The Lost Daughter | Short story

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Summary

Twelve year old Freya was running as fast as her feet could carry her along with her mom, away from an abusive man she once called daddy. Since they lived far away from the main road, they had to maneuver their way through the vast trees and pitch dark night that enveloped them into the forest. They kept running but the woman was aware that her husband will eventually catch up with them. It's only just a matter of time. Thinking as fast as she could, she stopped running and knelt in front of her daughter whose eyes were darting around the forest frantically. She cupped Freya's cheeks and made her look down. Wiping away her tears, she hugged her tightly as if today was going to be the last day of them seeing each other. She told her to keep running and find somewhere to hide until she came for her. Freya was scared but listened to her mother nonetheless. She ran and ran until her feet started to hurt, causing her to trip over a wooden log and fall straight into oblivion. Cover done by: @jinoburgos (writer of A Living Color) ©️ All Rights Reserved

Status:
Complete
Chapters:
1
Rating:
4.9 8 reviews
Age Rating:
13+

The Lost Daughter Had Been Found!

A lone girl woke up from the cold ground before looking around. All she saw was darkness and that made her squirm in discomfort. She had never been alone before and to make it more ominous, something told her that she’s not alone. Squinting her eyes, she could make out the outlines of trees and bushes which meant that she was definitely out into a forest. She didn’t remember anything before this. All she knew was that she’s all wet and freezing now that the wind had picked up. Walking around aimlessly, she prayed to whoever was listening that she’ll find someone who might be able to shed a light on who she was and how she got here.

She sauntered into the woods for quite some time until her feet wouldn’t budge anymore. Her body was exhausted and throat dried from dehydration. Her stomach grumbled viciously, letting her know that it had been deprived of food for who knows how long. She took a moment to rest, and as soon as she laid down in front of a big tree, her eyes fluttered close. The girl’s body was shaking as the night became chillier, but her fatigue overcame those odds as she slumbered against the trunk of the tree.

-------------

A girl was running, scared, judging from her whimpers but she was not alone. There was a woman whose hand held her own, and she was looking around for something or someone. They kept running until angry voices echoed throughout the place and the woman halted her steps.

Kneeling in front of the girl, she said something to her, but the girl couldn’t quite understand what it was as her words were unclear. She hugged the girl, and directed her index finger straight ahead before kissing the side of her head. The girl left the woman behind and kept running without sparing her another glance.

“Run daughter, run.” The woman whisper shouted.

--------------

The lost girl was awoken from her sleep by someone shouting. It was the voice of a woman, and she seemed to be in pain as her wailing could be heard all the way from where the girl had taken refuge. The girl strained her ears to understand what the woman was saying, but it was difficult since the woman was crying and that action muffled her words. Standing up on wobbly legs, the girl tried to identify where the woman could be by the sound of her screams. She walked straight ahead and took a left, dragging herself to god knows where. She was completely drained and all she wanted to do was go home and sleep off today’s event. The only problem in her plan was that she had no idea where home was.

Soon she found herself getting closer to the wailing woman as she could now make out the muffled words that were coming out of her mouth. The woman’s back was to her, and the girl paused to see if she was a real person.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s night time and I’m by myself into some forest, so the woman can be a ghost. Who knows?! The girl said mentally.

“Honey,” the woman called out desperately, “where are you?”

The girl decided to come out of hiding and face her since this woman was the only person that she had crossed paths with so far. “Hello?”

The woman’s head snapped up to her so fast that the girl thought she might’ve strained her neck, but clearly not by what happened next. The woman turned fully and ran straight toward her, engulfing her into a bone-crushing hug. The girl stilled for a minute or two before trying to pry herself out of the unknown woman’s arms. To her she was someone she just met, a stranger and strangers didn’t hug each other that way.

“I don’t mean to be rude but who are you?” The girl questioned, still wiggling her way out of the tightened hold.

The woman pulled back a little, but still at arms length and looked the girl in the eyes. Her brows were knitted in what looked like confusion, and then her eyes widened in realisation. She was caught in the heat of the moment that she didn’t acknowledge that the girl she was embracing was not her daughter. She looked to be a little older than her daughter, and had auburn hair rather than blond like her own. Once again the woman’s hope was crushed and she was now back to square one.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were someone else,” the woman said, clearly disappointed.

She let go of the anxious girl and stepped further back, putting some distance between them which was really comforting, well for the girl at least. The girl’s gaze was locked on the woman as she pressed her right palm to her lips, trying to suppress her cries. The girl’s heart ached at the sight but she didn’t know why. Maybe it could be because she wanted her own mom to come get her as she was lost. It was the first time that tears pricked the corner of her eyes, threatening to fall if the woman didn’t stop crying.

It’s the first time I’ve seen this woman, so why am I reacting this way towards her? Her mind questioned.

Stepping forward, the girl reached out and pulled the strange woman close to her. She rubbed her hands up and down the woman’s arms in a soothing manner.

Maybe that will help calm her down a notch.

The woman embraced the girl seconds later, pouring out her eyes onto her shoulders. The girl wanted the woman to calm down as she couldn’t stand seeing her like this. They stayed like that for some minutes until all that was heard from the woman were hiccups. Letting go of each other, the woman wiped her teary face and runny nose on the back sleeves of her shirt before turning away from the girl. She couldn’t believe that she had lost her daughter tonight. This forest was vast, and the woman had never taken time out to explore the place. She didn’t deem it important and now she wished she had done so.

“Who are you looking for?” The girl asked quietly.

“My daughter, Freya. We were in the woods running from someone, and I told her to keep going whilst I take care of something and that I will come back for her. But, I’ve been searching for hours and still nothing,” the woman sniffled repeatedly, “I don’t know where she is. I’ve lost her.”

Freya, that name stirred up something into the girl’s mind. It was like she had heard it many times before, but was still clueless as to where or how. Something about what the woman had said ‘her daughter and her running into the woods’ sounds familiar but how? All those thoughts were beginning to give her a headache, and plus the earlier exhaustion, it wasn’t any better. Her brain wanted to shut down, so that her body could have some much needed rest.

“Maybe you should call the police and file a missing person report,” she suggested, shifting from one foot to another.

The woman nodded her head. “Yeah.. Maybe I’ll do just that.”

Her eyes lingered on the girl a little longer before asking the obvious question.

“So what are you doing out here in the middle of the night alone?” The woman questioned, running a tired hand through her disheveled, curly, blond hair.

“I believe I’m lost and I may need a place to stay the night,” the girl replied, looking around.

“What’s your name, girl?”

She sighed heavily. “That’s the thing, I don’t know. All I know is that I woke up alone, and then found myself walking around in the dark until I heard someone shouting which was you and here I am.”

“Oh honey, would you like to come with me to my home? My name is Dahlia. There, you can take a hot bath and relax while I call the police and get this over with,” Dahlia offered warmly, before grabbing the girl’s hand.

The girl looked down at their conjoined hands as she felt a familiar sensation. “Sure. I’d love to.”

As they carried on, Dahlia was worried about how her husband was going to react upon seeing her come home with a stranger and not their daughter. She was just hoping that he would’ve passed out drunk in their room like usual. The pair dawdled through the forest for sometimes while lost in thoughts. Dahlia thinking about Freya, and the girl trying to remember something about herself.

Pulled away from her stupor, Dahlia looked down to see what she had stepped on. She thought that it was a dead animal’s body as it wasn’t unusual to have those lying around in this forest. Countless time, her and Freya had stumbled upon dead deers and rabbits. Coruching down, Dahlia traced her hands over the form as she couldn’t see clearly. What Dahlia didn’t expect was for her to make out Emilio’s lifeless body, laid in the dirt and his own pool of blood.

A blood-curdling scream left her mouth as she quickly stood and spun around, burying the girl’s face into her shirt. She turned them, causing the girl’s back to face the gruesome sight of her husband’s brain sprawled out on the ground. She didn’t want the girl to be scarred for life from seeing such a nightmare. She took the lead, directing the girl to walk backward with her face still planted in her chest.

Good God, what am I going to tell Freya when I find her?

“Why am I walking backwards?” The girl questioned, feeling very awkward.

“Just a bit further and then you can turn back around okay, hun?” Dahlia’s lips trembled as she fought to keep her cries to herself. The girl allowed Dahlia to lead her as she was too tired to protest.

Dahlia still loved her husband, Emilio, even with all the abuse she and Freya had to endure after his retirement as a marine. They had been married for fifteen years. Emilio just needed medical help with the nightmares and constant episodes he kept on having due to his past missions, but whenever Dahlia would mention it, things took a bad turn. One minute he would be laughing with them, and the next they’re getting beat or locked up. Now he was gone, and the only family she had left was out there all alone.

After fifteen minutes of awkward silence, Dahlia spoke. “You can turn back around now.”

The girl turned and saw a two-story house in front of her. Immediately, an image of the same house popped up into her mind. She brushed it off as they entered the house, and Dahlia guided her up the stairs to a guest room, judging from the lack of personal things lying around. Dahlia brought her to the bathroom, and told her to take a bath while she prepared something for them to eat. She gave the girl a set of Freya’s pyjamas and left her to do her thing.

Dahlia made her way downstairs and headed straight to the kitchen. Picking up the phone from the kitchen wall, she dialled 911 and told them about the eventful night she had experienced. The police said that they’ll probably arrive there early in the morning since the station was downtown, and her house was way deep into the woods.

There lies the problem when you need immediate assistance because you decided to live far away from civilisation as they were a nuisance to your husband. Dahlia angrily thought to herself while listening to the officer on duty.

After the call, she made some grilled-cheese sandwiches for her and the girl. Pouring out two glasses of milk, she placed the food and drinks down on the coffee table found in the living room and went upstairs to check on the girl. A while later they finished their food, and both of them turned in for the night as they were totally consumed by exhaustion.

***

The next morning, the police were already here, questioning Dahlia about last night’s event. They sent out a search party for her daughter while they kept talking to her about Emilio’s condition, and what might have led him to commit suicide in the first place. They explained that most marines underwent therapy after being relieved off of duty for so many years. It was mandatory for Emilio to have had the same treatment which aghast them as to why his superiors didn’t come after him. Therapy was important to prevent such occurrences from happening.

During that time, the girl was still fast asleep, unaware that today she was in for a ride of her life. For some reason Dahlia did not mention the lost girl that she had met in the woods last night. What pushed Dahlia to stay silent was unbeknownst to her.

Later in the afternoon, the detectives were gone along with Dahlia’s husband body, but the search party was still active until nightfall. Dahlia ran upstairs to wake the girl up only to see her coming her way already. Dahlia offered her a soft smile and greeted her. The girl returned the gesture, and together they had lunch since they both had clearly missed breakfast. After that, they went into the living room to pass the time.

“Did you have a good sleep?” Dahlia queried while looking into the shelf of books, adorning the wall.

“Yes, I did. Thank you very much, Dahlia,” the girl smiled, looking brighter than the night before.

Dahlia pulled out one of her family’s albums, and started showing it to the girl. Dahlia didn’t know why she was okay with bringing this girl she just met into the woods to her home, but she felt a pull toward her. She blamed it on her missing Freya. A smile etched on Dahlia’s face when her gaze landed on the girl as she went through the photos that showed her family’s adventures.

All the while, fragments of memories made their way into the girl’s mind as she kept looking through photo after photo, unable to make any sense of what it meant. The teenager could sense the ache that was slowly taking over her head, but she kept on looking at the pictures and that’s when one clear memory surfaced.

-----------------

The same blond girl in the picture was running with Dahlia as they held each other’s hands. Dahlia was looking around frantically, and the girl was scared as she whimpered continuously. They heard the angry voice of a man shouting and that made them go even faster. Dahlia stopped running after some time and knelt in front of the girl.

“Baby, I need you to keep running straight ahead and find somewhere to hide. I will come back for you soon,” Dahlia told the girl.

“But, mom, I’m scared,” the blond girl cried out.

“Honey, everything will be okay. Just do as I say and soon we will be back home watching Epic. How’s that sound?”

“Okay, mommy. I love you. Take care,” the girl said, hugging Dahlia.

“I love you so much. Now go!”

The girl ran and ran looking around until she tripped over a wooden log and fell straight into a pond of water.

-----------------

The girl gasped, causing Dahlia to look at her with concerned eyes. The lost girl kept looking at the pictures in the album, and then looked at Dahlia, and again returned her attention to the album. She knew the Dahlia’s daughter somehow, but she didn’t know how. Another mystery for her to add onto her list.

“Is everything okay with you?” Dahlia asked wearily.

The girl pointed her index finger to the photo that was in her right hand, causing Dahlia to follow her line of vision.

“I think I saw your daughter last night. Actually, I believe I saw the both of you while you were running.”

“You did?” Dahlia question, completely bewildered. “H-how... I mean where? Where did you see her?” She continued, feeling a sliver of hope.

The girl was unsure of what to say. “Uhm, all I can tell you is that when you told her to keep on running, she did and after sometimes she tripped over a log and fell into a pond of water. That’s all I remember.”

Dahlia jumped onto her feet and was out of the door, running into the woods. The girl followed suit, trying to catch up to her. “Wait! Wait, where are you going?”

Dahlia didn’t answer, just kept on running without a clue to where she needed to go. All she knew was that Freya was out there probably suffering through the cold weather or worst, dead. She was already in tears as she called out her daughter’s name, desperate to have her back into the comfort of her arms.

“Dahlia, wait. You don’t even know where you’re going. Just please wait. Maybe, maybe I can help,” the girl tried reasoning with her.

That caught Dahlia’s attention as she seized her movement and stared back at the girl. “Okay. How can you help?”

“I guess I can start by looking for something around here related to the memory I just got back,” she shrugged.

Dahlia contemplated for a moment and heaved a defeated sigh. Nodding her head, together they started their own search party. It was a while as the forest was vast and you might get lost instead of finding something. Their legs were getting tired, and Dahlia was about to tell her to sit down and rest a bit, but that idea was long forgotten when the girl cheerfully screamed.

“There!” She shouted, pointing at a wooden log and then a large pond of water that looked exactly like the one from her memory
“This is the place.”

Looking around, Dahlia felt something odd. This particular area was unusual. The trees and bushes were greener, the sky bluer, the animals more beautiful than the ones she had seen before. The air was clearer and the flowers brighter in colour. It looked like they were glowing. The water itself looked magical as the sunlight shined upon it.

What is this place? She asked herself mentally.

The girl was already near the pond, staring into it. It was familiar to her, like she’s been in there before.

“I see something shiny at the bottom of the pond. It looks like a locket,” the girl said out loud.

Dahlia came next to her and looked to where she was pointing. She recognised the gold locket immediately as it belonged to her daughter Freya. Emilio had gifted it to her before going on his last mission when he was still a marine. It had a picture of them three in it on one side and three written words on the other side - My Beloved Family.

A splash was heard from beside her and to Dahlia’s horror, the girl was gone.

“Hey, come back up. What are you doing? Come back. It’s dangerous,” she called after the girl just as the water bubbled up.

What in heavens name is happening. That pond was clear and now I can’t see a thing.

About three minutes had passed since the girl had jumped into the water. Dahlia was getting worried and started to strip off her clothes in order to go look for her. As she was untying her shoes, she heard a long intake of air being taken by someone. Dahlia was relieved to know that the girl had made it out of the mysterious pond safely. As she stood and turned around to scold her, Dahlia was rendered speechless.

What was in front of her was not the girl but her daughter, Freya. Freya was seated next to the pond, looking at the gold locket in the palm of her left hand.

“F-FFFreya?” Dahlia stuttered as she couldn’t believe what her eyes were seeing.

Freya looked up to her mom and beamed. “Mommy!”

Freya ran towards Dahlia, and hugged her tightly as if months had passed since the last time they saw each other. They were both crying, but only what one would call happy tears. Dahlia rocked them both back and forth, whispering sweet nothings into Freya’s ear. They remained like that for what seemed like hours, but probably minutes, cherishing each other’s presence.

Dahlia parted with Freya and gazed at her beautiful freckled face, cute round nose and hearted lips. She still couldn’t grasp that her daughter was back into her arms. Oh, how happy she was that she had finally found her little pumpkin. A red flag suddenly raised into her head about the other girl that jumped into the pond.

“Where is the other girl?” She asked no one in particular.

Freya watched her in confusion until realisation dawned on her. “Mommy, I was the other girl.”

Now it was Dahlia’s turn to look at Freya as if she had grown two more heads. “What do you mean you were the other girl?”

“This part of the forest is not the same as the rest. This area is magical, that’s why everything is a lot different as you can see,” Freya gestured to everything surrounding them.

Dahlia was still in denial. “And how do you know this?”

“The water told me,” Dahlia watched Freya as if she had gone crazy.

Freya breathed out loudly. “Mom, this pond contains magical properties. One thing I’ve learned is that it has the ability to change someone’s appearance and suppress their memories.”

And just as the words left Freya’s mouth, the water went straight up, taking the figure of a woman. Dahlia was rooted to the ground, baffled by what she was seeing. No words came out of her mouth as it kept opening and closing right after. The figure disappeared back into the pond after a minute and Freya laughed at her mother’s stunned reaction.

“My god, Freya,” that was all that left Dahlia’s mouth as she embraced her daughter once again.

Finally the lost daughter had been found.

THE END

A/N: Hey guys, this is my first ever short story. I was inspired to write this story by a dream I had about a little girl and magical lakes. So the next two following days, I started to construct my plotline and as you can see, this story was the ending product. I’ve edited this story about 2-3x already and like I’ve said before, English is not my mother tongue.

So please, give me your honest thoughts in the form of a review, comments or likes 🖤

Much love,

Anna_licious

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