Hours passed as I followed Kida through the forest. She walked quickly on the paths she knew so well, and I was surprised she didn't get tired. If I were in my world, I'd be panting by now. I was never really the athletic type. Kida's face turned a bit flushed as the sun grew hotter, and wisps of black hair stuck to her face and neck, but she didn't slow until we were just outside of the burning village. She stayed in the forest and took her time entering it, making sure it was safe.
"You know, you could ask me to do that," I said. Kida shushed me.
"The others might be able to hear you, so stay quiet." Creeping like a cat, she entered the village and looked around. Everything was burned and smoldering. Gardens were torn up, wells were destroyed, and bits of burnt clothing lay everywhere. My eyes widened. Had the government done all this, just to find Kida?
Kida stood in the center of the village. "I come to mend what is broken," she shouted, "and to restore what has been taken!"
A little girl, maybe five years old, ran out from a tumbledown shack and jumped straight into Kida's arms. "I knew you'd come," she said.
Slowly, people came out from broken buildings. First the child's parents and siblings, then others. Soon, we were surrounded by people.
Kida unshouldered her pack and rummaged through it. It was full of vegetables, but not enough for so many hungry people. I glanced around and saw a large pot, large enough to make soup in. "Do you know what stone soup is?" I whispered. She shook her head. "It's where everyone brings a little bit of food, and you dump it all in a pot and make soup out of it. I had some at a Halloween party once. It was really good."
Kida looked at her own pack, then at the villagers. "Is there food to be found here?" she asked.
"Yes," said an old man--probably the village leader. "But not much. We will be glad for your relief."
Kida held up a head of broccoli. "Bring a bag of rice, and whatever meat is about to spoil. We will make soup."
Suddenly, the village was abuzz again. Women went about finding food, and men fashioned bowls out of the wrecked buildings, and I wandered off to the nearest garden. I closed my eyes and imagined that it was whole again and full of large, growing vegetables. I opened my eyes, and it was. I grinned and ran off to the rice fields.
While Kida coordinated the soup-making efforts, I ran around making gardens grow again. I wanted to fix the buildings, too, but I figured it would raise too many suspicions. So instead, I thought a stack of blankets into existence.
I wandered back to the center of town. The soup was done, and everyone was eating. Even Kida had a small bowl of soup.
Suddenly, Kida jumped, and her hand flew out. She'd caught an arrow in midair.
The government had found her.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.