Day 5

“I need to get back to our WiFi connection to login to my game, anyway. Don’t know why I came out with you guys in the first place,” Ginger said. She rolled up a handful of her shirt and squeezed, drawing out a good portion of lake water. “We never even saw a mermaid.”

“Sounds like you were looking forward to it,” Zane chuckled. He had retrieved his sketchbook and shouldered his backpack. The boy eyed Lila as she angrily threw a rock into the lake. Despite the venom within her pitch, the rock only traveled an eight of the lake.

“I was not!”

“You were, too,” Gabbie laughed. She thought that having a dunk in the water was the best thing to happen to her all day. Even though summer had just evaporated into fall, the day was just early enough to be uncomfortably warm. Well, to be fair, Gabbie always felt warm.

“Let’s just drop it. Come on, Ali. Tell us how to get back home.” Ginger inspected her cell phone. Everything seemed to be in order.

“Okay, come on.” Alastair felt a little disappointed. This was’t how their trip was suppose to go. They were to have a great time at the waterfall, talk, and become closer. Falling into the lake was not part of that plan. Alastair couldn’t help but wonder if his friends liked him any less for being the one responsible for taking them to the lake in the first place. The boy’s shoulders slumped. Maybe there was a chance that he was over thinking it? It didn’t help that an eerie silence had oozed into the crevices of the forest since their journey back home.

Lila emitted a tiny sound of surprise and tugged at Alastair’s drying sleeve. He bent to better hear her.

“Alastair, my ribbon should have been on that branch,” Lila whispered into her brother’s ear. She pointed at where they had attached the ribbon more than half a year prior.

“That can’t be. We’re on the path. There’s no way we could miss the ribbon.” Alastair took stock of his surroundings. There were the usual maple, oak, and white barked aspen trees. A thin layer of red, orange, and green leaves covered the forest bed. A few ground squirrels glared at the group from with the hollowed out roots of the trees. Beneath the group’s feet was the cleared path set with gravel. Alastair was certain that they were right where they needed to be.

“That doesn’t sound good.” Zane kicked at the gravel. “You sure you didn’t get us lost, Ali?”

“I wouldn’t do that!” Alastair’s voice cracked. He covered his mouth and turned away from his friends. “I wouldn’t. Besides, we are on the path. We just have to follow it and we’ll be back. The ribbon must have just…fell off.” He decided not to tell them that he practiced a specific knot done by electricians on said ribbon. A knot that wouldn’t have come off unless someone else had undone it. The faster they walked back, the faster they could get away from whoever undid the knot.

“Fine. Let’s go then.” Ginger trudged ahead.

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