Disappearance

Peter and Annie disappeared from a little-known hiking trail on August 24, 1972. According to their cold case file, neither have been seen since, nor have their bodies ever turned up. Local authorities have no idea what happened to them. But I do, and it’s all my fault. Well, mostly my fault. I mean, it was my fault, yes, but they made mistakes too! In fact, if they hadn’t made their mistakes, none of this would have happened. So really, it was more their fault than mine. But yes, technically speaking, I’m the reason they disappeared.

I didn’t know Peter and Annie before that day, but I’ve since learned that Peter planned to propose to Annie. Isn’t that romantic? They’d known each other since they were kids having met at school. However, it wasn’t until they both came back from University after graduating that they really noticed each other and started dating. They both loved the outdoors and spent many summer days hiking through the woods. They were the perfect couple, and, I would argue, it was a blessing they disappeared together rather than just the one, leaving the other behind. Now that would have been truly tragic.

Peter had been planning the “perfect” proposal for weeks. His plan was to find a trail that neither of them had been on. After asking around, Peter learned about a place that was a little ways away and not well known. Lured by what he was told would be a breath-taking view, he and Annie packed a picnic and began their hike. I’ve gone over this in my head thousands of times, and I’m convinced this was his first mistake. It’s really not a good idea to go place where there aren’t already a lot of people. You never know what or who you may run into.

Initially, everything went according to Peter’s plan. It was a warm, sunny day and they had the trail all to themselves. At the top of the mountain, Annie was suitably blown away by the view. Lunch was delicious, and just before they were about to enjoy some homemade brownies for dessert, Peter shifted to his knee and was preparing to pop the question. It was at this point their luck shifted dramatically and, I believe, they made their second mistake.

You see, Annie had been distracted by a rather strange occurrence in the valley. Well, strange to them. For me, it was really quite normal. As she stared down into the valley of pine trees, she noticed that the trees seemed to be rippling as though a strong breeze was blowing. Then, the ripple turned to swaying and what appeared to be a gust of wind took on force and looked like a strong gale wind was whipping through the valley. Even the trees surrounding them on their lookout began to sway back and forth; but neither Annie nor Peter felt even the slightest breeze. The shaking of the pine needles as branches all around them shivered and shook, sounded like waves crashing on the seashore. It was as though the entire was waking up and stretching after a long nap, which, in sense it was. It’s what happens when a large group of us pass through an area.

“What’s going on?” Annie asked.

“I don’t know,” Peter replied, just as confused. There was a sizzle in the air, like there was too much static built up. “Maybe a storm is coming?”

Annie was already on her feet packing up their lunch. In retrospect, if they’d just stayed put for awhile, they may have been spared. If Peter had stalled them with his proposal, I would not have been the cause of their untimely disappearance. But I’ve been assured there is not point in searching for “what if’s” as they are almost never useful.

They were only about two minutes down the trail from the top when they realized that they were not alone. According to Annie she saw movement in the corner of her eye. As she turned to get a closer look she saw, deep in the brush, what she assumed was a young girl. Any normal person would have been stuck, or at the very least, been making a lot of noise as they struggled against the twigs and branches. But the girl they described seemed to almost skip along as a path opened up before her; her pigtails swaying as she happily danced along. That is, until she noticed them staring.

I’m reluctant to say, this is where the blames shifts over to me. I should have been watching. I knew that. I’d been told over and over, never reveal yourself when humans are near. But come on! Humans weren’t supposed to be in that area. Shouldn’t there be some places were we can simply lose ourselves in the moment and dance freely through the trees? Why should I have to be on my guard every single second?

But, alas, they saw me and their fate was sealed. You see, humans are not allowed to see us. At least, not anymore.

As Annie stared at me perplexed, I froze. At first, I thought about simply running away. But that was not to be. Others were in the area. Others with, as I’ve been told, more sense. They weren’t dancing about with humans nearby. They knew to be aware of their surroundings. Well, anyway, they saw that Annie and Peter had seen me so they too stepped out of hiding and at that point, it was a done deal.

Peter was the first of the two to see the rest and gripped Annie’s hand when he saw them emerge from the trees. Just like me, they were able to walk through the brush without a path, unhindered by thorn, bush, or branch. The underbrush seemed to melt away before them. Peter told me later, this was what scared him most about my people. I really have no idea why. It’s always been such a  normal thing for me that I can’t wrap my mind around the idea of someone finding it strange.

The others walked separately, scattered throughout the trees. We look a lot like humans, except that, as Peter describes it, there was a green haze between us and them. In fact, the further away we are, the more green we appear kind of the same way mountains appear more blue.

Together, Peter and Annie began walking again, neither speaking. They were clearly terrified and I can’t say that I blame them. Of course, unlike them, I knew what was about to happen. The others began to gather closer forming a line behind Peter and Annie. Then, they slowly began to circle around the pair and picking up speed, began to dance clockwise around them forcing them to stop walking. As they danced, more gathered and formed another circle and began to dance counter-clockwise around the first circle. They appeared to be enjoying themselves, smiling and laughing as they circled around and around, but I knew this was not a joyous event. Soon there were five layers of circles moving around them, each moving in the opposite direction as the next layer out. Then, a fog slowly crept in until Peter and Annie were obliterated from view.

The fog carried them away to our land. They were never allowed to return to their home. After the fog disappeared, the dancers slowly dispersed until it was just me and my father. He towered over me looking down with a disappointed frown. “What have you done, my little acorn?”

He’s always blamed me for this indiscretion, but I maintain it was not entirely my fault!

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