Amelia still isn't sure what it was she saw that day exactly, but she knows it had a tail.
Or at least she thinks it did.
Whatever it was, it was fast. As fast as a cheetah. Faster, even. It scampered.
Amelia has never used the word "scampered" before.
And yes, Amelia knew she was supposed to be home before dark.
And yes, the sun was setting.
And yes, Amelia knew she was not allowed to go into the woods.
And yes, the creature ran into the woods.
So of course she went after it.
When she emerged from the woods three hours later, barefoot and wild, panting with effort, the townspeople found her and carried home, kicking and screaming.
She did not want to be carried over that threshold.
She did not want to stay inside those walls.
She said that wasn't her home anymore.
She said she was queen of the woods.
She thrashed, hurting others and herself, until they bound her.
She was silent for a time before speaking again.
She tried to describe her adventures, but the words got jumbled and came out all wrong. Her tongue was foreign; her tongue was swollen. No one would understand what she said, least of all her hysterical mother, who wailed and wept and begged her husband to go into the woods and find their daughter, their real daughter, not this changeling that sat unmoving and unintelligible on their kitchen floor. But he refused, having pushed his own wildness down, down, down when he was a child, never to speak of again.
Amelia still isn't sure what it was she saw that day exactly, but she knows it will return for her, soon.
She cannot wait.