Looks can be deceptive.
Walking down the wooded path, she knew she was late. The shadows grew longer, then disappeared altogether as the sun sank behind the hills. Twilight was approaching rapidly.
She loved finding a quiet spot in the woods to sit and read. Her mother had cautioned her against staying out too long but she had become lost in her story and now she was alone, in the dark. While the nearly full moon provided eerier shadows, it also provided just enough light for her to find her way. Even so, each time the wind rustled the leaves or a twig snapped beneath her feet she startled, expecting some horrible creature to lurch out at her.
Ahead of her, the man in the ominous black hoodie walked down the darkened path with his black dog. Not the hero in her book by any means. She froze, not knowing whether to turn back or to keep walking, whether to look down or to meet the stranger's gaze head on.
The dog reached her first, tongue lolling and tail wagging. To still her thundering heartbeat she stopped and put her hand out for the dog to sniff. He graced her hand with a lick of hello and then sat before her, waiting. The black dog's master approached cautiously, as though he didn't want to disturb her moment with his dog. He stopped a respectful distance away.
"It's getting late... be careful out there," he said in a gentle voice. With that he moved on, keeping a wide berth. After one more caress with his tongue, the dog followed.
Something about the man's voice warmed her and gave her confidence. She sensed there was something heroic about him after all. She turned as they passed and gave a smile of recognition and of good-bye. Then, without a word, she hurried on toward the light in the window where her mother was waiting.
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Tess over at Life at Willow Manor has been providing inspiration for bloggers with her photo prompts on a site called Magpie Tales. Be sure to check out the other fabulous writers participating in Magpie Tales this week. You'll be glad you did!