“Juliet!” Her mother calls early in the morning. “Juliet! Where are you!?” She is frantic, can’t stop worrying. She finds Rains’ father at the construction site, “Cyan! Have you seen your boy?” She asks.
“No, I was looking around a bit but I couldn’t find him. I fear he might have been near the forest around sunset…” His voice trails off.
“Cyan! My daughter was with Rain, have you seen her? Have you seen my Juliet!?” Her voice cracks as worry lines her already sleepless looking face.
“No, I’m afraid not.” He sighs and scratches his head with. “You know those stories that our grandfathers have told? About the forest?”
“Yeah, what about them…?”
“Well, they might still be alive.” He clears his throat and awkwardly rubs his neck and collar. “The stories about the forest, the ones that say anyone who can withstand its’ magic can survive, and the magic can make it seem like it’s only been one day that has passed for the people in the forest, when in reality it could have been years.”
“Are you saying, if they are alive, we won’t know until years from now? I will have to live with thinking that our children are dead until, out of no-where, they pop out later on in life, all grown up!? You can’t possibly believe that!” She scoffs at the idea and soon chokes on her breath. “It’s hard to wait that long…”
“It’s something to keep in mind. Hope. We have to have hope.” He says quietly.
“How long do we have to wait?”
“I don’t know…”
“I don’t know either, like I said, waiting is painful, especially if you don’t know when and if they will return!” She cries.
“I will wait! No matter how long. I must believe I will see my son again.” He stands taller than she’s seen before. After sighing, he relaxes and stalks off back to work. Juliets’ mother sighs sadly and walks back to the village at the top of the hill.
“Juliet… where on Earth are you?” She whispers.
“Rain?” Juliet screams. “Where are you? Where have you gone?” She cries. There is nothing but dirt walls, barely even light that shines. Lightning bugs hover around but, nothing special. On the outside world, out of the forest, it have been years since she has seen Rain. Juliet hasn’t figured it out yet, she hasn’t figured out the days pass like seconds and the years pass like minutes.
Juliet walks along the maze, never truly finding an opening to get out of. She walks for miles until she finally appears at the end of the maze. “What is this?” She asks. The trees are large and full of life. The trees are translucent, so clear to the point where she can see the water running through the semi opaque leaves and bark. “Beautiful.” The only words she could speak before she falls out of consciousness.
“Who are you child?” An eerily beautiful and surrounding voice echoes through her body. She doesn’t respond.
“Who are you?” It repeats.
“My name is Juliet.”
“Juliet…” The voice hums softly. “I am the Forest.”
“The… Forest…” She pauses. “Where am I? I was walking through a maze in search of-“
“You are at the Heart of the Forest.” It interrupts.”
“The.. Heart..” Juliet mumbles. “Rain?” She breathes and begins to panic. “Where is Rain!? I was searching for him!”
“The boy? The boy you were with 10 years ago, when you two stumbled into the Forest?” The voice pauses and a soft harmony tingles her fingertips. “He is strong willed and is still within the Forest’s system of life. However, you. You are very strong, indeed. Still intact and in human form, you can withstand the Forest’s power. Very strong willed.”
“10 years!” She gasps. “Rain is still in your system?” She processes the information she just received. “Can I make a deal with you?”
“What is this deal you speak of?”
“I will speak for you! I will become apart of you, the Forest. I will willingly become the embodiment of the Heat of The Forest. In return, I want Rain to live, walk free. I want to bring Rain back to the village where he belongs. I can speak between the humans and the Forest. Negations for the future to coexist.”
“I can speak for you! I can arrange things to happen, to change the things you don’t like. I can negotiate with my people about how to properly live with the Forest. Do you understand?” Juliet feels excited; she really wants Rain back and she wants to do anything in her power to make it happen.
The voice became airy and ambient in Juliets’ ears. “I have decided. You’re proposal is accepted. You will become the vessel for the Heart of The Forest, for this Earth. You are the only human to survive this long in this Forest. You are worthy of my gift.”
As Juliet awakes from a dream like state, she notices the Forest glowing and pulsing with vibrant colors of the oncoming sunset. The blue fireflies that led her here are now a fiery orange and collect in the form of a human.
“Ju..li…et…” The form becomes clearer. The little boy that she knew was now a man with a raspier and deeper voice, like sweet sounding sandpaper. He’s become taller, and beautiful. His eyes were still the same, however, they were deeper and more daring. Everything about him changed, she herself has even changed. It feels like a day, but in reality it’s been years, and she finally believes it.
Juliet ran into Rains’ embrace. “Where am I?” He bellows.
“Did I ever leave?”
“You don’t remember? It doesn’t matter, you’re home now.”
“Yes, I’m home.” His words traced her ears. “Are you coming back to the village with me?”
She shakes her head. “No.”
“Juliet, you have chosen your fate.” The Forest booms and the leaves blew in the wind, with the fireflies stirring up in the breeze. The leaves change colors and the fireflies surround her. “You will become the vessel as promised and you will live the burden of living forever. You will know everything with one touch, and you will learn everything you wish to learn. You will become the Earth. You will see the world with brighter eyes, a bigger heart, and a clearer mind.” The glow stops and the transformation is complete.
“Juliet?” Rain mumbles.
The haze around Juliet lifts and the change is evident. Her eyes are now sea green, her had an oak brown. She is nimble and slender, with long dragonfly wings that touch the ground. She walks up to Rain and grabs his hand.
“Lets go.” Her voice was like the Forest, beautifully memorizing and harmonizing.
As they walk through the forest, the air around Juliet is clear and it glows like the morning sun. When she walks through, the Forest parts to create a time gap to allow them to get through in a matter of minutes.
“Rain?” Cyan, Rains father and the leader of the village, is astonished. “Rain, is that you?” He runs up to him and hugs him tightly.
“Cyan, what happened?” Juliet’s mother comes from behind him and rests a hand on his shoulder. Her eyes widen at the sight of Rains face and instantly, her eyes lock with her daughters. “Juliet…” She breathes.
“They’re alive, Olivia. They are alive.” His voice cracks. “Tens years its been… Its been painful.
Juliet smiles at everyone.
“Mama, are you happy now?” She asks.
“Yes, I married Cyan.” Olivia sets her hand on Juliets’ cheek. “I am having a baby girl soon.” She sets her other hand on her stomach.
“I wish you well.” Juliet smiles. “I am glad you are happy, and I regret to say that I cannot stay. I am apart of the Forest. I am important and I am the chosen one for this. I want you to live as if I am always with you, though I am not, I love you.” Juliet hugs her mother, and soon passes one to Rain and Cyan. She whispers sweet and sorrowful words to each of them. “I have to take my leave, the Heart of The Earth is calling me. My time has come, but I will return.”
“I love you.” Olivia says, and Juliet smiles as she walks away, marking the place where she walked with beautiful blooming flowers and butterflies.