment she kissed him, he swam to the surface and out into the sky, at least three times higher than she had been in her jump. He made a tremendous splash as he landed. He seemed to enjoy the splash nearly as much as the kiss. With his agility in the water, she knew he was really some kind of water animal, and not just a land animal who had fallen into this long pool. She wondered where he came from, how he could live in this pool all his life. It seemed to her like it was just a large puddle, left over from rainfall. Where would he go when it dried up? She had to know, so she asked him.
"It won't dry up, it's a river. It goes on forever, as far as I know." he said.
"So it's sort of like the forest. I'm trying to prove that it goes on forever."
"Be careful where you go." he said. The tone he said it in made her feel very sad. She swam to the edge of the river and sat on the shore. She looked down at him, with the same look she would give to an injured bird – for he indeed looked hurt – and  and asked him why.
"I don't know how it will be in your forest, but as for the river, there are parts where I can't go back. There are waterfalls that I can't get back up, and parts where the water moves too swiftly. I've had to leave my friends and family behind, because I wanted to see how far my river went."
"How can I help you? Maybe I can carry you out?" she said, though she knew it was impossible. He was as big as four of her and if he really lived underwater he would need water to breath.
"No, that won't work. My only hope now is to keep going. I hope that it will circle around and eventually I'll make it back." he said. The girl let her head fall into her lap as she thought about the idea of losing her friends, and knowing that she would lose her new friend the fish as he went on his way. He nudged up against her knees and kissed her.
"Don't feel bad," he said "I'll be alright." She couldn't bare the thought of him going off on his own, and she eagerly changed the subject.
"Why do you keep kissing me?" she asked.
"It reminds me of home. We kiss to show happiness and love for each other. I've been away so long; Now that I've met someone else, I feel like kissing again." She felt even worse now that she would have to leave him, as the sun started to set.
"I promise I'll come find you again." she said. She stood up tall with her back arched and stared ahead.
"I don't know... I can swim faster than you can run, and I can let the water carry me when I get tired. I would love to see you again, but I don't think it would be possible for you catch up to me again. But let me make you a promise: if my river really does go in a circle, I'll return here one day and wait for you." She nodded, and kept her mouth closed in an attempt to hold back tears. She bent down and gave him one more kiss before she walked to the tree to collect her clothes. She turned to wave at the fish, but he was gone. She went back home, and the next morning, she told the robins her story. They knew exactly what animal she was talking about, and couldn't believe they hadn't told her before. At her suggestion, they flew out every day and brought her back news about the river and how far it went. When they told her it opened out into a pool of water so big it could drown the entire forest, she began to despair, thinking that the birds were back to their old tricks. But the fish really existed, and the robins brought her back proof of other things they told her; she had no choice but to believe them. She was excited that there really were other people to meet, but she was worried about the fish. She wondered how he would ever find his way back to the little river when he was out in such a big pool. A full year had passed before the robins arrived one morning, chirping over each other so loudly that she couldn't understand what they were saying. They darted around her, and encouraged her to run to the river where she had met the fish. She was amazed to find that the normally calm river was teeming with fish. There were hundreds, and they covered the river so thickly that she couldn't see the bottom anymore. She waved at them, like she had for her fish the last time she had seen him, but they all looked so similar she couldn't tell them apart. She stood at the edge of the river, her toes curled around the bank as she leaned out as far as she could, to get a closer look. Finally, she felt a nibble at her toes. One of the fish had stopped, forcing the others to dart madly around him while he kissed her toes. After a few more minutes the rush was over, and she was alone with her fish again.
"I want to thank you. You know, my river doesn't go on forever, at the end..."
"It opens into a giant pool." she said and held her head high.
"I should've known a smart person like you would figure that out. It's bigger than your whole forest, many times over. I was scared and thought I might never find my way back, but knowing you would be here waiting for me kept me going." He kept looking ahead anxiously, eager to be back with the group.
"Go ahead, get back with your friends. When will I see you again?" she asked him. He looked sad for a moment, but it passed and his eyes lit up.
"You won't. We stay up-river for the rest of our lives. But if you stay here... one day, you'll meet a young fish or two just like me. It would mean the world to me if you could tell them our story, and give them a kiss." She agreed. He left quickly again, with the same fleeting goodbye, but no matter how quick the moment, it was one she would hold close to her heart, as she made the same journey to be with her own kind.
Based on the picture Kiss My Toes by :iconitsmikuru:. I've done a handful of revisions on this story and I think it will be cool to look at all the iterations. This is a re-working of the original story, to make it more interesting and more in the proper grammar/style that I use now.

It will eventually be one of the stories in "Amfibians and Reptlies" my short story collection about fictional water-animals. :D
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November 10, 2011
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