A bright light shone from the top of a hill, casting shadows from the trees over a bed of fallen, crunchy leaves. Fireflies weaved through the trunks, heading up the hill towards the light. A girl followed their dimly lit path.When she reached the top, she stepped over a ring of scattered toadstools and rocks that lined the edge of the forest, enclosing a large circular patch of long, thick grass. In the center of the ring was a small fire. Her eyes followed the funnel of thick, black smoke up, up, up until it curved like the Earth, creating a dome over the trees thick enough to block out the stars.The girl looked around for someone who could’ve started the fire, but there was no one. She crept close enough to feel the heat, her eyes fixated on the fire as it turned from orange to purple. She stood still, blinking. When she stepped away, the flames burst high into the air, knocking her onto her back.

After taking some deep breaths, she sat up and saw a wolf had emerged within the flames. Its purple head swayed back and forth, its nose wiggling. She stared at it, holding her breath. Then, the wolf leapt from the flames, running. It left behind a purple trail that disappeared as it jumped over the ring of rocks into the woods. The fire returned to its original size and color.

The girl lay back down and focused on her breathing until she felt her heartbeat regain its rhythm. When she concentrated on the funnel of smoke, it turned from black to blue. A portrait of the night sky stretched above her. She closed one eye and extended her index finger, playing connect the dots with the stars.

A rustling sound came from the woods. She jolted upright and saw a boy crouched on the other side of the fire. He had large antlers and thick, unruly hair. He wore a fur dress with a rope tied around his waist.

“Who are you?” she asked him.

He stared into her eyes and pulled off a small hide sack from his belt. “Pick one.”

She looked back at him and then closed her eyes. She pushed around what felt like rocks. She pulled one out from the sack and noticed an unfamiliar symbol etched into its side.

“What does it mean?” she asked, dropping the rock back into the sack.

“That’s Isa. She resembles ice, isolation…” He picked up one more rock. “The yew reveals the paths ahead.”

“But, how will I know which way to go?” she asked.

“Look around, where do you think you are?”

The girl looked at the growing fire and smoke as it turned from blue to green. She looked back to where the boy had been, but he was gone. She turned to the fire and the flames grew long and round, like flower petals. The heat from the fire warmed her cheeks. She remained still and silent as an elk emerged within the fire. It looked around and snorted a green mist, causing the flames to hiss and wriggle.

She reached out her hand and closed her eyes. Something cold and wet rubbed on her palm. When she opened her eyes, she saw the elk standing in front of her. She stroked its snout. The elk stared into her eyes.

“Are you real?” she asked.

The elk’s head perked up and its ears turned, as if it had heard something she couldn’t hear. Then, it ran into the forest.
The girl stood alone in the night. The fire had gone out and only the moonlight illuminated the clearing. She walked to the edge of the forest. She picked up rocks from the ring and tossed them into the leaves.


Sarah Hooker will be earning her A.A. in Creative Writing from Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York this June. She is 28 weeks pregnant and enjoys reading picture books to her future baby girl. She also enjoys cuddling with her cats, George and Oliver.

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May 8, 2018

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