I awoke from sleep,
stirred by the soft crackling of leaves under the foot of another.
Looking around, I saw no one -
just plants, and trees, and whimsical things: sprites, flys, bees, and the like… Nothing significant, and certainly nothing that would make a noise worth waking to.
The forest floor was lit up with delicate fairylight,
and the soil lay unmoving. For a moment, I lay and appreciated nature in its rawest form: peaceful and undisturbed.
I closed my eyes for a moment. I rested for several seconds
And then came the noise once more. It didn’t come in the usual progressive tone, like the curve of a foot. More like forked twigs, being pressed into the longways of a crackling leaf.
It had once again startled me,
and so I leant out of my bed amongst the leaves for a better look around. I whispered, “Hello?”
And there amongst the trees, sat a shaking creature of wood:
like a tree stump, that twisted at the top into sprouting Autumn leaves. It offered only a single golden eye, in the centre of its body.
I rose onto crouched legs, and approached it slowly. I whispered once more, “Hey there, little guy…”
It seemed nervous,
and backed off, tripping over itself and landing on its back. “Hey hey hey don’t worry..” I breathed.
I moved quickly, calmly, and quietly through the leaves,
and kneeled before it, gently picking it up off the floor. It was only about a foot tall, but seemed to weigh a hefty amount.
I set it upright
It trembled, its stumpy hands set behind its back. It approached me slowly on its teetering feet, and touched my lowered knee with one hand, its other hand still set behind it.
After a moment of consideration,
it brought its other hand forwards, and dropped a silver stone and some string into my lap. I looked down to see my necklace, sitting there, looking back up at me.
The creature sat there for a second, seeming hesitant
And for a moment, I felt angry that it’d gone through my possessions,
But that quickly faded,
and I chuckled for a long second: this little being had managed to get to me, take my necklace from my neck, and would’ve gotten away, if it weren’t for the leaves on the ground.
“What a smart creature…” I said aloud.
"Beautiful... Perfect." It sat for a moment, and watched me, its eye giving off a friendly glow.
I picked up my necklace,
and looped it around one of the points on the top of its head.. I felt no aggression from either side of the stare, and I knew I’d found a companion.
It stayed with me that night,
and it’s stayed with me ever since. Because even a hunter can do with a friend.