I start to jog, jumping over roots, breathing heavily. The air smells like fallen leaves and the sun casts a golden light through the branches of the trees that rise high above me, but I don’t focus on that; I can only think about how I have to get home fast. I was hiking in the woods with my dog when she ran off the trail, and I had no choice but to follow her. By the time I caught up to her, I was completely disoriented, and now we’re lost in the woods and the sun is setting. Great. I keep running, coaxing Bella along beside me, when I trip over a root and fall. I must hit my head, because the next thing I know, three creatures are standing above me. They look sort of human-like, but they have blue skin, and they can’t be more than three feet tall. One kneels down beside me, and asks, “is you okay?”
“Yes”, I reply. “Who are you?”
“I is Lily. They is Birch and Rose. We is pond elves.”
“My name is Amber. I’m a human. How did you find me?”
“Me see you fall. Why is you here?” Rose speeks this time. Her voice is gentle and high pitched, and she smiles as she talked.
“I’m lost,” I say. “Do you know how to get back to the trail?”
“Yez. We knowz evewywhere near here.” This time it is Birch who talks, and his deep gravelly voice makes him seem older than the girls, even though he looks the same age.
“Can you take me there please? I have to get back before it gets dark.”
“I bringz you. Take me hand.” Birch offers his small, blue hand, and I take it with one hand and hold Bella’s collar with my other. “One, troo, zree,” he says, and then he jumps, and the world spins around us.
“We iz here,” Birch says as I lean against a tree for support. Suddenly, we are back on the trail, and Rose and Lily are nowhere to be seen. “Thank you so much,” I say. “I will never forget you.”
“I am happy I helpz.” Birch nods to me as he backs away. “There eez only one way to thank me; never tell anybody else about us.”
“Okay. I won’t. Thank you,” I call one more time, and Birch disappears in a blur. I stare at the spot where he was for a moment, but then Bella barks a little way down the trail, and I snap out of it. I start to jog again, this time being much more careful of roots, and promise myself what I promised Birch: I will never forget those three.