The Boy, the Woman, and the Forest

By Gracie Espinosa, age 11
The Boy, the Woman, and the Forest I'm Gracie. I'm a human being. I'm not AI, you'll have to take my word for it though. This is my story.

“The boy bursted into tears, and collapsed on the ground, defeat weighing down on his shoulders. I rushed to his side, and wrapped my arms around him, feining sorrow. But inside, I was really rejoicing! This boy, this child, his suffering was caused by his family, and I doubt he’ll want to go back to that!”

Today was an average spring day. Even though (here in Alabama) spring days like those happen to pop up a lot here, it was still brilliant. The sky was more than blue. It was full of shadows and highlights and so many hues. The air out here in the country filled my lungs, heart, and soul. It was that fresh. And out there in the wilderness, there was the constant circulation of life. And that life was as much in the air, as the oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Today, however, I heard something other than the slow breeze. In the brush, there was a small boy. He had short hair that was so blond it was almost white. The poor boy had a mixture of dirt and tears on his face, with puffy eyes, that under normal circumstances, would be a brilliant blue. But today, his eyes were red, with small amounts of blue shining through. He had a torn red shirt with splotches of red and brown. His tearstreaked face screamed “innocence,” so I guessed that he might be from 10 to 11 years old. It pained me to imagine what or who would do this to this poor boy.

I watched the boy tear through the trees, like he was being chased by death itself. In his insane and desperate panic, he didn’t notice me. The boy started to slow. Now that his face wasn’t as blurred, I could clearly see how afraid he was. I wanted to call out to him. So I did.

“Hello?” I cried.

The boy jumped a foot off the ground at hearing my call. He looked around wildly for the source of the sound, and soon found me. I can’t say he grinned at the sight of my face, but he did seem to be a tiny bit relieved to find that I was not his pursuer.

“Hey. Are you okay?” I said. I knew it was a stupid question, it was important to know if he trusted me. I hoped he did.

He sniffed, “No.”

In an instant, feelings for this boy exploded in my soul. All in one moment, I wanted to track down whoever hurt this boy, hurt them, kill them maybe, all while being the mother of this boy, and giving him everything I have. I don’t know where this sympathy came from, but I wasn’t quick to stop thinking these thoughts. I inched toward the boy. I could protect him, and he could be the son I never could have. On a day like this, in a time like this, a miracle like this needs to be accepted.

Somewhere in my desperate brain, someone said, He still has family. And besides, he doesn’t even know you. For all you know, he still has love for his home and would be heartbroken to be torn away from his normal life. Or not. Or yes. It’s worth my time to see if this isn’t or is the case.

“Come here,” I said softly. I was not sure how I will come across as. Supportive? Nosy? Motherly even?

The boy walked towards me slowly, cracking and disrupting the silence.

“Where do you you come from?” I asked

“What do you mean?” He whispered, his voice barely audible.

“Where’s your family? What happened to you?” I asked.

The boy burst into tears, and collapsed on the ground, defeat weighing down on his shoulders. I rushed to his side, and wrapped my arms around him, feining sorrow. But inside, I was really rejoicing! This boy, this child, his suffering was caused by his family, and I doubt he’ll want to go back to that! This boy can be mine! I can protect him, and he will be my son. The son I could never have.

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