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My day, like any other day, began with toast. It was the only thing my father knew how to cook. He was a strange man, he was short bald, and always seemed slightly frazzled. But today there was an eerie silence about him. He seemed to have noticed the confused glances a gave him from across the table because he grabbed my hand and with a terrified tremor to his voice announced,
“Florence, your mother isn’t away on business.” He paused, “She disappeared...in the forest.” That last sentence grabbed my heart and ripped it into tiny pieces, my lip quivered, hot wet tears rolled down my face. The forest near my house had been nicknamed the suicide forest, because at least 500 people have taken their lives there since the 1950's.
“No,” I managed to whisper with a trembling voice, “No, she can’t be dead!” I exclaimed.
“Florence, I never said that she was dead. I simply meant that she was missing.” I ripped my hands from his and stood up, bracing myself to run. “Don’t you dare go into that forest. You’ve heard the stories. I don’t want you gone too.” He cried.?
“Those are just stories!” I screamed. I could feel red hot fury boiling up inside me. “I’m leaving. Now.” and with that I turned around and sprinted through our sliding glass door.
As I ran I thought of the stories that I heard. Each one of then started with the an innocent camper in the forest, and ended with a noose around the campers neck. The images made me run faster, until suddenly a strange feeling came over me, like a blanket woven with sorrow. I stopped. Everywhere I looked were trees and green every where. I’d be lucky if I could find my way back. There was an eerie silence. I could almost feel that something was wrong. That danger was awaiting in my midst. Panic rose in throat and my mind beckoned for me to run again. So I did. I took off going as fast as my legs could carry me. branches whipped my face and the underbrushed scratched my legs to the point that I could feel blood running into my socks. I willed myself to run faster, my sense of panic getting stronger with every step. My heart was beating so fast that I could feel it hitting my rib cage. Thump thump thump. Suddenly, I collided with a tree. The force knocked me off of my feet. I rolled over to stand up and came face to face with a rotting corpse. The putrid smell of death filled my nose. I screamed and scrambled to my feet. I looked at the body, just laying there, with a rope around his neck. I couldn’t stand the thought of death anymore and ran as far away as I could.
Finally, running out of breath, I began to slow to a stop. I found a place to stay and sat there listening. But instead of the chirp of a near by bird, all that could be hear was an ominous creaking noise. I got up to find the mysterious noise and spotted something out in the distance. I cautiously began to travel towards it. As I came closer, my eyes focused on what it was. A body. Just hanging there in the tree. I stepped closer. But it wasn’t just any person, it was my mother with a rope was tightened around her neck and the wind was blowing her ever so gently back and forth. Her face was contorted in pain and her mouth gaped open in one last shrill cry of terror. Her hands were grasped around the rope in a futile attempt to save herself. I felt my body go limp, but I managed to go closer. I spotted a glint of red attached to the tree where my mother hang. I took it off and deciphered the words scribbled on it. It read:?
“Run while you have the chance.” I froze. My thoughts race. My heart sunk into the pit of my stomach, this wasn’t her handwriting. Then in a moments time, everything fell into place. A chill ran through my spine as I realized that these campers were murdered, and I knew that I knew who the killer was.
I felt a strong hand grasp my shoulder. I felt breathing close to my neck, and ever so softly the murderer whispered,
“I told you not to come here.” I whipped my head and around and stood face to face with none other than my father. He gabbed my throat and shoved my head against a tree, knocking me out.
I awoke to the smell of toast. I saw my father’s cheerful face, and when he saw that I was awake he glided over, grabbed my hand and said, ?
“Honey, your mother isn’t away on business.”