Lost in the Woods, 2020 Third Place Youth Division

By Mollie Price

The evergreen scent filled my nose as I stepped outside my cabin with my german shepherd, Cherry behind me. My chestnut horse, Ross, seemed to be waiting for me all night. As I poured the horse feed in his barrel, Cherry fit herself under the gate and looked like she wanted to play. Ross whinnied.

“You hungry, boy?” I asked

He neighed. Cherry noticed he was only waiting for food. She fit her way back under the gate and wanted me to play. I threw a stick and she ran after it. Ross nuzzled me when the barrel was full. He started eating right away.

“Willow!” My mom called

“Coming! See you later, boy.”

Cherry ran after me and disappeared in the doggy door. My mom was making coconut scones for breakfast with her famous hot cocoa. Sam ran down the stairs with his MP3 player. My mom quickly took it away.

“Mom. I need to finish one more level.” Sam implored

“After breakfast, sweetie. You need to feed Russell and Rose.”

“Kenna can feed Rose. It’s her horse!”

“I can feed Rose, Mom.” I cut in

“Thank you, honey”

“Ooh! Can I ride with Kailie this afternoon?”

“Of course!”

Sam looked angry. I saw him eyeing the MP3 player. His sneaky fingers started slithering towards the player, but Mom didn’t notice him. Sam striked as fast as a cobra hunting a meal. He shot up the stairs like a bullet. There was a knock on the door. Kenna ran to the door as if her life depended on it. Kailie was standing at the door. I saw Sydnee tied up on the post by Ross.

“I was wondering if Willow could r…?” Kailie asked Kenna

“Coming!” I interrupted

I ran out the door straight to Ross. I poured horse feed in Rose’s barrel and went to the shed. I got the saddle and set him up.  Kailie was catching up. She took her time to walk over. I drove Ross out of the pen and mounted him.

“Ready?” I exclaimed

“Yep.”

“Then, what are we waiting for?”

“Race you to that hill!”

Ross knew what we were talking about. He bolted towards the hill so fast that  I almost fell off. Sydnee and Kailie were not far behind. A rabbit ran across the path. Ross stopped suddenly. I flew off and hit the ground hard on my back. Ross craned his neck down and seemed to be helping me up.

“I’m good, boy. I’m not mad. You just got scared that’s all.” I said soothingly

“Are you OK?!”

Kailie sounded concerned. She slid off Sydnee and  grabbed my arm and pulled me up to my feet.

“Do you know where we are? I got too focused on not falling off. I didn’t pay attention to where we were going.” I asked

“I know. You just went off the path. But no. I don’t know where we are”

“Oh. Maybe we could just go back where we came.”

“Are you kidding me right now? This forest has almost the exact same trees. We would get more lost.”

“True. If only we had Cherry. She would know where to go. Let’s go take in the view.”

“Fine.”

We trotted up the hill. The grass looked scratchy as we passed over it. The wind whistled through trees. Once we got up the hill, it stood before me. The view was amazing. I could see the ski mountain in the distance and the trees around it. The sun shined on the twinkling snow. I saw little figures dancing on the soft white bliss. I heard a soft patting of footsteps coming towards us.

“Do you hear that?” I asked Kailie

“Hear what?”

Ross and Sydnee swerved their ears towards the sound. I knew they could hear it. The sound was coming nearer. What if a hunter is coming? What if a wolf is coming after us? The bushes shook in the wind. Why can’t the wind just stop?  It’s confusing me! I didn’t know where the thing was. Where could you be? I hopped off Ross and grabbed a rock off the ground. I heard a bark nearby. Is that Cherry? I thought. I dropped the rock and ran towards the barks. Is Cherry hurt? Where is she? The barking was coming from a thorn bush. There she was. Cherry was caught in the bush. Her eyes lit up when she saw me.

“You OK, girl? You scared me. Why are you even here? Did you follow us? Hmmm?”

Kailie walked up to me, Sydnee following her. We got Cherry out of the bush with her whimpering. A rabbit ran out of the bush The same rabbit that spooked Ross. Cherry ran after it.

“That’s what she must have been chasing into the bush.” Kailie said laughing.

The rabbit ran past us again, Cherry on it’s heels. We heard a series of squeals. Cherry trotted over to us, the limp rabbit in her jaws. She looked pleased with herself. The rabbit’s life was over. Ross walked around to see what he could eat. It was probably 1:00 now.

“We better get home. Our parents will be wondering what happened to us.” I suggested

“The problem is……… we don’t know where we are.”

“Luckily. We have Cherry here so she can show us the way home

“True. Why do you have so much faith in Cherry anyway?”

“I know her and she knows what we need.”

“Whatever you say, cap’m!” Kailie said putting her stiff hand to forehead

Cherry was enjoying herself with the rabbit while Kailie and I were wondering where to go. We started walking the way we came. Cherry saw us moving without her and started towards us. She seemed to know what we wanted.

“See I told you she knew what we needed.” I exclaimed

“I must say. You were right about her. ”

She would run up a ways and stop, look back to see if we were coming, would keep running and do the same thing until I heard a whinny from our horses. I urged Ross on who started running towards home. Kailie called out.

“Race you home!”

Ross was running as fast as he could and was so excited to be home at last. I could feel the relief of being home. Cherry was already running through the doggy door when Kailie, Syd, Ross, and I reached my cabin. My mom came running out the door. She squeezed the breath out of me and Kailie

“You’ve been gone for nearly 2 hours. I’ve been worried sick! I almost got Sam and Kenna to come looking for you.”

“We’re OK mom. We just got a little lost.”

“What happened to your back it’s all scratched up.”

“Ross got spooked and he stopped suddenly.”

“Kailie! Your mother must be worried sick too.”

“Mom. Can Kailie stay the night at our house? She can borrow some of my PJ’s.”

“I’ll call her mom to see if she can.”

“Thanks mom.”

We got Ross and Sydnee in the pasture to graze. We went inside and sat by the fire to warm up. My mom gave us hot chocolate also. After Kailie’s mom gave her permission we got our beds ready, and watched a movie with Kenna. Sam was angry that he was left out.

“Why can’t I watch the movie?”

“You can but I don’t know if you want to.” Kenna warned

He sat on the couch and was glad his sister finally let him do something with her.

“You know, this isn’t so … Ewwwww! Why is there kissing in this movie?”

“Told you didn’t want to,” Kenna said laughing as Sam ran downstairs to his room.

The movie was over and we went to bed. Me and Kailie told stories until we went to sleep.

The next morning I woke up to sizzling bacon and Sam yelling about something. Kailie was already down in the kitchen when I walked in. I whispered to Kailie

“Let’s go riding.”

“Sounds Good!”

When we were done eating. We asked my mom if we could go riding.

“Can I go riding too?” Sam and Kenna asked at the same time

“Sure. If mom let’s us.”

“If you don’t get lost this time than yes” My mom answered

We all got our horses ready and were talking about where we should go. Cherry wanted to come too.

“Let’s follow the road so we don’t get lost again.” I suggested.

“OK!” They all said chuckling.

We followed the road with Cherry beside us. The clomping of the hooves on the road soothed my tense muscles. We were out of sight from the cabin and we only looked ahead to where we were going and hoped we wouldn’t get lost in the woods.