“I can’t believe… you forgot to bring a tent.” Abigail placed her palm on her cheek and slid it down the side of her face. An index finger and thumb slipped under the brim of the hat and sunglasses, rubbing her temple with frustration. Suzanne pursed her lips in frustration as well.
“I didn’t see you bring one either, Bags.” She growled heatedly. Both of them lay on the ground, staring up at the inevitable sunset that was streaking a plethora of soft warm hues across the cirrus decorated sky. “I mean, seriously, you could have asked if I was bringing one for your too in the first place.”
“What were you even thinking? I mean. Even if I brought a tent-” She cut herself off, realizing her tone was rising. Abigail shook her head and pressed herself up from the ground with a palm planted firmly in the dirt. She brushed the dust off of her royal blue jumper and stood up. “You know what, it doesn’t matter… I think the ranger’s station might have a tent. I’ll buy a couple.”
Her friend still didn’t seem happy, but they managed to get up and follow her down the path. For a while, they walked in silence. Then for a while longer. After even longer, Suzanne glanced around the forest.
“Uh. Where are we?”
Abigail stopped in her tracks, turned her head slowly to pan her gaze onto Suzanne, then frowned more. The expression could barely be seen through the dark, the evening settling in. With a wave of her hands, Suzanne shook her head to dismiss the inquiry entirely.
The walk continued.
The voice was distant, almost haunting as it called to her. Abigail slit her eyes open, a bright white light washing down onto her dreamscape. Her limbs were stiff, unmoving as she tried to rouse from her sleep but the voice continued to call to her. She wanted to fall deeper into sleep… the warm touch of the light, her fingers and toes tingling from the magic in this place between realities. She could feel her pulse quicken, breath slow and trickled between her lips, falling deeper back into the darkness.
Abigail quick started from her dream, cold drenched hair matting against her face as she looked around quickly with wide eyes. It was daytime, the sun was already high in the sky, and Abigail was laying on a bed of leaves on the ground.
“What what?” She wasn’t coherent, the first words coming out almost as quacking sounds instead of questions. A man kneeled down to her, his khaki outfit adorned with a few badges and brass plates. Atop of his head was a tented hat with a label on it.
“I’m Blarney, park ranger. Ya ain’t hurt, are ya? Miss…?” He waited, right hand placed to her back to hold her steady. He was a rugged man, his short red beard curled around the lower half of his face, but he was neatly trimmed and smelled of a deep pine musk. His calloused hand was warm on her back, especially now that the breeze was chilling her to the core.
She looked up into his apologetic face, her hand wiping some of the water from her eyes, nose, and mouth. The man offered up a handkerchief, then watched patiently with concerned eyes as she washed herself off.
“I’m really sorry for the water…” His brow furrowed under the brim of his tan hat. “You seemed a bit delusional. Y’know?” His accent was heavy, a drawl on the vowels very similar to people that she’d met in Oasis Springs. It took a few heavy pants to get to a regular heartbeat again.
“No no! I’m fine. I’m- Hey, where’s my-… um. Have you seen another…” She stammered with flustered breaths.
“Oh! Ya mean tha’ one woman! Yeah, she was down the path looking onto some other people. Bein’ real suspicious, that ‘un. But she tol’ me ya were down ‘ere and to help ya so here I am. And I’m pretty dang glad I did.” She couldn’t help but smile at him. He smiled back.