They were bored. They decided to go out into the woods behind Jeremy’s house. They grabbed some sodas and started out. Jeremy and Chris had been friends since kindergarten and they were always together. Always. They followed each other everywhere. You couldn’t separate them.

As they made their way to the trees Chris started telling Jeremy about his weekend with his dad.

“I wish I didn’t even have to go over there. Neither one of us wants to see each other anyway.”

“Yeah but your mom thinks you should.” Jeremy shrugged. His parents were still together, he didn’t know what it was like living in two different places.

“Yeah well she doesn’t have to see him so why should I?” Chris picked up a stick and started breaking it. “It’s fine. I’ll be sixteen soon enough and when I get my license I’ll just get a job and be too “busy” to go over there.” Chris smiled to himself.

They walked deeper into the woods and the world outside became quieter. They found a fallen tree and sat on it.

“So with this new job are you going to ask Jamie out finally?” Jeremy asked.

“Maybe. We’ll see.” Chris said nonchalantly.

“This guy.” Jeremy shook his head and scoffed.

“Hey there’s this cool cave I found the other day, I wanna show you.” Chris thought he was smooth as subject change.

“Nah, man. I’m tired. I just wanna chill here for a minute.”

“Come on!” Chris slapped Jeremy on the arm.

“Dude, stop. You know I hate that shit. Don’t hit me.”

“What are you gonna do about it?” Chris taunted.

“I’ll tell Jamie you watch her walk from the bus into school every morning.” Jeremy threatened. “I’ll tell her you look for her every day at lunch.”

“Seriously? Low blow, man. I’m going to that cave without you. You don’t deserve to see it.” Chris stood up and charged toward the cave without a glance back. Jeremy sat there for a minute and laughed to himself. He wouldn’t betray his friend like that, even if he was sick of getting playfully hit. He finished his soda and tossed the can into the brush. He stretched then started for the direction that Chris went.

“Hey, Chris!” He called. No response. Chris was probably ignoring him. He cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Marco!”

“Polo.” Came a whisper. Jeremy stopped. Did he imagine it? He walked a little farther.

“Marco!” He yelled again.

“Polo.” Another whisper, louder this time.

“Chris?” Jeremy stopped again, listened. No response. He started walking again, slowly, his eyes scanning the trees for movement. “Marco!”

“Polo.” Several voices whispered this time. Jeremy froze. He turned completely around looking for the source of the whispers. There was no one around.

“CHRIS!” He called he started running. He couldn’t see his friend. He didn’t know where the cave was and he didn’t recognize where he was. He kept calling for Chris but there was no response. He ran and ran as the voices around him whispered his name.

Later that evening Chris was sitting at the dinner table on the phone with Jeremy’s mother.

“I don’t know where he went. I was going to show him this cool cave I found in my backyard but he didn’t follow me. I turned around and he wasn’t there. When I got back to the tree he was gone. He didn’t come home?”

“No I haven’t seen him. If you see him tell him to get his butt home immediately.”

“Okay I will. Bye.” Chris hung up the phone. He looked out the window at the trees swaying in the wind, the darkened sky making them look eerie. He grabbed a flashlight and went out the back door. He stood at the edge of the wood and called to his friend.

“Jeremy!” No response. “Jeremy can you hear me?! Follow the sound of my voice!” He heard movement in the brush. He shown his light on it and waited.

“Jeremy?” He listened. “Marco!”

photo-of-trees-in-forest-3801030

Photo by Jose Vega from Pexels

 

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