Red, brown, and gold leaves littered the trail. The sound of the river flowing was very soothing right now, with the delicate velvet-like water running over stones and branches, smoothing the roughness away. Birds chirped out their songs, and squirrels were busy burying their nuts for the coming winter. I sighed.

   No matter how many times I come here, I am always surprised by the beauty here. I took a trail that led away from the river now, crunching the leaves underfoot. The noise sounded too loud in this peaceful environment and I slowed my pace, being sure not to make so much noise now.

   I smiled to myself as my mind strayed to Carson for the zillionth time today. God, I need to stop thinking about him. I have to stop. It is way too dangerous to be fooling around again. I can't afford it, and neither can anyone else. Ugh, these thoughts are depressing. I came here to get away from it all, not bring it with me.

   I sighed, closed my eyes, and took deep breaths, trying to clear my head. It was working. I came to a fork in the trail, and decided I would go to the right, and see where it led me. Usually, making impulsive decisions like this wasn't a good idea, but I decided it couldn't hurt too much.

   I kept walking; the narrow trail was on the edge of a very steep hill: almost like a cliff, with a sheer drop off. The golden leaves still littered the ground everywhere, and there was hardly a green plant in sight, now, at this time of year.

   The trail ended, swerving away from the edge of the hill now, but I didn't want to turn back. Not right now. I continued walking off the trail, in parts that were clear enough to step through. I didn't know where I was heading, and to be honest, I really didn't care.

   Finally, I ended up reaching a meadow, or a field of some sort. I don't remember the twists and turns that I took, but I found a meadow. It was so gorgeous, and all this time, I'd never even known it was there. I started to walk forward, but tripped on a root that I never noticed was there, barely catching myself.

   I gave a sharp intake of breath, and tears streamed down my cheeks again; I had landed on my broken hand, and that had put it in more pain than I was expecting. Carefully, I picked myself up, and brushed off the dirt on my pants with my left hand.

   I looked around me, glad I hadn't been in public for people to watch my clumsiness. I shook my head, and laughed at myself. Wow. I'm probably the first ever clumsy Shifter.

   I ventured further in to the meadow place, finding that the plant life here was stiff and gray, yet still pretty in its own unique way. There was a path mowed clear, just green grass. It was obvious, then, that I'm not the only person who knows this is here. But of all the seventeen year old kids, I was definitely the only one who would know. Or, I think I am, anyways. Not many of the kids at school even know there's trails back here.

   I liked that feeling, of knowing a secret that nobody else knows about. This, in a way, was my personal secret.

   The mowed path came to an end too, and another trail led back into the woods. I followed this trail for some time, and it led to the main trail by the river. I walked around this again, and eventually decided that I would like to go home. Well, not necessarily "would like" but more of a "I needed" to get home now. It was dusk, and the sky grew darker with every minute that passed.

The End

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