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Wooded areas

Lydia Olsen
Class of 2016

(8/2016) "Donít you think we should turn around?" I asked with a whimper. "Itís getting pretty dark."

"No, no. Iím sure that Uncle Matt said the place was just a little farther. We have gotten this farÖ we canít turn back now." Ethan insisted, though his voice seemed unsteady.

The pair continued through the wooded area. They stepped over logs with their sturdy boots and splashed into shallow puddles that hadnít seen the sun in days. They continued on, each with a flashlight in hand as they pushed tree branches away from in front of them. The noises of the woods seemed to be getting louder. What started as a soft call from the wilderness sounded as if it were now screaming, as if it were telling them to turn back around while they still had a hint of daylight. Yet the two went onwards, being guided by an old story and a hand drawn map.

The map was more of a sketch reallyÖif even that. It consisted of some scribble in pen on an old napkin that was clearly used to wipe up spilled coffee. Ethan had gotten it from Uncle Matt last time he visited. The story of Uncle Matt and Dad traveling into the woods was on the same level as the Three Bears or Little Red Riding Hood in our family. It was Dadís favorite story to "read" before bed and Uncle Mattís favorite to share at family gatherings. It had essentially become a legend. From the time that Ethan and I were able to walk and speak, we knew we had to finish what Uncle Matt and Dad had started. It was, in some sense, our destiny. Mom didnít exactly see it that wayÖwhich is why Uncle Matt had to slip the map to Ethan on an old napkin under the table during dessert, but regardless, we knew we were born with a responsibility and we were going to achieve it!

It was easy to be brave about the whole thing from the comfort of my bed or the coziness of the couch, but to actually be out in the woods at night made everything much more frightening than I could have anticipated.

Ethan and I had been planning this night for a while now. We had our schoolbooks dumped out on our floors and stuffed the essentials into our backpacks. In Ethanís bag we had enough water for a few days (as long as we didnít get too thirsty), one peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some Oreos, and a candy barójust in case things didnít go as planned. It was my job to carry the important things: a spatula, a set of stationary, a pillowcase, a flowerpot, and a dark chocolate bar.

As far as the whole twin thing goes, youíd think we would have some type of magical power, but we have yet to see that develop. We get along pretty well most of the time, mainly because Iím the nice one and heís the one thatís hard to get along with. Uncle Matt says the same thing about himself when he talks about his relationship with Dad. They are twins too and that is why all of this is our duty.

You see, the story goes that Uncle Matt and Dad walked deep into the woods behind their mother, my grandmotherís house, one night. They were out exploring and had gotten lost on their way back. They walked deeper and deeper until they came upon a tiny wooden hut tucked behind an old tree trunk. They creeped around it cautiously, figuring that someone must live inside it and wondering if he or she may be able to point them in the right direction of home. Dad was getting desperate and didnít want to be grounded by my grandmother, so he barged up towards the hut and noticed a small door. They say it couldnít have been larger than a microwave. Dad, feeling brave, knocked assertively on the door but there wasnít a reply. Uncle Matt and Dad were nearly out of hope when out of nowhere they heard a laugh. Suddenly, a tiny man appeared from behind tall grasses. He wore a dark green suit with a top hat to help with his height. His face was mischievous and his smirks were concealed behind a gray mustache. My uncle and father stopped and were overtaken by fear.

"I count two in front of me. Why are you here? Who may you be?" The tiny man said, as the woods seemed to stand still.

"I, uh, we are, uh, we are just lost and wondering if you could point us in the right direction of home."

"Oh it is help that you seek. Your energy is strong but your courage is weak. Hereís what Iíll do, cause Iím a good man. Iíll make you a deal. Sound like a plan? Iíll show you the way but you must help me. Iíll make you a list of what you shall bring. You promise me, you must come in a pair, I cannot trust individualsÖI wouldnít dare. Come, come, here is the way. Take my list and do as I say."

With confusion and fright Uncle Matt and Dad miraculously found themselves back in their backyard as their mother called to them from the porch. Grasped in Dadís hand was a list of items that the little man had requested. The two looked back into the woods and saw the brim of the manís top hat as he said, "A deal is a deal so you better hold true. Remember youíre lucky that I was generous to you. Come only at night, not by day. Bring me those things and happy you will stay." At that, Uncle Matt and Dad dashed for the back porch of my grandmotherís house and the rest is history.

Ethan and I continued into the woods. Our backpacks clinked with random items that the man in the tall hat had requested many years ago. There was no guarantee that he would even still be alive or residing in the woods, but they had to give it a try. The napkin map was difficult to decipher and the landscape had changed over the years, but Ethan insisted they were going the right way. From the trees, the boys heard owls hoot as they searched for prey.

"Are you sure we should keep------" Ethan reached behind him and covered my mouth with his hand as he reached out with his other arm and shined his flashlight onto a small hut behind an old tree trunk. "That must be it", he whispered.

I slipped off my backpack and cautiously walked towards the hut afraid to make too much noise or an incorrect step. I placed my bag beside the small wooden door carefully. From behind us we heard the leaves rustle and the branches bend and then suddenly we found ourselves back in my grandmotherís lawn. Ethan and I glanced into the woods with confusion as we heard a voice say, "Not the original two, but this should do. Keep out of my woods, and youíll stay happy too."

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