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Going Out

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The warm and quiet autumn sun danced over Hilda’s skin as she patted her dog’s head.

“Are you ready for a walk?” she asked.

The dog made an affirmative sound. With a small smile, Hilda began to walk him through their forest abode. She’d been here since the trees had been sown – had watched them sprout leaves and wept when they fell. Showered with the rain that fell upon them and made merry with the snow that fell from its branches. She ate the tender fruit they grew and planted their tender sapling where they would find purchase.

Hilda had been doing this for her entire life – to be more precise, her existence. No one taught her what she needed to do, and why, but she did it. She painted leaves and took care of wounded animals. She looked after the small and raised the innocent. It was a good life, and one that followed the rhythms of nature and sink and rise of the season.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of human beings arguing perilously in the far distance. They spoke of maps and lost picnic trails.

“Guess we should help out,” she told the dog. In a blink, his black fur turned tan. She ran a palm over his head and a little spot of black appeared by his eye.

One more and her leaf bikini turned into a snow suit. It wasn’t her preferred mode of dress, but at least she looked like a human being, not a forest goddess who had spent millennia ruling this place by herself. She never appeared to them looking the same way twice, which helped preserved the order of the forest.

She smiled and took Dog by his improvised leash, approaching the humans with a hand extended. “Can I help you?” she asked.