I couldn’t believe my eyes at first. Was it really Damien? I glanced at Te and looked back into the trees at Damien. Yep, that dark form hidden within the safety of the forest was definitely Damien. I had so much to say but didn’t know where to begin.
“You’re welcome,” Te said sharply.
“Oh, uh, thanks, Te,” I managed to mumble almost incoherently. Te seemed placated so I turned my eyes again to Damien. “Damien, I…” My voice trailed off. I couldn’t find the words I needed.
“There’s no need for words. He’s been asking to see you. He wouldn’t say why,” Te explained.
Damien and I just looked at each other for several minutes, each studying the other. Te was right. There really wasn’t a need for words. The look on Damien’s face said volumes. I’m sure my own expression told him just as much. It was like we had an entire conversation with just our eyes. Damien had been looking for something in me. When he was satisfied he found it, he turned and slowly disappeared into the forest. I was relieved but disappointed. Damien was going to be fine. I could feel it in my heart. But I was hoping that he would come out into the park. I knew I wasn’t welcome in the forest.
“The elders don’t think Damien is ready to come out of the forest yet,” Te explained. “To be honest, they can’t understand his desire to interact with people and don’t agree with it. They would keep Damien in the forest for the rest of his life if he would listen, but they know that Damien will ignore them if they ask too much of him.”
I thanked Te for the explanation. The forest had elders? I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I had always thought of the forest as just filled with animals, with no organization whatsoever. I was genuinely surprised. But, I reasoned, if there were things like tiny talking dragons in that forest, maybe there were full blown democracies and monarchies as well.
Te had given me just enough information about the forest to make me want to learn more. I wanted to know everything about the forest. What kinds of creatures lived there? What went on from day to day? What exactly happened between the forest creatures and the people so long ago? I turned to ask Te about all this only to find that he was gone as well.