This became our daily routine for quite a while. I would take a walk outside at night and see the little girl standing at the forest. We would wait together and I would always carry her home after she fell asleep. For the whole month, she never seemed to lose hope. But one night, when I was out again. I saw the little girl sitting on a rock near the forest, crying. I walked over to see what was wrong. She looked up and saw me. She ran over and hugged me with tears streaming out of her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her.
“I- I don’t th-th-think he’s c-coming b-b-ack.” She said between sobs.
“Why?” I asked. She was so strong for an entire month. What made her suddenly break down?
“I- I had this dream. Th-there were th-th-these little things that were flying around my teddy bear and he was tied onto a stick and put over a fire.” She bursted out into tears again.
“It’s only a dream. He’ll come back.” I tried comforting her as best as I could with all of the motherly skill I had, which was not a lot. We stood there looking into the forest for a while. We were about to turn back when the little girl’s eyes lit up.
“Look at that!” She said as she pointed excitedly at the trail. I turned around and saw a glowing trail of will-o’-the-wisps. They all glowed a soft warm color that was almost as peculiar as the forest. I could not put my hand on the color, but it was definitely a color that could warm any lonely person deep down into the roots of their hearts.
“Let’s follow them!” The little girls whispered excitedly. “Maybe they’ll lead us to my teddy bear!”
I was hesitant. Will-o’-the-wisps have never been a good sign, but after seeing the little girls face, I let in. It was the first time for so long that she had looked so excited. I might as well let her be. So I followed her into the forest.
The forest seemed to be beautiful place. The trees all leaned in with graceful curves and seemed to sway gently to the rhythm of our footsteps. But as we went into the forest, it became darker and darker. The once warming lights of the will-o’-the-wisps were no longer so warming and the trees were now dead silent and seemed to reach out at us with jagged branches in the shape of sharp claws. The moonlight somehow refused to shine through the leafless branches of the trees and our only source of light now was the small glow emitted from the trail of will-o’-the-wisps. The little girl didn’t really seem to notice the change in the forest and continued to follow the wisps eagerly.
It was somewhere in the middle of our trek, when I finally noticed that the ground we were walking on was no longer the springy softness it once had been. We must have either turned off the trail and walked into the forest or the trail was finally losing to mother nature. The ground was much harder and dead leaves and branches littered the ground. There seemed to be much less foot space and we had to resort to walking in a single file line. There was something queer about this forest that was making me feel uneasy. This forest seemed to be the ideal place for something bad to happen and all of the descriptions I’ve heard of for creepy forests seemed to match this place perfectly. Little light, big gnarled trees, little space to walk... I wanted to slow down a little but the girl didn’t seem to hear me. She continued chasing after the wisps until the trail suddenly ended. All the wisps disappeared and immediately we were thrown into complete darkness.
I could feel the panic bubbling down in my stomach and I tried to find the little girl. We were in complete darkness and it never came to me how surprisingly bright and comforting the wisps were until we had lost them. The little girl was panicked too and almost squealed in fright when I had finally found her thinking that I was a monster of some sort. We held each other’s hand and stood there in complete silence hoping that one, no one or thing would find us and two, we would be able to think of a way out of this place. The silence was creepy and fear and panic seemed to be the only things visible. I shifted my weight from one leg to the other and in the process accidentally stepped on a branch. It cracked loudly and we both jumped back in fright. The longer we stood in the darkness the more terrified we became. Everything was consumed in the color black and if anyone were to ask what color the forest was now, I could most definitely tell them that in the heart, it was black. Pitch black.