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In the Woods

By Jeremy Lewis


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            It was a beautiful October day.  Millions of leaves covered the ground like a quilt.  Fantastic blends of reds, yellows, and oranges all seemed to work perfectly together to create a wondrous palette on which Peter and Jenny could play.  It was that time of the year, their favorite.  The smell in the air was the perfect mixture of dusty, dried, and crumbled leaves.  It’s not the kind of description that would bring most people to their knees, but these two relished in it.  The air had another quality to it, however.  It was clear, crystal clear.  When looking into the distance, everything could be seen in sharp contrast.  The birds, trees and sky, all on display before you, lie untainted, and naked to the eye.  Fall is said to be a time of death, but it is alive.  It can be felt when you breathe; a crispness that permeates your lungs and awakens your senses.  There is nothing quite like it, and for Peter Davenport and Jenny Sawyer; there would be no day that will ever be like this day…


Chapter 1

Peter and Jenny went running through the woods behind the large Victorian home her grandparents had built many years before she was born. 

 “I’m gonna catch you Jenny!” Peter shouted, as he chased her, zigzagging between the trees and jumping over thick patches of grass and weeds.  “You’d better pick up the pace!”

“You couldn’t catch me with a rocket on your back, Pete!”  Jenny panted as the ground moved swiftly beneath her feet.  “I’m way faster than you and you know it!”

Jenny Sawyer and her family had moved here after the death of her grandparents two years ago.  Jenny’s mother and father owned a successful sandwich shop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  It was doing well, but the stresses of running their own business were beginning to take a toll on the Sawyer family.  Jenny’s mother and father were finding it difficult to make time for her and her brother.  So, when Jenny’s mother inherited the big old house that she had grown up in, the family decided it might be a nice change for the family to move to a smaller town, one where they could all concentrate on each other, and not the headaches of the big city.  Jenny is 12 years old now and has a 16 year old brother named Robbie who, being the typical elder sibling that he is, spends much of his life antagonizing and ridiculing his baby sister.

“Hey Jenny, watch out for that branch! You’re about to…” Peter shouted as the tip of a limb smacked hard against Jenny’s cheek.  “You ok?”

“Are you kidding Pete?” Jenny yelled with a smirk on her face and a look of pure determination flooding from her eyes.  “It’ll take a lot more than that to slow me down.”

Peter Davenport was Jenny’s best friend.  The two of them seemed to hit if off the first time they met.  He and his parents stopped by the Sawyer house with a hot Dutch apple pie not long after Jenny’s family had moved into the old house.  Immediately, they started to play and fight and throw things at each other.  You know… the things that all good friends do.  There was no awkward period like you usually find when many people meet for the first time.  It was natural, as if they’d known each other their entire lives.  This, coupled with the fact that Peter’s parents lived just a half mile down the road from Jenny, made this friendship an easy development.

Visiting the woods together was something Peter and Jenny did every chance they got.  The woods were their place. They were somewhere that their parents wouldn’t go, a place where they felt they had a sense of ownership.  Nobody knew this grand architecture of pulp and foliage as well as them.  If anything were to ever happen, they could always go there and be in control.  Its funny, but this is how you think when you are 12 years old. 

 “Jenny!” Peter shouted.  “Where in the world are you?”

A muffled voice coming from somewhere deep in the gully replied. “If I told you that, it would kinda defeat the purpose now wouldn’t it?”

“Purpose?  What purpose?  Jenny, I hate it when you do this!  The last time, I didn’t find you for an hour and I ruined a brand new pair of Chuck Taylor’s cause I thought you were in the Maple Mud Pie!”  Peter and Jenny called a small area of the forest this because of its vast number of fallen and rotted maple trees.  The ground beneath the logs was always wet and sloppy.  Peter said that there must be an underground stream that leaked out beneath the woods.  Let it be known that these two have spent many days and nights in search of that old stream.

“Come on Jenny!” Peter said, each word slightly quieter than the last.  “I’m not in the mood for this.” Peter forced the words out as he dropped his hands to his legs and bent over in exhaustion.

“Hey Pete!” Jenny’s voice cut through the woods and suddenly it wasn’t so hard to pinpoint her location.  “Come here, you have to see this!”

“What is it?  So help me Jenny, if you throw something at me…”  Peter made his way slowly through the woods, being careful to recognize any booby trap Jenny may have employed for a good laugh.  He walked tenderly, concentrating on Jenny’s location.

“Peter!  Hurry up!” Jenny shouted.

 “I’m coming!” Peter’s voice raised slightly only to diminish to a faint murmur “What’s up with her?”  Peter slowly approached Jenny to find her kneeling behind a fallen Maple tree.

“Pete, look at this.” Jenny said quietly as she looked up at her friend, her eyes wide with wonder.  “What do you think it is?”

On the ground at Jenny’s feet lay a garbled nest of wires running into a rusty metal box.

“Wow.” Peter spoke in a quiet tone. “I don’t know.  It looks like it might be some sort of electrical box,” Peter knelt alongside the box, his eyes squinting as he struggled to understand. “But what would it be doing out here?”

“Look Pete!” Jenny remarked, drawing his attention away from the box.  “The wires just seem to disappear into the ground.  What do you think it means?”

“There’s only one way to find out.”  Peter stood up, brushing off his knees.  “Give me a hand Jenny.”  Peter moved to one side of the metal box, bracing himself and forming a solid grip on the wires.  “Help me pull this out of the ground.”

Jenny got up and aligning herself opposite Peter, the two of them prepared to yank this thing out of the ground if it was the last thing they did.

“You ready Jenny? Peter had a sense of determination in his voice.

“Ready when you are.” Jenny looked intently into his eyes.

“On the count of three then…ok?”  Peter tightened his grip. “One…” They glanced at each other then back at the ground, their pulses starting to race.  “Two…”  Peter’s voice rose slightly as his lips began to purse.  “THREE!”

Immediately the wires jerked and became taught.  Peter and Jenny pulled with everything that had in them.  Nothing happened at first, their muscles burning but their determination unscathed.  They looked at each other with sweat on their brows and their teeth ground so tightly that not even air could make its way in our out.  But then, slowly, they could feel the ground releasing its hold on the buried wires…  “I think its coming Pete!”  Jenny exclaimed, her eyes widening, a smile slowly emerging, when suddenly…SNAP!  The lines, still taught, leapt from the leaf covered soil, blazing a path of dust and debris along the ground to a location no less than 10 feet away.



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