A biting wind rushed through the reeds as Ned stared out at the swamp and the pine trees beyond. The sun was setting over the forest to the South. His back and legs ached from harvesting vegetables all day. Ned did not want to leave the farm, but he was used to being in a forest all day long. He missed his time in the woodland. But he did not want to return to the cabin or his family.
Krea stood at the farmhouse door and looked at Ned. She liked him, but he gazed toward the swamp every evening after work finished. She sighed. Life was good with the three of them on the farm, but it could be better. Ned was a slave. It was not exactly his choice to be there. The girl wished Ned did not have to be a slave, but it was how their society worked. Krea wanted to confide in Ned. She had a secret and wanted to share it.
During the night, after lights out, Krea sneaked out of the farmhouse toward Ned’s quarters. Her father would be furious if he caught her. She opened the wooden door and walked on the hay past the coop and sty. Ned’s fire was still burning and he was asleep. Moving closer, she put a hand on his shoulder and woke him. Ned opened his eyes and leant onto an elbow.
“W… what’re you doing here? Your father won’t be happy if he finds out.”
She held his hand. “You need to see the swamp.”
“I see it every day.”
“Not like this. You have to see it tonight.”