The cold set into the spring air as night approached. A pair of large, rough hands rubbed together and cupped around the mouth of a man with an unkept dirty beard.
"Shit, it's getting cold" he mumbled under his breath as he shoved his hands in his jacket pockets. He stood up, looking around the dimly lit cabin. With only candles to light the room, he squinted and fumble about the room.
"Marie! Have you seen the keys?" he called out, sounding irritated. There was no answer and he shook his head in frustration. He grunted and mumbled to himself as he moved about the room. His clothes were worn and grimy, his skin weathered and tan making him look much older than 45. His hair was about shoulder length, dark brown with grey strands coming through. His beard had a darker color, yet much more grey than his hair.
"Dad, they're on the shelf remember" a small voice answered from behind him.
He whipped around, his tired eyes met with the shining eyes of a little girl only 10 years old. Her long chocolate colored hair fell against her pale face. Her eyes were a bright blue that almost had a glow to them.
"Isabelle, you should be in bed, we have a big day tomorrow" he replied as if he hadn't listened to what she just said.
"I know" she said quietly and rubbed her eyes. "I'm excited, I can't sleep". She watched her dad still looking for the keys. "Dad, the shelf" she repeated and pointed at a tall shelf in the corner of the room.
"Right, sorry" her dad sighed and made his way over to the shelf. "I'll be right back, just gunna go grab some wood. Where's mom?"
Isabelle hoped up onto the couch and shrugged, swinging her legs back and forth. She watched her dad check the bedroom and sigh, mumbling something under his breath again.
"Stay here" he said sounding frustrated. He left, making sure to shut the door tightly behind him. It often didn't close all the way if it wasn't pulled shut.
Isabelle sat in the quiet and picked up a book that was sitting on the table beside the couch. Her bright blue eyes scanned the book with interest. The book was in much better condition than the rest of the belongings in the cabin. The couch was covered in stains with a few big holes in it, but it didn't stand out from the rest of the furniture. Everything seemed to be filthy, old, broken, or worn.
The cabin was small, but big enough for a small kitchen, a couch, coffee table, and two bedrooms. There was no electricity but the cabin looked like it had been built with the intention of having electricity.
"Huckleberries" she whispered to herself and pointed at the photo of them in the book. Her finger moved to a word beside the photo. "Safe" she said and smiled contently. "Ivy berries" she whispered again. "Dangerous" she said in a much more serious tone now, her finger planted firmly on the word. She frowned as she stared at the photo, studying what the berry looked like.
She was startled when she heard the door open suddenly, her parents walked through the door bickering at each other, breaking the silence in the cabin.
"Jay, it's barely dark out" she mumbled, but loud enough for him to hear her.
"It doesn't matter" he argued with her as he put the wood by the fireplace and began to start the fire with the kindling. There was silence now and her mom didn't respond. Isabelle was listening but staring at the smoke and embers starting up in the fireplace.
As the fire began to pick up, she felt her mom sit down beside her and rub her back.
"Can't sleep hey?" she asked, her voice soft but concerned. Her mother looked so much like her, pale skin and long dark hair. They had the same soft features and slim facial structure, but her parents didn't have the same eye color. They had hazel eyes, but no blue or discoloration in either of them.
"You know the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner tomorrow comes, right?" her mom said, knowing she was excited.
"I know that's not how it works, Mom" she replied and rolled her eyes.
"Iz, come on" she said patting her on the back. "If you want to go out tomorrow you have to let us talk".
"Fine" she grunted and stood up off the couch.
"Love you" her mom pulled her close and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Love you to" she mumbled as she gave her mom a hug and then walked over to her dad to give him a hug.
"Night sweetie, love ya" her dad said as he gave her a hug.
"Love ya" she replied back before walking off into her room.
It was quiet again and only the sound of the fireplace could be heard. They sat watching the fire for a moment before talking. Marie looked over at her husband who was staring into the fire, a tired and lost look in his eyes.
"Jay" she said quietly. "We need to talk about tomorrow."
"Mhm" he responded in agreement, still gazing into the fire.
"I know she needs to learn this stuff, I just worry you know..." she paused. "I mean, I know you worry to, and I know that she is safe with you..."
"Marie" he interrupted her, hearing her start to ramble. "Yes, believe me, I worry to. It's a huge risk to have her out there. But she needs this..."
"I know, I know.. it's just that.. what if I came with you?"
"No" he interrupted her again, shaking his head. "You know you need to stay here and keep watch" he said firmly.
"It's safer if we're all together" she replied in a firm whisper.
Jay's eyes moved towards his wife, he gave her a serious look with deep thought.
"I'm not wrong" she said with a shrug and leaned back on the couch. "Plus, I need the practice to. Haven't held one of those in a while" she nodded towards a glass case holding a bow and arrows. She looked over to see his reaction and noticed him glance over at the glass case in contemplation.
Isabelle was lying in bed, straining to hear what her parents were saying, she could make out most the conversation but they were whispering a lot. She closed her eyes and began to remember the last time she got to go out with her dad hunting, she found it fascinating. She wasn't allowed to use any of the equipment except for helping set traps, so her heart raced as she began to think about finally being allowed to do more.
As she lied in bed, falling into sleep thinking about tomorrow, her excitement suddenly left her and her eyes shot open. She sat up, unsure of why she had a sudden feeling of being watched.
She nervously got out of bed and walked over to her small window, carefully peering through the dirty, torn curtains. Her bright blue eyes scanned the tree line, but she couldn't see anything except the darkness so she closed the curtains and turned to go back to bed. She stopped suddenly though and turned back to face the window, she felt something pulling her to the window and a sudden urge to peak back out overcame her.
As the curtains moved from her sight and the dark forest came back into view, she got goosebumps and held her breath. Her eyes met something in the distance behind the trees, she became more curious than scared as she leaned closer to the window to try to see what it was.
Suddenly a pair of eyes appeared in the trees, she gasped a little in shock and stepped back, but continued starring. The eyes seemed to get a little closer and Isabelle remained as still as a rock as she watched the eyes. Her heart began to race as she noticed a huge dog like head appear through the trees, just enough that she could make out the size and shape.
"No" she whispered in disbelief "that can't be". She inched closer to the window, staying quiet and moving as slow as possible. The head and eyes disappeared just as fast as they showed up, she starred intensely hoping to see if she could see anything else.
Just as she was about to look away, the eyes appeared again, but this time a second pair of eyes emerged from the trees. She gasped and her eyes widened with confusion and disbelief.
"Wolves?" she whispered to herself "that's impossible." As she spoke, one emerged from the trees, stepping cautiously closer just enough for Isabelle to make out what she was actually seeing. It was much larger than any dog, and she knew now her eyes weren't playing tricks on her.
"Oh my god" she whispered as she turned and quickly ran to the door to tell her parents. As she reached for the handle she stopped herself, her hand fell back down to her side. "If I tell them, they definitely won't let me go out there tomorrow" she frowned.
She ran back to the window but her thrill turned to disappointment as she looked back outside to see nothing but the dark forest again. Was she really just seeing things? Was it a different animal she had seen? She had been told they had been extinct for years now. She waited and waited, hoping to see one again. "I know I saw you" she whispered, her eyes flickered with anticipation.