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You will be found by Natasha Penninck, Stoke on Trent College

February 2022

It was raining, as it seemed to always be. In thick heavy sheets. Krys shivered and buried her hands deeper into the pockets of her winter coat. She shuffled around trying to get comfortable on the forest floor, leaning against the rocky overhang behind her. That and the nearby trees had provided cover for her to light a small fire, but as the rain grew heavier the fire had spluttered and went out. Krys stared up at the towering trees that reached to the heavens.

“It was just my luck,” she thought, chewing the inside of her cheek. “to be forced to trek through, one of if not, the oldest forests in the land.” She sighed remembering the old tales. “the sea of trees that continued for ever. The lost woods, where everything moved. Older than time itself, or so they said. Krys pushed those thoughts away, instead she began to focus on the rocks and pebbles littered about her feet. She inspected their every detail one by one and counted them. The wailing wind battered her hood and hair bringing her attention back to reality. Frowning, Krys pulled her hood down further. Her hands were bright pink and shaking. Not for the first time she regretted not having bought gloves when she had the chance back in town. She looked to the heavens, rain seemed to sap the life of all it touched. The leaves of trees and bushes drooped. The sky turned ghostly grey and the ground sticky and dark. A drop of rain dripped down the overhand and greeted Krys by landing on her nose as she looked up. She winced and brought her hand covered it in her sleeve and wiped her face. This did more harm than good as her sleeve was soaked. She groaned. It felt as though the cold had seized each of her bones one by one. Krys rolled up into a ball, her boots squelching as she moved them. She reached for her bad. Krys pulled out a soft, greying, toy rabbit. “good night,” she whispered gently. Shivering she took one last look at the darkening sky. Before taking out a blanket and burying herself under it.

Later. The singing of birds echoed around. Krys lifted her head. The rain had finally cleared, the sun had not yet risen but the sky was beginning to lighten. Krys propped herself up onto her elbows and yawned. She stretched her arms high, blinked and wiped the sleep out of her eyes. Silently she packed away the woollen blanket. Krys picked up the rabbit and kissed it lightly and breathed in its scent. She sighed and placed it in her bag. It was the only thing left of her childhood. Krys had decided to always keep it with her. However much of a waste of space it might be considered by others. She picked up her bag and walked over to the wet remains of the fire she’d built. Krys used her boot to destroy it. “can’t leave any evidence,” she thought. The first rays of light began to light up the forest. She raised her head, shading her eyes with her right hand. “Time to move again,” she whispered softly. Krys set off, her boots squelching against the wet leaves that lay scattered on the forest floor. “How long now has it been?” she wondered as she continued onwards. “How long have I been running?” my whole life, it feels.” Krys cast her eyes to the heavens and stopped. “No, I can’t think like this, I must continue.” She told herself, she shivered. “I must, I must.” She muttered over and over and began to walk again. The sunlight transformed the forest, the depressed trees perked up and light reflected brightly off the damp leaves. The birds continued to sing and the trees were no longer packed so closely. Krys could feel unwelcome hope rise within her. As much as she thought it was pointless, she couldn’t help herself. Hope sang in her heart as she saw the outline of the ancient buildings towering before her.