Jacob had found her. And she really did look like something out of an old folk tale. Not modern at all. Her old leather boots were scuffed and sad. She could have practically walked off the set of Little House on the Prairie, he thought. And he'd always had a crush on that girl who played Laura Ingalls Wilder. But this was real. She was real. And she was just as he thought she would be. She smelled like the forest, but sweet as strawberries, perhaps.
And then she saw him, and it was as if he'd killed her on sight. He hadn't meant to frighten her. Next thing he knew she was passed out on the ground. He touched her cheek, but no response. She was limp, dirt and leaves in her hair.
He picked her up and brought her right in the kitchen.
"WHO ARE YOU!" And old woman, crippled, looked up at him from the livingroom.
"Uh, I think she's hurt. I was just, on a run." Jacob winced.
"Well, put her in her room." The old woman pointed to the front room.
"OK." He nodded.
"She'll sleep it off." The old woman wasn't too concerned.
"She do this a lot?" He wondered.
"Something her father taught her." The old woman shrugged.
"Don't guess I've ever seen that trick at the circus." Jacob wondered what she was talking about. He introduced himself, and she fed him berry pie from the fridge. Thanked him.
"Say, you look strong enough." She touched his bare arm. "Mind cutting a tree for me for Christmas?" She smiled weakly.
She'd talked him into it with her generosity, but Jacob would have rather checked on the girl instead. "But, but what's her name?"
"We call her Tess," the old woman explained. "But that's far from her true name."
Jacob squinted, thinking who were these people?