Landon bent down to the door with the butterknife and worked at the hinge. After only a moment the pin slipped up and out of the metal piece.
He lay it quietly to the side and then raised back up. Slowly he pushed open the screen door. It opened easily without the faintest hint of a creak. Just like it always did. Discarding the knife he slipped out of the door and went running off into the forest. His mother was upstairs somewhere working. Unalerted to the sound of him slipping out the back she would not miss him or a few hours at least.
He had to get out. He felt like he was suffocating in that house. He needed a moment to be by himself. He ran into the woods, tears filling up his vision, blinding him. He pushed through the overgrowth, trusting in his feet to remember the path. In his hand he clutched the small crystal pendant that was tied on a leather strap around his neck. Not even this familiar keepsake was enough to keep the emotions at bay.
He tripped and shouted as he went head over hills over a small embankment. He landed hard on his back in the dense foliage. Tears streamed out of his eyes, but it wasn’t because of his hurt back. That pain would be gone in a minute. The pain in his heart would not be so easily mended.
“Grandma…” he sobbed, rubbing his eyes with his sleeve.
Grandma was gone. He remembered the funeral, but it had the surreal cloud of a dream. He couldn’t imagine that he had been there. Couldn’t imagine that his best friend in the whole world was lying there pale in a flowery dress. The dress had not suited her, he thought. In his memories she was always in pants and hiking boots. A walking stick in her hand, waving him along with the other.
And now his mother was going through his grandmother’s house with boxes packing it all up. The sound of his mother’s sobs mixed with his own. He couldn’t stand it anymore. He didn’t think a heart could feel like it was breaking like this and still manage to keep beating.
When he sat back up and brushed the leaves out of his blond hair he realized that the light streaming through the canopy was diminished. He wondered if he had fallen asleep? It hadn’t felt like he had been here that long. Using the sleeves of his hoody he wiped away at the tears and snot and got to his feet. He felt exhausted but the pressure in his heart had eased a little. It was easier if he didn’t think about it. But now he had to get back. His mother would worry and he was starting to get hungry.
“Who are you? What are you doing trespassing in these woods?”
The voice startled him that he shouted as he spun around. His foot slipped on the slick leaves and he crashed back down to the earth. When his mind finally cleared he found a young girl towering over him. She looked like she was his age, twelve, maybe thirteen. Her skin was a dark chocolate color and her jet black hair was pulled back into twin braids at her back, a single lock dangled at the left side of her face threaded through brightly colored beads. A small white feather decorated the tip. She was dressed in a tank top and pants with peculiar looking boots that he had only ever seen in movies. Around her shoulders was a weather-stained cloak complete with a hood. She was so odd looking that it took a moment for his clouded mind to understand her. [Kite]
[Landon tells her his grandmother is dead. She goes away but that night she comes and tries to steal it. He chases after her. The bunny comes with her?]
“I’m asking you a question,” the girl demanded angrily. “Who are you?”
“I’m Landon. Who are you?”
“Kite.” Her eyes slid down to the necklace around his neck and then they widened. “Where did you get that?”
“My grandmother gave it to me.”
“Your grandmother? The woman that lives in that house just at the end of the woods?”
Landon felt his throat close up and it was hard for him to answer. The girl waited, her brow creasing as time passed. There must have been something in the expression he was making because suddenly the crease vanished and her eyes softened. “The woman used to make brownies for me when I went there. Did something happen to her?”
All he could manage to do was nod, rubbing at his eyes with the back of his shirt and trying to force himself to keep it together again.
“I’m sorry,” the girl said softly, her expression falling. She looked away tears in her eyes now, too. “I know what that’s like. I had an uncle recently pass away.” She drew in a deep breath and looked up the hill that he had fallen down. “Do you need help finding your way back?”
He shook his head no. “I’ve been exploring these woods my whole life. Whenever I came to see her. I can make it back on my own.”
“Then… maybe I’ll see you again some time, Landon.”
“Maybe. I’m only here for a week.” He looked around the woods getting his bearings. “Where do you live?”
“Just a little bit back that way,” she explained, pointing towards the deepest part of the woods.
Landon frowned and glared up at her. “That’s impossible. These woods go back for miles. No one lives back in there.”
The girl placed her hands on her hips. “Don’t believe me, then. See if I care. Doesn’t matter to you anyways.” She spun around and started to run off in the direction she pointed before she stopped and gestured at her own throat. “That necklace, it’s really pretty. Do you know anything about it?”
The question surprised him. He picked it back up and stared at it. It was just a simple white rock shard, thicker in the middle and tapering off to sharp points and the other ends in a diamond shape. Someone had wrapped a leather thong around it tightly and made it into a pendant. “Only that my grandmother said it’s been in the family for generations. It’s very important and that I shouldn’t lose it.”
The girl thought about this for a moment. “Well, she was right. Your grandmother was very smart. I’m sorry again for your loss, Landon. Farewell!” Waving her hand through the hair, she spun around on her heels and ran back deep in the forest, leaving Landon feeling rather overwhelmed from the encounter.
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