“Help! Help me!” the boy’s cries died abruptly, encompassed in the fog laden forest. Tears welled in his eyes and fell silently to the ground. “Help me,” he breathed out, barely above a whisper.
Silence settled around him and the boy tucked his feet closer to his body; even he was beyond crying at this point. Seconds turned to hours, and the boy lost track of how long he’d been sitting in the dense forest.
Some time later, the boy woke with a start. The hairs on his neck had stood on end, and his body was alert before he’d even regained full consciousness. The fog, thicker than before, broke in the distance as a tall figure pushed through. The boy’s eyes adjusted and as the man approached, he he could see patches of deep red splattered across the man’s white tunic. Held to his spot by an uncontrollable force, the boy watched the man inch closer one step at a time.
When the man reached a reasonable distance, the boy decided to make his presence known, “Can you help me?” He questioned into the fog. The man stopped for a moment. “I’m lost,” the boy continued. The man quickened his step and continued toward the boy.
“I was hoping you could help me,” the rich timbre of the man’s voice penetrated the silence. “I’m afraid I’ve been lost for quite some time.”
The stains on the man’s shirt were much darker now, the boy noticed, as the man came to sit with him.
“How long have you been here?” the boy asked curiously.
“I couldn’t tell you, time is a very strange mistress here. Not that you’d know anything of strange mistresses,” the man smirked, looking the boy over. “How old are you?”
“I’m —” the boy started, then caught himself. His brow furrowed as he struggled to find the answer for the man’s question. “I can’t remember,” he said with some disdain. The boy paused longer, thinking deeper. “In fact, I don’t know how long I’ve been here either.”
The man smiled, which seemed to put the boy at ease. “Then you are in good company,” he said as he put his arm around the tiny frame. “Perhaps, if we sit for some time, it will come to us,” the man suggested. The boy leaned into the larger body, and accepted the man’s proposal.
Some time later, the boy sat up.
“I don’t remember coming into the forest,” he said, and then with more clarity, “there’s not even a forest where I live.”
“Curious,” the man replied.
“I know that I’m not sure where I am,” the boy continued, “but I think this is the farthest from home I’ve ever been.”
The man turned back to the fog, and his mind disappeared in thought. He tried to recall his own home, with no success. The boy watched him intensely.
Finally, the man spoke, a sadness permeating every word, “I don’t believe I’ll ever return to my home.”
The boy studied the man longer, seeing his own reflection in the man’s eyes. “It’s okay,” the boy consoled, “I don’t think I will either.” The boy grabbed the man’s hand and squeezed tightly.
They remained seated until the fog had thinned again. It was then that the boy noticed shadows moving amongst the trees. He nudged the man, and pointed toward the figures as they broke through the mist on a determined path.
“Do you think they’re lost too?” the boy turned toward his friend.
“Possibly,” the man replied, studying the movement of bodies with interest. “But they may also know the way.”
An unspoken acknowledgment passed between the pair, and the boy helped the man to his feet. Together they walked after the silhouettes, and disappeared into the fog.