The air had a chill to it. It was cold, but in the way that feels like a knife cutting deep into the bone. We were on the way to Chuck’s party, and decided to take back roads. We had turned off onto a rocky, dirt road, and the car stopped. It had broke down. We were stuck with no way to the party, and no cell service. We saw nothing around us but big red cedars. It was a windy, and it was a very clear night so the stars were out. Jenny and I weren’t quite sure what to do. We noticed a bright shining light far in the depths of the forest, thinking it was a house, Jenny proceeded to walk toward it. I didn’t think that was the best idea, and suggested to remain by the car and wait for somebody to pass by. However, Jenny made the point it was past 10pm on a Friday night and nobody would out here. We walked blindly into the enormous trees, and tried to stay on the most open path. Jenny and I began to argue.
“Do you really think this would be the best idea? Who knows what is in that forest! I’m staying here.”
The wind continued to howl, and I was frightened by the whistle of the trees. I ran toward Jenny.
“Jenny, wait! Come on, we can’t be separated right now!”
We both walked bristley, and nervously in the dark to follow this light. We just figured it was a house or something with someone that could help us, but the light wasn’t getting any closer. All of a sudden we felt a spine chilling breeze on our necks, and that’s when we heard leaves shuffling, and sticks breaking. Our bodies instantly froze and our stomachs dropped. Our hearts were beating as if we just ran a marathon. I mumbled under my cold breath, “Jenny run!”
I kept running, but wasn’t quite sure where I was going. I had to find a way out of these woods. I turned around to talk to Santasha, but didn’t see her. I stopped, and started to freak out, not knowing where she was. Not knowing where I was.
I screamed her name until I couldn’t speak anymore. Nothing. I sat down frustrated not knowing what to go to next. I tried to find the light again so I could walk opposite of it, but it was nowhere to be found. I felt a cold breath on my neck. I was too tired to run. I turned around only this time there was a man behind me. I tried to run but my body was frozen solid. I couldn’t even scream.
The sun was beginning to peak over the trees, and the birds were starting to come from their nests. I was exhausted. I reached the end of the big trees, saw Jenny’s car, and kept running. I collapsed in front of it to catch my breath;
Turning to my side, “Oh gosh Jenny that was... Jenny?”
Where was she!? I looked back into the trees, but saw nothing. The sun was higher now, and the squirrels were coming down from the trees. The light we had followed into the forest was no longer there. Did we ever see it, or was it just our heads messing with us?
I got into the car, to see if I could start it. It still wouldn’t start, and my phone- still no bars. I had nobody to call and no way to know where I was. I heard a soft moan come from the trees.
I got no response. Maybe I’m just paranoid. Where could she be? Because there was no way of finding where we started running, there was almost no chance of me finding her. I felt defeated and scared. I was alone, on a dirt road, with nothing around. All I could do was sit there and cry. I lifted my head, and took a deep breath.
I caught another glimpse of light in my eye. I intentionally glanced ahead, and saw what I thought were headlights. I jumped up, and began to yell and shine my phone flashlight for help.It was just light enough to be able to see me, but not enough to see the black car. As the car inched closer, I realized that it was a police car.
“Hello ma’am, are you okay?”
“Our dispatch got a missing person report this morning, and I’ve been driving around all night to see if I could find anything.”
“What’s your name?”
My voice was weak from yelling, but I tried to tell him my friend was gone. I couldn’t speak. I got in his car, and he took me back to the police station. During that time I calmed down and I could get small sentences out. I couldn’t stop replaying the moment in my head. With that came more tears, which made it more difficult for me to continue speaking to him. When we got into a place where I had service, I texted my mom and told her to come to the police station.
“What is your friend’s name and what does she look like?”
“What time did you and your friend separate?”
“Where were your guys headed when she went missing?”
I could only answer some of the questions. My mind was as blank as a canvas. I couldn’t do this right now. I needed to find Jenny, and this police man was the closest thing to that goal.
I woke up the next morning not knowing where I was. I looked around, and saw nothing but black brick walls and a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. I didn’t know how I got here, and I didn’t know how to get out. I tried to stand up, but I couldn’t. I looked down, and my ankles were tied together. I heard the stairs start to creak, so I jolted back up. Scared, I kept my head down. Who took me, and why. I didn’t do anything! Was this the light Santasha and I were following?
I heard the footsteps find the end of the stairs, and start to walk toward me. I began to quiver. Was this man going to hurt me? I didn’t do anything wrong, to give him a reason to touch me. He finally spoke to me, and his voice was scratchy.
“Ohhh good you’re awake, how are you darling”
“How was last night? Seems like you had a rough one”
Last night? What about it? I thought I was dreaming all of that. The car breaking down, the distant light, Santasha and I separating, the man grabbing me. I was scared, and I feared I would never make it home.
“Who are you and why did you take me,” I said with a shaky voice.
“That is something you’ll never know,” He said.
“Can you at least tell me why you took me?”
“Because I am your father, and this is the only way I’d ever be able to see you!”
My father!? My mom has always said he was dead. This didn’t make sense. I didn’t know who to trust now.
“Mom said you were dead!”
With an upset voice, he sat next to me, untied me, and muttered under his breathe.
“I have waited 17 years to meet you. Your mother and I weren’t married when you were born, and she was young...and scared.”
“I came home from work one day, and she had taken you and left; Ihave always wondered if you looked like me.”
I was so confused. So much had happened in the last 24 hours, and I just wanted to go home. We talked for the next two hours. I told him all the things I had accomplished, and showed him pictures of me growing up. I kinda liked him. He wasn’t like my mom had always explained him. He was loving and tender.
“Take me back home, please. I’m tired, and I need to find my friend.”
We got into the car, and my dad started to drive me home. When we got out to familiar territory, I was able to tell him how to get there.
My mom came and picked me up from the police station. We were both so happy to see each other.
“Jenny is on her way home. She called her mom and said her dad had her.” “She doesn’t want to press charges, but she wants her mom and dad to see each other.”
I remember all the things Jenny told me she wished her dad had been there for. I wonder where he came from, and how he found us. All I knew was that I needed to take a shower and sleep in my own bed. But most importantly, I needed to see my best friend.
Later that night, a car pulled into our driveway, and Jenny came busting through the door.
“Santasha!” “Oh my gosh, I thought I’d never see you again!” Jenny screamed.
We almost knocked each other over when we hugged. Nothing had ever felt better. I sighed in absolute relief.
My phone suddenly buzzed, and I pulled it out of my pocket.
“Who is it?” Jenny asked.
I chuckled; “It’s Chuck.”
“Missed you guys last night! Hope you can come next week!”
I looked at Jenny and and we burst out laughing.
“Never again will we take back roads in the dark.”
“Agreed,” she said.