Lost and Found

Neve McSweeney

The night was quiet. A soft breeze rustling through the trees. The small girl sat on the cliff top, her legs dangling over the edge, looking out at the sunset. The sky streaked with pink and orange and gold. Her legs swung back and forth as she sang softly to herself. Her song was both sweet and sad. The wind swished around her face, blowing her long brown hair into her eyes. A small face poked out of the trees, sniffing curiously. A little snout, with small tusks protruding from its jaw, followed by a thin, starved looking body covered in long quills. A pattern of stripes across its fur. 

It inched towards the sound of the music. The little girl noticed the animal, but didn’t flinch. Instead, she turned to face it and sang. The creature crept forward and lay down in front of her. 

The girl finished her song and held out her hand. The creature pressed its nose into her palm. 

“Are you by yourself, little one?” The girl whispered. The creature made a soft rumbling noise in its throat. 

“Me too,” the girl said. The creature tilted its head slightly. 

“I’m alone and lost. I don’t know where to go. No one cares anymore” she said, tears started to pour down her face. 

A voice yelled through the trees, calling for the girl. She froze at the sound. The creature, sensing her fear, stood up, turned to face the undergrowth and snarled softly. 

“I want to go home. I want to go back,” the girl cried. 

More voices joined in, a chorus of people searching for her. 

The girl sobbed. “I don’t have anyone, they’re gone,” she wailed. The creature turned to her and nuzzled her arm. She looked down at it, curiously. 

Then, it pointed with its nose to the other side of the trees. A soft voice whispered in her ears. 

Run away.” The girl looked down at the creature, then stood defiantly.

“I’m not going to be caught,” she swore. Then, ran into the trees, away from her burning house, her parent’s bodies, the guards hunting her and her old life, forever, with the small catlike creature at her heels.