They were lost, and it was Nadin’s fault. It had to be Nadin’s fault; Adren didn’t get lost. Not in the woods. He must be using his magic somehow. That and he kept accusing her of changing direction when she wasn’t.
“Just because I walk around a tree so I don’t hit it doesn’t mean we’re suddenly going west,” she told him.
He gave the sky a nervous glance, but didn’t reply.
This is what happens when you grow up in a town with streets; you never learn to keep yourself going straight. The roads do that for you.
“And, if you would stop distracting me, I’d be able to navigate.” Since he clearly couldn’t.
Still, he dragged his heels. Adren wished she could leave him behind, just turn invisible and head off without him being able to follow. But, as luck would have it, Nadin could see through magic of that variety. She was stuck with him.
“I thought we would arrive long before the sun set,” he paused to duck under a branch which hadn’t hung quite so low when Adren had passed by it. Odd. “So if the sun’s setting and we’re still here, then we have to be going the wrong way.”
“Shouldn’t we stop for a moment and get our bearings? Maybe retrace our steps?”
“No. We’ll get there faster if we keep going.”
Nadin stuck his hands in his pockets and frowned. “Or we’ll keep getting further away.”
“Look, Nadin, the man said to head south and, if we miss the town, we’ll hit the river. We both saw it on the map. Now, do you see a river anywhere?”
“So south we go.”
Nadin mumbled something else, but Adren ignored him. For a few blessed moments the only other sounds she heard were their footsteps, the twitter of birds, and the rustle of squirrels in the underbrush. She had just begun to enjoy it, too, when…
“But what if we—”
“Nadin. I’m hungry. I’m tired. The sun is going down,” she indicated the orb to her right, “and if we’re going to sleep in an inn tonight like you wanted, we keep going.”
“Except that’s not where the sun is.”
At this, Adren did stop and spun on one heel to face him.
“Do you not have eyes?”
“Adren, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you this whole time: the sun isn’t there. It’s there.” He pointed ahead.
Chuckles and shushing came from the trees around them and then died down. Oh no.
“We’re heading west?”
Adren’s shoulders fell, at which moment the trees filled with laughter. The sky shimmered and the sun disappeared. When she turned back, it had reappeared where Nadin had pointed.
Some days, Adren really hated fairies.
The Other Stories
- Paula de Carvalho: Body Double
- Kris Bowser: Tantrums
- Virginia McClain: Rakko’s Storm
- Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl
- Elizabeth McCleary: The Door
- Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box
- Katharina Gerlach: Canned Food
- Rabia Gale: Spark
- K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel
- Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue
- Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate
- Cherie “Jade” Arbuckle: After I Died
- Karen Lynn: The Family Book
- Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog