Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | November 20, 2009

The Cave

Forest Path

“Lead me, my eyes are closed.” Helen held out her arm to her sister. Elsa took it. This was their favorite game when they were little. See who keeps her blue-green eyes squeezed shut the longest. But you can’t be too trusting, because the one guiding will try to run you into a tree or over a rock. Especially if the guide is Elsa.

Elsa held her sister’s elbow loosely, gazing around for a good-sized bush to steer towards. But why? What was the point?

“Hey, don’t stop!” Helen’s eyes snapped open, and she stepped on Elsa’s heel. “Sorry.”

“Do you have to stand so close to me?”

“I was just…” Helen trailed off. She didn’t have any excuses. She just wished Elsa would laugh the way she used to. Ever since her boyfriend told her he wanted to be with someone else, she’d turned into this prickly lump of self-pity.

“Let’s go home.” Elsa turned around, but Helen blocked her, stepping on her toes this time. “Oww! Watch it, you bi….”

Helen felt her chest tighten. “You almost called me a bitch, didn’t you?”

Elsa shook her head, denying the obvious.

The tops of the bare trees surrounding the forest path clicked together like giant’s fingernails and the leaves at the sisters’ feet swirled in a light breeze. Helen held her hands to her ears, then nose, as the wind drained some of her warmth.

“I didn’t beg you to come out here just to turn around and go home.” Helen put a hand between her sister’s shoulder blades and pushed. “Come on.”

“We’re going to the Cave, aren’t we?” Elsa said, and Helen nodded.

It was only another quarter mile. The Cave was the place they’d built palaces out of mud as three year olds. The place Helen knew Elsa had gotten her first kiss in eighth grade from a kid named Isaac Green.

Of course, the blind walk hadn’t snapped Elsa out of it, so why would the Cave? Helen had no idea, but a little voice had told her, just as she was waking up this morning, that this was what she had to do for her sister. And she listened to those little voices. Honestly, Helen would have much rather spent the morning dwelling in her own self-pity. Who was Elsa to mope over a lost boyfriend when Helen had never even had a second date with anybody? But she still couldn’t stand to see her sister in such a pathetic state.

The rest of the walk passed in silence. Helen kept walking too close to Elsa, who would speed up or stop completely until she got her preferred distance back.

“That’s it.” Elsa said, stopping at a spot a few yards before Helen thought they should.

“You sure? Wasn’t it over there?”

“No, that’s it!” Elsa scrambled down the slight slope at the edge of the path, and began tossing handfuls of leaves aside. “It’s filled in.”

Helen followed and helped dig out clumps of leaves, trying not to get too much dirt under her fingernails.

“Oh.” Elsa stopped suddenly, and Helen peered into the earth-smelling darkness. A pair of eyes stared back at her.

“Away!” It shouted, and the sisters jumped back, hands clasped together so tight Helen’s fingernails broke the skin. Whatever it was that had taken over their favorite spot, it wasn’t human.

 

 

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Responses

  1. Wow, I’m hooked! Something not human that speaks human language. Very compelling! Has this story been completed?


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