“The corn stood shoulder high on Carla as she cut through her father’s fields. At the edge of the field she stopped, took a deep breath, and forced her fists to unclench. She stared at the wooded land in front of her but didn’t set foot in it. Instead she dug the toe of her slip-on into the dry dirt, catching crumbled earth-bits in the crease between plastic and canvas, then fidgeted with the band of her bra, trying to get air to the sweat pooling beneath it. She blew out a breath. “Stop being stupid, Carla,” she muttered. It was enough of a prod for her to manage five steps out of the field and into the bordering woodland before panic seized her and she sprinted back to the sheltering rows of corn. Carla swallowed a sob. She hadn’t been able to make herself go inside the wood for three months. But she had to now. She had to. She needed to get back to the clearing–the place where she’d seen the Green Man the one and only time she’d ever seen him. If she got there, she would find him again. She was certain of it.
She scrubbed at her face and tried again. She got as far as the first pine; its thick branches reached out toward her with the rustle of the wind. Carla whimpered. She took another step. Something brushed against her forearm. She squeaked and jumped. Every muscle in her body strained. She felt her lip tremble. She couldn’t do it. Couldn’t go farther into the wood.
‘Green Man,’ she whispered to the trees. Tears and frustration choked her voice. ‘Green Man, help me.’
He’d helped her out once before, maybe he would again.”