They came to a small pond and decided to take a small break. Sadie kneeled down and cupped the cool water into her hands. Before the water could touch her lips, Ephraim swooped down and slapped her arm down.
"What was that for?" She inquired.Ephraim pointed a finger toward the middle of the pond. Sadie looked and saw nothing but the rippled surface. She gave Ephraim a look of confusion. He rolled his eyes and pulled her to her feet. Sadie now saw, below the surface, floated a dead raccoon.
"Oh..." She murmured.Ephraim held his hand up, telling Sadie to stay put. He walked over to a bright green shrub and plucked a few buds from it.
"What's that?"He handed one to Sadie. He took his knife out and sliced another one in half. He squeezed it gently and a few drops of water fell from the pod. Sadie cautiously took a bite. The bud was surprisingly sweet and full of water. Sadie took a seat by the pond and scanned the scenery. This part of the forest looked very different from Sadie's area. The canopy was low and there was hardly any sunlight. The trees were so close together, the trunks resembled prison bars. It was definitely a gloomy place. Ephraim approached Sadie and offered his hand, indicating it was time to continue.
At last, they arrived at the house. It never looked worse. One of the windows was completely gone. Sadie could see a gaping hole on the roof right over Jill's bedroom. She felt even more terrible about leaving her sister behind. The poor girl had probably been freezing the last few nights.
"The wagon's gone. Now's our chance."They quickly made their way to the front porch, keeping their eye on the dirt road. Sadie slowly peeked in through the busted window. The inside of the house was more horrid than the outside. Broken glass created a walking obstacle course. The stench of burnt food and alcohol was nauseating. Sadie entered, with Ephraim following close behind.
"Jill?..." She whispered. "Jill, are you here?"She tip-toed her way to Jill's room. Sadie gently pushed the door open and found her little sister lying on her bed motionless and turned away from the door. Sadie's heart felt relieved, but then terror struck. Was she alive?
"Jill? It's me, it's Sadie!"Jill's little head turned around, her eyes were half-shut and exasperated. They soon widened with surprise and filled with tears.
"Sadie!"Sadie ran to her sister and hugged her as tight as she could.
"Are you alright?" She asked as she wiped her sister's teary face. "Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine. I just missed you." Jill looked over to Ephraim standing in the doorway. "Who's he?" She pointed.
"That's Ephraim. He's a friend. He lives in the forest."He politely waved.
"He helped me find the house again. I've come back to take you...." Sadie stopped when her eyes caught something.
"Take me where?" Jill asked.Sadie moved behind her sister to the pillow at the head of the bed. Behind the pillow, Sadie pulled out a small minty green dress. The dress was made by Sadie and Jill's mother. Sadie remembered wearing it when she was young and had it passed down to her sister. It had been well used, so it was always covered with dirt. However, the dress now bore a deep red blood stain right on the front.
"Jill....what happened?" Sadie's tone dropped. She feared the worst.
"I fell off a tree...." Jill mumbled.
"Don't you dare lie to me."
"I fell off a tree and cut my arm."Sadie held the garment up. Her emotions were running out of control.
"Jill, what did he do to you?"
"Daddy didn't do it!" Jill cried with fright.
"Didn't do what, Jill? I know you didn't fall out of a tree because you're scared to climb, now what did he do!?"
"He was drunk!" Jill screamed and fell to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. "It was more.... more drunk.... he grabbed me....and..."Sadie knelt down and cradled her sister in her arms. Ephraim turned his head away is disgust.
"I wanna die." Jill sobbed.
"No, Jill. Don't you ever say that. You know I'll never let you die before me. Ever."Suddenly, Ephraim started snapping his fingers rapidly. Sadie looked up. Ephraim looked very anxious. He started pointing toward the front door. A whinny came from outside the house.