I ran, oblivious to my surroundings. I could hear leaves scrunching beneath my feet as my rapid footsteps echoed behind me. I was in a forest covered in a sheet of mist. My steady steps began to wobble as my lungs ran out of breath. I slumped down against a towering tree and slowly took in my surroundings. I could hear my heart beating unusually fast and my breath was laboured. Tired, I fell to the ground and pulled my legs to my chest. I wrapped my arms around my legs and rested my chin on my knees. Where was I? How did I come here? I don't know how many minutes or hours passed before I saw a single ray of sunshine cutting through the heavy mist of the forest and reaching my eyes. I looked up at the little sky that could be seen through the trees and smiled a bit. I stood up and looked around for a way out when I heard a husky yet deep voice, “Hey!” Alarmed, I swapped my head sidewise as I tried to locate the voice. A little voice in my brain kept me on my toes, alarming me of every possible mishap. I could hear my heart beating way too loud again as panic seeped through it. Gulping down a shot of fear, I called out, “Who's there?” There wasn't any answer. I looked around again only to find myself alone yet again. I turned back and a little gasp left my lips as I stumbled back with surprise. There stood a man, tall and pale. I narrowed my eyes as I studied his sharp-edged features. Curly chocolate brown hairs heaped on his head and a gentle lock peacefully hung on his temple. His nose, sharp and sculpted. As I trailed down, my gaze lingered for a moment or two on his pink plump lips and dropped down to his sharp jawline when I noticed his lips tugging upwards to a soft smile. I snapped my eyes upwards to meet his. His eyes were a tornado of blue and green with specks of hazel lingering here and there. It was like the sky and the forest was mixed and captured there. “W-who are you?” I asked, stuttering. My throat unusually dried. “I am a human being, just like you.” His deep husky tone almost made me swoon but I kept myself composed and furrowed my eyes at him. “We are nobody. Our names do not identify us. Although our deeds do, yet we all are lost in the crowd of billions,” he said, his voice lowered. I smiled a little and nodded to his words as it all made sense. “Well, I know the way out of here. Would you like me to accompany you?” he asked in a soothing tone. Something in his voice urged me to trust him in a blink of an eye but I fought against it and asked, “Why should I trust you? What if you kill me?” He chuckled at my weird questions. His laughter echoed through the woods and made my heart beat faster again but this time it wasn't due to shortness of breath or seeping of panic. It was something different. Although I wasn't exactly short, he was almost a foot taller than me. From his towering 6 feet 4 inches, he looked down at me and smiled sloppily. Without any further word, he passed me and walked ahead to the opposite direction. “Wait!” I yelled behind him and followed him hurriedly when he didn't look back. “I thought you didn't trust me,” he said once I fell into steps beside him. “Something is better than nothing. Likewise, someone is better than none,” I shrugged. “I see.” He gave a slight nod and we fell into a comfortable silence. The leaves scrunched beneath our feet and beetles buzzed around. I could also hear the chirping of birds and crickets and occasionally high pitched voices reached us cutting through the air. I flinched every time I heard something new. “Don't worry, nobody is going to hurt you here,” he assured me as if he owned the forest. There was a calming and soothing aura around him. It was like he was emitting some kind of glow. I felt my panic, nervousness and anxiety fly away replaced by something happy and warm. I looked up at him cautiously as I felt his hands reach out to mine and carefully lace it with his. I don't know why but I didn't protest. It felt good. It was odd but I felt positivity and cheerfulness seeping into my veins. My heart raced unusually and he chuckled as if he could feel my heartbeats. “What's so funny?” I asked with confidence. “The world itself is a funny place, sweetheart,” a groan left his lips, “It's funny how we come across things we should've never known about. It's funny how we fall in love with people with whom we're never meant to be together and it's funny how we harm others not realising that it'll kill us in return, slowly and indirectly.” “Why are you so confusing?” I asked, irritated. “Am I now?” he chuckled again, “Well, never heard that from anyone before.” No matter how confusing I felt he was, I was liking the company. I was liking how our fingers were entwined and how his warmth spread through my skin. I liked how happiness seeped in through my veins and eventually reached my eyes. Up above, the sky suddenly grumbled and the misty forest turned grey and dark. “Hurry, it's about to rain,” he warned and I felt droplets of water falling from the sky. He gripped my palm tightly in his and dragged me along with him to a denser portion. After a minute of running, we halted under another tall and broad tree. I felt a bit cold when our fingers unlaced. He took off his long duster and hung it on my shoulder. The warm piece of cloth immediately spread its heat to my skin. I couldn't help but blush when he pulled me closer and into his chest. His arms wrapped lightly around my shoulder as my head rested on his chest. I could hear the loud rumbling of thunder and heavy footsteps of rain. The scent of the soil reached my nostrils but quickly faded away as I inhaled his intoxicating scent. He smelled of woods and cinnamon. His scent was mysterious just like he himself. “You alright?” his concerned voice reached my ears as we stood in that proximity, protecting ourselves from the rain. The weather was already cold and the rain made it chillier. It felt like January cold to me. “We are going to wait until the rain stops, okay?” I nodded against his chest and felt his warm breath on my hairs. I could feel his heartbeat underneath my palm. My eyes fluttered close as I felt one of his long and slender finger trail down my cheek to my chin. He placed his finger under my chin and lifted it up. I could feel him staring down at me. “Open your eyes, Rose,” he whispered. I felt a shiver play down my spine. I licked my lips and opened my eyes to meet his beautiful ones. He stared down at me as if he was staring right into my soul. “No matter how many times you get lost, always remember that there's a way out. Just don't lose hope and sit idle doing nothing,” his voice was low among the sound of rain and thunder. “It's life, sweetheart. It's meant to get hard but that doesn't mean there aren't moments like this, happy and soulful. There will be highs, there will be lows. You'll mess up and life will get screwed but don't you ever let anything break your heart,” his voice sounded melodic to my ears. I stared at him, dumbfounded. I felt like I bonded with a stranger out of nowhere. Words of wisdom came from a person who had me in his arms and spoke like we knew each other since birth. The rain gradually slowed down and a light drizzle teased our skin. We looked up at the sky to find it clear and blue again. His hands fell to his sides and I took a step back. I could feel a blush rising to my cheeks. “Let's get going?” I asked. He slowly nodded and laced his fingers with mine again and walked. We walked for a couple of minutes through a beautiful silence until we felt sleepy sunlight grazing our skin and the open sky above our heads. “Watch it,” his warning went off before I could take another step. I noticed, we stood at the end of a cliff. As I rose my eyes from my feet, I saw a mesmerising view in front of me. There was a beautiful waterfall meters away from us. The water fell deep down to god knows where and all I could do was peek down out of curiosity. He held my hand tightly as I slightly bent forward. The air was fresh and soothing. The sunlight hit the water droplets to form a beautiful yet faint rainbow in the middle. I left a happy and contented sigh and smiled looking up at him. “You like it here?” he asked. “I love it here,” I answered with an encouraging nod. “Well, I'm glad then.” “How did you find this place?” I asked, curious. “I know this place inside out,” he just shrugged casually, “Well, I guess it's time to find your way out now.” I was happy about getting out of the woods but felt reluctant to leave this place. I looked at him and nodded again. We walked towards the opposite direction and yet I couldn't identify the way we came in through. I guess I just suck at finding my ways out though anything. We walked through the dense woods again, the sunlight disappeared and so did the sky. The leaves didn't scrunch anymore as we walked over the wetland then surrounded with damp trees. Occasionally, a droplet of water fell onto my skin from the high branches and leaves. He chuckled when a big droplet of rain fell from the leaves and caught me by surprise. But soon I could see the woods disappearing slowly and the city life appeared far in sight. I didn't notice when our hands parted but realised once I stood out of the forest. “Hey, look, we are out of here,” I said and there was no one by my side. I turned around to find him again but couldn't. “Hey, human, where did you go?” I yelled, turning back to the forest. “I'm right here,” his husky voice met my ears and I turned back only to be greeted by his presence as I stumbled onto his chest. He looked down and cupped my cheeks in his warm hands. He stared at me intensely and it felt like everything was fading away. The woods, the city life, everything. It was just me and him. “Look, we have found our way out. It's time I take my leave. It's time we say goodbye and it's time I fade away,” he said with a cracking voice as if he didn't want to say goodbye. Not that I want to say goodbye. “Wait!” I said, abruptly. With that, he took a step back. One of his hands still rested on my cheek as I looked into his beautiful blue-green eyes. “Wake up,” he whispered. With that, my eyes fluttered open. I woke up with a warm and fuzzy feeling. I was smiling. I could feel his touch on my skin and sniffed around for his scent. But after a couple of seconds, I felt a tiny ache in my heart when I realised that he wasn't real and I would never meet him again. Or would I? It was all so real.

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