Step Through Time
By Princess Tiara

17-year old Anna grabbed her winter jean jacket from the hall closet and headed towards the front door. She managed to get it unlocked and partially
open before her mother noticed.

"Where are you going?" called her mother. A hint of fresh baked bread wafted through the open door and through the hall to tickle her senses. She inhaled deeply before answering.

"Outside," replied Anna rolling her eyes a little. Sometimes her mother seemed a little too snoopy and that irritated her a little. Her mother was nice all right, but she asked too many questions once in a while. Slipping the jacket on, she unlocked the door and walked out. She gently pulled the door shut until she heard the lock click. Breathing out through her mouth slowly, Anna could see her breath in the cold November air. Anna pulled her coat closer as the frigid wind brushed over her, tousling her hair.

Not sure of where she was going, Anna hopped down off the porch and ambled down the street. She dug her hands deep into her coat pockets to keep them from freezing. Anna's mind wandered as she worked her way down the street.

Suddenly, Anna slammed into something. She fell backwards, landing hard on the rough pavement. Anna looked up, dazed, to see a young man standing there with an equally dazed look on his face. The cold wind ruffled his dark hair as he looked down at Anna.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to bump into you like that," the man muttered. He reached out a bare hand to help Anna back to her feet. Timidly she reached up and placed her hand in his.

"Oh, your hands are freezing!" she squealed. The man pulled her up so forcefully Anna actually stumbled forward into his arms. The two of them stood like that for a moment before the man stepped back.

"Are you alright?" asked the strange man. Anna nodded silently. "That's good. I thought I had seriously hurt you."

"You didn't. I'm fine, just a little sore where I landed on the pavement. That's all," she replied.

The man nodded absent-mindedly. Without saying another word he sidestepped Anna and hurried onwards, his black clothing blending in with the shadows. Anna continued on her way once more, this time keeping an eye on her surroundings. Shortly Anna reached the woods at the edge of the small town. Curious as to what was hidden deeper in the forest; she set off with renewed enthusiasm.

As Anna worked her way through the tangles mass of bushes, trees, and other small plants, the birds overhead sang merrily. Anna nearly tumbled to the forest ground as the plants tangled themselves around her feet. While she was untangling her legs for the 12th time, a bright flash of light caught her attention. She looked up to find a blindingly bright being standing by a tree a few meters away.

As Anna broke off the last twig, the strange figure walked away. It moved so gracefully that Anna swore it was actually floating across the rough terrain.

Stumbling along, Anna followed the bright figure deeper and deeper into the forest. The figure paused, looked over its shoulder at Anna, and moved behind a large tree. Anna jogged over the leaf-covered ground and looked around the large tree expecting to see the figure.

The strange glowing figure had disappeared. Keeping her left hand on the trunk of the ancient tree, Anna walked in a circle around it.

"Hello!" called Anna. Her soprano voice seemed to echo though the leafy forest. In the distance, she could hear birds faintly chirping.

"Hello!" she called again after a moment of silence.

"Hello." Startled, Anna spun around. Behind her stood the strange man from earlier. His dark eyes seemed to be able to look into her soul. Anna shuddered slightly at that thought.

"Who are you?" she asked, looking him square in the eyes. If he could really see into her soul, then she had nothing important to hide from him.

"Who are you?" replied the man. He kept to the shadows, allowing his dark clothes to blend in with the darkness.

"I asked first," Anna said folding her arms across her chest. She narrowed her eyes in annoyance.

"My name is Jake Andrews," he replied. "Now answer my question, who are you?"

"Anna." She glanced around the forest in hopes of spotting the glowing figure again. Anna's hopes were crushed. The figure was no where to be seen.

"What? No last name? Or do you just prefer not to share it with me?" Jake asked.

Anna glared at him before replying. "My last name is off limits to you."

"Whatever. Looking for someone?" inquired Jake. He glanced around then looked back at Anna. She nodded, looking around the large forest once more. "Who, may I ask?" he continued.

"I don't know," Anna replied, still looking around.

"Then how do you expect to find them?" said Jake logically. Anna shrugged her shoulders in response.

"I don't know how I'll find them." Anna sighed in defeat. Her breath came out white. She pulled her coat closer as the wind wrapped itself around the two of them.

"Well, there's no one here except you and me. How about I escort you home?" Jake requested, holding out his left hand.

"Fine," replied Anna stepping forward. Jake reached for her hand and placed it in the crook of his right arm. He then turned and walked towards the forest's edge. Anna lagged behind as much as her arm allowed her.

Having no intention to leave the forest, Anna fixed the ancient tree's location in her mind, and started to make plans to lose Jake before they reached the edge of the forest.

"Why were you in the forest anyway?" Jake said, breaking Anna's train of thought. She looked up at him curiously for a moment before she realized what he had said.

"Oh, no reason," Anna replied quickly. She avoided making eye contact with Jake.

"Hmm," Jake mumbled. They walked a few meters before the forest started to thin out. Sunlight streamed through the leaves, illuminating the path. Shortly the two teens could see an array of bland colored houses through the trees. Unconsciously they quickened their pace, reaching the warm, gray pavement of the dead end street within moments.

"Where do you live?" asked Jake, looking down at Anna. Anna thought for a moment. She wouldn't tell him her real address so she decided to drop in on Krista's house. She was sure they wouldn't mind helping her out of this situation. I'd do the same thing for Krista, Anna thought.

"Over there." Anna pointed at her best friend's house. Its baby blue color caused it to stand out from the surrounding houses.

"Come on then. I'll walk you to the door," said Jake pulling Anna behind him as he walked down the street to the house.

"No, really, you don't have to," Anna semi-pleaded, pulling down on Jake's arm. He paid no attention to her pleading. Instead Jake plowed ahead. "Really, there's no one home," Anna said as she was dragged up the steps to the front door. They stopped on the small porch.

"Nonsense." He reached out with his left hand and rang the doorbell.

The bell seemed to ring for an eternity, echoing in Anna's head. Before she could say anything, the door swung open.

"Oh, hello, Anna!" said her best friend's mother as she peered curiously around the half open door.

"Hi 'Mom'," Anna replied, putting emphasis on the mom part. "This kind gentleman walked me home. I was exploring in the forest and got lost. Jake here helped me find my way out," she continued, gesturing to Jake.

Mrs. Lestrang hesitated for a moment. She seemed a little unsure why Anna was calling her 'mom'. Finally she caught on and replied, "Well. I'm very glad you were able to help Anna find her way home. Come inside sweetie, you must be chilled to the bone." Jake let go of Anna's arm and tucked his bare hands into his pants pockets. Anna turned to him and looked up at his dark eyes. His hair hung in his eyes as he looked back at her. Anna stared at him for a long moment, their breath coming out in little white clouds.

Anna was unsure if she needed to elaborate her thank you or keep it simple. She decided to keep it simple. "Thank you for helping me," she shyly said. She made sure to look him in the eye as she said it.

"You're welcome, Anna," Jake replied courteously. He turned and walked down the street towards the forest. Anna on the other hand, stepped into the warm house.

"I appreciate that Mrs. Lestrang," Anna quickly said as the door shut behind her. She stripped of her jacket, having no need for it at the moment.

"Oh, it's no problem dear. Besides, it gives Krista a chance to chat with you. She's upstairs at the moment," replied Mrs. Lestrang. She took Anna's coat as the teen girl bounded up the flight of stairs.

"Krista?" called Anna as she reached the top step. Krista stuck her head out the door. Her red hair was partially pulled back into a messy ponytail, held back by her hands. A hair elastic was firmly clamped between her teeth.

"Meyo," Krista mumbled through the hair elastic. "Wom un up," she continued, disappearing back into her room. Anna followed her friend through the door. "Bleh. So what's up?" Krista asked, finally taking her hair elastic out of her mouth. She expertly wove her hair into a messy bun and secured it with the hair elastic.

"Some strange guy escorted me out of the forest and tried to walk me home, but I came here instead. He kinda scared me," Anna replied, falling back onto Krista's beanbag chair.

"Huh. Any ideas why he doesn't want you in the forest?" Krista lay down on her bed. She rolled over onto her side so she could see Anna properly.

"No idea. I was just exploring the forest when I saw this blinding white figure. I followed it deeper into the forest. Close to the center of the forest, it disappeared into thin air. Then Jake showed up and here I am!" explained Anna. She thought about the white figure, and why it was so bright in the dark forest.

"Question, who's Jake?" Krista asked, snapping Anna out of her little world.

"Oh, that's the guy I met in the forest and who escorted me here," muttered Anna. "He has dark eyes and hair, and he was wearing dark colored clothes." Krista nodded slowly to show she understood.

"He sounds kinda cute," Krista teased. Anna glared at her for a moment before she thought about it from her friend's point of view.

"Yeah, I guess your right. He did seem cute," Anna murmured. She placed her head in her hands and stared out the window at the sky.