Trees stood tall, the sun’s bright rays shining down on them, making them glisten in the daylight. Birds flew back and forth across the treetops, some flying through them, diving in and out of sight. The leaves shone in vibrant shades of green. Acres of forest stretched across the landscape, leading to the part of town where the countryside meets the suburbs. A cluster of beautiful houses sat scattered away from the thick of the woods, making up the large neighborhood located just outside of the city, only barely out of the way of the hustle and bustle of the main parts of the city. Not quite separated or secluded, but not directly a part of the city, trees were littered in between the houses, acting as natural fences, defining the different streets. Towards the edge of the neighborhood, there was a street leading to where the valley slowly turned into forest. On a very small hill at the end of the street, sat a house, its position acting almost like a barrier, the line between the forest and this piece of the city’s puzzle.
The house was almost identical to the others in the neighborhood, except it was painted a light yellow-orange color, rather than a pure white color, though it had the same black frames. Almost identical in structure as well as design they were, but this house had a front porch decorated with a porch swing, a small table and chair set, and a few benches, allowing you to sit and enjoy the calming beauty of the neighborhood around it and the valley it resided in. Around the back of the house was a similar sight, a back door, and a white-washed balcony that overlooked the small field that acted as a backyard. Rather than a wooden fence, the trees made a natural fence, positioned artfully, gradually thickening until there was nothing but forest, as if nature was trying to send a message.
Deep within the forest, through the tall trees and flowers in every color, was a clearing sitting almost directly under a skylight, where the sun and moon could be seen when at their highest. The trees made a large canopy in the clearing, a small hole overtop creating the skylight, where the light beamed down diagonally, almost like a spotlight. Not far off, the sound of a river echoed through the air. Further off in the clearing was a small pond, like something out of a fairytale. It was a beautiful sight, one that could only be properly described by those who’d seen it with their own eyes. On the far right side of the clearing, stood a single oak tree, standing out only to the eyes of those who were there with a purpose. It stood tall, towering high above the earth, making up a good portion of the canopy. Its bark was smooth like marble, contrasting to its thickness, like an elderly woman trying to hide her age through Botox.
Behind the tree stood a young teenager, her back pressed against the smooth bark of the tree trunk. She peeked around the left side of the tree, curiosity sparkling in her bright, emerald green eyes. She looked around a bit and slid back behind the tree, her long dark brown hair flying as she whirled around to conceal herself in her hiding place. Gold streaks in her hair glowed whenever they touched the sunlight. A black, crotchet knit beanie sat on the back of her head, sticking out only if you focused on the natural gold highlights, instead of the oddly natural looking hot pink highlights that were threaded through her hair around the gold. She wore black combat boots on her feet, accenting her fishnet stockings and leather fingerless gloves, adding to the edginess she emanated. She wore black suspender shorts under a solid dark blue skirt, which flowed down to her mid-thigh, showing off her toned legs and accenting her dark, caramel-brown skin complexion. The black leather suspender straps were pulled up onto her shoulders, as if playing the role of the straps missing from the off-the-shoulder crop top she wore. It was fitted, though not too tight, and pressed against her skin comfortably, so as not to strain her large chest. The white of the shirt popped under the blue floral henna patterns scattered across it, making a beautiful contrast, accenting her skin tone even more. Her neck was adorned with necklaces, long and short, different charms and pendants dangling from the chains of each one. Among her jewelry were double finger rings, one on the first two fingers of her right hand, and another one on her middle and ring fingers of her left hand. Charm bracelets, bangles of every different size and design, large hoop earrings, and even a few piercings were all among the pieces of jewelry she adorned herself with. Her crop top came up high enough to show the flowery charm above the pink tinted, metallic ball where her belly button should have been. The high waist of her skirt was outlined by the piercing, coming up just below it, making it even more noticeable. Her earrings were accompanied by a single silver stud pierced through the cartilage of her left ear, a much more modest piercing matching the one on the left nostril of her rounded nose. The simplistic nature of the piercing on her nose called attention to her plump, full lips, which were a soft, natural pink color that blended perfectly with her even skin.
She poked her head back around the tree, watching the scene before her begin to unfold, as night began to fall. The forest darkened slowly, moonlight taking the place of the sun’s rays as the moon rose, replacing the sun above the skylight. A single wolf crept silently around a small group of rabbits. She watched as it surveyed them, exactly as expected of a wolf stalking its prey. The group of hares had yet to notice the quiet animal, creeping slowly around them, watching them ever so closely. The air turned quiet as the wolf finally chose a spot. The mysterious teen poked her head around the other side of the tree, finally seeing what the she-wolf saw. The rabbits were in a protective cluster, circling around a single rabbit, who appeared to be pregnant, and ready to give birth at any moment. This is what she had been waiting for. She spent so much time in the woods; she knew it would happen soon. The rabbits were always able to be found in this clearing, a fact apparently noticed by the she-wolf as well. Anxious to see the rabbit birth, she’d come every day to see them, leaving bits of lettuce and carrots and cucumbers where she knew they’d be found. She surveyed them, researched rabbit pregnancies, and charted it so she wouldn’t miss it.
And now, everything she’d been waiting for, working hard to avoid missing, was being jeopardized. But what’s more important, she thought to herself. Witnessing the rabbit birth? Or doing the right thing? Now of course, she was never one to meddle in the affairs of nature and screwing with the natural order of things. But she knew she had to help them. For whatever reason, she felt compelled to. It was like the wolf had an unfair advantage over them, preying on them when they had to keep their focus on something else, something they found more important. It occurred to her that maybe the pregnant rabbit couldn’t run, so she had to stay there, and none of the others were so scared they’d be willing to leave her there, alone, at the mercy of that one wolf. So she chose to intervene.
Slowly, she crouched down, her hand sliding down the side of the tree for support. She picked up a smooth stone, turning ever so carefully, readying her aim to throw it. Before she could, she was stopped by a stream of hot breath on the back of her neck. The hairs on her neck stood up slightly, freezing her in place, though there was no sense of fear filling her stomach like there should have been. Turning, she found herself face to face with the very same wolf she’d been watching a few moments ago. Golden eyes stared back into her emerald green ones, as if boring into her soul. “Don’t even think about it,” an unknown voice said in her head. She blinked and looked around bewildered, unsure of who spoke or where the voice came from. Her eyes fell on the wolf once again, her instincts telling her it was a female. Everything in her told her to stand up and run away, as fast as she could, but she stayed put, choosing to show no signs of fear if she could help it.
She stared back at the wolf, looking directly in her eyes. She berated herself for letting her instincts betray her level of common sense. Timidly, she spoke in a quiet, whispered tone. “Was that you?” she said to the wolf. Her voice was smooth when she spoke, like warm butter, and had a melodious undertone to it, making it a sound many people who’ve encountered her would listen to forever if they could. She mentally slapped herself, wondering what she was doing. Since when do animals talk?
“Well I don’t know who else could have said it.”
Surprise overtook her, and she stumbled back against the tree, stifling a yelp. A wolf just spoke to me, she thought. And before she could properly write herself off as crazy, it happened again.
“Don’t even think about scaring off those rabbits.” Her eyes went wide as she realized, no, she wasn’t crazy; a wolf was actually speaking to her. Shaking her head to rid herself of shock, she recollected her thoughts, and decided to ignore the previous comment from the wolf.
“You can talk.” It was more of a statement than a question. She could sense the tidbit of shock course through the wolf.
“No. I can speak. You can talk. They’re two different forms of communication, two you seem to have a surprising mastery of.”
She wasn’t sure she’d heard her properly, hence her decision to say something else, which in hindsight, was pretty stupid. “Since when can animals talk?”
The wolf growled. “Since humans developed selective hearing. I already told you, we speak. We speak to each other. Talking is purely a human experience. All living creatures can communicate with each other, one way or the other, even plants.”
“Okay, so if that’s true, how come you guys have never spoken before?”
“We’ve always been able to speak. Just because you don’t have the ability to understand us, doesn’t mean we don’t have the capacity.”
“But you guys can understand us perfectly?”
“Some of you better than others, yes. Different animals have different levels of understanding between other living creatures, like humans. Most of us can’t understand the plants, however.” The idea of plants talking bewildered her, even more so than the idea of animals talking, but she chose to ignore it.
“How do you know all of this?”
A sound similar to a chuckle could be heard from the throat of the wolf. “Don’t forget, there have been many other creatures in existence far before your kind showed up. There are many things your race will never know due to the stubborn ignorance that is in your nature.”
“So, are all animals as cryptic as you? Or is that just a wolf thing?” she jokes, still crouching with her back against the tree for support. She was careful not to be too close, but throughout the whole conversation, her mind kept wandering to the eyes of the wolf, the bright gold staring into her emerald green. Streams of hot breath occasionally tickled her face, alerting her that despite the slight extra distance between her and the she-wolf, she was still in a particularly dangerous situation, and it would probably be a good idea to be careful with how she spoke to her.
“Just like every human is different, so is every animal, even those of the same species.”
“But anyhow, I advise you not to meddle in the affairs of nature. I’m sure your kind has noticed very well the consequences of messing with things you have no knowledge of, disturbing the natural order of things that you cannot control.”
“It’s not fair and you know it.”
“Fair does not exist in the animal world; you’d do well to remember that.” The she-wolf slowly started backing away from her, the darkness slowly concealing her image.
“Wait. What’s your name? You must have one.”
“Attika, And what is yours?” Before she could respond, Attika backed into the darkness, disappearing out of sight. She sighed and peeked around to look at the group of rabbits. And in her mind, she wondered if she should listen to Attika. But in her heart, she knew she couldn’t do that. She knew she had to do this, they weren’t afraid yet, or maybe they weren’t aware that there was a wolf stalking them through the trees, but that could change easily. She carefully grabbed a stone, light enough to throw far enough, but heavy enough to make a loud noise. She stood up, sliding her back alongside the tree for stability, clutching the stone in her left hand. Carefully, she aimed, and tossed the stone across the clearly, landing out of sight with a loud thud. She watched as a few of the rabbits started to look around and sniff the air, and a few others kept their eyes on the pregnant female, but their ears stood up, suddenly alert to everything. Carefully, she took a step towards the rabbits and snapped a particularly thick branch under her boot, making sure to step down especially hard. Without a second thought, the group darted away. With them gone, the pregnant rabbit was all alone, so she rushed over quickly and gingerly picked up her, careful not to hurt her or cause her discomfort. She walked off into the trees with the rabbit in her arms, her haste adding extra speed. She heard the ruffle of leaves nearby, and she stopped. Looking in the direction of where she’d thrown the rock, she was met by a pair of bright gold eyes. Though she heard no voice, she had no doubt that was Attika. She didn’t speak, but her eyes, almost glowing, stared back at her as if you to say You shouldn’t have done that. She cradled the rabbit protectively and straightened in defiance. Within a few seconds those glowing, bright gold eyes faded away. Once they were completely gone, she could almost make out a large, dark figure, darting off deeper into the woods.
“Brielle,” the girl says, releasing a breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding. “My name is Brielle.”
Taking another breath, Brielle turned and hurried off towards that nice little house, sitting atop that little hill, towards the edge of a somewhat larger neighborhood, that lay in a much larger valley, that was a part of a much larger city. She hurried out of the woods towards that house, her house, carrying the rabbit in her arms protectively, ready to leave the forest she loved so much behind for the night. And hopefully, she’d get a chance to process the events taking place in the woods. As she walked up to her back door, she turned to the woods one last time, her hair flying as she spun. She spoke again before turning to head inside, repeating her words in the woods, unsure of whom or what she was saying it to, or for what reason she felt the need to.
“Brielle. My name is Brielle.”