Flor stood at the edge of the backyard where it met with the boundaries of the woods. Or at least, that’s what she called it. In reality it was more of a small collection of trees and bushes. Though it always looked bigger when shrouded in darkness. Even with the sun barely peeking over the horizon to start the new day, the ‘woods’ seemed neverending.
She crouched down, picking the many yellow and orange marigolds that grew in the garden before fastening them into her long hair.
“Did you find any mushrooms yet?” asked her aunt Alma.
“Huh?” said Flor, snapping out of her trance.
Alma put a hand on her hip, pausing from gathering herbs. “For the stew?”
“Oh right! Sorry I got distracted,” said Flor.
Her aunt shook her head and went back to her original task. “Talking with someone?”
Flor furrowed her brow and picked another flower.
“No… I was thinking about a dream I keep having,” she said.
“About what?” asked Alma.
Flor closed her eyes, trying to get a clear mental image.
“I’m walking and then I find these white marigolds surrounded by a ring of green fire,” she said.
“but the flowers themselves are not on fire?”
Flor shook her head. “They’re not even wilting.”
Alma nodded and snipped off a cluster of Yerba buena.
“That is strange,” she said, “maybe it means you need to be less nervous?”
Flor rolled her eyes. Alma chuckled. “In all seriousness…”
A ringing came from Alma’s pocket. She pulled out her phone, answering it.
“¿Bueno? Oh Delphina! Hello!”
Flor sighed. She wove the marigold in her hand into her hair with all the others.
An odd feeling traveled up her spine. She glanced back at the woods. Two glowing red eyes stared back at her. Flor could just make out the silhouette of a large wolf.
The wolf lunged out of the woods. Flor screamed, tripping over her feet as she backed away. Her vision blurred for a few seconds, and all she could see were the bright glow of its red eyes.
The next thing she knew, Alma came running over with a shovel gripped in her hand, bashing the wolf’s head. Flor watched in shock as Alma hit it a couple more times for good measure.
“Get in the house. Now!” said Alma.
Flor scrambled inside. She made it to the couch before her wobbly legs gave out on her.
For what felt like an eternity, Flor sat curled up into a ball, hugging her knees. At first, there was nothing but silence. But eventually, her space was invaded by hushed voices.
They seemed to stop as footsteps approached the door. Flor picked up a lamp, backing up into the couch.
Much to her relief, Alma stumbled in. Her clothes had gotten dirty and her hair disheveled, but other than that, she seemed relatively fine.
Alma plopped down on the couch and closed her eyes.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“I think so… are you?” asked Flor.
Alma nodded. One by one she pulled out the loose ribbons from her hair. “Let’s not tell your mother about this.”
“Yeah, she’d freak,” agreed Flor, laughing quietly. “What did Del want?”
“Oh, just wanted to see how I was doing and how we should come visit her at the circus,” said Alma.
Flor groaned. “No, not the circus.”
“Come on, it’ll give you a chance to see your brother,” chuckled Alma.
“More reason not to go.”