The rain was coming down heavier now, I was too far into the woods to try and get home, I just needed to find shelter and wait for it to pass. I knew I'd once seen a small cabin with a stream running past it when I was exploring the woods after we first moved here; it was hidden by an almost circular formation of rocks and trees, camouflaged to the outside world. I was close by, and I'm sure whoever it belonged to wouldn't mind my taking shelter. Luckily, I was close. I found the small hidden path through the trees and there it was. I took a sharp breath, I could see light coming from inside, the kind of flickering you get from a fire, I didn't know anyone actually lived there.
I approached with caution. Seriously, who lived in a tiny cabin in these woods? Any horror film I'd seen told me this was a bad idea, but I needed to get out of the storm. I went up to the door and knocked quietly at first, but louder when no-one came. The door opened a crack, not enough to see who opened it, but enough for me to feel the warm air escaping.
"Hello?" I asked. No answer. "Hello?"
"Yes?" The voice was quiet and hesitant, like it hadn't been used for a long time. But what really surprised me was that it was also the voice of a girl, probably my age.
"Please can I come in? It's raining and I'm really cold", no reaction. "I'll go as soon as it stops", again nothing. "I promise".
Huh? "Yes, I promise"
"O-okay" and with that the door opened to reveal a girl, probably my age, her hair was wet and slicked carelessly back against her scalp and she was wearing nothing but a blue plaid shirt, but it was so big it was like a dress on her. "Come in" she said, beaconing me into the cabin.
To say the cabin was basic inside was an understatement; there was a small fireplace, admittedly keeping the place perfectly warm, 2 small wooden stools, a low table, and a small kitchen area in the corner, basically a couple of cupboards and a worktop. I could see into the tiny bedroom through its doorway and saw a low camp bed with a thin blanket on it, and nothing else. I had so many questions I wanted to ask this girl; do you live here? who do you live with? do you have anything to eat? She looks so tired, and thin. The dark circles under her eyes worried me, as did her skeletal frame.
"Sit. The fire".
"Thanks...". She looks really uncomfortable, I wonder if she ever talks to anyone else.
"You...you want food?"
A weird way to ask, but I'm not going to be picky right now, "yes, please". The girl walked to the small kitchen and opened one of the cupboards, inside was literally a small Tupperware tub and a box of something I couldn't quite see, nothing else.
What? Seriously, what? "Erm, yeah, that'll be great". She gave me a shy smile and put one in front of me...I guess I had to eat it cold, to be honest that was fine, I was starving. She sat down in the other chair and ate one also, taking tiny bites and appearing to savour every morsel. She must really love eggos, weird.
"I'm Max" I said once I'd finished eating, offering my hand to shake.
"Nice to meet you Max" she said hesitantly, taking my hand and shaking it gently.
Well that didn't work, I can't just ask her name now, it'd seem rude. "So, erm, are you here by yourself? I mean, who do you live with?" I mentally facepalmed...damn, like asking her name wasn't rude enough.
"I live with my father".
This is like pulling teeth, man this is difficult. "What do you do when he's out like now?"
"I..." she shrugged in answer instead.
...she's struggling to answer these questions, I feel bad for pushing her, she let me in and gave me food. I think she needs help of some kind, but how do I find out without scaring her? She's looking more uncomfortable by the minute.
We sat in silence until the storm stopped, just watching the fire. Every now and then the girl got up to poke it and put some more wood on. Soon, I could hear that the rain had stopped, I knew I had to go, but I didn't want to leave this girl here by herself, I didn't believe what she said about living with her father.
"I think the rain has stopped, I'd better be going home, my folks will be wondering where I am".
"Ok" she said, looking down and fidgeting with her hands.
She looks conflicted, like she wants me to go but also wants me to stay, when was the last time she spent time with anyone? I made up my mind there and then to make sure I came back the next day to check on her. "Thanks for the food and the shelter, I really appreciate it".
"Oh, right, it means I'm thankful...grateful...you know?"
She just nodded, still looking confused. I need to help her somehow. I walked outside, "bye then".
She just waved slightly and went to shut the door.
"Wait!" She held the door open a crack to listen. "Can I come back tomorrow?" She looks confused. "To see you. You know, we can chat again" stupid, stupid, facepalm!
For probably the very first time that afternoon she looked me right in the eyes, wow, her eyes, as if trying to read my mind and work out why I would come back. "Ok" she said, and with that the door closed.