• The forest. The green glow of the sun shining through the canopy of leaves above warmed his flesh. He stopped, looked up. He could remember this forest. He remembered the twisting roots that penetrated through the soil. He could remember running this way, so long ago. So very long, long, ago.
    He looked at the tree that he used to hide behind when he and the others would play hide-and-seek. He sat against the tree, his shorts dampening as they touched the wet leaves by the base of the trunk. This was morning.
    Despite the warm sun on his skin, he was still cold on the inside. He was never warm anymore.
    He pondered this quietly as he listened to the light breeze as it lifted the leaves in the trees. His already-wet shorts began to feel uncomfortable and itchy on his skin. He got up and brushed himself off. There were some leaves stuck to his shorts. He peeled them off.
    The boy could smell the water in the river as it flowed weakly nearby.
    Remembering again, he walked slowly to the bank of the river. He looked around, cautiously. No one should see him.
    Yes, there were the rocks, he noted, and the pebbles he used to skip.
    The wind tousled his caramel-colored hair, and the locks blew into his eyes.
    And then he saw the mud. An unusual feeling of slight pain constricted around his throat.
    It had looked fun when he was younger. It was thick and sticky and was wonderful for playing in like he used to.
    He dared not go near the mud, though. He watched it bubble near the bank, and belch and slide. He remembered playing in the mud, squishing it between his fingers and slapping it on the trees nearby and the children who came with him. But no one was allowed near the mud anymore.
    It was where he slipped into the river, and died.