“Charlie, Charlieeee…”

The sounds echoed all around us in the woods, that surrounded Aunt Mary’s house. It was the late 50’s and we cousins were spending our holidays here, a ritual every summer.

Only now, Charlie had somehow wound up in the woods. Stupid!

“Oh fudge, where is he? Trust him to do that…,” grumbled Chad, the oldest amongst boys.

“Chad, stop complaining. He wouldn’t have run away, if you hadn’t done what you did at breakfast today,” piped in Ethel, the sharp-tongued one.

“Huh! Rubbish… and who are you to judge me anyways?” Chad retorted, spoiling for a fight. There was no love lost between Ethel and him.

“Guys, Can we focus on finding Charlie?” spoke up Julia, her eyes filling with tears.

I rushed to her side. Julia was the youngest and the most sensitive. She also loved Charlie the most. And I was Gracy, somewhere in the middle of this crazy bunch.

And that’s how we were here, someplace we weren’t meant to be.

I recalled Aunt Mary’s warnings about the woods. Strange sounds emanated at night and many people had been lost, never to be seen again.

If only Charlie hadn’t ventured in! But then Charlie had always been curious. He was inquisitive by nature.

It was Pip who had noticed him sneaking out when he had padded into the kitchen to steal some cookies.

“Charlie, Come on! We really need to get home. Charlieee…,” cried out Pip.

I felt uncomfortable as we went deeper. Sunlight trickled in small patches wherever it managed to find a way. A mist slowly rolled in. At that point, I knew we were lost.

Pip was leading the pack and was farther along when he yelled, “Guys, guysssss! Here…”

We rushed to join him, scared of what he had found. Pip pointed at the bushes, which were rustling. Something was coming closer, we were sure. We gripped each other’s hands tighter. I was praying. Julia sobbed softly.

We waited with bated breath, feeling the air closing in, when…

“Woof, Woof!”

“Charlie, you crazy dog! You led us on quite a chase. Why did you venture into the woods?” Pip cried, scratching his furry coat.

“Exactly the question I want to ask you all!” admonished Aunt Mary, emerging from the same bushes.

“We were looking for Charlie, Aunt Mary,” Julia chipped in, as she hugged Charlie, who wouldn’t stop licking her face.

“I saw him heading to the woods…” before Pip could complete the sentence, Aunt Mary laughed.

“Charlie never enters them. He is the biggest sissy, really! He circles around and heads back home from the other side,” she cried.

All of us turned to look at Pip, who turned red-faced.

“Pip and his wild imagination…again,” derided Chad.

“Chad, shut up,” Ethel glared.

“Ah, well, no harm done. But promise me, never to venture into these woods unsupervised again,” Aunt Mary added sternly.

“Oh yes. Once was enough,” we agreed unanimously for once.

Charlie agreed, “Woof…Woof!”


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This is an entry for Five00-9, #Vintage. Find all the entries here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/category/five00/five00-9/

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