The trees were brushing against her arms and hair as she passsed by, catching and holding
on. She didn't really notice, being too preoccupied with her destination to mind the small inconveniences of her route. She had never made the journey to the lake by herself, but it wasn;t as though she had a choice in the matter.
Her friends simply couldn;t wait for her to get off work, so she had to walk alone.
Alone. The sun had already set and the moon was playing hide and seek. But
she didn't quicken pase. Yes, she was alone, at night, in a place she didn't know all that well, but she was happy.
She felt the smooth shape of each stone throughher thin sandles. The dust that she kicked up lose
and lazily settled on her toes, coating them in a light brown haze.
"Not too far not," she told herself calmly, picking a stone out of the way. An owl responded,
briefly filling the silence with it's call. She jumped slightly, laughing at her own foolishness. Ahead, she could see the
specks of light - presumably from a campfire. The girl grinned and quicked her pace.
She had never been as graceful as she hoped, because the next thing that she saw was the
dirt that she had been kicking playfully. Upon looking up and dusting herself off, the warm glow she had seen no longer existed.
"What's going on?" she muttered, her happiness turning to fear. She
couldn't hear anything. All was quiet. No wind through the tall grass, no animal. Only her love voice. She was about to cry
out, but she didn't in fear that she'd let som horrible thing know where she was. She started running. Even if there was nothing
behind her, she wanted to run.
The trees whipped by her, dust rose up, getting into her nose and eyes, hair and clothing.
None of this mattered. In the woods at night, her imagination had taken off ages before the girl started to run, and it was
all she could do to catch up to it.
Behind her, something snapped a dry branch, sending cold waves of fear down her spine.
"Annie!" a voice called from behind her. She stopped immediately at the sound of a rational
human voice. A tall boy, about the same age as herself was in the trail behind her.
"Where did you come from?" She asked, puzzled as to why this stranger had called her 'Annie.'
Her actual name, as it had been since birth (or for many years) was Caitlean.
"Annie, I have a surprise for you."
"I'm not Annie," Caitlean told the boy.
"Your not?!" he said with a pinch of fear in his voice.
"I'm Caitlean." The boy looked like someone Caitlean knew, or had known, but she didn't know
"Annie, are you playing a joke on me?" he had anger in his tone.
"I told you, I'm note her." Caitlean said, getting angry herself.
"If you aren't Annie, then how come you have the same face as her? The same hair?" The boy
asked, taking a step closer to Caitlean. She stepped back.
"I don't know. But I'm NOT Annie!" Caitlean said, emphasizing the 'not.'
"Annie, look, I just want to take you home, and show you the surprise," said the boy, holding
out his hand. "Stop playing games with me for a minute and be serious, please?" The boy's eyes
pleaded with their ocean of emeraldsd. His hand was quite inviting as she somehow found her hand in his. He pulled her close
and whispered in her ear, "I won't tell anyone."
Caitlean pulled away from the boy. She wanted to run, but felt safe with a compainion. "Annie,"
the boy said devilishly. "Come home." Caitlean knew there was no safety staying near this twisted boy.
"No," she said, simply loosening her hand from his, I'. not Annie. I am Caitlean Frantz.
Not Annie. I don't even know someone named Annie!" The situation was becoming frightening, and Caitlean wanted out. If only
the woods weren't so dark...
"Well, at least you have the last name correct," the boy stated, still puzzled at her actions.
This froze Caitlean in her place.
"What did you say?" This boy had a soft hold on her hand again.
"You said Caitlean Frantz, were as you are Annie Frantz."
Annie Frantz. That was her
mother's name. How did this boy know her mother?
Caitlean felt the boy's hand grow cold. She looked down at it. Instead of a hand, there was
a cold, black branch upon her. Caitlean screamed, turned and began to run. That boy was the horrible thing!
"Wait, Annie, wait!" Something called, the voice garbled and strange. Caitlean didn't just
wait, if anything, she spead up. Feet pounding, she tore down the path that never seemed to end. Behind her, the footsteps
grew faint, and son, she realized that she was running in sand. Ahead of her, she saw the glow of a fire. Caitlean kept running,
paying no more attention to the comfort of the fire.
"Hey, Caitlean, over here!" A familiar voice echoed over the lake. Tony was to her left attending
to a fire. She slowly calmed down and joined him.
"You will not believe my night."
"Crabby customers?" Tony's eyes sparkled in the light
of the fire.
"You could say that." Caitlean smiled secretivly, and nearly fell asleep now that the ordeal
was down with. She sat there, staring at the blazing fire. She played out the incounter in her
head over and over again. Still, none of it made sense. Caitlean's friends had been slowly leaving, one by one, and it
was only now that Caitlean had realized it.
"Are you coming, Caitlean?" Tony asked. She looked up. The fire had been put out, and Tony
had extended his hand. "Come on Caitlean, let's go home," he said.
She paused slightly before standing up and taking his outstreched hand.
"I have a surprise for you."
"You know, my father said the exact same thing to my mother when they were this age, but
I never learned what the surprise was."
Tony was baffled. "How would you know that?"
"Let's just say I shouldn't walk alone
in the forest anymore." Caitlean smiled as Tony pulled her closer.
"I can make sure of that."
Together they walked the woods, Caitlean still pondering
the surprise. Perhaps she would never know what it was, but she was content just the same. No one should know everything.
Something inside her had changed since the incounter. She could feel it so strongly, but didn't
know what it was. She kept putting her feelings and thoughts under a microscope, and she hated it. Never before had she felt
so inprisioned by her own self.
Tony was wondering deeply about Caitlean. The atmosphere between them was so different now.
He sighed slightly, casting a sidways galnce at the girl beside him. Something seemed different
about her, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
Caitlean smiled to herself, quite content to just meander along with Tony, through the woods.
"It really is surprising what one's mind can conjure," she remarked to Tony. He nodded, not
wanting to ask any questions. "So Tony," Caitlean said. "What is this surprise you have for me?"
"I've been doing some research," he tried to explain, somehow not finding thw words to describe
and justify his actions.
"Some research on what?"
"The past. Your past."
Caitlean, by now, felt kooky. "What is this?" She was getting desprite.
"I'd been hearing stories, about your family tree and such, and I had to know more." There
wasn't a good enough answer in the world to appease Caitlean.
"Tony, stay out of my past, and away from me." The shaking Caitlean ran away and into the
darkness of the trees.
She then realized her mistake; alone, again, in the woods, at night.
"How do I get myself into these things?" she wondered aloud, sighing as she nimbly picked
her way across the floor.
It wasn't fair of Tony to spy on her like that. "The past should be left in the past," she
muttered, brown eyes filling with tears. Neither of her parents had brown eyes, but Dad's old best friend Marty did. Some
said that she look a lot like old Marty. People talked, but she didn't want to hear it. Besides, Marty was dead and her father
was in prision, although she always told people he was away working. Nothing could be done so it shouldn't be brought up.
Caitlean was a smart girl. She often put 2 and 2 together. She was also a cool-headed girl;
she wasn't scared if 2 and 2 sometimes equaled 6. It was obvious that Marty was her father, but she loved the man who had
raised her, and consittered him to be her father. Even if he was in prision for killing that other guy. Marty
had been a passing influence - stopping in on birthdays and holidays, always with presents. Caitlean had figured out who her
father was years ago, but hadn't pursued the idea. She switched her thoughts to the situation at hand.
"Now how do I get out of here?" she wondered aloud.
The sun was starting to playfully jump over the horizen. Without knowing, her feet had exited
the woods and brought her to her front door.
"Where have you been?" Her mother's voice filled the air.
"At the lake. Speaking of which, Momo, does the phrase, 'Annie, I have a surprise for you,'
mean anything to you?"
Her mother recoiled in what could only be described as shock. "How did yopu know about
"What was the surprise?"
Annie sat down slowly. "A party."
"Was this nine months before I was born, and eight months before you and Dad got married?"
Shock refilled Annie's face, and then disgrace followed. "Yes." She sighed slightly and retold
"I was on my way to meet your father at the lake that night, and got a little lost. But he
found me. He wrapped me in his arms and looked into my eyes with his emerald beauties. He told me he had a surprise for me,
which turned out to be a party. You see, I got really drunk that night, and made a big mistake -"
"Mom, I know; I figured it out." Her mother looked on the verge of tears.
"So, what's for breakfast?"