Girl of the Woods... A Twenty Four Hour Short Story
In a large clearing in the middle of the woods, their large house stood. One dad, one mum, and one daughter. They lived alone, away from society, away from civilization, away from the rest of the world.
Annabelle never knew why they always had to keep within the woods, she was as curious as any other normal child would be. But she also loved her parents. And she never questioned their judgments. Once was always enough for her, and mother had said "out there is bad for us."
Everything they needed, they had gotten from the woods. Food, water, clothing.. all which mattered. Even the little education Anna had got, her parents had been her teachers.
But there was one thing which her parents held from Anna, one 'little' thing which was to eventually bring their small separate world to an end.
You see, at least once a day, the family gathered together for a small family ritual. A drinking ritual. Dad served a special kind of drink, and he always said to Anna, "our family's wine is special, and different from all the others. Because it has a special source, which has been passed down secretly through centuries."
Maybe her dad was over enthusiastic about this small family ritual, or maybe he wanted the significance of this family time not to be lost on Anna. But whatever his reason, he did succeed in doing one thing.. he piqued Anna's interest as to the source of this drink.
And that was what led Anna to me...
Although he lived 'out there' among society, Sam was lonely. There was something in his eyes that told me that he yearned for company, true company. Right from that first day I saw him, I saw it too.
But I rush. Let me go back to what first brought me to Sam...
For a while I had been sneaking out to follow father every evening after our ritual, curious as to where he secretly brewed our family's special wine. Mum didn't notice I was gone, she always spent her evening hours writing 'the books' - a hobby of hers in which she entered our daily activities in a set of small books which she kept.
The first few times I followed father, I was filled with guilt a few ways into the woods. At this point, I always turned and returned home without satisfying my curiosity.
But somehow, I always found enough courage to follow him the next day, and the day after. I constantly went after him, but constantly didn't follow him to the secret source. Until that evening...
I don't know what brought the thought to my head, but Midway through following father that day I suddenly felt I was doing the right thing. If this was a secret of our family, and I was the only child, the next generation, then I needed to know where it came from. It was not only right to follow father I told myself, it was necessary.
So I had followed him the farthest that day, until he had stopped suddenly in the middle of nowhere, and had clapped his hands. And out of the blue it seemed, a young man had materialized.
That man who I came to know as Sam...
Sam's job was simple. Go to the site every evening to deliver supplies. Once in a month, he collected the log books too and replaced them with new ones.
But Sam almost literally lived on the site. He loved the evenings he spent in the quiet controlled environment more than the times he spent in the busy streets outside.
Here, he felt at home. He could sit and appreciate the plants, the water, the air. He could think out loud without having to worry about anyone disturbing his thoughts. Here, his status didn't matter, he was as important as everything else.
But then one evening she had walked right upon him and his thoughts. This strange but lovely looking girl.
At first he had been scared out of his wits. He never read the log books, it was beyond his pay grade, but he had been told only a couple were involved in the social experiment. And theirs were a voluntary involvement too. But now this...
She had been calm and assured, and her demeanor had radiated to him..
"Hi, I'm sorry to have disturbed your thoughts." And she had smiled. That smile that was to become engraved in his memories.. "I'm Annabelle."
That assuredness, that carefree confidence, it had made her seem one with the woods, and he had relaxed. "I'm Sam.. and I'm happy you disturbed my thoughts. They weren't really nice ones anyway."
And he had returned her smile. So had they begun a new ritual - the ritual after the ritual.
Sam had been careful at the beginning not to say much about his world. He had no idea how much Anna knew, if she even knew anything at all. He had focused on talking about himself, and listening to her.
Her curiosities diverted, Anna forgot about the source of her family's special wine, Sam took all of her thoughts now. She wondered about him, why he had that lonely look in his eyes even when he lived 'out there', what was his life out there like, did he have the same patterns as she did...?
While one held back for the nature of his job, the other's curiosity rose with each new day that dawned. And soon, like all friendships that has a spark, a little fire began to show. That fire which brought the social experiment to an end...
They had been talking for close to an hour that evening, each satisfied to be in each other's company. Then Anna had spoken those words which Sam had been dreading for a while..
"You've seen my world Sam. I want to see what yours is like."
And even though Sam had thought about it, and had privately practiced many deflecting responses, because he had somehow, against his will, fallen for this girl of the woods, Sam had found himself telling Anna everything.
The year wasn't 1920 as she believed, it was 2020. 'Out there' wasn't really bad he told her, it was only the world, the real world. And all Anna had known were a result of a controlled social experiment which she was a part of... And her parents knew.
She had laughed at him, thinking his response to be an intended joke. And Sam could have stopped there, should have stopped there. But he didn't.
He took her outside the site, and showed her the effects of technological development. That which she had been oblivious of in her small make-believe world.
On seeing the world, the real world, Annabelle died. She died inside. All she could think about was that her parents knew and didn't tell her. She asked to go back home, and Sam led her back inside the site.
The next day when Sam arrived, the site was gone. All of it. And until this day, Sam never saw Annabelle again...
As for the experiment, it was completed after all. Because although Sam may never know it, his actions had helped bring it all to a satisfying conclusion...
This one was a strange prompt, and I wasn't sure I would put in an entry, up until I wrote the words, 'the end'.
I hope you found it as pleasantly melancholic as I did.