After walking for miles, though the time passed quickly, she started to see some familiar landmarks. The big, red barn, and she didn’t remember so many houses, but then just as she was feeling the first creeping of doubt, there it was–the barely noticeable path, hidden between two bushes. She started down the tree-lined paved walkway until it came to a clearing. She veered off to the left and stumbled down the hill, looking to see if anybody was watching, though she didn’t know why–nobody had been paying any attention to her anyway. Her heart was pounding in her ears. She recognized the green bush with the tiny orange and red flowers that Wynn had called Lantana. She crouched down and reached her hand under the bush, feeling for the handle on the small, square piece of plywood that blocked the entrance to Wynn’s home. She sighed heavily with relief. It was still there!! The handle! She lifted the door easily and lowered herself down the hole, her feet searching for the ladder in the dark.
Quiet blackness surrounded her. “Wynn?” she cried out softly. “It’s me–Alexis. Remember? I need help. I think I’m in trouble.” The silence that followed was sliceable and Alexis started to think maybe nobody was there, when she heard a tiny flicker and then saw a dim light appear in the far corner of the dark room.
Alexis stood frozen as she watched a huge figure loom out of the corner. She relaxed as she made out the visage of Wynn. Older, more lined and gray, and with a shaggier beard than she’d ever seen, was Wynn.
She ran to him and embraced him, burying her head in his chest. While surprised at his visitor and her intense emotions, Wynn comforted the ruffled girl. “Alexis Roberts. Little Lexy. What’s happened?”
“Oh Wynn,” she started, her voice shaking, “the writing, my parents… I didn’t know where else to go.” She choked on her tears, which turned to sobs.
“It’s okay, honey, let it out.” Wynn’s towering frame leaned over her 5’7″ body, and his hands gently soothed her smooth head. He wondered about her hair color. With her deep blue eyes, her hair could be any color, were it permitted to grow.
After she calmed down enough to talk, Alexis told him her trouble. Brows together, forehead wrinkled, the wise old man nodded, listening. He digested her story, remaining silent for several minutes. Then, still without a word, he handed her an apple, knowing she must be weak from hunger. Alexis wasn’t sure how to eat it until Wynn demonstrated. She followed his lead and bit into the crunchy fruit. Her taste buds delighted in the sweet juicyness of the round, red ball. Satiated after devouring the entire apple, Alexis sunk into Wynn’s lambskin-covered couch and drifted off to dreamland, leaving Wynn sitting by her side with his thoughts.