“Ma! Look, look – a swail.”

“A snail, sweetie. Can you say snail?” the mother asked her daughter, slowly and with patience.

“Swail!” the young girl yelled cheerfully. Her mother laughed, and ran her fingers through the little girl’s honey locks.

“Good job, baby,” the mother chuckled, and took her daughters hand. “Come on, get back on the trail,” she said, pulling her along.


“Yes, baby.”

“I mwiss when dada came to the woods too.”

“Oh, me too, babe. Me too,” the mother replied, with a crackling in her voice.

After a few quiet moments, filled with nothing but leaves crunching on the path beneath their feet, the little girl broke the silence.

“I sill like walking witch just you though, momma.”

“I like walking with just you, too, sweetie…thank you.” The mother smiled down at her daughter, in a way that was forced, but genuine. Her husband had passed almost a year ago now.

“You welcome,” the little girl gleamed. She was proud of herself for making her mom smile.

The two continued down the hiking trail, passing towering pine trees, covered in olive-colored moss. They took turns pointing out birds and squirrels to each other, enjoying each others company.


The two jumped up, and turned in the direction of the loud, foreign voice coming from behind them. The mother instinctively pulls her daughter in close.

“Hey!” the man in a navy blue jogger suit running towards them yelled again. The mother looked around to see if he could possibly be talking to anyone else, but they were completely alone.

“Yes?” the mother responded hesitantly, once the man was close enough to hear in a normal talking voice.

“Hi, yes, sorry to bother you,” he started, while still slowing down and then coming to stop. “I was just wondering if I could borrow your phone? Mine must have totally fell out of my pocket while I was running, because I can’t find it now. My wife is probably freaking out and wondering where I am at.”

The mother was hesitant, but hoped he’d leave them alone and all would be fine if she just let the man use her phone. She didn't know why, but something felt off about him.

She let go of her daughter's hand to reach in her pocket, and before you know it ­–

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Mommy!”

Every moment of life is precious. Things happen in the blink of an eye, and demons lurk in every corner. Don't leave your kids unattended. Don't let them out of your sight while away from home.

Always follow your instincts.

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