Nobody knows why they were in the forest but they were and by good fortune, they met. A moonless night was fast approaching and she was cold, and scared of the dark. He found her quite by chance sitting under a tree.
He didn't approach her immediately, he looked from afar. He didn't know why she was in the forest she was the first real person he had seen in a long time. She was beautiful to look at, about the same height as him, pale skinned and the most amazing eyes he had ever seen, she also had an aura about her that attracted him and so, making a suitable amount of noise so he wouldn't startle her, he approached the place where she sat.
She looked at him curiously, wondering where this stranger had come from here in the middle of nowhere. She wasn't sure why she was here, but she knew there was a reason and for a second she resented the intrusion. He sat a reasonable distance from her, greeted her and suggested they make a fire. That did it for her, she relaxed and although she was capable of making a perfectly good fire herself decided to let him do it, feeling it would be a gesture to make him feel more comfortable.
They sat closer now, looking into the fire. They mixed up the food they both had and cooked up a pretty good meal and they talked. He sensed she was cold and took out some spare blankets and wrapped them around her, she snuggled closer to him and for a while, they sat there silently appreciating the other and feeling warm and safe.
"Why are you here?", she asked.
"I am lost", he replied and then was silent.
She looked at him again. He didn't look like the sort of person to be lost. He wasn't the typical rugged outdoor explorer type but he did have an air about him of being able to handle himself in most situations. He wasn't the sort of boy who wouldn't know how to find his way, of that she was sure.
"Why are you lost?".
He sighed and looked at the stars and said nothing for a while... Then, instead of replying he returned the question and asked her why she was here in the forest with him. "Are you my guide?", he asked. She shook her head, "No, I am your friend".
He hunted through his rucksack, spreading things around on the ground. She smiled as he pulled out a small whistle and played them some tunes. They cuddled up more, feeling as though they had known each other forever. "I like you being my friend", he said. She thought she spotted a tear but she said nothing. He held her tighter. They fell in love.
It was a cold but clear night and he pointed upwards. "I love the stars" he told her. He explained how he used to go out with an astronomer who couldn't look at the stars without seeing clouds of gas and knowing what they were made of. By knowing what stars were made of, he pondered she had lost sight of the beauty of the night. She couldn't see those old Gods in the skies, she would never appreciate Zeus in his guise as the snow white Bull which took Europe across the sea to Crete nor the Ram that saved Phrixus and Helle from Hera. Heracles and Perseus would be lost to her forever and maybe most sadly, she would never be able to wish on a shooting star. She looked with him, she showed him her Bull and talked to him of her beliefs he listened appreciatively. They were both people who could look at something and see beauty.
"I am lost because I have nowhere to go". He said, out of the blue. "I can't find my way, because there is no way. I walk around and around, and although the scenery changes somewhat, my situation is always the same".
She didn't know what to say. She felt like he had shared something with her that didn't require a comment. He held her more tightly and she held him back. They cried together, they learned to trust.
"I thought I knew where I was going", she confided in him. "It all seemed so simple once, but now I find myself lost in this forest just like you".
He poured some milk he'd heated into two cups and mixed in some powder. He passed her a cup of hot chocolate and had one himself. It wasn't much but it seemed to help them. It was getting late and she was still cold.
"Tuck me in?", she asked him.
"Can I join you?"
"For ever?", he murmured.
They curled up together by the fire, holding one other tightly. For the first time in a long time, they both felt safe and comfortable. Tomorrow, they would try and find their way out of the forest together. They both slept soundly, dreaming of not being lost any more. They had a new map now and although neither could see it, they both felt they knew the way now.
They journeyed through the forest together for many days and nights. They grew closer and more comfortable as they played and talked together and explored their world. Days and nights turned into weeks and months and soon the two were as close as any two people could be,
"We are reaching the edge of the forest", she said one day. "I can go home".
The boy said nothing; he had sensed this time coming for a while and didn't know what to do. She wanted to leave the forest and return to the world outside whereas he had no other home than the forest. She knew this but still she wanted to leave.
"You will come with me to the edge?" she asked, looking worried.
"Of course", he replied, smiling.
Later, alone that evening, he cried. This was the first intimate moment he had not shared with the girl since they met and that made it all the more painful. He watched the two foxes they had got to know playing in the distance, a brown and a white one and tried to cheer himself up before returning to her with a brave face.
"What will you do?", he asked.
She told him again of her family, of her friends, of one she loved out there. She assured the boy that she didn't love the one outside like she loved him, but she had to return because she had a strong sense of obligation.
"Come with me back into the forest", he whispered.
"No, I cannot", she replied.
The next evening, they reached the forest edge. They slept that night amongst the trees, curled up in one another's arms still deeply in love. The girl knew deep down that this would be their last night like this. She pondered how her friends outside thought her to be vain and selfish and how the boy saw nothing of this in her; he simply saw her beauty and trusted her unconditionally. She knew she would hurt him but she was excited about returning home and all the fun things she could do. He was strong, she reasoned, he can live without me.
The boy watched her walk away and waved. She had said she may return soon and she hoped that he would wait. The boy set up camp in the trees and did so. Once more, the sleepless lonely nights turned into weeks and he had never felt as miserable and alone as he did now. The stars were no comfort, the books he had loved didn't help and the forest animals were mostly avoiding him. His mood scared them off; they sensed that he wanted to be alone.
He heard news of the girl occasionally from passers by and then, one day, one of them gave him a letter from her. It said that she missed him and thanked him for waiting for her. It talked of her friends who still thought her selfish and it talked of the possessiveness of her partner. He was sad for her and resolved to wait longer convinced she would return; but, one day, some weeks later he woke up and saw a letter had been placed by his bed.
"Thank you for waiting for me. I have decided to stay on the outside. I hope we can still see one another occasionally and still be friends".
Was all that she had written.
The boy packed up his things and tidied away the camp. He set out walking into the darkest part of the forest not knowing what he was doing nor where he was going, but then this was how his life had always been before.
Weeks passed by in which he remembered nothing and then one day, he woke up to feel the two foxes curled up by him. He felt happiness for the first time in ages as he ruffled the brown one's fur. He fed them scraps and read them a story about a Little Prince who came from his asteroid home to the Earth; he thought they would appreciate it since it had a fox in it. The foxes played, and he played with them. He thanked them for not deserting him when he was unhappy and bad tempered. The boy carried on his life exploring and played with the foxes and other forest animals, relieved to have found company and happiness again. He slowly healed and though he couldn't forget the girl, he hoped she would find some happiness in her world too.
One evening, months later he came upon a girl, quite by chance, sitting under a tree, afraid of the dark. She was the first person he had seen in a long time and he didn't approach her immediately and when he did, he did it noisily so as not to startle her. The foxes came with him and the girl looked surprised to see the group.
"Hello", she said, looking relieved to see somebody. "I am lost".
He smiled at her warmly, and offered her food and a cup of hot chocolate.
"I am not lost", he said, "This is my home".
They shared a meal together, mostly silently.
"Are you trying to find your way home?", he eventually asked her.
"No", she replied... "I don't know what I want".
The foxes approached the girl with caution but soon accepted snacks from her and curled up at her feet.
"Would you care to join us?", he ventured.
She smiled: "For ever?"
"Why not", he replied, hiding a tear of happiness from her.