A pre-teen boy secretly visited a forest with his teenage friends after his father forbade him to go there. At first, the three boys were thrilled to explore the unknown, stranded place until they stumbled across an eerie bear den in the middle of the woods.
Every evening, Stan would watch the news with his 12-year-old son, Mike. The duo lived in a single-storey house in North Carolina, where Stan grew up and now worked as an attorney. The man loved his work and wished his son would follow in his footsteps.
It was a typical winter evening when Stan and Mike sat on the couch discussing their day. The attorney switched between TV channels while Mike recounted how his best friend, Jake, lied to their English teacher.
Jake was a year older than Mike, but Stan knew the boy had an influence over Mike. Being a father, Stan always patiently listened to his son, trying to win his trust, and simultaneously told him what was right and what wasn’t without outrightly forbidding much.
“I’m sure you know lying to your teacher isn’t the best thing to do, Mike,” Stan said. “What Jake did sounds fun, but it isn’t morally right.”
“I know, Dad,” Mike replied. “I know Jake was just having fun. His lie was harmless.”
Stan nodded, patted his son’s back, and switched between channels again until an unusual visual on the screen caught his attention.
A week later, Mike visited Jake’s house to study for their upcoming science test.
“Oh, my God!” Stan gasped and turned the volume up while Mike looked at his father with eyes wide open. The little boy had no idea what made his father worry so much.
“According to the NamUs database, there are 600,000 people declared missing every year,” a female news presenter’s voice echoed in Stan’s living room. “The U.S. Forest Service is warning visitors to national forests that bears are getting alarmingly close to humans.”
“Bears?” Mike exclaimed. His eyes lit up when he saw a video of a brown bear sitting between bushes. “Wow! That’s so cool!”
Alarmed, Stan turned to Mike and looked him in the eyes. “Didn’t you hear what the news reporter said?” Stan pointed towards the television. “There’s nothing cool about bears coming close to humans, Mike. This is dangerous. We need to be careful.”
“Listen to me, Mike,” Stan gently placed his arms on his son’s shoulders. “I don’t want you to get into trouble, okay? I know how tempting it is to visit the forest, but you shouldn’t do that. Don’t ever go into the forest, even if your friends tell you how adventurous it would be. You don’t want to risk your life, do you?”
Mike could sense the fear in his father’s voice. He could see how his worried eyes were telling him to be safe. “I won’t go there, Dad. I promise!” Mike wrapped his arms around his father and rested his head on his chest.
A week later, Mike visited Jake’s house to study for their upcoming science test. Once they began studying, Jake’s 16-year-old brother, Sam, entered the room.
“Hi guys!” he said and hopped on the bed. “Are you guys actually studying?”
“Yes, we were studying before you entered without permission,” Jake replied sarcastically.
“Well, I’ve got an idea,” Sam shifted his gaze from his brother to Mike. “I have the perfect plan for an adventure. A forest adventure!”
“What?” Mike blurted out. “You want to take us to the forest?”
“Ignore him, Mike,” Jake said. “He’s up to no good.”
Sam closed the science book lying on the bed and told the boys about his plan. He said he knew the way into the woods, ensuring they wouldn’t get lost.
“Look at the weather!” Sam shifted his gaze towards the window. “It’s cloudy, and it calls for an adventure. No one studies when the weather’s so good outside!”
“Stop, Sam,” Jake frowned. “We don’t want to go.”
At that point, Mike remembered his promise to his father. I can’t break my promise, he thought, but he felt tempted while thinking about walking in the woods with the boys.
“Let’s go!” Mike exclaimed as he shifted his gaze from Jake to Sam.
“Oh no!” Sam gasped. “No! No! No!”
Since Mike had already agreed, there was nothing Jake could do to stop his brother from taking them to the forest. But before Mike could go, he had to ask Stan for permission.
“Hi, Dad,” Mike said on the phone. “Jake and I have planned to go to the amusement park with Sam. I wanted to ask if I could go with him. I’ll be back before dinner time, I promise.”
“What about the science test?” Stan asked worriedly.
“We’re done studying, Dad,” Mike lied. “We’ve covered all topics.”
“Okay,” Stan paused for a while. “Be back before dinnertime, okay?”
“Thanks, Dad!” Mike exclaimed before hanging up.
Soon, the three boys were walking inside the woods, unaware of what was waiting for them in the national park.
Sam was using his phone to navigate through the forest. Everything went fine until it started raining, and his cellphone lost network.
“Oh no!” Sam gasped. “No! No! No!”
“What happened?” Mike asked him. “Is everything okay?”
“My phone…” Sam raised his phone in the air, hoping it would catch some signals. “There’s no network. And the way back is…” the boy’s eyes darted around in panic.
“But you said you knew the way out,” Jake looked at his brother while shielding his eyes with his hand against the raindrops. “Are you saying we are lost?”
Sam looked at his brother, his eyes bulging with fear. Fright was the last thing Mike and Jake wanted to experience in the middle of an unknown forest, but fate left them with no option.
The boys continued to walk in another direction, hoping it would lead them out of the woods. Meanwhile, Sam tried his best to make his phone work, but he felt disappointed. His phone wasn’t working, and the boys were stuck in a place they didn’t know.
While trying to find their way out, Jake suddenly pointed toward a bear cave. “Look!” he exclaimed before the three boys rushed towards it.
“Hey! Slow down!” Mike said. “What if there’s a bear inside?”
The news reporter’s words suddenly echoed in his mind, and he told Jake and Sam about it. “We must be really careful here. The bear might hurt us.”
Since Sam was already feeling guilty because it was his idea to visit the forest, he volunteered to go near the cave and see if there was a bear inside. Feeling frightened, he tip-toed towards the cave, trying his best not to make noise.
As he stepped near the entrance, he turned his head and looked at the other two boys. “I’m fine!” he whispered before turning back toward the cave.
“Calm down, kids,” the woman said before slowly rising up to her feet.
Suddenly, the three boys heard a woman’s voice inside the cave. Mike and Jake’s hands went towards their mouths while Sam froze.
Hey! Who’s there?” the woman asked.
Mike and Jake rushed towards Sam and debated whether they should go inside. Dripping with sweat, the three boys took a few slippery steps into the cave and saw an old woman sitting there.
“Help us, please!” Sam begged her. “We’ve lost our way, and it’s almost dark outside. We need to head back home as soon as possible.”
“Calm down, kids,” the woman said before slowly rising to her feet. “Come on. Follow me. I’ll take you back to where you came from.”
At that point, none of the boys wanted to know anything about the woman. Although they were surprised to see her inside the abandoned bear den, no one dared to ask her anything. They quietly followed her until they found their way home.
Once Mike reached home and met his father at the dinner table, he felt guilty for not keeping his promise. “Dad, I want to confess something,” he said while looking down at his plate.
“What is it?” Stan looked at his son and kept his spoon on his plate. “Is everything okay?”
“I broke my promise, Dad,” Mike said as tears trickled down his cheeks. “I went to the forest with Jake and Sam. I’m so sorry.”
Stan shook his head and placed his hand on his son’s shoulder. “Stop crying, Mike. Look at me. Are you okay? What happened there?”
When Mike realized his father wasn’t too angry, he told him everything that happened in the woods. “We met an old lady in a bear den, Dad! She helped us find our way back,” Mike said as he wiped his tears.
“You guys found a woman inside a bear den?” Stan was shocked. “Sounds like it was an abandoned one. But what was she doing there all alone?”
After the conversation with his son, Stan wanted to learn more about the woman. The following day, he visited the forest and navigated toward the den with Mike.
“Hey!” Stan said when he saw an old woman sitting inside.
At first, she was clueless, but she immediately recognized Mike and realized he had brought his father there. “What brings you here?” she asked Stan.
“I just wanted to thank you for saving my son and his friends,” Stan smiled.
“Well, you’re welcome,” she replied sternly.
“I’m a lawyer. My name’s Stan,” he sat beside the woman. “I was wondering if you needed help. I mean, why are you living in a cave?”
When the woman learned about Stan’s profession, she couldn’t help but tell him about her life story. “My name’s Amanda,” she said. “My husband and I were hikers. We loved wandering in nature, be it forests, deserts, or mountains.”
“Where’s your husband?” Stan asked curiously.
“We came here a few months ago, but he lost his way,” she replied. “I have no idea where he is right now. I don’t even know if he’s alive. I tried finding him, but I couldn’t.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” Stan apologized while Mike carefully listened to Amanda’s story. “Why didn’t you go home and ask for help?”
“I was so sad, son,” she replied while her eyes welled up. “I had no idea what to do. I just settled here, trying my best to find him. I searched everywhere, but I couldn’t locate him.”
“A few months later, I went back home and discovered something I had never imagined could happen,” she continued. “My son hired someone to create fake documents and sold my property on my behalf. He proved that I couldn’t take care of my property because I was mentally unwell. I never expected him to act so selfishly. He broke my trust.”
When Stan heard the man say “months,” it hit him that he might be Amanda’s lost husband.
“That’s so wrong,” Stan replied. “But I think I might be able to help you with this. If he really submitted fake documents, then I can help you get your house back, Amanda.”
“What would I do with my home now? I’m used to living here,” Amanda shifted her gaze toward the light coming through the den’s entrance. “Since I had nowhere to go, I returned to this cave and made it my home. I know how to get food, and I’ve learned to keep myself safe from bears.”
“I’m glad you learned how to survive here, Amanda,” Stan said. “But please let me help you. I can take you back to the city and get your house back.”
“Thank you so much, son,” Amanda smiled. “But I’m good here. I’m ready to live here till my last breath.”
After thanking the woman again for guiding Mike out of the forest, Stan left the cave with his son. While walking towards the city, they suddenly heard a bear growl.
“Oh no!” Stan whispered and pulled Mike behind him, shielding him from the bear. “D—d—don’t move, Mike. Just stay calm.”
Although the bear wasn’t too close to them, Stan still felt frightened. All he knew was that he had to stay calm because he had read somewhere that bears attack people who try to escape.
A few seconds later, Stan heard metal cans rattling at a distance, and the bear’s voice began fading. It seemed like someone was trying to shoo the bear away, and had succeeded.
Curious, Stan took a few steps forward and saw a man holding a stick with cans hanging on it. It seemed like he had dealt with bears before because he stood before the wild animal without fearing for his life. Once he drove the bear away, Stan approached him and thanked him for saving his life.
“I had no idea you were standing here with your son. I haven’t stumbled upon any humans here in months,” the man replied.
When Stan heard the man say “months,” it hit him. He might be Amanda’s lost husband! He immediately asked the man about Amanda and learned his suspicions were correct. He was indeed Amanda’s husband.
Stan spent the next few months trying to get the couple’s life back on track. He managed to get Amanda’s house back, and soon, the couple started working as forest guides. They knew how to navigate through the thick forest and weren’t scared of facing wild bears. They had the perfect skills and expertise to work as guides.
Meanwhile, Mike realized he would never lie to his father or break promises. From that day, he always shared everything with Stan and never indulged in risky or harmful activities.
What can we learn from this story?
Good deeds come back to you in unimaginable ways. When Amanda stumbled across three boys who had lost their way, she didn’t hesitate to help them. She didn’t know that her kind gesture would soon help her reunite with her husband.
It’s never too late to get your life back on track. Amanda had given up all hope of her life returning to normal. Thus, she lived inside the abandoned bear den after her son betrayed her. Fate opened a new door for her just when she thought she was living a meaningless life.
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