“Left or right?” he said.
“I chose last time”, his sister replied. “It’s your turn.”
Ryan looked at the fork in the path. Even though they had hiked this way every year, it was a tradition to ask his sister which way to go.
His feet turned toward the right and he started walking. Pressing the stick into the ground, he moved forward, getting back into the stride he and his sister had before they came upon the fork. The sun was working hard now, trying to force it’s way through the thickness of the branches above them, without much luck.
They walked in silence. Him at least 15 feet in front of her, setting the pace. The trees getting thicker around them.
“So are we going to talk about it?” she said.
He stopped and turned toward her. “Carrie, please. When I said to forget it, I meant it.”
“It’s not something you can just forget about” she said, as she caught up to him.
He put his weight onto his stick, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. “I’m not like you, okay? I can’t just “talk it out” and feel better. What happened happened, and it’s over. We need to keep moving”.
He quickly gained speed again, and Carrie tried to keep up.
“But I know you”, she said behind him, her heavy breathing giving an airy quality to her voice. “I know how much this is eating you up inside”.
Ryan kept moving, ignoring her. He needed to keep moving, one foot in front of the other, breath in, breath out. He needed to focus.
“Ryan” she said.
He gained speed. If I keep walking, she will give up.
He halted in his tracks, and spun around. Carrie was far behind him. He hadn’t noticed how dark it had become. Carrie was facing into the woods, pointing toward something he couldn’t see.
“What is it?” he asked her, but Carrie didn’t respond. She seemed mesmerized by something deep behind the trees.
He walked back toward her, and then he saw it.
They had hiked this path many times before but had somehow never noticed the cave.
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