In hindsight, I realize that teaching a wild thing to be tame is cruel. I watch the tourists around here and think, "You're not doing that deer any
favors, letting it get accustomed to nibbling feed from your hand." So when I first saw the kid- catching the flash of his eyewhites in the brush at
the edge of the woods- I wish now I'd just turned around and gone back inside.
In the summer of my fourteenth year, I was staying at my family's summer property, set like a desert island in a deep sea of old growth forest. It's
temperate, mossy, moist- and lonely.
And this brings me to the first in a tedious list of justifications I will tick off as the tale is told: I was so lonesome, and just a kid myself. So
when I spied that figure crouching in the undergrowth, I leaned over the deck railing and waved. My heart leapt into my throat as he shot up and
bolted, sprinting hunched and fleet as a buck into the woods.
I noted with shock that he was nude. Also, that as quickly as he moved, his passage through the vegetation was almost silent; no cracking twigs, no
rustling branches. He had a thick, bramble-stuck mess of matted mouse-colored hair that hung to his waist. My first thought was that maybe he was a
hippie who'd gotten too laced on whatever and wandered away from one of the leftover communes that still limped on out there in the boonies. I felt
very uneasy about the incident, acutely conscious of the house's isolation and my own vunerability.
Nevertheless, that night I placed a pair of dad's old sweatpants, a sandwich and an apple in a little pile by the place I'd first seen him. The next
morning, only the apple was missing, but the wrapping on the sandwich had been torn open. The sweatpants were untouched.
Although I sat on the deck all day waiting, the boy never showed. I left an apple on the grass each night for a week, and my first waking thought
every morning was to check to see if it had been taken. Wading out barefoot into the dewy grass, always finding a fresh wash of tender early sunlight
on the empty patch- the boy liked his apples.
The morning of the seventh day, I was so eager to check the spot that I nearly planted my foot on the remains of a woodchuck. The poor wee thing was
curled on the doormat, its head craned round in a way that suggested a broken neck. I knew somehow that the boy had left it there- was he trying to
That didn't seem right.
What then? I was convinced that it was intended to be a gift. This was no hippie- this was something a whole lot stranger. Suspecting myself to be
observed from cover, I made certain to not let my face show the sqeamish sorrow I felt as I picked up the limp little body and closed the door. I
didn't want him to think I was ungrateful.
I sat stationed on the window seat through the dark hours, peering through the blinds and sipping anxiously at stale, cold coffee. As the lights came
up outside, turning the world from black to blue, he crept warily from the dim interior. He was curled over, holding his hands in front of him like a
bunny. A vole dangled from his fingers.
I moved as quietly as I could to the door. Sensing him there, I opened it quickly, holding an apple in front of me at arm's length. He was crouched in
the act of placing the vole on the mat when I startled him. He sprung up, then froze there expressionless, huge eyes fixed on the apple in my hand. He
was, I thought, my age. Fifteen at the most. Stringy, filthy, and very whiffy.
"Hey," I said softly.
His eyes darted to my mouth, back to the apple again. I hunkered down and put it within reach on the ground, stepped back. He slowly took it, solemnly
holding my gaze as he replaced it with the vole.
"Thanks," I smiled.
He bared his teeth and emitted a weird chittering growl at me, then drew his hands back to his chest and sprinted off into the brightening flickershow
of sunlight under the canopy.
He was, I thought, pretty cute under all that dirt.
edit on 6-6-2012 by Eidolon23 because: Grrrrrrrowl.
You know I think we may have read a few of the same stories on feral children judging from you story, but seeing as there are a few stories and cases
I think everybody who read stories on feral children read the same ones. I think there was even a thread or two on ATS about feral children a few
years ago. But ya cool story, a bit disappointed as there were no ninjas, and you could use more practice. But it was a good story in all, I got the
feeling it played out a bit like a documentary you had in your head.
This is my favourite story in this [NATURE] competition by far. Yet somehow it seems unfinished...
You start the story by saying that you'd wished you'd just turned your back and gone inside when you first saw him and you end it by saying that
he's pretty cute. I feel kinda like I've been left hanging - sorta like I've just watched the preview to some great movie that I'll never get to
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