The shouts echoed around the kitchen and drifted harshly upstairs, pounding on my door as I laid in my bed and stared at the ceiling. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to hear the hate in their voices. I wanted to be anywhere else. I heard a big crash. My dad yelled something. My mom started crying. I heard feet stomping. The front door slammed close, then total silence. I wasn’t relieved. I didn’t want silence. I wanted the soft sounds. I heard my dad walk up the stairs. I could tell it was him by the sound his shoes made. His bedroom door closed as I heard my mom drive off into the night. A blanket of stillness covered the house. I felt invisible. The world was pressing against me threatening to take my place. 1-2-3-4 I counted the lights. They were off. Only lit by the moonlight fluttering through the window. I wanted it to take me away and carry me into the stars. I grabbed a pillow and pushed it into my eyes. Seeing the sparkling lights before my eyelids. Seeing how they danced and burst across the darkness. I focused on the afterimage of my window. The light burned shape slowly fading away. I opened my eyes and set the pillow aside. I stared at my window. I didn’t know where I’d go or what I’d do but I didn’t want to be here anymore. I lifted myself out of bed and walked over to my window. Turning the handle and removing the screen. I did it as quietly as possible. I didn’t want to wake my dad. I set the screen aside and felt the cool breeze wrap around my body. I put on my black coat and my brown scarf. I looked out over my yard. I felt afraid. I wanted to leave, but I had nowhere to go. I let my head fall and jumped back on my bed. 1-2-3-4 I counted the lights. Again 1-2-3-4. Repeatedly, I counted them. My head began to feel light. The world was about to close fully around me when I heard a voice. A soft voice. Almost like the wind through the trees. I jerked my head up and looked around the room. Nothing was there. I figured I imagined it and laid back down. Again, the voice spoke again, this time louder. “Follow me,” it said. I jumped out of bed.
“Who’s there” I whispered.
“Follow me.” The breathy sound hit my left ear. I turned and looked at my window to my left. Nothing was there. I walked over and leaned out the window. A gust of wind blew across my face. “Follow me”. I climbed out the window and looked around at my backyard below me. The grass was darkened to a subtle gray. The tall oak in the middle of my yard rustled and cast a dim shadow on the ground. The woods beyond loomed over my metal fence. It looked like it always did. Another gust of wind blew against my back, the air swirled around my ears as I heard it again. “Follow me.” It seemed to echo across my yard. Slowly fading out as it traveled into the woods behind my fence.
“Hello?” I said softly. “Is anyone there.” No response. My voice was swallowed by the night. I crept along my roof to the edge on the far right. I sat down on the edge and turned myself around until I was hanging down my hands. I let go. My feet collided with the ground. I buckled my knees and quickly stood up. It seemed much darker from the ground. The sounds of critters in my yard ahead of me bounced back and forth. Quietly, I crouched down and walked through my yard. “Hello?” I said again. The reply was quick. A strong gust of wind shot against my back. It knocked me off balance as I stumbled forward. The air rushed into my ears, shooting pressure into my head. The voice repeated itself much louder this time. “Follow me.” The wind continued to blow. Pushing me to my fence. Until my hands caught myself against the metal links. The wind stopped. “Into the woods,” it said. Echoing through the crowded trees ahead of me. “Was the wind speaking to me?” I thought as I stared out into the woods. “How is that possible?” the wind offered no answer. I glanced back at my house. It looked dark and empty. I didn’t want to go back. I turned back to the woods. A shudder shot through my body. I had never been in the woods behind my house before. They had always looked frightening. I looked up at the trees. They had lost most of their leaves. The branches collided and intertwined giving a ceiling to the woods. Little light traveled through the mess of sticks above. The woods were dark.
“Who are you?” I said to the air around me.
“Into the woods” The wind said as it breezed along my back.
“Why?” I asked tightening my grip on the metal links.
“Save them,” it said. The wind then swirled around my head. My thoughts begin to spin with the air. I saw them. I saw my parents. Chatting happily at dinner. Asking me about school. My mom laughing at my dad’s jokes. I saw us watching movies in the living room. My dad’s arm around my mom. I saw them holding hands as I opened my presents on Christmas morning. Cooking together. Walking together. Dreaming together. The images brought a deep longing to my stomach. My eyes began to glaze with tears. The wind was showing me my old parents. The parents that loved each other. The parents that disappeared last year. I missed my parents. The wind understood. “Into the woods,” the wind said as the swirl broke away and dissipated into the air. I obeyed. Fueled by the pit in my stomach I ran. I climbed over the fence and soared through the woods. The wind was at my back. Its hands were pressed against me giving me a gentle push as I shot passed the trees. I let the wind guide me. It would slightly turn against my back. Telling me to go slightly right or left. It was leading me somewhere. I didn’t care where. I just wanted my parents back. All I could see were the shadowed trunks as I raced past them. My feet crunched against the dead leaves lining the ground. I saw a light ahead. It flickered in bright orange, almost like a candle. The wind was pushing me towards it. The light grew. I began to see the details in the bark of the trees surrounding the light. I was about ten steps from the light when I was interrupted by a small root that caught my foot. I threw out my hands as I crashed into the forest floor. My body dug a mini trench into the leaves as I slid to a halt on the ground. I groaned as I laid on the ground. My whole front side was covered in dirt. A stinging buzzed on my left elbow. I lifted my head and wiped my eyes with my hands. I checked my arm. It was scraped pretty badly. I touched the wound. “Ow,” I grunted. It stung from my dirty fingers. I looked up ahead seeing nothing but darkness. The light was gone. I scrambled to my feet suddenly becoming aware of the acute darkness that surrounded me. I could barely see the trees in front of me. I fumbled my way forward. Sticking my hands out and feeling for the trees in front of me.
“Hello,” I said to the emptiness of the wood. Nothing answered. I kept stumbling around only able to see a couple feet ahead of me. I spun around looking for the light. It had totally vanished. I tried to locate the way back to my house, but I had lost the direction I had been running. “Hello, are you still here?” I said to the wind around me. There was no answer. I began to run and was quickly stopped by a tree trunk. I panicked and began to throw myself through the trees swinging my head wildly, looking for any sign of light or direction. “Hello,” I said again. My voice shaking. “Where are you?” I said, my voice beginning to yell. “Where did you go?” I was screaming in terror. The trees grew sharper and more clustered around me. The sounds of the woods became whips in my ears. Danger surrounded me. Animals in the trees became wild beats. I kept running through the trees shouting. “Come back” I yelled. “Come back to me” The air around me was dead still. I fell to my knees overcome with desperation. I cried, and for the first time in a year, the drops fell out of my eyes. I wished for my parents. I wanted them to come and lift me up and carry me home. I wanted them to tell me It was okay. I wanted them to hold me. I pictured them bursting through the trees with flashlights. Fussing over me, asking me why I was out here. I imagined them hugging me and then each other once I was found. They would look at each other’s eyes again and we would walk back through the woods, hand in hand like we used to. I imagined this as my head became light. The world slowly drifting away, as they drifted apart.