Estimated reading time — 2 minutes
The young girl made her way through the thick undergrowth. It was not yet dusk, but the sun would disappear quickly behind the densely-packed trees. There is a sort of amplified silence that resonates through woods. All outside noise is cut off so that the only remaining sound is the woods itself. That’s why the sudden crashing to the side of the girl startled her so much. Animals know the danger of making such noise; this was no animal. She spun around as a man emerged from the foliage. Surprise flashed across his face but was almost instantly replaced with a warm smile.
“Hello, little lady.”
The man’s hands were dirty. He was carrying a shovel. The girl wondered what he was doing out here.
He spoke again. “What’s your name?”
The man laughed at this. “Well, I guess that makes me Papa Bear.” He smiled widely. “What’s a girl as young as you doing out here all by yourself?”
“Looking for my friend Janie.”
“Well I can help you look for her.” He grabbed hold of her hand. “Where’s little Janie likely to be hiding?”
The girl looked sad. “She’s not hiding. She’s missing. Me and Janie used to play in the woods together. But last week she didn’t come back.”
“The woods can be a dangerous place for a little girl. Don’t worry, though. I’ll take good care of you.” Again he smiled that big smile of his.
The man began to lead the young girl further into the woods. Hand in hand, they walked on until the trees towering above them entirely blocked out the sky. The girl shivered.
“Poor little thing. You’ll catch your death.” They both stopped as the man lay down the shovel. He took off his jacket and helped the girl into it. He gave her shoulders a gentle rub. “Do you want to know a story about these woods? Bad things happen in here. That’s what I heard. There was once a little girl who was walking through here all alone. It had gotten so dark that she couldn’t find her way back home. Luckily for her, she found a nice man in the woods.”
“Lucky for her,” the girl said.
“Lucky for both of them. He was able to take her back to his house – his little gingerbread house – all alone in the woods.”
“That sounds nice,” the girl said, “what happened next?”
“Unfortunately, the girl was naughty. She wasn’t grateful to the man for saving her. She ran off, back into the woods. That night, the little girl died, all alone in the woods. No one ever saw her again.”
“How do you know she died if she was never found?” the girl asked.
The man leant down, drawing his face close to the girl’s. “Someone has to know, don’t they?”
The young girl smiled as she swung the shovel into the side of the man’s head. “Your stories are so good. I think you’ll make a great friend for Janie.”
The girl whistled to herself as she began to dig a hole.
Credit To – Ben H