Advice #1linerweds

arrangement-2794696_1920

My advice to anybody who asks me; to get out and be free from everything once in awhile.

(Inspired by; https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2018/05/23/one-liner-wednesday-advice/ with thanks).

Bad Day

Double Rainbow, Rainbow, Rainbow Colors

It was going to be a bad day, Lily could just feel it. From somewhere deep at the back of her memory though she recalled what great grandma once said.

‘What you got to do, Lily, is tell yourself that after the storm there’s always a rainbow.’

‘What do you mean, granny?’ Lily recalled her younger self asking.

‘I mean, no matter how bad something is remember there is always something beautiful in the world. Even if it’s the smallest of flowers or the largest of animals. If you just look for it you’ll find it and you’ll realise that not everything is bad.’

‘Okay, granny. Can I get the tin horses out now?’

Lily came back to the present, smiling at the memory. Her younger self might not have understand any of that, but now as an adult she did get it. Finally, she got out of bed and as she prepared for the day, she held great grandma’s words close to her.

Hat

If the hat fits why bother taking it off? If it doesn’t fit throw it away and move on. Why pretend to be someone you are not? Yes, it might be fun to start with but soon it’ll make you and everyone else miserable. Why go down that road when you could just go and buy a different hat?

Post It Note #19

You have to live for yourself, Addy wrote on the post it note. She tapped her pen on the desk then added underneath, No one else is going to do it for you. 

Candles

Hurrying into the shop, Harriet repeated the list in her mind once again. Grabbing a wicker basket and putting the handles to rest near her elbow, she walked passed the first display units. The air hummed with an overpowering multitude of pleasant aromas, which remained unidentified till you had picked up a few different candles. She clocked two poshly dressed women talking in low voices behind the sale’s desk. They looked like they belonged at a five star hotel desk, with their neat blond hair, black jackets and white blouses.

Looking further around and towards the back of the shop, Harriet saw another assistant with black hair and a cream blouse, talking to two Japanese women. They were dressed casually in tight jeans and t-shirts. Harriet caught some snatches of their broken English and discovered that all of them were engrossed in a conversation about one particular candle.

Harriet came to a pause by the small shelf with the Halloween display. Looking at the offerings, she selected a burnt orange candle tart melter that was in the shape of a Jack ‘O Lantern and looked at it. She noticed a large chunk of paint was missing from its mouth, so she placed it back down and selected another one. Holding it tightly, she looked at the wide teeth showing grin and decided it would do.

Lowering it into the basket, she looked at the candles and grabbed two of the different Halloween scented tarts. She sniffed the orange one first and got a hint of sticky sweets then the black one which smelled patchouli. Harriet put those in, recalling that they smelt just like the candles by the same names that she had brought last year.

She turned and started to walk past the sale’s counter, totalling the price in her head, twelve pounds all ready!

‘Hello, are you all right? Do you need any help at all?’

Harriet smiled at the two women, one of whom had spoken and with a little shake of her head replied ‘no, thanks,’ and went to the bookcase like shelves. Harriet browsed through the Christmas candles and selected the two other wax melters she had come in for. One was her second favourite scent, fresh vanilla alongside a soft gentle flower like touch and the other a new release that she had seen on the shopping channel which was meant to capture new snow and winter pines.

With those safely in her basket, she went around the shop and looked at the other candles. They were divided into further sections in a rainbow of colours; foods, flowers and fresh. The large candles, which she had to crane her neck up to see, sat on the top two shelves. The mediums were under them then the smalls ones, the tea lights and finally the tarts, which she collected. Resisting the temptation to pick any up, Harriet read some of the fancy names off in her head then convinced herself to leave.

Half turning, she spotted a dark chocolate skinned man stacking small candles. Swearing he hadn’t been there before, she looked at him in his prim black business suit. Their eyes met and his face broke into a wider smile.

Keeping his bent over position, he asked ‘Do you need any help?’

‘No. I’m fine. Thanks,’ she replied.

He turned back to work and she watched his large hands.

‘Actually. Do you have any new autumn candles? Or anything you could recommend as smelling like autumn?’

He stood up, ‘Erm, I’m not too sure…’ he responded and had a quick glance around, ‘Maria,’ he called to his colleague who had just left the Japanese women to their own conversation. ‘What would you recommend as an autumn scent?’

She repeated his words in a cheerful voice and looked around thoughtfully. She was actually taller than first seemed, even despite the clearly flat shoes. Her long black hair was in a tight ponytail which added nothing to her too long face and olive skin. She reached out a slender arm and pulled from the shelf a large orange candle.

‘What about this one?’ she asked.

Harriet stepped forward and sniffed the candle lid which Maria offered out to her.

‘It’s very orangey,’ Harriet replied, ‘mmm…too orange.’

‘Okay. This one?’ Maria asked switching for another one.

Harriet sniffed and smelt oranges mingled with other fruits and grass, ‘still not what I had in mind.’

‘Right. Let me see,’ Maria placed the candle back and moved to the next shelf.

Harriet made a small side step to follow her and watched her take other candle down with the grace of a ballerina. Behind them, the man was getting back to restocking.

‘This one. It’s a very warm homely scent. It’s got some cinnamon in it and I’m not sure what else.’

Harriet sniff and caught that waft of cinnamon and mix spices. She nodded, ‘Yes. I like that one. Do you have the melter of it?’

‘Sure we do,’ Maria chirped and slotting the candle back, dipped down and grabbed one of the wax tarts from the tray.

Harriet took it and popped it in the basket. She looked down, that’s enough now, leave!

‘Have you seen the new candles that were brought out this month?’

Harriet snapped her head back up then followed Maria’s eyes to the display next to the door. Maria walked over and Harriet trailed her. Coming to a stop, Maria launched into sale’s pitch about the three new scents after which, Harriet selected two; a dark vanilla coffee and a sweet gingerbread.

‘Have you seen the new Christmas ones?’ Maria chimed in.

‘No, but I think…’

‘Some of them might have the autumn feel you are looking for.’

They spun around and matched towards the back of the shop, passing the two Japanese women who were on their way out. Coming to the Christmas display, Maria selected a few different candles, but this time, Harriet only picked one.

‘Thanks, I’m done now,’ she said, eyes flashing to the inside of the basket.

‘Of course, would you like to pay now?’

Harriet nodded and let Maria led the way to the counter.

‘Please don’t tell me the price,’ Harriet said in soft voice.

Maria smiled, ‘I’ll see what you’ve got.’

Harriet watched her total everything then stated, ‘twenty-two pounds all together, is that all right?’

Harriet nodded and handed over her card.

‘Just think of it as an investment for the rest of the year,’ Maria said soothingly.

‘Yes, I really won’t need any others,’ Harriet responded as she paid.

Still smiling, Maria bagged everything and handed it to her.

Saying thanks and goodbye, Harriet left feeling ninety-nine percent happy and one percent guilty.

Post It Note #14

pin14

Enjoyed this story or another one? Please like, comment and follow this blog. And please help to spread the word! It’s all greatly appreciated. You can also follow on me on  https://www.facebook.com/thestoryfiles?ref=bookmarks and twitter.

I’m currently looking for short stories for October. They need to be horror, supernatural or Halloween themed/related stories. Please email them to me at hrhardman66@gmail. If you’re story is already published on a blog, you can include the link in the comments for me to check out. Thanks.

Inheritance Rights

Marul Gutenberg bent double, breathing hard, he squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth. Sweat bubbled on his forehead and he could feel it starting to run down his face. Pain throbbed through his arms and legs but mostly it was in his chest; where the blow had taken him by surprise.

He tried to grip the pommel of his long sword tighter but the sweat on his palms caused the smoothed ridges to slip from under his fingers.

There was a sudden burst of voices that rose in roars of approval. Hands clapped loudly, echoing though the stone courtyard.

The sound hurt his ears as Marul let it wash over him. He shook his head slightly as if trying to clear his ears of the noise but he already knew it was useless to try and block the noise out again. Swift footsteps tapped across the cobbled floor towards him and instinctively Marul ducked.

The wind whistled where his head had just been as the sword cut though the air.

“Stop!” he yelled.

Marul opened his eyes as the tip of the long sword was pushed against his throat.

“Do you surrender?” asked a light voice.

“Yes,” Marul gagged as the sword tip pushed harder.

The sword dropped away.

Marul put his hand to his throat as he stood up, he then pulled his hand back and looked at the wetness on the palm of his hand. Red blood droplets were smeared across his skin, the sword tip had draw blood.

Marul glanced up at his older brother, Wolf Gutenberg, who was standing only a few paces away from him and waving and bowing to the crowed of people that had gathered around them. The sound of their voices cheering and applauding was louder then before and mixed in with the clapping hands.

“Ha, little brother, I win again!” Wolf shouted and then stomped over to Marul and punched him on the shoulder.

Marul drew himself up and let his sword drop with a loud clatter to the floor of the courtyard as he clutched his now bruised shoulder.

The crowd of onlookers began to disperse. Some of them left in small groups, talking softly, whilst the men of the guard returned to their posts around the high walls of the courtyard. Above their heads the torn yellow flag bearing the black lion symbol of Averland flew in the wind. Marul watched a group of women carrying wicker baskets under their arms going back to their tasks in his father’s house.

“What do you fancy fighting with next? Short swords perhaps?”

Marul turned back to Wolf, who was busy tighten one of his ornamented breastplate’s leather straps.

“No,” Marul replied.

Wolf smiled widely, showing off his white teeth and large, pointy fangs.

“Not scared are you, little brother?” Wolf asked mockingly.

Marul brushed his brown hair back with his hand and bent to pick up his long sword.

“I have better things to do…..” Marul started.

“Better things…then preparing for war? The undead are baying outside the city walls, little brother.”

Wolf turned on his heels and started to walk away. His two servants followed behind him closely, they were carrying Wolf’s long black cloak, green feather plumed helmet and another long sword that was sheathed.

Marul stood up and took a deep breath, “….then play-fighting,” he finished.

Wolf spun to face him, a flash of anger across his red sweating face.

Marul tightened his grip on his sword in both hands and spread his feet in preparation for his brother to charge at him.

“Play-fighting? Is that what you think to our practicing?” Wolf snapped, “Well….” he ran a hand though his short black beard, “I’ll try harder to kill you next time then.”

Wolf flashed Marul a wolf like grin and then walked out of the courtyard.

Marul let go of the breath he had been holding and turned to leave. His own servant was standing to the left of him; he was holding a helmet with a yellow plume and short pale yellow cloak. The servant give Marul a nerves smile.

“Well done my lord!”

Marul shot him a look and then snatched the cloak out of the man’s hands.

“I was sure of your victory in that round but that last blow….”

“Stop,” Marul snapped and he drew a deep breath, “How bears my father?”

The servant to the young lord paused before saying gently, “He is worse my lord. There are doubts he will survive the night.”

Marul turned away and started to walk out of the courtyard with the servant trailing behind him.

*

“Only yesterday Kurt Wossoff had a run in with three skeleton warriors in the Heroes mounds, which means were have a Necromancer or something worse in our mists,” Joss Vaker, chief advisor to the Lord of Walberg spoke.

The other advisors and guards shifted nervously in the room. They eyes dart around the tapestry covered walls, avoiding meeting anyone else’s.

Joss stopped pacing before the dais and before he turned he glanced up at the empty throne like chair on the dais and allowed the heaviness to lay on his heart. He let out a deep breath and clutched the scroll tightly in his hand.  He turned away and faced the room once more.

“We must call for heroes and all sword-sellers to stand with us!”

Whispering voices echoed though the room.

Suddenly the wooden double doors banged open and Wolf Gutenberg, first son of the Lord of Walberg, walked into the room. He held his head high, his black hair loose over his shoulders and his high rounded cheeks glowing red. His sharp brown eyes scanned the room and then he crossed the floor swiftly in his large boots. His sheathed sword banged against his leg as he walked.

Silence had fallen in the room.

“What is going on here?” he demand as he beared down on his father’s chief advisor.

“Well…sir…you see…we’ve had a report of another attack.”

Wolf stepped up onto the dais and sank down into the chair.

“Wine,” he called and waved his hand at the nearest servant.

“But this one was different,” Joss finished.

“How so?”

“Well, skeleton warriors were involved.”

Wolf chocked on his mouthful of wine. He quickly covered this up by swallowing it and taking another mouthful.

“Where was this attack?” he asked.

“At the old Heroes mounds, in Avavest woods.”

Wolf gritted his teeth and stared into the goblet of wine.

“We must finish our preparations,” Joss added.

“Yes,” Wolf answered, “See it is done!”

Marul sink onto his bed and watched the wax dripping down from the candle that was on the table beside him. The tiny flame flickered in a small breeze and the wick cracked loudly. Marul signed and started to pull off his knee length leather boots.

“Your father has request you, sir,” Branen Uriah spoke, breaking the silence.

Marul glanced up at the voice of his servant. The small man was putting some clean clothes away in a chest at the foot of the bed.

“What for?” Marul snapped, he was tired of being called to his father’s sickbed.

“I don’t know, sir.”

Marul sighed, pulled his boot back up and stood up from the bed. He checked his sword was buckled around his waist and then he walked out of his room. He began to walk to the other side of the castle to his father’s rooms. The cold bare stone walls were lit by torches, the flames waved in the drifts that roamed though the castle. Soft voices floated to Marul’s ears though half opened doors. He past windows and though then he could see the coming darkness of night. He kept an eye out of the twin moons, Morrslib and Manslib as he did so.

At last he came to the staircase that led up to his father’s rooms.  As he walked up the spiral staircase he could hear soft voices and the scent of herbs coming from above him. He paused at the open wooden door, hiding in the shadow of the wall. He looked into the room.

The vast bed lay in the middle of the room, it was heaped with blankets and thick furs. A huge fire burnt brightly and fiercely in the wall opposite. The large window had also been covered up a thick drape.

“But father Wolf’s voice called out sharply.

Marul strained to hear the next voice but he could not make out the words.

“Please!” another voice whispered loudly.

Silence fell.

Marul gritted his teeth and walked into the room, his hand resting on the top of his sword.

“Here is Marul, my lord,” one of the advisers around his father’s bed whispered.

Marul walked up to the bed and stared into his fathers face.

The lord of Walberg was wasting away. His skin was a deathly white shade and his wrinkled face seemed to have sunken in. The eye lids were closed but under them Marul could see the eyeball moving. The pale blue tinted lips were partly open but the great, long black beard his father had worn with pride had been removed to stubble crossing his lower face.

Marul clutched his father’s icy cold hand in his own.

“I am here, Father,” he said quietly.

The dying man drew in a wheezing breath and struggled to open his eyes.

The men around the bed had moved back, they had stepped into the shadows of the dimly lit chamber. Wolf was the only one left by the bed and was at the foot of it, resting his back against one of the bed poles.

“M..Marul?” the voice croaked.

Marul lent his ear closer to his father’s mouth so he could hear better.

“I’m here,” he repeated and squeezed his father’s withered hand.

“I..I have de…decided…to…give you half…..”

The Lord Walberg started coughing and Marul quickly pulled his head back.

He turned to Wolf and then dropped his father’s hand and walked over to him.

“Half?” he questioned his father’s words to his brother.

Wolf nodded his head slowly, “Half of everything. He decided to spilt it down the middle.”

Marul cast a look back to his dying father. One of the servants had stepped forward with a damp rag of cloth which he wiped across the forehead of the dying lord.

“Even the town?” Marul spoke suddenly.

“Yes,” Wolf answered and then swore loudly.

This caused some of the advisers to shake their hands.

The Lord of Walberg suddenly took a large breath in which caused everyone else in the room to hold theirs. His eyes rolled backwards and then his last breath was forced from his lungs. There was a hushed silence in the room.

Joss Vaker, chief adviser, stepped forward to the bed and looked into the face of the lord.

“He is died,” Joss breathed, “Our noble lord has passed into the realms of Morr.”

Cupboard

Searching through the kitchen cupboards, she found a handful of Christmas ‘treats’ that had somehow become half-buried under packets of noodles, rice and other dried foods. Tutting, she pulled out a packet of fudge, a mini stollen cake, a box of mince pies and a bag of chocolate reindeer shaped biscuits. Laying them out on the work top, she debated getting rid of them all. So far, her diet was going well, but knowing there was temptations about could upset that.

Gathering everything, she went over to the bin, then stopped. Couldn’t she do something better with this food other than just waste it? Turning back again and placing the things down, she thought about it whilst glancing around her kitchen. A colourful flyer caught her eye on the notice board and she remembered her church was looking for food donations this coming Sunday.

Smiling, she knew just what to do.

Ruby and Wolf (Part 5)

Enchantment Of the Wolf by Tammara.deviantart.com

(Continued from Ruby and Wolf Parts 4, 3, 2 and 1, which can all be read below)

The man had his back to me and was pulling on a long, heavy metal chain. He was wearing large mud covered boots, torn and baggy black pants and a leather jacket, over which was a bright orange vest. He was tall and very muscular with almost no hair on his head or face. His neck was bulging with the strain of moving the chain.

I stopped, realising that I didn’t know what to say. Wolf growled loudly beside me and I turned to calm him. The man of course heard the sound and turned at the same time as I did. The chain dropped from his hands, landing back on the muddy ground with a metallic rattle and splat sound. Mud and water flew up in its wake, spraying the closet things, which were us.

‘Who are you? Is that a real wolf?’ the man said in a loud voice as he back stepped.

‘I’m Ruby Forrester. Nice to meet you,’ I curtsied, ‘yes he is. He’s my friend.’

‘Where did you come from?’ he asked glancing around. He’d stopped moving now and was studying Wolf and myself.

‘The forest,’ I replied, ‘I live there with my family and the others in our community.’

‘You mean on the other side of the forest? In that village that petitioned against the logging? Halthorn was it?’ he said in a gruff voice.

I shook my head, ‘Inside the forest, but I know of the village.’

‘Ah ha! You’re trespassing! Do your parents know you’re here?’

Wolf growled and moved between us. His fur was standing up causing it to look spiky and stiff. His ears were also pinned back and his mouth was flashing all his sharp teeth.

‘Keep that animal under control! We got guns and permission to use ‘em.’

‘It’s all right,’ I told Wolf, stepping beside him and stroking his back.

‘We’ll have to get this sorted. Come on, girly.’

The man grabbed my arm, yanking me. I cried out and pulled back, whilst Wolf dived for the man’s boot and sunk his teeth in. The man tried to kick him away, but Wolf had a good grip. Yelling, the man pushed me away and I lost my balance and fell into the mud in a daze. He seized a fistful of Wolf’s fur and still shaking his leg, hauled Wolf off and tossed him. Wolf landed unhurt.

The man helped me up, then started to drag me away. Over my shoulder, I saw Wolf shake himself before coming after us. I willed him to stay away, I didn’t want him to get hurt. He hung back just a little and followed us to one of the green cabins. There was a porch like area, which we walked up on to. Wolf stopped there, sniffed and then followed.

‘Stay back,’ I told him, but Wolf shook his head and followed us through the door that the man had just opened.

The room was large and taken up by a desk and some chairs. There was also some cabinets and lots of paper scattered about. Some jackets, vests and helmets were hung up and there was a clock on the wall. A man, similar to the one clutching the hood of my cape, was behind the desk, with his feet on it and a newspaper in his hands.

‘Look, Terry,’ the man said.

‘What is it now, Reggie?’

‘Let me go!’ I shouted and twisted out of his grasp. I stumbled into a chair and sat down.

The second man dropped the paper and stared at me in shock.

‘She says she lives in the forest and she’s got a pet wolf. He bite my boot,’ Reggie explained and raised his boot to show his boss.

‘My name’s Ruby and Wolf isn’t my pet, he’s my friend. And you’re destroying his home and mine too!’

‘You live in the forest?’ Terry asked, staring at me.

I nodded, ‘Have my whole life, same as my parents and grandparents.’

‘Don’t you mean the village? Where you live on the edge?’

‘No.’ Wolf came to me and put his head on my knees. I stroked him, gently.

‘She’s trespassing,’ Reggie cut in.

Terry held up his a hand, ‘I’ll take care of this get back to your work.’

‘Wait!’ I cried, jumping up, ‘you can’t cut down any more trees!’

He shoved me back into the chair and stormed out. The door slamming shut behind him. I turned to Terry, a pleading look on my face.

‘Once we’ve meet our quota we’ll stop,’ he said.

‘Quota?’

‘When we have enough,’ he explained, ‘my company got permission for this job. Only, the locals and the nature lovers decided they weren’t happy and set about stopping us. We’ve been fighting them for years now, but finally things turned and we brought the land.’

‘But the land belongs to the forest,’ I put in.

Terry got up, shuffled about some paper and returned with a large sheet, on which was a map. He laid it across the table and I noticed all the different coloured lines going in circles and jagged shapes across it. He picked up a pen and pointed out where we were.

‘See this red ring?’ he asked and traced it with the pen.

I nodded.

‘I own all of this now. Where do you live?’

I looked closely, I could see the village further up and the stream, which Wolf and I followed to get here, because that seemed to snake from the village to just outside the red ring. In-between and boarded by a massive green circle was the forest and details of the land heights and other streams. I couldn’t see any indication of my house or my grandparents’ or the hermit’s or the other five houses I know were scattered in the forest. I put my fingers on the village and drew them into the forest, until they stopped in a large flat area.

Terry marked the place with a square in a question mark with the pen and then looked at the map. He pointed and said, ‘We are coming nowhere near there. It’s miles away.’

‘But what about the animals?’

He shrugged and swept his hand over the map, ‘there’s enough space for ‘em.’

I frowned and looked down at Wolf. We didn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

‘Look,’ he said and I raised my head, ‘if it makes you feel any better, once we’ve cleared the land we’ll be planting new trees.’

Puzzlement crossed my face, ‘why?’

‘Because, some of them will become next year’s Christmas trees and others will be the year after that and so on. Then we’ll plant new ones again. Yeah, some of the trees might go for furniture or paper. But it’s all good.’

‘So you’ll make the forest come back?’ I asked, still not grasping what he was saying.

‘Not exactly…Hey, why don’t I take you home?’

I nodded, suddenly tired and hungry. I wiped a hand over my face and swept back my hair. Wolf grumbled and chuffed at me. I told him it was okay, but he didn’t seem happy.

The man picked up a leather coat and some keys. He led me out of the office and around the back, where there was a patch of land that cars were parked on.

‘I’ve to tell ‘em I’m going, stay here,’ he added and walked back.

I leant against the front of a pickup truck and Wolf sat before my feet.

‘What did he say?’ Wolf asked.

I looked at him puzzled, ‘what do you mean? You heard everything he said didn’t you?’

‘I don’t understand his tongue. It is only things of the forest that I can communicate with.’

‘But we speak the same language like he does…’

Wolf shook his head, ‘it is similar to the forest, but it is not. What did he say, child?’

‘That…they were going to replant the trees and they weren’t going much further into the forest now. At least, I think that’s what he meant…’

‘Why are they doing this?’

‘They own the land, so they can do whatever they want. They use the trees like forest people do…for fuel, as martials, to sell.’

Wolf glanced at the floor, ‘what about us?’

‘We’ll be fine. Look, he’s back.’

‘Okay, let’s go,’ Terry called as he came over. He opened the car, we put Wolf in the back, he helped me in and then got in himself. Starting up the car, he drove off and the radio came on. He turned it down a little, but we listened to it all the way to the village. We passed through a lot of the forest on the way there. I wasn’t in the mood for talking, so I kept watch out of the windows.

It was getting dark, by the time we arrived in the village. He stopped the car in the middle and looked at the house on either side. Lights were on in many windows and most had fairy lights twinkling away. He turned off the engine.

‘Where’s your house?’ he asked.

‘In the forest, like I said before,’ I replied.

‘Direct me then.’

I sighed and told him to drive on. He nodded, started the car up and we went on again. The village road led into the middle of the cluster of houses before ending. Not many cars travelled that far, but it was still useable. Long tree branches scratched against the car’s side and plants crunched under the wheels. I pressed my head to the window and told him to keep going till the road ran out.

When it did and he stopped again, I got out, let Wolf free and walked off into the trees. Terry called after me and then followed me, still calling. Passing a group of tall pines, I entered the clearing, which ran around my house and went up to the front door.

‘Will you wait a minute?’ Terry half-shouted, joining me.

‘Why? Oh, thank you for bring me home,’ I said and pushed open the door.

Walking in, I found my family, including my father and grandparents sat around a roaring fire. They all turned to me as I walked in and some even stood up.

‘Ruby!’ my little brothers’ cried and raced to me.

We threw our arms around each other and hugged tightly. My name ring out some more and my whole family came and hugged me.

‘Where have you been?’ ma asked.

‘We were so worried,’ grandma added.

‘What happened to you?’

‘Why is your dress so muddy?’

‘She’s all right,’ Terry cut in, ‘she went to the other side of the forest. I think she got lost. I brought her home.’

‘No, Forrester can get lost,’ my grandpa chimed in. ‘aren’t you one of those deforesting people?’

‘Well…er…’

‘Thank you,’ my dad unexpectedly interjected, from his chair by the fire, ‘for bring my daughter back. Now, would you kindly leave.’

‘Yes, Sir,’ Terry said and left. The door swung shut behind him and his car engine started up in the background.

‘Pa!’ I dashed over to and wrapped my arms around him.

‘Are you all right Ruby? He didn’t hurt you, did he?’

‘No,’ I replied.

‘What were you doing so far away?’

‘Wolf needed my help…’

I looked at the door, but there was no Wolf there. I rushed over, opening it and stepping outside. He wasn’t there either. I searched the surrounding trees and undergrowth. I called his name and listened, but still he didn’t appear. I went back to the front door, where my grandfather and ma where standing.

‘I don’t know where he went to,’ I said sadly.

‘Maybe, he was a forest spirit?’ my grandpa suggest, ‘could you talk to him and did you understand each other?’

I nodded, ‘but he didn’t understand the men.’

‘Then perhaps he was a guardian of the forest and he choose you to help find out what was going on and to stop it. Which you seem to have done, Ruby.’

‘I’m not sure…’

Ma sighed, ‘Look. It doesn’t matter now. Come in get cleaned up and have some food.’

‘Sure,’ I said.

They stepped inside and I walked up to join them. Just before I did though, I glanced over my shoulder and there was Wolf, smiling at me from within a bush.