It was late. Dark. A soft wind wrestled with the tips of Emma’s hair as they scrambled their way through the thick barrage of trees. Caleb tugged her lightly from ahead, hand loosely gripping hers as he guided her to Sawyer’s Pond. She knew they shouldn’t be going there and the knots in the pit of her stomach wholeheartedly agreed with her. But she trudged on at Caleb’s insistence, as always. Anything for Caleb.
The poor girl from the other side of the tracks, Emma never would’ve dreamed she’d find a boy like Caleb. Popular, funny, handsome Caleb. Emerson High’s quarterback and destined to be Prom King. But two months ago as Emma had stretched to reach the only copy of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, Caleb flew into her from around the corner, knocking her and half the shelf down along with her. For her, it was love at first sight. So when he came back the next day and asked her out, although she tried to act more bothered than interested, she agreed and they’d been together ever since. She knew the other girls at school couldn’t figure out what he saw in her. The whispers and dirty looks filled the halls when they were together, but she didn’t care. She’d never felt this way before.
“Caleb, wait.” He didn’t slow down at all. “Are you sure you know where you’re going? Maybe we should just go back.”
“Don’t worry. We’re almost there, I promise.”
The eery feeling grew even stronger as he led her deeper into the woods. “We’re here,” he exclaimed.
Suddenly, he let go of her hand and instantly doubled the distance between them, leaving her to stumble around in the darkness alone.
“Caleb?” she called. No answer. “Come on, Caleb, don’t leave me. Where are you?”
She could no longer see the glow of Caleb’s flashlight or hear any movement from the direction he’d gone.
The trees were blocking any light from the moon and the dark seemed to swallow Emma whole. A twig cracked somewhere nearby and Emma turned to face it. Another crack came from the other side and her head jerked back in that direction. Suddenly, a clammy hand landed on her shoulder and she jumped, heart beating out of her chest.
“Found it,” was all Caleb said as he picked her hand back up and dragged her forward.
“You ass!” she cried hysterically, but all she could do was keep up with him or she’d be lost in seconds.
When he finally stopped, it was if they had entered an alternate reality. Gone was the sweat inducing heat of mid-July with humidity so thick you could choke on it. In this place, it was cold. The kind of cold Emma could feel all the way down to her bones. And she didn’t like it. At all. Caleb, however, seemed totally unaffected. The solid wall of fog parted as he walked through it, slowly closing around him until he was nothing but an afterthought. Emma knew if she didn’t follow, she’d lose him for good.