Dylan scanned his surroundings; where on earth was he supposed to hide? The rest of the children had already disappeared in their selected hiding spots, and time was almost up.
Dylan's eyes landed on the trees only yards away; he had heard warnings of the forest, but figured that it would be fine if he stayed near the edge of it. There were plenty of hiding spots, and it was the only one that hadn't been taken.
Dylan raced forward to the edge, and ducked beneath a rock. "Ready or not, here I come!" he heard the seeker shout, only moments later.
Dylan decided to amuse himself by drawing in the dirt, knowing he probably wouldn't get found that quickly.
Five minutes passed, and he was still snuggled up against the rock, listening to the background noises, and dragging a twig across the earth.
When Dylan finally looked up from the ground, he thought he saw a young girl amongst the trees. For a moment, he just stared at the girl pondering if she was real or his imagination.
The girl had beautiful brown hair that was twisted into a braid, and astonishing green eyes that seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. Her turquoise dress was similar to the ones all the girls in Dylan's village wore, but seemed wealthier.
After realizing that the girl was real, Dylan stood up not caring if he was seen by the other children. The girl kept her green eyes locked on him, as he stepped a couple inches closer. Why did she seem so confused? Why didn't she say anything?
"Hi, are you okay?" Dylan asked her, continuing to walk closer. The girl backed up in what appeared to be terror once Dylan was only inches away from her.
"Hey, it's okay, it's okay," Dylan put his hands in the air, to show the girl that he wasn't a threat, and continued on, "If you need help, I can bring you to my village."
The girl looked past Dylan, towards his village, before turning on her heel and sprinting the opposite direction, deeper into the woods.
"Wait!" Dylan exclaimed; he sprinted after her, not paying any attention to where he was going, or what path he was following.
After running quite a ways, but not being able to find the mystery girl, Dylan stopped to catch his breath. As he looked up, however, he gasped as he realized that he had run deeper into the woods and had know idea which way to go.
"Uh-oh..." Dylan mumbled to himself, as he looked around. He really should have hidden somewhere in the village instead of the forest.
An owl hooted in the distance, and Dylan started to tremble a little bit when he realized that dusk had arrived and that the bright blue sky was getting a purplish tinge to it.
Dylan stepped back when shadows being casted from the trees started to surround him; a hand touched his shoulder, and Dylan spun around, and took several steps back to get away from whatever touched him.
In his frenzy, his ankle got tangled on a tree-root that was sticking out of the dirt, and Dylan fell backwards, twisting his ankle in the process.
"Ow!" he shouted, as he gripped at his injured limb. Tears welled up in his eyes, but Dylan held them back, knowing a 15 year-old boy, like himself, shouldn't cry over an injury.
Dylan looked up, and saw the mystery girl looking down at him with an apologetic expression. She kneeled down next to him, and gazed at his ankle.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, in a sympathetic, soft tone.
Dylan could see that the girl was truly concerned, and pushed himself to a sitting-up position, though it was painful for him to do so.
"It's alright, it was just an accident. What's your name?" he responded, trying to make her feel more comfortable.
The girl hesitated to give him an answer, but finally said quietly, "Acacia."
"Like the tree?" Dylan asked, more curious; her name fit her woodland look.
The girl, Acacia, nodded, and averted her gaze back to Dylan's hurt ankle. She extended her hand to touch, but stopped mid-way, and let her hand fall away from him.
"I'm sorry for asking, but why'd you run away?" he asked her, as he shifted into a more comfortable position against a rock.
"I, uh, got scared..." Acacia turned away from him as she replied.
Dylan was about to ask why she was scared, but he saw her discomfort, and decided to leave it at that. He looked up, and saw that the sky was getting darker by the minute.
"I have to get home..." Dylan meant to only say that to himself, but realized a moment later that he had said the out loud.
Acacia turned her eyes from the purple sky towards him, and said, "Let me help you."
"It's okay, I don't want to bother you, I'm sure you're family is worried about you-" Dylan stopped before he could finish his words; one look at the girl's now saddened eyes, told him Acacia had no family to go back to.
"Please, let me help you. The forest is not safe at night." she softly offered.
Dylan, knowing there was no way he was going to get back home in time without someone to help him out, nodded, and pushed himself up with the rock, he was leaning against, for support.
He groaned as pain traveled up his hurt leg, and Acacia wrapped her arm around his shoulder to give him support. Usually, Dylan would feel awkward if there was a girl wrapping his arm around him, but seeing how he needed her for support, he pushed that thought to the back of his mind as they started walking.
Acacia seemed to see clearly, though the forest was nearly pitch black. She perfectly ducked away from every branch, and navigated around every stone, like it was the middle of the day.
Soon, a small, orange light came into view; this wasn't the village, where were they?
As Dylan was brought closer, he realized that they were at cave that had an already lit camp-fire in the middle of it. Acacia brought him through the mouth of it, and sat him down against one of the walls; she then walked over to the other side of the cave, where a variety of essential things were piled up.
Amongst these things were clothes and small jars, and Acacia went immediately to them; a medical set!
"Is this where you live?" Dylan asked, as she took off his boot, and spread some of the green mush on his now-swollen ankle.
The only answer he received, was a small nod; she seemed to be focused on her task. As Dylan looked at Acacia more closely in the fire-light, he realized that her skin was un-naturally pale, and her dress seemed to be cleaner than he had expected from someone living in the forest all by themselves; Dylan expected a few stains at least.
Acacia finished by wrapping Dylan's foot with one of the clothes; after that, she gestured to a small pile of hay that had a blanket and pillow on it, and said, "Get some sleep, I'll take you back in the morning."
Dylan wanted to argue that she should take the bed, but he was too tired and exhausted to do so. He crawled onto the hay, and drifted off into a deep, coma-like slumber.
Dylan expected the smell of hay to fill his nose when he woke, but it was the sweet scent of morning dew that traveled into his nose instead.
His eyes shot opened when he noticed this, and he shot upwards to examine his surroundings. Dylan was no longer in the cave with Acacia; instead, he was on damp grass, sitting next to a familiar looking rock.
Dylan peeked around the boulder, and saw his village in the distance; no kids were outside playing, and all the lanterns were out. The sun was not far above the horizon, meaning it had risen maybe 30 minutes ago, so it was only the early morning.
"What the..." Dylan muttered, pondering if what he had experienced was a weird dream. He tried standing up, but fell right back down as pain shot up his leg....the ankle he had sprained the night before; so, it wasn't a dream.
Dylan got back up, this time using the rock for support, and looked around; where was Acacia?
Finally he spotted her, the exact spot amongst the trees where she had been he first saw her. This time she was looking at him, with a small smile instead of frightened expression.
"Acacia?" Dylan called out, extending his arm towards her.
"I have to go." she said only loud enough for it to be barely audible.
"My name's Dylan." he wanted to tell her, but he couldn't find the rights, and he looked down at his feet.
"Goodbye Dylan." Acacia said; her voice seemed to slowly blending in with summer wind.
At the mention of his name, Dylan's head shot up in shock, but Acacia was no longer there; she had vanished, taken by the wind that blew through the forest trees.