From the author: They warned me to stay away from the woods. I should have listened.
I wish I could forget what happened that day in the woods. Whenever I think on it too long, my eye spasms and a phantom pain shoots through the space where two of my fingers used to be.
It occurred twenty years ago. School had ended early that day, and I was excited to get home. The route to my house skirted along a large expanse of woodland curiously named Sunshine Meadows. Curious, because the trees were so thick the sun’s heavy rays were unable to smash through the forest’s rampart of green pines.
The dark character of the woods had burrowed its way into the imagination of the town’s population. Parents told ghost stories to their children about the woods in hopes that they’d stay away. The quality of the forest, doubled with the dreadful tales, created a very real atmosphere of apprehension for most people. I, being young and rebellious, gave the warnings no heed.
I trekked home, oblivious to my surroundings. At least until something standing at the tree line made me stop in my tracks: a young girl wearing a pink dress, clutching a yellow balloon.
The girl waved, turned around, and walked into the black expanse of trees. With two steps the tall pines had swallowed her. Her yellow balloon drifted upward until it caught on a tree branch. It wriggled to break free, but the woods wouldn’t let it go.
The forest was no place for that little girl. Even at my young age, I knew that much. I ran after her and yelled for her to come back. Her pink dress stood out amongst the trees and I was able to find her. Within moments I was almost upon her. At the last moment, she stopped and turned away from me.
She started to giggle, and my steps faltered. It wasn’t the normal, infectious laugh of a child, it was different—lower in tone and filled with gravel. My body screamed at me to leave, turn tail and run all the way home and swear to any higher power that would listen to me that I’d stay away from these cursed woods. However, against all the warnings, I put a hand on the girl’s shoulder.
The giggles turned into demoniacal laughter. That was when she spun around.
I can’t recall the details of her face. It’s blurred in my memory and I’m thankful for that. However, her teeth. By god, her teeth remain etched in my mind. Sharp and plentiful…more teeth than any human should possess.
My parents found me in my room later clutching my bleeding hand. They said I kept muttering incoherently in the corner.
My medications make me drowsy. Most days I’d comfort in watching the world from my window as sleep takes me. However, today caught in the limb outside my window, is a floating yellow balloon.