Chapter 44

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We continue travelling through the trees. We're on a path that winds deeper and deeper into the forest, further and further away from the river that now holds our playful memories.

Mum suggests we stop to take a little rest but I tell her no and bound on eagerly, determined to find the others. We're so close. I don't want to put more distance between us now.

It seems like our roles have changed. Just this morning, before we (or rather, just Maisie) found the trail, I had been the one complaining, always whining about how my feet hurt and asking how much longer until we could next take a break. Now it's my mother taking my old role and I'm the excited one, pressing everyone to keep going.

Just one more step everyone. Keep following the lavender. Yes, that's it. Keep going.

At some points, the lavender trail stops for a few metres, as though Josh was busy replenishing his flower stores but we always find the path again and our walking continues.

I look closely at the ground and sometimes I swear I see faint traces of footmarks where others have passed. But I tell myself that there must be loads of campers like ourselves passing through this path as well.

But I still keep my hopes up, no matter what I tell myself.

"Amelia!" Mum cries from the back, seemingly exhausted. "Let's just take a quick five minute break!"

Hearing her so tired out makes me slow down and turn around. She looks at me pleadingly, grabbing a water bottle from the elastic holder and taking a huge glug.

"Okay," I say dejectedly. "Five."

We stop for a while before continuing. I slow down for the sake of the others as they huff and puff behind me. My clothes have almost dried—there's still a sense of dampness but it's more refreshing than unpleasant.

Further ahead, in the trees, I think I see something flicker. Frowning, I turn back round to where Mum too is looking in confusion at the corner.

In response, she begins speed-walking. I match her pace and grab Maisie's hand just to make sure she doesn't escape. Not this time. Not when we're so close to finding the others.

"Hey!" Mum yells and she begins running. I subdue to a little jog as I've always been lazy. But when we turn the corner, something makes me break into a run.

"Hey!" I yell with my mother and run towards the head scattering lavender petals.


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