Woods

Woods - RunningIt was the middle of the night when Gabrielle ran in desperation back toward the cottage where she had been raised. It may have been dark, but she couldn’t have tripped in that darkness if she had wanted to. She knew every square inch of these woods. She knew where to step and where to jump as she sped between the trees. Even if she weren’t so familiar with this land, she could see everything as clearly as if it was day. That was one of her numerous gifts, perfect vision in light and in darkness. She had to get back quickly She had to share with her brothers and sister just what she had seen.

The others had raised her since she was an infant. And they had never hidden from her their belief that she was special. Some of Gabrielle’s earliest memories involved her sister telling the story of the prophecy and just how it related to her. She grew up hearing all about her so-called fate, but she never really believed it. She just thought her siblings were being over-protective due to the loss of their parents. For that, she could understand the seclusion in their hidden cottage.

But, several months ago, just after Gabrielle’s 15th birthday, she decided that it was time for her to go exploring on her own. She told herself that she would not go far. She would just sneak out in the night and see the forest on her own. She was curious, but she was no fool. She carried with her a bow and a quiver of arrows, the same ones she had been trained to use since a very young age. Again, as her brothers explained, it was in preparation for her eventual destiny. She may have scoffed at the use of the term “destiny,” but she was grateful for the ability to defend herself if necessary.

Each night was the same. She waited until the others had fallen asleep, and then she tiptoed down the stairs and out the front door. Under the light of the moon she would walk barefoot through the dewy grass. She would explore the woods and memorize the trees that surrounded the old cottage. Gabrielle enjoyed this alone time. She loved her brothers and sister and was thankful beyond words for everything that they had done for her over the years. But she was reaching a point where she felt she deserved some freedom. She didn’t feel like a prisoner, but there were times when she wished she had her own life. Each night was the same: trees, animals, the stars… she came to consider them her friends.

On this night something was different. She walked past a boulder that she had walked past a hundred times before. And there, resting upon it, was a golden locket. Gabrielle couldn’t believe what she was seeing It seemed to be glowing. It wasn’t as if the locket was merely reflecting the moonlight, it seemed to actually give off its own light. Again, her curiosity overtook her.

She couldn’t describe the feeling that had come over her. It was as if she had to touch it. It was as if the locket was calling out to her. As if it were meant just for her. It had to be for her, right? After all, this very boulder had been bare for all these years and now, suddenly, here was this thing, right where she would be at the moment she would be there. Had someone left it for her on purpose? Was it a trap? Or was it a gift? All of that talk of fate and destiny was flowing through her mind. She knew she had to grab the locket. She knew it was meant for her.

Gabrielle reached for the locket. As soon as her fingertips grazed the gold, she was transported to another place. She was at sea. Far in the distance she saw an island. She wasn’t sure how she knew, but she understood that it was a lost island. She knew that it was her destiny to find this island. As suddenly as she found herself in the middle of the ocean, she found herself on that hidden island. She saw her family fighting a losing battle. Each of the boys had their swords drawn, and her sister was furiously firing arrows at an army of strange creatures. Again, her vision shifted to the interior of some kind of temple. Sitting on a pedestal before her was an elaborately decorated vase. As it was with her knowledge of this lost island, she somehow knew that there was something inside the vase. She didn’t know what it was, but she desperately wanted to find out. She knew she had the ability to uncork this vase and spill out the contents, but it was just out of reach.

She blinked and she was back in her forest. Gabrielle had no memory of actually grabbing and holding the locket, but she was no holding it so tightly that the sharp edges had broken the skin of her palm. She held it out and stared down at the necklace in horror. A part of her wanted to drop it on the ground before she ran away, but she was compelled to hold on to it.

It was time to let her brothers and sister know everything that had just happened. They needed to know what she saw. It was now evident that everything they had told her was true. She was the subject of terrible prophecy. It seemed that the destiny from which they had tried to hide her was inevitable. Gabrielle reached the cottage and felt safer, but she knew this safety wouldn’t last. She knew that her story was just about to begin.

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