Do you have a favorite spot to go out for coffee or dinner? What makes this spot so great?
The chattering of the squirrels and the intermittent birdsong surrounded Rowan in warmth. She turned in a slow circle. The trail was nowhere to be found. She was good and lost now. She beamed. The forest would guide her where she wanted to go.
The sun filtered through the canopy, making tiny spotlights on the stones of a long forgotten path. She hopped from one to the next, startling a rabbit out from behind one. She squatted with her hands on her knees as she whispered apologies to the little critter. It would not do to cause a disturbance on her way to see him.
She adjusted the shoulder straps on her backpack as she straightened. Her stomach fluttered as she wondered if he would even be there. How many years had it been? Would he even recognize her as the child he had found back then all grown up now? He was still alive. She was sure of it.
The sunstones led her to a massive moss-covered boulder shaped like an elephant’s head. She remembered how frightened she had been to see it for the first time in the dark of a rainstorm. She laughed now to think how foolish she had been to believe an elephant lived on the mountain behind her grandparent’s house, but children often believed the silliest things.
She could hear the stream now off to the left of the elephant head and turned towards the sound. The path was steeper than she remembered. She dug a bottle of water out of her bag after she clambered to the top of the slope. She had to stay hydrated if she wanted to make it to that beautiful place again.
Standing atop the ridge she realized why it had seemed harder to climb. The brook had dug in deeper in the years since her last foray into the forest. It wasn’t a stretch to say it was well on its way to forming a ravine.
It didn’t alter her course. The stream still flowed the same direction, if a bit lower than she remembered. She followed it to the falls. There was a thin trail down the side. Her heart danced in her chest. She was almost there.
At the base of the falls was a small clearing. She set her bag down and pulled out a blanket. She spread the blanket and weighted it down at the corners with stones she pulled from the edge of the stream. From her bag she also pulled out a thermos and a bundle with fruit and cheese. It wasn’t the fanciest meal, but a meal shared with an old friend was always special. The only thing missing was the old friend.
Rowan passed the time skipping rocks in the stream, washing her face, laying in the honeysuckle and watching the clouds laze by. Twice she thought he had come to her, but the rustling foliage was only a deer and a fox. The sun was well past its zenith when she began to debate packing it in and heading back. It wasn’t wise to be caught in the forest after dark.
She was sitting at the edge of the stream with her feet swirling the water when she realized she was not alone. Her heart pounded in her chest. She was afraid to look behind her in case it was disappointment again. It had been too much to hope for the guardian of the forest to appear before her again, but still, she wished for it.
Slowly, she stood on the bank and turned back to her picnic. Tears filled her vision as she found him standing across from her, as beautiful and youthful as the day she met him decades ago. A curious expression adorned his face. He must not have remembered her.
“Rowan.” He smiled her name and her joy filled her to bursting. “It’s been a long time.”
Notes: I had a vision of this going slightly differently when I sat down to write it. And then as I was writing it, a still different vision came to me, one in which the “man” she waits for is a wolf a la the Firekeeper series by Jane Lindskold. It was always going to be a forest picnic with a supernatural guest though. I should probably get some new material, haha.
Not much to add on to this one. I like coffee and dinner so I’m easily pleased at any place that serves either. That’s all I’ve got for tonight! We’re almost through the week! See you tomorrow!
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