The biting wind struck Maeve’s frail body with force so she drew her mother’s thin red shawl around her shoulders tighter. She shivered remembering what she had done. The stunning ring had been lying on Mrs. Carver’s bedside table along with her yellowed false teeth which floated in a glass of water. She moved the tumbler and dusted, then slipped the ruby ring into her pocket.
Trudging home on the icy path through the shadowy forest, the weight of the stone spun the ring around her thin finger. When the vagrant grabbed her from behind, it flew into the gloom.
After a long cold winter, sun-filled days thawed the frozen earth and birds migrated back from their winter respite. A squirrel sprung from his warm leaf-lined den in the trunk of an ancient oak. With pangs of hunger he dove to the forest floor and dug for buried acorns. A bright glint like crimson berries caught the attention of his black beady eyes and he hopped through the decomposing leaves hoping for an edible treasure. Cocking his head to one side he gazed at the ruby ring. An ebony crow swooped down and snatched it up with its hooked beak.
“What are you afraid of Chelsea? Ghosts?” Jack taunted. Mary and Thomas giggled, but the tales about the woman in the woods and the thought of meeting down there at midnight to have a séance made her flesh crawl.
The moon hung like a fingernail clipping over the old Carver house where the remaining shards of glass in the windows seemed like a menacing grin.
The rhythmic crunching of their footsteps on the path into the dense forest kept time with the banging in her chest. Jack found an old oak and the four friends settled underneath its gnarled branches.
Maeve floated through the forest on the wings of the gust’s frosty breath twisting with the wailing wind. Like so many nights before this, she found herself on that muddy path with the ruby ring heavy on her finger like the weight of guilt on her soul. Sometimes she caught glimpses of others completely unaware. Other times they seemed alarmed then faded into the gray snowy night.
Tonight the pull at her core caused a ferocious velocity of writhing. She whipped towards the foursome dislodging something from the old oak which fell between them.
“Return it!” Maeve howled with wind.