My therapist was the one that pushed me to write down my story, she also referred me to the hypnotherapist that first hypnotized me and stopped returning phone calls. She also found the second one that stuck around. She felt it was unhealthy for me to repress those memories from my teenage years, when I lost everything.

I insisted that nobody believed me, my parents got me a therapist after Gavin was found in the park, and their parents up and moved the rest of their family away with no return address. They wanted to keep me away from Max, like this whole thing was my fault. The therapist I saw back then had me committed after I told him the story. I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar and narcissistic personality disorder. According to them I was a chronic liar looking for attention and I was suspected of killing my friends (even though Luke was never found). There was never an investigation into the murders because the town knew who killed them. I was in a sense, ex communicated. I was a scapegoat.

I have spent the last 20 years locked up in an institution with no visitors. I was assigned a new therapist about 6 months ago, Grace.  She gained my trust and got me to tell her what happened, and for the first time in 20 years, someone believed me.

She researched the town and found a large number of "suicides" that couldn't possibly be suicides and started to dig deeper. She says the land is cursed and the original settlers had made a deal to live in peace, a contract with a monster.  We nullified that Contract by going into the woods that day. I was ex communicated to restore the peace.
I don't know where she got all this information from but it was starting to make sense why no one went looking for the missing kids.

She even found Max. He didn't live far from this hospital that I call home. She said he wanted to see me, that he felt terrible about his parents taking him and leaving in the middle of the night, they tried their hardest to blame me for his brothers death, but he knew the truth.
She set up a visit for the following week. I asked her about my family. She couldn't look at me when she said she thought she found them but when she called, they told her they never had a daughter, she tried to be comforting by convincing me she had the wrong people. I know she didn't. After 20 years of never once seeing my family, I wasn't all that upset.

She changed my diagnosis to anxiety and major depressive disorder. She said there was no way I had a personality disorder and that is why the meds they gave me never seemed to help much. She ordered me Prozac and cymbalta. I am finally feeling normal like a cloud of fog has lifted and I can see clearly for the first time in 20 years....

Max came today, he looked almost the same, his face has hardened but I could still see the 15 year old kid he was in his big blue eyes. He grabbed my hand "Gabby, I am so sorry they did this to you. I tried to tell them it wasn't you but they said I was just a kid with a crush and brushed me off" I smiled "it's not your fault, they had a secret to keep, and this is how they keep it" he got a sheepish grin, one that reflected the Max I once knew. "I have a confession to make, I have never forgotten you like they wanted me to do.  I have spent years looking for a therapist that give me the benefit of the doubt and that's when I found Grace. She is actually my therapist, I sent her to you because I knew you weren't schizophrenic, I knew you weren't lying"
I was surprised "you did that? Thank you, I didn't think I would ever find someone who would listen to me" I squeezed his hands, then looked at them. His hands were rough but strong, from a life of manual labor, I also noticed he didn't wear a ring. He saw me looking and blushed "I'm not married, I have dated off and on but can't get close to anyone. It's hard enough getting a therapist that won't call me delusional, I don't need a girlfriend thinking I'm bat shit crazy" he laughed at that. I was relieved, I never really thought about him like that when we were kids but I realized the thought of him coming for a visit with a ring on his finger and a wallet filled with kids pictures, was causing a lot of anxiety. "I have another surprise for you" he said. I looked up from his hands and caught his eyes, a deep blue that reflected a deep sadness that only I knew the truth behind. I smiled "what's that?" I asked. "With the help of our therapist, Grace, we got you released" I smiled "for a weekend?" I asked and at that he laughed "no sweetie, discharged, forever, you need to come home" my smile got wider "seriously? That's great! Thank you!" I couldn't contain my excitement.

"Gabs, will you help me find Luke?"
I hesitated "Max, you realize he is more than likely dead right?" "Yes I know that, but his body never was recovered, everyone else's was. I need to know why. I can't explain it, I just need to know" he looked embarrassed and averted his eyes.
I sighed "of course I will help you"

That is how, twenty years later, we ended up back in that dark forest, that felt like a living, breathing thing the last time we went in there.

As adults, that magic didn't wear off, the evil still lurked in the shadows, and it definitely did not want us there...


Published by Liz Zemlicka