Hello! Welcome back to another chapter of Unraveled! We’re getting so close to one of my favorite moments to write… Next week I get to post it! 😀
I hope you’re all continuing to enjoy it, and that you’re having a wonderful Saturday!
Unraveled, Part 12
Rory led the way, picking her way through branches and brambles like she had been born there. Catherine and I stayed further back – me because I was hard time not tripping, and her because she was a loyal friend. We passed under the trees and I shivered in the sudden chill. They blocked out the sun entirely, leaving intricate patterns of dappled sunlight on the forest floor.
“You girls doing all right?” Rory’s voice came from a ways away, seeming to echo around the trees. I caught a glimpse of her bright pink hair a few dozen yards ahead.
“We’re fine,” hollered Catherine. She turned to me. “I think so anyway.”
“Yeah,” I said. Rory was far enough away that I didn’t think she could overhear me, but I didn’t want to risk telling Catherine what I was really thinking: Rory was scaring me a little. She seemed to get very intense sometimes, like in her driving and the shocked expression when she saw me. It was enough to put me on edge, and wonder if it was the safest idea to keep staying with her. I glanced at Catherine, wondering if she was having similar thoughts. If she wasn’t, then I didn’t want to seem paranoid by mentioning anything.
Catherine ducked under a branch, then held it aside for me to walk through. If it had been Hayden, she would have let it smack into my face. But Catherine was kinder than that. “Thanks,” I said, quickly stepping past so she could let it go.
“Of course,” she said graciously, smiling at me again. She really did have a beautiful smile, the kind that made you want to smile too.
The forest came to life the deeper we walked. The sound of birds chirping echoed down through the trees, and once when I looked up a butterfly flew past, wings open in an explosion of orange and red. I could hear the wind whistling through the trees, which I had always thought of as a lonesome noise – you know, being home in a cabin, sitting by yourself and listening to the wind. But I wasn’t lonely since Catherine was there.
I suppose Rory was there as well, but if I was honest worth myself, I wasn’t exactly happy to be her company. It made me seem like a horrible person; she was taking time out of her life to help me find a cure for the shawl, after all. What was bad about that? But I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. The suspicion stayed in my chest, making me feel uneasy, making the innocent sights and sounds of the forest sinister.
“Catherine?” I risked a glance over at her, wondering how I was going to phrase this.
She was walking along, stepping over roots and fallen branches, looking at home in the forest. With her outfit, it looked like she had been made for a walk in the woods. She looked at me, eyebrows raised. “Hmm?”
“Uh,” I said, stalling for time. As if on cue, my foot caught on a root and I pitched forward, an awkward yelp coming out of me. I flung out my arms, anticipating the fall. Instead Catherine’s arm wrapped around my waist and kept me from hitting the ground.
“Careful,” she said, helping me get back on my feet. “Are you okay?”
I was still clutching her shoulder. “Yeah,” I said, quickly letting go. I could tell my face was red. “Thanks.”
“No problem,” she said, looking totally unruffled. “These woods are hard to walk in. I have some in my backyard and I used to trip all the time.” I could tell she was trying to make it not seem like a big deal, which I appreciated. In my groups of friends back home, I was always the butt of the joke with how often I stumbled. I could tell Catherine wasn’t like that.
I remembered what I was going to ask her. But before I could say it, Rory called back to us: “Hurry up, girls!”
“Coming!” Catherine kept a firm grip on my arm, probably not trusting me to walk on my own. I didn’t blame her. She led me through the trees, making sure I didn’t trip.
Rory was waiting at the edge of a clearing. She looked up when we arrived, motioning for us to come over. I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling; it got worse the closer I got to the clearing. But when I was standing next to Rory, all thoughts of unease or evil vanished from my mind. All I could do was stare at the incredible sight in front of me. I heard Catherine gasp and felt her grip my arm tighter.
There was a large stone well in the middle of a grassy clearing: a perfect wishing well, like you would see in a Disney movie. It was covered in moss like it had been there for a very long time. The clearing was bordered by trees of all shades of green; pine trees, willow trees, trees I didn’t know the names of. I could see the sky through a gap in the trees overhead, and though it was still overcast, there were no clouds in this particular patch of sky. It was like someone had taken a fairytale scene and brought it to life in front of me, and so much beauty made me feel kind of dizzy.
The odd thing was that the well was surrounded by a ring of daisies, all equidistant from each other. I couldn’t imagine them growing that way naturally. It had to be a landscaping choice. Whatever the case, they did look quite cute surrounding the well.
“What is this?” asked Catherine in an awestruck voice. Her jaw was slightly agape and her eyes were wide as she glanced around the meadow. I had an identical expression.
“Part of the nature center,” explained Rory. “Lovely, isn’t it?” She strolled into the grass, looking right at home there, even if her pink hair stood out among the green. “Come, look at it!”
Catherine followed her. I was more hesitant, although there was nothing dangerous about a grassy clearing, but I followed suit anyway. Catherine wandered over to the well, running her hands along the stone and leaning over to peer into its depths. I stood a couple yards away from the well and watched from there.
“How did you find out about his?” asked Catherine, totally involved in checking out the well. “Your nature retreat?”
“Mm hmm,” said Rory, perching on the edge of the well gracefully. She watched Catherine as she investigated her surroundings. “Like I said, I got married here, and we held the ceremony out here. It was very lovely, the perfect day.” She looked a little sentimental talking about it, and Catherine smiled at her.
“Wait,” I said. “I thought you had a birthday party here a couple years ago, you know, ‘cause that’s where you got the shawl. As a gift.” Her story wasn’t adding up.
Rory’s eyes widened for a second. “Oh, I’m sure I said wedding,” she said quickly. “I’m sure you’re just confusing it with the time I did have a party here, a couple years ago.” She gave me a tight smile. “Don’t worry, I get mixed up all the time.”
I was sure she was lying, but why would she lie about something like that?
Emma and I are different in many ways (for one, I would never go on a road trip with a stranger), but she definitely has my clumsiness. And love of yarn, of course. Hopefully that makes her relatable. 😉
How are you all doing? I’ll see you in a few days for another post! 😀