The Boy in the Wood

There once was a little boy who was quite enamored with his life and all he had. He wore the finest clothes, had the newest toys, and could get whatever he wanted just by screaming loud enough. The little boy was quite happy with his life.

It just so happened that one day, while playing with his newest phone, that he wandered, quite mistakenly, into a dark and foreboding forest. So intent was he on the new toy that he wandered very far and was soon lost to the eyes of the outside world. Deeper and deeper he went, not paying attention to the growing darkness or his dwindling cell signal. It wasn’t until the signal faded and the battery was depleted that he threw down the phone in disgust and looked at the world around him. Gone were the streets and houses he was familiar with. Gone were the toys, the sweet treats, and the doting parent that would give him everything he wanted. Now, the world was dark and there was nothing but the trees and the sound of the wind cutting through the leaves.

The little boy called out a frantic and well-rehearsed plea for help which was swallowed by the trees. He waited for someone to come running with his favorite mug of hot cocoa and a soothing word. No one came. He shouted louder and pretended to cry. No one came. He started to scream wildly, he threw himself against the nearest tree, he picked up his phone and threw it as hard as he could into the darkness. No one came. With the growing realization that there was no one to give him what he wanted he sank to his knees between the roots of the nearest tree, real tears finally filling his eyes. He wanted to be away from all the trees and their dark branches. He wanted his toys and his treats. But most of all, he wanted to be heard.

A fire welled up inside the little boy, a fire born of anger at what he had lost, a fire born of resentment at the people who had put him there, a fire that soon filled his head. Against the trunk of the tree, amidst the tangled roots, he screamed his fury into the darkness. The darkness responded only by closing tighter around the boy. With his anger spent, and his voice raw, he felt empty and alone, and somewhere in his mind, he knew no one was coming to help him. Feeling the emptiness grow the lonely boy could only wrap his arms around his knees and bury his head. Fresh tears began to fall into his lap. Tears of sorrow and loss unlike he had ever shed before. “Please.” He whispered.

A sudden breeze swept through the trees and the darkness retreated slightly. On the breeze, the boy thought he could hear a voice. “Toys and treats only bring momentary joy, leave them behind.”

“What?” Startled, the boy looked around, tears still filling his eyes. He could see another tree shrouded in shadows a short distance away.

“Leave behind the toys and treats of childhood, you do not need them.” The voice whispered. The boy watched as the tree became more clear.

“Why?” The boy choked back his tears. Inside he could feel the fire start again. Why should he give up all the toys and treats that he so loved? His fire began to grow, and as he watched, the tree was swallowed again by the darkness.

“Leave behind the toys and treats…” The wind whispered.

The boy reached down, looking for something in the midst of the roots to throw at the fading tree. His hand closed around a smooth, flat object. He brought it close to his face to examine it. It was his phone, which he remembered throwing into the darkness. As he watched, the phone blinked to life, full battery, though no signal. On the screen were all the familiar icons and games, all his favorite pastimes. They were all there, tempting him with the promise of escape.

“Toys and treats and all you want.” There was no wind this time, and the hissing voice seemed to be coming from everywhere.

The boy looked up from the phone and noticed that it was the only light and the rest of the world had faded away. He looked back at the phone with all his games, apps, and myriad choices of entertainment. He felt the pull and wanted to sit back and play, to take his mind off of the darkness. The wind rustled through the leaves, a reminder of the voice coming into his mind. He dropped the phone into the leaves and stood, scanning the darkness around him. Far in the distance, he could see a flickering light dancing between the shadows. Picking his way, carefully, he started to walk towards the light. Behind him, the darkness swallowed his trail and he was soon lost and stumbling on unseen stones and roots. The branches of unseen trees swatted at his face and clawed at his clothing. In the distance, the flickering light beckoned him on.

End of Part 1

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