In a small village on the skirt of a forest lived a beautiful young girl. She was skinny and tall with blue eyes and white teeth which pierced vibrantly from her face. Last year, a campfire turned into an inferno. The winds picked up unexpectedly and threw embers across the village. A few homes burst into flame, including the little girls whose parents were still home. They were gone in an instant, the girl saved only because she had spent the night with her grandmother a few houses down. More homes were lost and a few burns, but they were the only souls lost that night. The village went back to normal rather quickly, but the girl found refuge in the forest. She walked through the thick trees and became acquainted with the animals she came across. Her peaceful nature calmed all around, even the bears and wolves approached with inquiry instead of hunger. She spent every moment in the forest, coming back to the village and her grandmother’s home only for dinner and sleep. The other kids poked fun at her for her weird behavior and always secluding herself. They would tease her whenever they had the chance, threw rocks and stick at her, and crowned her the nickname Forest Lover.
One day, a group of boys saw her trot into the forest and followed. A pudgy boy named Bart trudged in front of his skinnier cronies, Lester and Wyatt. They hated how much attention she had gotten after the fires. The village flocked to help her and her grandmother, which built resentment in the kids. The boys continued at a distance behind her as she went further into the forest. She heard a twig snap behind her and she froze. The boys made a rush at her in the hesitation. Bart barrelled over her, throwing her into the dirt as Lester and Wyatt began to chant “Forest Lover, loved by no other, not even her own mother!”. They pranced around her like a maypole, singing her name and kicking up dirt in her face. As it went on, Bart clenched a fist and kicked her in the ribs. “Hey! Bart, that’s too much!” said another boy. “She’s a freak” Bart replied, “she should have burned with the fire”. He kicked again, this time hitting her across the cheek. Her neck twisted violently, and her body fell in a heap. “No one cares about her” and he walked away. The other boys froze in shock, but then followed.
The boys rushed to get home, but as they passed tree after tree, it became less clear if they were going the right way. Bart said, “I think it’s over this way”. In front of them lay a large rock with a fallen tree leaning against its left side. Bart looked around and thought he could see the village on the other side of the rock, but the trees were so dense. Bart climbed to the other side. He looked back and couldn’t see the others anymore. “Made it!” he shouted. “Alright, I’m comin,” said Lester, who proceeded to pop over and spill onto Barts’ feet.
“Where’s Wyatt?” Said Bart looking over Lester “thought you would come one after another”. Lester turned back in hopes to see Wyatt pop over, but nothing happened. “Wyatt!!” Lester screamed. The wind blew, and their bones chilled as a faint cry could be heard. Lester became very nervous and with a shrill voice, yelled again “This ain’t funny, Wyatt. Where d’you go?!”. Another breeze came, and the boys froze as they heard a whisper in the blowing wind, “forrreesstttlovvveerrrrr”.
Bart’s courage fled him, he took off in the direction he believed correct. Bart was in a pure panic and aimed to get out of that forest as fast as he could. After a few minutes of running, Bart looked around and realized he was alone, Lester had vanished. He spun in a circle as his heart raced “Lester! Don’t fuck with me!!! This shit is not funny, let’s get out of here! LESTER!!”. Tears streaked his cheeks and his eyes bright red. He continued to move through the trees, calling out for Lester every couple steps.
Another breeze came and kicked up dust around Bart’s feet. It gave him a chill, but what gave him ice in his veins was the faint whisper “lovvvvedbyyyyynoooothhherrrr”. Bart’s face contorted into a shriveled ball of fear and anxiety, tears poured from his eyes, cries pouring from his mouth. He sprinted through the woods in whatever direction he faced, he would not let up his pace. He misstepped on a rock, took a few bounds forwards trying to maintain balance, and collided with the trunk of a tree. Bart fell in a heap and dirt billowed around his body. In a daze, he stared at the forest ceiling. The light just trickled through and hear birds off in the distance. Then, the whisper “notttevennnnherownnnnmotherrrr”.
He contracted his abs and bent over to his knees to get up but was struck in the side. He looked up and was now staring at a wolf who was staring back. Bart fell on his ass and began scooting backward. The wolf did not growl, did not bear teeth, just stared back at him. He backed up until he hit what he believed to be a tree with his back and began to try to stand up. He grabbed the tree and recoiled as he felt fur instead of bark. Bart tilted his head up to see a grizzly bear looking back. He shrieked and the bear swiped one of his giant paws across the boy’s face. Bart spat out blood as he moved across the ground on his hands and knees. He cried again “HELP!!!” And felt a crunch in his left calf. The wolf had bitten down and was pulling him back when the bear came and clamped on his right arm. He screamed in pain which seared across his body. Bart looked forward and caught the glowing smile and blue eyes of a girl in between the trees. His eyes widened and he was about to shout out at the girl, but the bear released its grip and stomped on his head, shoving it into the ground face first, muffling all sound. The bear chewed on his back as he suffocated on blood and dirt.
When morning came, screams cast around the village. Bart’s body was discovered draped in a tree just outside of the village, Wyatt and Lester unconscious at the trunk. When they awoke, all they could remember was being struck in the back and then nothing They would never touch foot to that forest ever again. The village mourned and brought the body out of the tree. Off to the side of the gathering sat Forest Lover on a rock. She looked upon the people of the village, smiling as a butterfly played and jumped around her outstretched fingers.