"Fresh out of war, they hiked the tallest mountains, they crossed the deepest seas, only to discover what was once their home, is now their enemies' raze. They knew no one except the people they stood with were alive. They had to get away, they didn't know where. Until they came across a small run-down village days away from their home. It took months of non-stop work. Everyone, even the weak had a job. But soon they had their new territory. The new leader of the tribe stood before all the citizens proudly announcing 54 years ago on Sunday 'The light that went out 18 months ago reignites tonight, I am proud to announce our new home Cypress' The crowd cheered; everyone felt safe for once in there life after non-stop war that killed their heart, soul and old life."
Mrs. Ridge was telling her favorite story about how our village came to be. I know I have memorized it by heart by hearing it every year, but I still love the way she tells it. "It gets better every year " I tell her, still sucking up even though I'm not in her class anymore.
"Thank you, " she responded, grabbing my arm pulling me to the front of the room. "You may not be in my class anymore but I still love to show you off"
"I miss your stories as much as I miss you as a teacher."
"Oh Sage you had to grow up, well at least I know you will be standing in the back listening to me tell the little ones how our village came to be"
"Of cour—" I start to say until I get interrupted.
"Are you going to the festivable " My little brother Oliver said.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world, see you all there. Class dismissed."
On the walk home Oliver and I walked in silence, we have a love hate relationship anyway but he hates it when I embarrass him. We're almost at our cottage when some boys want Oliver to play with him. I tell him to go but be back by dinner.
When I arrive back at home my chicken Griffin that I rescued from a pond a couple weeks ago limps over to me. He had a broken leg and I have been nursing him back to health. I pick him up and bring him to my loft that I share with my older sister. When I rescued him I made him his own special corner with extra wrap for his leg and a nice soft bed. I put down my books and reraped his leg telling him about my day.
About 10 minutes before dinner I go find Oliver. The first place I look is the pond. He is always fishing with his buddies. I don't see him, so I walk around the pond. His friends from class are fishing at their usual spot, but Oliver isn't there.
"Hi Sage, come to fish with us?" Oliver's best friend Quill says with a worm in his hand trying to give it to me. He always makes these eyes at me. I have known him since he was three but he has a crush on me. I'm about to make a comment but I realize he's only ten still and I'm fourteen.
"Just looking for Oliver. He ran off with you guys earlier, didn't he?"
"Yeah but he left to go with some older boys."
"Who exactly?" I say with a stern look worried where he is.
"With Wolf and his gang."
"You let him go off with them, sorry I have to go."
I start running, who knows what those boys are up to. Wolf is in my class also fourteen but he always is causing trouble. He's been that way for years since when his grandfather got sick and a few weeks later passed away. They have a few spaces they hang out, so I look at them all.
Finally I find them at the creek behind the school. No one's allowed near it because its stream is so quick that if you stick your foot in you will be swept up and pulled under. But the worst part is there is a waterfall a little while down and if you're carried all the way to it you will fall on sharp rocks on the bottom.
At first I don't see Oliver, but then I see him on an unsturdy rock trying to keep his balance. There's a fraying jump rope tied around his waist with the other end in one of Wolf's friends' hands. They keep shouting jump, jump, jump. Wolf keeps reassuring him that they got the rope and he's not going anywhere.
My heart starts racing, unless that boy holds on to the rope with his life, both him and Oliver are going under.
"Oliver! Stop!" I yell but he must not hear me. "Oliver!" This time he looks but when he sees me his head whips back to the water. I start going over when I see Oliver start to squat. Right as he starts jumping the boy drops the rope and takes a step back.
I sprint over ignoring everything else, accidentally knocking someone over. Right as Oliver's feet are off the rock I reach the rope pulling him back. He falls in dark thick mud on his back.
I ran over to him untying the rope from his waist. Mud dripping off his back as he stands up.
"I hate you!" he yells. Tears in his eyes, he runs off limping a little from a hard landing then sits on the bench next to the school.
I turn to Wolf next "I can't believe you. He is only ten, if you want to see what happens when someone jumps into the creek you do it."
"Why would I do that, it's dangerous." He told me with a grin and his eyes wide.
"Next time you want to do something stupid leave my brother out of it" I say starting to walk off. My anger is building up inside of me "And oh yeah" I say, turning back to him.
I don't say anything but I move closer to him keeping my guard up. Next thing I know I'm slapping his face. He loses his balance and starts to stumble, but before he can react I run back to Oliver.
Still crying he stood up and walked home with me. He keeps his head down the whole time not saying a word.
A couple cottages away from ours, I asked Oliver what he was doing with them.
" I-I... They asked me to come with them, so I did."
"Oliver I told you before you can't play with them. They don't care about your safety or you, they just needed a test dummy."
"They tied a rope around me. I was fine"
"Oliver, they let go" He looked at me with his light blue eyes wide like a puppy. A tear rolled down his check. He hugged me, and whispered in my ear.
"Thank you," he said.
When we got to the front door, I put my hand on his shoulder and said "I won't tell, all I know is you fell on the way home.
He smiled wiping the tears off his face. I quickly shook the mud out of his hair. Then opened the door.
My mom, dad and sister Harmony were sitting around the table as we walked in. I didn't realize it had been almost an hour since I left to find Oliver.
As soon as my mother saw Oliver covered with mud and his elbows scraped, with blood dripping on the floor, which I hadn't even noticed, she ran over.
"What happened?" she said with a stern look facing me
"On our way home from the fishing pond he slipped and fell in some mud." I told my mother. There was a sudden aching in my stomach. I have never lied to my mother before. Yes my siblings when I want them to stay out of my business, but not my parents.
"Why did it take you so long?" She said untying Oliver's boots.
I wrack my brain but nothing, why is lying so hard and hurt so bad I think to myself. My mother lifts her head staring into my eyes. Her eyes are dark and foggy. I'm about to say an unlikely story when Oliver out of the blue starts talking.
"Quill and I were in the middle of fishing when Sage came to tell me dinner was ready. I begged her to let me stay until I caught s0mething. And I finally did but when I slipped I must have dropped it. Sorry," I was surprised how quickly he came up with that. It took me the whole walk home just to think of slipping in the mud.
"Sage, take your brother to change, you two can wash up after dinner." My mother says, still unhappy with us. "And hurry, dinner is getting cold" She adds before we leave the room.
The ache in my stomach lasts through dinner all the way until before bed. The worst part is that it reminds me I lied to my mother, straight to her face. I imagine it hurts more than it does because of the guilt inside me.
"I'm gonna take a walk" I announce walking toward the door. Suddenly my stomach hurts so much I fall, landing on my already rope- burned hands from yanking the rope so hard earlier.
"Honey are you ok?" My mom says turning quickly from tending to Oliver's wounds.
"I'm fine, just tripped." I say while another gushing pain gets sent through my body.
"Ok be back soon." She says while I walk out the door.
The breeze blows my wavy brown hair from my face sending chills down my spine.
I look at my hands bleeding, I find a vine and two big leaves to tie on to stop the bleeding. I needed to find a way to hide it, if my mom noticed them bleeding she would insist on helping, seeing my hand had been rope burned, also wondering how it happened. I couldn't take anymore lying for one day.
As I walk farther and farther away from our cottage the stronger the breeze gets. I walk to clear my head trying to ignore the pain still in my stomach.
I ask myself why I lied, but remember I promised Oliver. The same boy who said he hated me ten minutes earlier.
Shaking my head from the horrible thoughts I start to turn back, glancing I see someone sitting on a log near the flower field. I nicknamed it that since every spring about a million flowers grow in it. They always started going near the time of the festival which, lucky for me, is on Sunday.
Remembering there was a person near the field I looked over again. The moon catches their face. I quickly look away. It was Wolf, the guy who almost killed my brother. The guy I slapped across the face before running off.
I turn away about to take off running when he sees me.
"Hey, you're scared or something," His words pierce through my ears. But there is a tone in his voice seeming like he had been crying or I was just imagining it.
I turn around, I know I can't ignore him, if I do he will think I'm a just baby. "I have nothing to say to you" I said in a stern but shaky voice.
"You think you can slap me and run off with your baby brother," He tells me, like he has been planning what he would say since the moment I left.
Holding back tears I try to think of something to say. "I-I-umm.." I have never had a loss for words before. Now twice in one day.
I turn away from him with tears rolling down my cheeks. I don't know why I started crying. So many thoughts are swirling in my head.
Suddenly right before I walk off I feel heavy breathing on my neck. He whispers in my ear, but I don't hear what he says.
I turn around knowing that he's gonna slap me like I did to him.
As soon as I see him lift his hand I bolt. Ducking and sprinting as fast as I can, trying to get as far as I can away from him.
Before I know it I'm in the woods hiding under a tree. I start crying all over again so confused on what this day brought.
I close my eyes to owls hooting in the trees above.
Pictures flash through my mind. My brother getting sucked away by the stream, me lying to my mother, Wolf almost slapping me.
Shaking I wake up trying to forget the nightmare I had. I put my hand to my wrist to fiddle with my friendship bracelet. Quickly realizing it wasn't there.
Thinking back to when me and my best friend Luna made these, I remember it was three years ago we were in this forest walking around. We found a flower that was a mix of blue and white, we thought it was the prettiest thing we had ever seen.
We picked some and wrapped it with a vine around each other's right wrists. The flower stayed beautiful even when it died so we decided to keep them.
Then my gut started stirring, I was meeting her tomorrow to hang for the day. I have never taken it off. I don't know what she is gonna say.
After ten minutes of punishing myself for losing it I decide to look. I stand up not realizing its pitch black.
I wander off somehow getting deeper into the woods. I trip on root and land again on my hands that start to bleed again through the week leaves.
I decide to stay put until morning knowing I will get lost or run into Wolf again
I drift off to sleep again.
"Sage!" I hear someone say, not ready to open my eyes.
"Sage where are you!" A second voice says. I recognize the voice this time. Even though it sounded shaky and was yelling through tears. I knew it was my mother's voice.
"Mom?" I shout back. I'm confused where I am for a second. Remembering why I'm here I stand up looking for my mom.
It's pointless, I couldn't see anything. Judging on the moon it seemed around midnight.
In the distance I see what looks like a million lanterns coming toward me.
"Sage!" My mom says again. This time happy while running toward me.
"What happened?" I ask, not knowing if I want to hear the answer.
"You went for a walk and never came back." She says making me remember I was gonna turn around before Wolf interrupted my walk.
Waiting for me to respond she stares into my eyes. Then decides to continue. "We started a search party, when people heard you never came home."
"I got lost, it was too dark to move so I stayed put" I say trying not to cry. I felt bad making everyone get up and look for me.
My mom doesn't say anything else, she grabs my hand walking back to our cottage.
"I'm sorry," I say walking inside.
"It's ok. Go get ready for bed"
"Night mom," I say heading to the loft, not letting her answer. I walk around my sister, trying not to wake her. I lead Griffen to bed.
I check his leg which is healing a little bit at a time. I change into my night time clothes, and get into my comfy bed.
Before I can fall asleep, my hands start throbbing. I take some wrap off of Griffin's roll.
I wrap my hand trying not to do it too tight. I lay down closing my eyes.
About twenty minutes later, I notice my hands bleed through the bandage.
I rewrap them this time adding a couple of extra layers to last me through the night.
I stop noticing the roll is almost out needing some for Griffin in the morning and me. I count my coins, having enough for at least two new rolls that I will buy in the morning.
So tired now I put my head down, immediately going into a hopefully happy dream.