TITLE: DEEP WITHIN
GENRE: YA Paranormal
I'm not supposed to be here. The smell of fresh cut trees lures me like a sap beetle to pitch. If I'm caught, I'll be scolded and sent home. Unless I'm caught after I steal, then I'll lose my hand.
I listen. No crackling underbrush. No breaking branches. No voices. I dart from behind a boulder and reach a large cluster of bushes several feet away. I peer through the leaves and branches. No one is in sight. Clutching my herb basket to my chest, I head toward a large redwood. Something grabs my hair. I stifle a scream and reach behind me, feeling, praying I don't touch skin. It's only a branch.
I untangle myself. A few strands of my long auburn hair are left behind. I slip the hood of my red cloak over my head and wish I'd done it sooner. Peering around the redwood, I see chopped logs and branches littering the forest floor. Wagon tracks scar the earth. I might not have long before the gatherers return. A small cut of wood seems to call to me from a pile of discarded twigs and branches. My practiced whittler's eye sees the figure of a rabbit lurking within, begging to be released.
I lift my skirt and step into the open. Autumn leaves crunch underfoot. I stop. A quick glance proves I'm alone. I tiptoe to the pile and kneel. My heart flutters behind my ribcage; anticipation and fear. I snatch the wood and dodge back behind the tree.