Chapter Fifteen: The Journal

It is 9:30 pm on August 3rd.

I am sitting in the floor of my son’s bedroom in our little cabin in the Lighted Woods, right beside his bed. The big toe of a single bare foot sticking out of a pile of blankets is rhythmically tapping my shoulder.

“Sing, mom…pleeeeease. Sing it!”

“You really need to go to sleep, hon. I’m worried about your fever. You need rest.”

“I always sleep best if you sing, though.”

“Maybe I don’t want to sing that one. Maybe that one is sad to me.”

“Mom, it’s not real. It’s just make believe. It’s my favorite.”

The toe is tapping me faster, impatient. I brush the hair off his sweaty forehead. He is shivering slightly, despite his bright red cheeks radiating heat.

When I’m sure he’s asleep, I pull the journal labeled “Tok” from my bag in the floor, lighting a candle beside me so I can see. I don’t want to leave his side, but I’ve been waiting to read this since I took it from the Mother’s bedroom earlier after my conversation with Tok. I felt guilty about taking her journal as she slept, frail and ill, and now I feel guilty about opening it in my son’s floor as he sleeps. I can’t find comfort in all this secrecy. I even feel guilty about second guessing Tok after he spilled his guts to me, but at the moment everyone I can trust is right here in this room. The voice inside me telling me to leave these woods is getting too loud to ignore, and I have to find the truth.