Paranoia's Picture Contest

This is for Paranoia's picture contest. I hope you like it. :)

Chapter 1

Home

I awaken at sunrise. I arose from my soft bed of grass and leaves. I gave a yawn and stretched my back.
"Well another day, another adventure," I said smiling.
I carefully padded down my bed to keep it from getting damaged. Then I grasped the spear laying by my bed and headed out for breakfast. Berries sounded very appealing to me that particular morning.
I found my favorite berry bush. It had big, juicy berries growing on it. Licking my lips, I picked one of the berries off the bush and popped it into my mouth. I proceeded to grab about a dozen more berries before I left that bush and moved onto the next one. After I had filled my stomach up with berries, I decided to collect firewood for my camp.
As I made my way through the forest, I marveled at the natural beauty that surrounded me. Birds flew overhead, flowers bloomed and the world was alive. It felt wonderful to stroll through the forest barefoot, feeling the ground beneath my feet. A smile crept to my face. Life was amazing here.
I began to gather firewood. I found a few big sticks and tucked them under my arm. When I reached for the next stick though, a bird flew in front of me. I was startled and dropped my firewood. The bird was a hawk and I was a bit scared he would try and attack me. The bird did not try to get any closer to me though and showed no signs of aggression. He just sat there, staring at me.
"You gave me quite a scare," I told the hawk. "You know, it's not nice to sneak up on someone like that. You aren't gonna try to hurt me, are you?"
The hawk just tilted his head.
I laughed. "I'll take that as a no."
I examined at the hawk. He had a beautiful reddish brown tail. The hawk had brown feathers on the rest of his body except for his underbelly which was a creamy white color. I recognized this bird to be a Red Tailed Hawk. It was a very pretty bird indeed.
I was taking in this wonderful bird when I heard someone shout. I looked over and saw a boy appear from the trees. He was none other than my friend, Henry. I first met Henry when I started living in the forest six months ago. He was hiking when he came upon me and my camp. We soon got to talking and became friends. He comes hiking in the forest whenever he gets the chance and comes to visit me.
I got to my feet. "Is this your hawk Henry?" I asked him.
Henry nodded. "Yes, his name is Red. I've raised him since he was a little fledgling. This is the first time that I have taken him to the forest."
I smiled. "That's cool. Red's a really pretty bird."
"True but he keeps flying away," my friend replied. "I'm glad you found him though."
I looked at Henry's arm and noticed he was wearing a long black glove. "Is that glove so the bird can land on your arm?"
"Yep. Without it, Red's talons dig into my skin," Henry explained. "So would you mind if I hang out with you for awhile?"
I laughed. "Of course, you do that anyways when you come up here. I need to drop off some firewood for my camp though."
"I'll help you," Henry volunteered.
Henry and I both filled our arms full with sticks. We then headed back to camp with Red following us. After we arrived back to my camp, we sat down and I started to get a fire going.
"Hey Jade, after all this time you never told me the story of how you got to living out in the middle of nowhere," Henry said to me as I was tending to the fire. "Don't you have parents or something?"
"That's a long story," I replied.
"Would you mind telling me the story?" he asked. "I would love to hear it and I have no intention of leaving for awhile."
I shrugged. "I guess it wouldn't hurt."
I explained to Henry that once I had a pair of loving parents who cared about me. We all lived in a little cabin in the woods. My father worked as a fur trader and would sell his furs in town every month. He taught me how to fish, hunt, trap, predict weather and all the other survival skills you would need to live out in nature. My mother tended to house and she educated me in caring for the home.
Life was good and simple. Then my mom developed lung cancer. I remember watching her get weaker and weaker until one day she passed away. Father blamed himself for her death because he did not earn the money to get her proper treatment.
My father slipped into a deep depression. It got to the point where he could not even bring himself to leave the house. We became bankrupt. Father had to sell the house and nearly everything we owned. He could no longer provide for me and was forced to give me to an orphanage.
By that time I was sixteen years old and well able to take care of myself. So I left the orphanage one day and never looked back. I traveled to different towns working odd jobs until I finally came to this forest one day. I felt I had finally found the one place I belonged. I used the skills my parents had taught me and lived here ever since.
"Wow, that's so sad," Henry commented after I finished my story. "Tell me, don't you ever get lonely out here?"
I laughed. "Actually I have never been happier. I am never lonely out here. In this forest I am one with every plant, animal and object. Everyday I get to enjoy the sun shining down on top of my head, the sound of the birds singing and be part of the forest. To me, this is paradise."
"But people need others," Henry insisted. "No one should be alone. You should come live with me in town. My parents would be happy to have you."
"Thanks but I'm fine. To me it doesn't matter if I am alone or not. As long as I feel like I belong, I will always be happy," I explained
"Well I still think you need someone to keep you company." Henry then proceeded to remove his glove and hand it to me. He then scooped up Red and placed him in my lap.
I raised an eyebrow. "What are you doing?"
"Like I said, no one should be alone," Henry stated. "I want to give Red to you. You need him more than I do and I think he would be happier in the forest too."
I peered down at the bird in my arms. Red nuzzled my hand and I gently stroked his head.
"See, you two are a perfect match," Henry said.
"But he's your bird," I protested.
"Eh, it's alright. I think he would rather live out here anyhow," he replied. "You keep him."
I smiled. "Thanks. You are a great friend."
Henry smiled back. "No problem."
Soon it was time for Henry to head back home. Red did not try to follow him. He was content staying nuzzled against my side. I guess Red and I really were a good match.
That night I laid by the fire with Red. The hawk was sleeping peacefully beside me. It was actually sort of nice to have the company of the bird. I began to wonder if Henry was right about the fact that no one should be alone.
This got me to wondering if it would be better off if I took Henry up on his offer and went to live with him and his family. If I did that I would have a warm bed to sleep in, nice cooked meals and I would never be lonely. It might be like when Mother and Father were still alive.
Then I thought of how peaceful it was lying here next to the fire and listen to the sounds of the forest. I felt alive here and in tune with the forest. Here was where I lived and I had been living for six months.
I smiled down at the sleeping bird next to me. "You know Red," I whispered, "I don't need a house or other people to be happy. The forest is my home and that's all I really want right now."/

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