“Who’s there?” I said upon hearing a rustle coming from the woods. I slowly started to walk backwards, keeping my eyes straight ahead. I thought I saw movement behind a tree but I couldn’t be sure.

“Who’s there?” I yelled again in an angrier tone.

I was almost back to my blanket when I saw a boy run from behind one tree to another. Without giving much thought, I ran straight towards him and when he peeked from around the tree and saw me, he froze. Before he could run, I sprang on him and wrestled him to the ground.

“Get off me you witch!” he yelled despite me pushing his face into the damp ground of the woods.

He managed to get himself turned; he was stronger and taller than the boy from the market. He glared at me with eyes that made me think of Lake Haddon on a stormy night.

“Who are you?” I asked, jumping off him. My heart raced as I put my hands up ready to fight. His face and overalls were covered in mud and he wiped at it while trying to get up, stumbling backwards.

“None of your beeswax,” he said.

He backed away slowly, limping a little. I just stared at him until he turned and ran through the woods, glancing back a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t following him.

“That’s it. Get out of here, you dirty gaje,” I said once he was well on his way, “and don’t come back!”

I looked down at my own clothing and smoothed out my apron. It was black, like my dress, so it didn’t show the dirt too much. Myrtle had given up allowing me to wear anything lighter except on market days. Should I let them know about my fight with the boy? Or make up a tale to tell. I wouldn’t be allowed back to the meadow if the clan found out that a farm boy was lurking. I could have gotten dirty from picking worms but I had nothing to show for that. Perhaps a big bullfrog got away but I almost had him. Yes, I nodded. I almost had him. I gathered up my belongings and headed back from where I’d come, searching for dill as I didn’t dare return empty handed. I took one last look around before entering the woods, the opposite direction that the boy had come. He must live on the farm through the woods. I had heard from others that the closest farm was on the other side of the woods but I’d never ventured past the meadow before. Perhaps it was time that I did.

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