Author's note: I love my idea of the Forbidden! My best friend even used it in one of her stories. I'd... Show full author's note »
Sneaking Around“Good morning, Kennedy,” greets Dad as I come downstairs, into the kitchen as he eats eggs, bacon, and waffles.
“Morning, Dad.” I take a seat next to him. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry for yesterday. About running away,” I apologize. He nods.
“It’s alright, sweetheart. It’s done. Over with. Forgotten.” I smile.
“Great. So…what are we doing today? Any people coming over? Any banquets I need to know about? Anything?” I ask.
“Nope. You’re all
“Great.” I race over to the window and peer outside. Sunny. The window’s warm. “You know what? It’s so warm out today, but it was so cold out yesterday.”
“Sweetheart, it was sixty-five degrees out yesterday. It was just raining. Maybe that’s why it seemed so cold.”
I frown. “Probably right.” I walk back over to Dad. “So…I can go outside today? In the woods?” I ask hopefully.
“You sure can.” I jump once and turn to go get dressed. “Ah, ah, ah. But don’t go too far. Bring…your cell phone.” I haven’t used that thing in years. I nod and scramble back up the stairs and into my room.
I go into my closet and go to my secret clothes stash in a bag in the back. I unzip it and search through. I pull out some denim shorts, a blue tank top with a printed green flower to the right on my waist, a green cardigan, and I grab my hand-me-downs. I slip it all on it that order and I brush my hair out, pulling strands away from my face and tying them in the back.
Finally, I grab Dude’s blanket and I stumble downstairs, eager to be in the sun. I race out the front door and jump/spin. I race into the woods, surprised that Dad trusts me to go into the woods by myself again, trusting me that I won’t run away. Which I won’t!
I run through the trees again, but this time with shoes, better clothing, and I’m being careful not to run in to things…Yeah, I was looking behind me.
Not too soon, I reach Dude’s house. I really need to learn his name. I knock on his door and step back, being polite, and wait. The door opens long moments later.
“Hi,” I say. He staggers back, as if it’s a surprise to see me. What if it is? I’m the most predictable one in the family. He lifts up his hand and does a little wave. I gesture inside and he moves out of the way. I walk in. “I brought back your blanket. Where can I set it?” He gestures to the couch and goes into his quaint kitchen to make tea, I suppose. I set down the blanket neatly. “Makin’ tea?” I ask. He nods. While he’s busy at work, making the tea, I admire his small, wooden cottage. It’s cute. Quaint. Small. My type of place. Although, it’s nothing like where I live. “How long have you lived here?” I ask curiously.
“About-“ I whirl around and face him in surprise, my hair flinging to one shoulder. I see him clamp his lips shut.
“No, it’s okay. Keep talking. Finish your thoughts,” I say eagerly.
He quickly grabs a notepad and pen and starts scribbling something down. He slides the pad to me. I can’t. Also using the notepad and pen, I write: What’s your name? Tell me, please. I keep calling you Dude. And, tell me with your voice. I slide the notepad back over to him and I see his dark blue eyes scan the page. He hesitates.
“Trust me,” I say simply.
“Mark Collins,” he says. I smile from ear to ear.
“Thank you, thank you, and thank you!” I yell. I calm myself down. “Mark.” I smile for knowing his name. “I want to let you know that you can talk to me. You can trust me.”
“You keep saying that but how do I know I can trust you? All I know is your name,” he says. I understand. I think I know more about him than he does about me and he’s forbidden to talk.
“Wanna know more about me?” He nods. “Fine. My full name is Kennedy Mariah Holbrook. But people call me Kenny. I love the woods. I have an older sister; Kate. And I’m seventeen years old. You turn,” I say.
“I think you’re leaving out the most important detail of all,” Mark says. I wince.
“Alright! I live in a mansion!” I say jokingly.
“What about that guy saying ‘royal business’?” he asks.
“Ohh! That was Zavier. He likes to say that. He thinks it makes the family sound cool. But, he’s technically lying since my father and I aren’t blood related. My dad adopted me when I was little. He told me that on my sixteenth birthday.”
It was horrible. I had walked downstairs and while we ate French toast—my choice—he blurted it out and continued eating. Kate was surprised also. We had thought we were related. Well, obviously we didn’t—and still don’t—look alike, but we have the same face structure. But I’d always known I was different with my blond hair and blue eyes; when everyone else had brown hair and any other color eyes except blue.
“Now it’s your turn,” I say, pushing my thoughts to the back of my mind.
Mark sighs. “Okay, fine. My full name is Mark Eugene Collins. I love tea.” He gestures to his cup. “I’m an only child. And I’m eighteen years old. There. Done,” he finishes. I smile.
“Okay. Back to the point: Can you trust me?” I ask. Mark smiles.
“Yes. I guess. I have to get to know you more. Hangout with you. See what you’re like,” he announces.
I nod understandingly. “Alright, then. Come one. Come and hangout with me.” I grab Mark’s arm and pull him out the front door. I pull him into thickness of the trees and begin to climb the highest one.
“What in the world are you doing?” he asks, looking up as I climb.
I laugh. “Climbing a tree. C’mon,” I encourage. He begins to climb and soon he’s on my tail. I know he’s taller than me, but, man, can he climb fast.
“Now, tell me exactly why we’re climbing a tree,” he huffs.
“It’s a thing I like to do. It can come in handy when you’re being chased by a search party. So are random guys in the woods.”
Mark laughs and I do too. We finally reach the top and I stand up on one branch, hugging the trunk. I look up and let the sun beam on my face. Mark reaches the top seconds later and he does the same.
“Hey. Will you tell me what you were doing when you were running from that group?” he asks curiously.
“Sure. It’s simple. I was running away because I found something. I was trying to get somewhere,” I partially lie. Then I instantly feel guilt because how will he be able to trust me if I lie to him?
“No. It’s not simple. I know there’s more to it, Kennedy,” he implies.
I sigh. “You’re right, okay? Now, you have to promise that you won’t tell anybody about what I’m about to say. Oh! Sorry,” I say, sneaking a glance at Mark enjoying the sun; his blond hair as bright as ever.
“It’s alright. I don’t mind. So, what was the reason?” He looks at me and I sigh again.
“My mom. You see, I’m adopted. My adoptive mother died when I was young. Three years old. I don’t remember anything, obviously. Anyway, so, a few days before I ran, I was in the attic looking for some old shoes I could wear other than heels and flats. While I was searching through some boxes I found some letters, poems. They described a place in the center of the woods. All orange and brown and green. An orchard for fruit. Fenced. She described it as a special place. Children. Laughing. I had to find it and see it for myself,” I explain.
“Then let’s go. Tomorrow. Bring the letters and poems. It doesn’t even have to be tomorrow; just anytime you’re free. I‘ll be waiting.”
“Really?” I ask hopefully.
“Of course. Can’t you trust me?” he chuckles.
We both laugh and climb down. We say our good-byes and I head home, running. Happy and free.
Once I get home, Zavier is standing out front, cleaning his car.
“Hey, Kenny. Where’ve ya been?” he asks.
“There.” I point to the woods.
“Who were you with?” he asks.
“Why do you assume I was with someone?” I ask accusingly.
“You’re smiling that way you smile after you’ve been with someone, having a good time; specifically me,” he teases.
“Full of yourself much?” I tease back. Zavier laughs and we walk into the house.
I continue to smile.