Author's Note: This story takes place in the future, so some things will be different than some things today.
Rain drops strung on a spider web between two large oak trees, twinkled in the pale sunlight. A slight breeze rustled through the leaves of the trees. Mist hung in the damp air; the majority of the sun's rays were hidden amongst the thick ash gray rain clouds. A discrete sycamore tree in a clearing was in full bloom, its fruit expanding a little each week. A family of squirrels nested in a hole in the flaking bark.
Three children, all third born, sat perched in the lush green trees of the mountains. Their eyes concealed from view by forest brown cloaks, scanned the open clearing. Willis, the youngest by a year, laid perfectly balanced on a thick branch. Tucker had the same birthday as the only girl in the small group, Freda (which she pronounced Fray-dah, but Tucker pronounced Fred-a to make her infuriated.) The two were both thirteen. None of the three had any blood relation to each other what so ever. All of them had very different personalities.
Willis was the quietest of the three, preferring to keep things to himself. He was timid and shy around not just strangers, but his friends as well. He keep many secrets locked up inside his heart. He did not trust his two friends as well as he should. He liked to sing to himself, play the wooden flute and listen to music.
Freda was very adventuresome and possessed the position of leadership in the group. She was incredibly brave; laughing at danger and never backing down. She could be slightly harsh, but had a soft side to her that enjoyed running and playing all day long, but she would restrain from such things and act very mature.
Tucker was very kind when he wished to be, but was immensely stubborn; rebellion always bursting out of him. He despised being told what to do and what not to do. He simply went around doing his own thing, unbothered by the world around him. He just liked to be himself.
But they all had certain rules they had to abide by, no matter what. Even Tucker dared not break one of the important rules. Freda had carved the rules into the trunk of the monstrously large tree they lived in so no one would ever forget.
One: Never under any circumstances, not be hidden. You must always be cloaked or hooded; the majority of your face concealed from others' view. Act as 'shadows.'
Two: Hunt at day and night. If you are resting but see a hare hope past, kill it. Food is valuable in survival. Don't ever eat it, put it in the food supply pile in the hole near the top of the tree and put the rock back in place inside the hole, covering it.
Three: Split the amount of food we get for the day. No one gets a larger portion than someone else. If one person steals some extra, they will have no breakfast the next day. Our only meals are breakfast and dinner, so it's best you don't steal food.
Four: Never reveal your true identity to anyone. We must all go by our nicknames even when we are just amongst ourselves. You never know who may be listening; watching.
Five: Pray every night. God will listen.
The three children, Blossom (Freda), Wind Chime (Willis) and Skipping Stone (Tucker) were forbidden to live. This Earth no longer allowed families to have more than two children each. They all were third children, outlaws in the governments' eyes. The kids had all ran away from their homes, never again to see their siblings or their parents. Danger was at every corner. If they got found out, they would surely be doomed to die a long painful death. They could not risk it. So they fled to the mountains together.
Freda and Willis had grown up as friends since they had first met when they were babies; Freda aged at one and Willis aged at a month. They were neighbors, their parents dear friends. They both spent their lives hiding together in cupboards and attics when the government officials came to inspect the house for anything 'out of the ordinary.' They had met Tucker, a full blooded Native American from Arizona, when his family had moved to South Dakota. He had been found out by the government so his entire family moved.
The group of three felt so very safe when their families had visited the Black Hills in western South Dakota. Their parents decided the mountains would be so much safer for their children, so they let them live there. They came to visit every once in a while. Only they and the kids knew the exact location of what they called Doe Tree that they lived in. So many female deer would pass under the tree that they had named it that.
Freda, Tucker, and Willis had no worries over tourists to the Black Hills. They never came. Ever since the main tourists spots: Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and Custer State Park had been demolished and more forest trees planted in their place, no one ever visited. The Black Hills were now said to be haunted. The people who did come were scared off by 'ghosts haunting the park.' The kids would 'haunt' people by hiding in the thick trees and screaming: 'GO AWAY! THIS IS OUR HOME!' They had so cleverly planted three tombstones by their tree that they had found far off in an Indian burial ground. This scared tourists because they could never find where the voices came from since Freda was in one tree, Willis in another, and Tucker in a cluster of bushes.
Tucker sat on alone on a branch further away than the ones Willis and Freda were on. His hair was short, coarse and black. He brushed his fingers over his reddish brown arm. He felt so different. Indians were becoming scare at this time. He looked over at Willis with his fair skin and light brown curly hair that came down to the bottom of his neck. He gazed over at Freda and her blond curly hair that came to her mid-back and her tan skin. They were so different. They weren't part of an endangered group of Indians. He didn't even know what his tribe was called. There were so few, so very few, left. He sighed. It was a sorrowful feeling of being endangered and an outlaw for being born.