Sabrina stepped gingerly over the tree roots. It wouldn’t do to crush a cone and draw attention to the fact that she was following him. She didn’t know who he was. It was so rare for anyone to enter this part of the forest. The giant red woods gave her protection as she peered down on the stranger.
The service road he walked was little more than a path to many. It was ten feet below where Sabrina followed in the tree line. He knew she was there.
He loved to walk. It didn’t matter where he went. He just liked the walk. On Thursday he entered the great forest and two days later he was still wandering through, enchanted by the smell of pines, and the clear air that enabled his thinking process to accelerate. This morning when he found the service road he soon discovered the young girl that followed above him.
She moved quietly through the forest-- in and out between the trees reminding Marcus of the Ewoks. He was certain that if he stopped and looked up at her, she would flee. And he was enjoying the company-- be it distance and silent.
It made him ponder who she was and why she lived in the forest. Did she live in the forest? Perhaps, she was a visitor herself and wondered if it were he that lived there. Perhaps, it was one of the things that Marcus thought about. Another was the beauty of the forest itself. The way the sun filter in and out of the trees, passing through leafy branches in a desperate attempt to touch the ground only to be denied its quest by the breeze moving the leaves and redirecting the sun’s effort.
Occasionally the sun won. Glinting off the wings of birds, the sun warmed whatever spot available.
Marcus quickly stopped. Above on the forest line Sabrina stopped as well. She watched as he tilted his head. He was listening to the owl perched on a branch high above her. She ducked behind an oak least he follow the sound to her.
He was nice looking-- for a young man, though peculiar in his behavior. She found him to be quite interesting. Once, while walking through the forest she found a nest of squirrels that had fallen from its perch. That was interesting at the time. Life is like that. What is interesting today might very well be of little interest tomorrow. Although, Sabrina had the distinct feeling that this young man walking through her forest would remain interesting for many days to come.
He began walking again and so did she. She watched as he reached into his pocket. What was he doing? He took something out and tossed it on the road. The object was far too small and obscure for her to identify from this distance. She thought she might allow him to pass further ahead and go down to the service road to see what it might be.
It was a sudden decision of his to take the penny from his pocket and toss it to the ground. He saw her stop.
Ah, my little Ewok, will you come down to investigate? I think perhaps you will.
After three feet, Marcus took another penny from his pocket and tossed it on the road. He repeated this action every three feet or so until he rounded a bend in the road. There was a large rock at the curve of the road. He hid behind it waiting for his mystery Ewok to approach.
Sabrina waited for him to get far enough ahead that he would not see her. She stepped from the protective covering of the tree line and descended the incline to the service road. She looked at the dusty clay road until she discovered his truth. It was a penny.
How peculiar indeed. He must be rich that he has no need to such things. Why would he toss them here? No squirrel needs money. The owls seek only food and a quiet perch to nap.
She picked up the penny and moved on further to find another and then another. She had eleven pennies before she saw the rock where Marcus waited for her.
As she bent to scoop up the last penny in his trail Marcus jumped from his hiding place catching her wrist.
She struggled against his hold.
“I won’t hurt you, little Ewok,” Marcus encouraged.
“Ewok? I’m no Ewok. And who are you?” Sabrina demanded. “Let go of my wrist.” She pulled free of his hold, but did not run. She wanted answers to the mystery.
“My name is Marcus Finley. Who are you? Do you live here?”
“Sabrina Conner. What are you doing in my forest?”
“Your forest?” Marcus walked a wide circle around the girl. She was wearing jeans and dark green blouse. Colors that made it easy for her to hide within the forests shadows. “What are you a highwayman? Robbing tourist of their loot?”
“NO! You are the one that threw your pennies on the ground. Who are you?”
“I told you who I was. Now tell me who you are.”
“Look, Marcus Finley –I was just walking along minding my own business when I noticed you on the service road. You are not supposed to be up here, you know. This is a fire lane in case of forest fires. It leads up to the Ranger’s station. Now, why don’t you give me some answers before I call my father, Ranger Conner and report your strange behavior?” Sabrina pulled a cell phone from her pocket and flipped it open.
“Whoa!” Marcus held up his hands. “I thought we were playing imagination. It was fun watching you move in and out of the trees, following me, you know? I thought it was a game. I didn’t mean any harm really. I’m camping down at the Red Oak, lot number four. I like to walk, you know? I had no idea this was off limits. Sorry.”
Marcus turned and headed down the road in the direction he came.
“Wait, what about the pennies?”
“Keep them.” He called over his shoulder. “They bring luck to any who find them.”
Sabrina watched him leave. She wanted to follow him again. She wanted to know more about him. Suddenly she wished she hadn’t broken the spell. It really was a game of imagination. She sighed. He was no longer in view. She walked toward the ranger station. There would be plenty to tell her father at lunch today.