Positive and Negative



Cara wasn't sure when the forest had come to life. She knew she'd been running for some time, long enough that the rhythm of placing one foot in front of the other had become automatic. She'd grown careless of where she was going, her mind still stuck back in her village. But the forest was alive. All around her, flowers bloomed in vibrant colors, some of which she was sure she'd never seen before. The sounds of animals calling to one another filled the air. Cara was sure that if she were to single out any one of those sounds and focused hard enough, she would be able to know exactly what they were saying. She felt like she belonged there; that this was the place she was running to, even if she hadn't known it.


Somewhere ahead of her, through curtains of vines and leaves, Cara saw a figure rise. They were taller than anyone she'd seen before, but she wasn't scared. She had been scared of the things she'd left behind at home. No, the figure didn't scare her. Instead, she felt a warmth that she couldn't remember feeling before that moment. She felt loved.


"Welcome home."




"Where is she?" The words were spat out alongside a huff of breath. Gerald had never cared for hikes. Too much nature, he'd always said, as if that was justification enough. Still, he trudged on, his clothes dark with sweat and his breath heavy. The trail he was following was easy enough. He wasn't an experienced tracker, preferring to spend his time indoors by a warm fire, but it didn't take a practiced hunter to follow all of the broken sticks and kicked up underbrush.


Birdsong erupted all around Gerlad, making him slow his pace. The exercise must have gone to his head, he thought, as he could have sworn it sounded like they were laughing. His face turned a shade of red to rival the flowers around him. He hated feeling mocked. Even if it was in his head, he wished he'd brought along a hunting rifle to show those birds who was boss. They wouldn't be laughing then.


But they were laughing. Their laughter rang out through the forest as the birds watched from high above. They watched the man go stiff as he realized he wasn't alone in the woods. They watched the color drain from his face as an impossibly tall woman rose in his way, a young girl at her side. And when the woman dropped to all fours and sprinted toward the man, the birds laughed.