About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The young boy staggered wearily through the woods. His dark brown hair tangled, his grey eyes heavily shadowed and deep set from exhaustion. He hadn’t slept in days. The freezing night shrouded everything in a black blanket. Had it not been for the tiny sliver of moonlight through the trees, the boy’s way would be invisible. His clothes were tattered and dirty, covered in dark stains that looked like blood. As the boy staggered onward, an owl hooted, a creature rustled noisily through the leaves, and far in the distance, a lone wolf howled mournfully. The boy gazed up for a minute and then looked back down at the path that was visible only to him.
The wind hurried through the valley taking whatever it could carry on its way. Leaves were caught in its fingers as it pulled and pulled at branches, trying to wrench them from the trees. The moon followed the wind at a slower pace, nonchalantly traveling across the sky until it reached the next horizon, where its journey would begin again.
The boy stumbled over brooks and fallen trees. He passed cliffs of unimaginable heights. Every now and then the lights of a large city could be seen glimmering through the trees. The boy kept going, mindlessly pressing forward with no clear end in sight. Every step was painful, but he did not hesitate or stop.
The sun had found its place in the sky long before the boy had reached the last cliffs, which towered over the waking city far below them. It sat nestled against their protective natural wall. The boy longingly stared down across the city. His eyes dropped as he tried to focus. He turned to head back toward the forest. The boy took several steps, and then collapsed. The leaves rustled and settled over his body..
The wind, on its relentless path, clawed at the boy’s clothes. Finally, it relented and a stillness settle in. Not even the birds stirred as the sun moved gradually across the sky—exactly as the moon had before it, endlessly repeating the age-old pattern.
The sound of footsteps crunching through dead leaves and laughter preceded a young girl stepping out of the forest. She stopped in mid-laugh when her blue eyes caught sight of the boy. She stared at him for a minute and then darted back into the woods. She returned several seconds later dragging a man by the hand. The lines on his face seemed to change and he looked young and old simultaneously.
The man rolled the boy over and jolted back when he caught sight of his face. A hint of recognition showed in his eyes, but he mentioned nothing of it to his daughter. Instead, he said softly, “Sofia, darling. Go and fetch the water, please.”
Without hesitation Sofia nodded and ran off, returning several minutes later grasping a canteen of ice-cold stream water. The man gently took the water from his daughter and tried to force some into the boy’s reluctant mouth. He managed to get a few drops in and at the taste of the cool water on his lips the boy’s eyes shot open.
“I am Desmond,” said the man. “Are you all right?”
“I’m Nate,’’ the boy said in a whisper. “I am so tired.” Something about the way his face relaxed told Desmond the boy knew he was safe.
Desmond stood and turned to his daughter. “We’d better get him back to the car. He doesn’t look well.”
Desmond handed his small daughter the water canteen and then carefully lifted the boy into his arms. The two of them made off into the forest, Sofia running to keep pace with her father’s much larger strides.