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The Forest Dweller This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I take a deep breath and inhale the sweet scent of the forest as I walk beneath the bright green leaves. Sun dances across my shoulders periodically, finding it’s way through the dense botanical ceiling above me.
A voice somewhere in the depths of my conscience reminds me there are candles and incense burning back home, things I should not have left unattended. Then again, I’ve already thrown away so many of my childhood lessons for you. The first; don’t talk to strangers. The second; don’t accept anything from someone you don’t know…all along, we’ve known how many rules we were breaking. But I don’t care. Seeing your face is all that matters to me now, as I break into a run despite the summer heat. I haven’t seen you for weeks, any longer and my heart my burst.
You step out from behind the trees, as extraordinary as the first day I met you. The sun plays off the silver earring hanging in the unnatural point of your right ear, reddish-brown hair carelessly tossed over your left shoulder. It’s grown a few inches in such a short time. When we met, it only came to your shoulders. I shake my head and step into your open arms, reveling in your scent.
“I was beginning to think you weren’t coming. The day’s already half gone.” Your voice is soft, like the murmuring waters of the creek.
“I had to study for a math test. Mother wouldn’t let me do anything until I did.”
“Ah. I see. School does come first…still, I’m glad you made it.” You grin as we start to walk, and I wonder where you’re going to take me this time.
“It may come first, but I hate it.” I slip my hand into yours and you close your fingers around it, a silent promise to not let go.
“There are many things in life we may not like doing, but we must do them, regardless.” You stop walking and I look up, taken aback once again by the beauty of the forest. Water sparkles as it flows past the long stretch of grass that lays before us, and I notice a blanket spread out in the shade.
Suddenly everything seems darker, and I realize with a pang of sadness that it’s almost sunset. You must notice the look on my face, because you tilt my chin up gently and brush your lips against mine.
“We still have time.” You say, leading me to the blanket. You sit and pull me onto your lap as the crickets start to sing. I lay my head on you shoulder and try hard not to cry. I know that soon it will be over, and I’ll have to go back, not knowing when I’ll see you again.
“I don’t want to go back.” My voice is uneven. You nod and look down at me with your peridot eyes.
“I don’t want you to go back.” You say, as you kiss me one last time. “But I’ll be waiting here for your return, of that you can be sure.” I nod as the moon starts to rise, a frozen sun in a black velvet sky.

A harsh shrieking noise fills my ears and I sit up straight, groping in the dim light for my alarm clock. A glance at my nightstand reveals the remnants of my incense and candles, all burned down to nothing. A feeling of utter loss and sadness washes over me as I realize it was all a dream, burning while I slept and leaving me only with ashes when I wake. He was all a dream...I let out a combined sigh and groan-wondering how such strong feelings can simply be dreamt up in one night-and manage to get up in time to write this sad tale in my dream journal before I have to go back to reality and school, taking a minute to watch the sun rise over the metallic city, not one tree in sight.



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