Emmett Yearling

Your name is Emmett Yearling. Your nickname is Gorse. Your favorite color is gold. You are 17 years old. Your pastimes include exploring the forest, riding bikes with your friends, and singing. Here are some of your favorite songs.

You live in the suburbs towards the center of town with your mother. You love her, and she loves you, but only one of you knows how to show it. You like to go outside and talk to your friends, maybe go down to the creek. When you find yourself alone (a rare occurrence), you like to hum to the sun as a sort of offering. Maybe a prayer. Whatever it is, it comforts you.

Most people would describe you as charming and energetic. You make friends easily, with a small gang typically following you around. Unfortunately, you also have a tendency to be quite reckless and impulsive. It can be difficult for you to follow the rules. Thinking about your capacity for cruelty scares you. A lot.

So you don’t.

Several years ago, you met a kid named Stellan. Weird name, but he was exceedingly kind to you. The spot he occupied in the forest was a refuge from fights at home. Your brother still lived at home at the time, and seemed to have it out for you. There was no reason that you could find. He just hated you. So you would come over to Stellan’s, to “get away from things”.

He never asked what those “things” were, and you never told him. You never asked why he was usually crying when you’d find him, and he never told you. You’d run around in the woods together, playing make-believe and building forts out of sticks and leaves. It was a good dynamic until you got old enough to stand up to your brother. Shoving back, yelling insults, and seeming even a little tough brought a previously unknown rush of power. You started to exercise this around Stellan. You went a little far. Often. Thinking about it, and the fight that followed several months of it, makes a pit form in your stomach.

So you don’t.

Sometimes, you still see him in the woods. Usually walking along the creek or reading a book. You two will make brief eye contact, then return to your respective activities. You’ll lead your friends away, and he’ll go in the opposite direction down the creek. A wavering sort of peace treaty. When you’re alone, the eye contact is longer, more intense, and says something neither of you fully understand.

On rare spring nights when the moon is full and the sky is totally clear, you swear you see a ghost. Long, curly hair, a heavy sweater, and a single yellow flower for a right eye. Whenever you see them, you feel… angry. You can’t quite explain it, but they make you want to run towards them, destroy them. But before you can even take a step, they’re gone, and you’re left staring at nothing.

No matter what happens there, the forest is your home. The sun is your guardian. You stay.

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