Cassie cleared her throat. "So," She began, nervously, "Who are you?" She didn't look like she expected a straight answer, and the man didn't look as though he was going to give her one.
There was a long silence, and the two stayed where they were, saying nothing. Cassie found herself wondering why she was actually here in the first place. This was certainly not the adventure that she had hoped for. She had thought that when she met someone so mysterious, he would take her away with him somewhere forever, away from all of this, and be vibrant and exciting. She supposed this was her reality check.
"I would tell you-but then, I would have to kill you." The gruff voice responded suddenly. Cassie's head jolted, jarred from the abrupt sound. Their eyes met, and his smiled. He was kidding. She forgot to laugh. She wanted to know.
"Well, then, I guess I'll have to die," Cassie laughed, trying to make a joke. This time, it was his turn to forget to laugh. He rolled his eyes instead, and walked closer to Cassie. He took a good look at her.
"You're young," He stated, matter of factly.
"Not that young," Cassie retorted hotly, a bit offended. She wanted to be thought of as someone to be discovered, someone as interesting as this man probably was. Instead, he was treating her like a little girl.
"I'll be twenty-one soon," Cassie continued, lying through her teeth. She had just turned fifteen last week, but could pass for much older. To prove her point, she reached for a pack of the man's cigarettes, taking one out. She had never smoked before. It was for all of the stupid losers at her high school. She never went with them to get high or smoke or drink. To her, it was just lame. She could be doing so much more. But, now, she felt that she had something to prove.
Cassie watched the man's dark eyes light up with amusement. So now he was laughing at her. She would show him.
"Light it for me," She said casually. The man grinned, but only with his mouth, and reached for the lighter, bringing it to her cigarette. Cassie had no idea in hell of what to do. She tried inhaling, thinking that it might be best. Definitely not a good idea. She started coughing like a mad dog. That did it for the man. He collapsed in a fit of laughter. She crossed her arms over her chest, letting the cigarette fall to the ground, and looked down, ashamed, and angry. Cassie felt like such a little baby.
"I'm sorry, little one." Cassie felt a hand under her chin, lifting it up. Meeting of the eyes, again. She noticed him now, for the first time. Apart from those blazingly beautiful eyes, he had that long, dark hair, and strong shoulders. He was handsome, almost, if not intriguing.
"Can you ever forgive me?" He asked with a laugh. Cassie managed to smile a little.
"Maybe," She replied, looking around. "If you tell me your name." The man stopped grinning.
"What good would that do you?" He muttered, "Then you would know what my mother and father decided to call me at birth. What does that do for you, girl?" He sounded almost bitter, and she was taken aback that he would be so upset with her question.
"I just want to know what I should call you..or would you prefer that I just don't address you at all?" Cassie asked, her voice dripping with weak sarcasm.
He held his hands up, as if pretending to be offended. "If it means that much to you, girl, you can call me Garrett." Cassie smiled now.
"Thank you, Garrett. Was that so hard?" He gave her a Look.
"What about you, hon, you got a name, too?"
"My name is Cassie," She told him, "And I'm personally not hiding anything." She had meant it as a joke, and she just wanted to find out why he was so secretive.
But he grabbed her arms and pushed her against the wall. "Who the fuck told you that?!" He screamed at her, "Who the hell sent you here?!"
Cassie tried to free herself. "No one!" She cried, "No one sent me, I swear!" He glared at her, releasing her slowly.
"Then why did you say I was hiding something?" He asked, more gently now, as Cassie sank to the ground. He sat beside her.
"I didn't! I said that I wasn't." Garrett gave her another one of those looks.
"Well," Cassie began, reluctantly, "You seemed secretive. I mean, no one else ever comes here. I have never seen another person walking through these woods before. It was strange to see someone, and from what I hear about these woods-"
Garrett cut her off. "What exactly do you hear?"
"That they're infested with criminals, that anyone who comes here will be killed by some psycho or another. And then I saw you, and I was curious, but also a little scared. So I just assumed." Cassie looked down. "I'm sorry."
"Nah," Garrett said, "It's my fault-I'm probably scaring the shit out of you right now!"
She smiled coyly at him. "Not so much."
Garrett raised his eyebrows at her. "So why do you come here, if it's so damn dangerous?" He asked.
Cassie didn't know how to answer this. She wasn't even really sure herself. "Well, I mean, I hate my life at home. And sometimes, you know, I need to get away. So I started coming here to write poetry because I knew no one could see me, that no one would bother me. And then all of those warnings about coming here came out. By that time, I didn't care. I just didn't want to be around anyone."
Garrett eyed Cassie, interested now. "Why?" He asked.
Cassie felt like she had said too much. "It's nothing," She said, shrugging it off. "I guess I just like to be by myself most of the time, writing or whatever."
The truth was, although Cassie loved being alone in these woods, she had always hoped to meet someone else here, someone who could truly understand her, and care about her more than anyone back at home ever would. She had given up hope, though. She figured that if she did happen to meet anyone in these woods, it would be a killer, and he or she would put her out of her misery.
For some reason, Cassie wanted to talk again. "Sorry if I misjudged you. I'm sure you are a decent person, and whatever your secrets are aren't any of my business."
Garrett didn't say anything, he just sat, expressionless, glancing at Cassie now and then. She thought maybe now it was okay to ask another question.
"Where are you from, Garrett?" He looked up. "I mean," She added quickly, "If you don't mind my asking."
"Well," Garrett began, settling back, "Nowhere, really." Cassie cocked her head to one side.
"I was born in Paris, and then my mother put me in a basket, and dropped me in the Seine River when I was just a baby. Pirates picked me up and took me to America." Cassie stared at him.
"Wait-seriously?" She asked. Garrett laughed.
"Would be kinda romantic, wouldn't it? No, I don't think so, Cassie, but that could have been how it happened. To tell you the truth, I don't really know. I just made my way around place to place, tryin to make a livin a some kind-but I wasn't educated cause I never had enough money for schoolin, and so I just ended up always livin on the streets, getting money in a paper cup." Garrett stood up as he finished his story. He didn't sound like he told it too much.
Cassie felt helpless. "And now?" She asked quietly.
"Well, now, I'm stayin up here-they got a nice shack for me here, and I can live without food a couple weeks, right?" He flashed her a grin.
"I could-I could bring you things sometimes," Cassie offered.
"Awful nice of ya to offer, girl, but I got it covered." Garrett looked like the kind of man who didn't like to accept help from other people, particularly teenage girls he ran into in the woods. But she had to help-she did. Something about him made her feel an obligation of some kind.
"No," Cassie insisted, "I will. I can come here every day." Garrett's eyes twinkled a bit.
"You got some fiery spirit there, girl." Garrett said, dusting off his hands.
"I have a name," Cassie muttered under her breath. He didn't hear her.
"Well, if ya insist," Garrett replied, "That'd be nice, I guess." Cassie nodded.
"I'll come back tomorrow," Cassie said, getting up to leave. Suddenly, Garrett grabbed her arm.
"Remember," He said softly, "Don't tell anyone I'm here." Cassie fixed her eyes on him. She could keep a secret. But she couldn't do that for long without knowing it herself.
She gave Garrett a slight nod and headed out the door, leaving the shack behind.