“A branch tripped me just as the bells jingled for the first time. I fell, cold mud sopping my jeans, and peered through snarls of undergrowth as tangled as my hair. I saw nothing but the charcoal smudge of forest. Bells jingled again, and
then a man wheezed and I heard what sounded like reins striking a horse. An animal whinnied, and there beyond the
ancient oak, a neon-blue wheel crunched across dead leaves.
I scrabbled to my feet and headed toward the wheel. I’d never seen a horse and buggy in these woods, but then, it was only August and I’d never known the woods to sink into death this time of year either. Mind you, none of this particularly frightened me. At twelve, I was a tomboy, and I was accustomed to being on my own and taking care of both myself and my older brother.”