You had to get out.
You ran out the front door of your house, slamming it fiercely behind you. The icy-cold wind pounded against your face, causing your nose to easily turn red, but you didn't care. The neighborhood was dark, dimly lit by the several streetlamps that lined the sidewalk.
Perfect. Nobody would've questioned your actions.
You took off running down the street, everything moving past you in a blur. Your (h/c) hair flew behind you, strands of it beating against your face. You didn't care where you were running. All you wanted to do was get away. Get away from the frustrating life that surrounded you.
You continued dashing down the street at an incredible speed, your heart beating rapidly and your breath coming out quick and shallow. There has been so much emotion that built up inside you for these past few months. You had gone too long without trying to release them. All you wanted to do was to run off to someplace where there would've been nobody around, a place where you could've expressed your feelings in peace.
Ever since you became a country, there had been a heavy price for you to pay, a price that resulted in great deals of frustration and stress. The work that you had to do for your boss was endless and very, very time-consuming, you had to constantly worry about when the next meetings were going to be, you had to make sure all of your files were organized—which they hardly were—and you often stood awake into the hours of dawn finishing any incomplete work. You barely had time to take even five minutes of rest, barely able to get enough proper sleep. All of this stress and exhaustion made you angry—angry at the world for letting you get into this mess of a life, angry at your boss for giving you so much work, angry at yourself for even becoming a country in the first place.
You just wanted to get away for one night, get away from the work, the stress, the exhaustion, the frustration, and have a few hours to yourself. In peace. Without your boss, or anyone else to disturb you.
You continued running until you left your neighborhood and approached what appeared to be the woods. You paused in front of it, squinting to get a better view of what lay ahead of you. Nobody seemed to go in these woods, and it would've been the perfect place for you to get some alone time.
You sighed, taking a brief look at your neighborhood behind you before you entered the woods. Slowly, you walked through it, keeping alert for any suspicious movements or potential threats. Overall, this place didn't seem to be that harmful, but it was still a little creepy. The air here felt fresh and clean compared to back home. Being surrounded by nature gave you a sense of calm. You liked this place.
You continued walking until you approached a wide tree. You stopped at its base, looking up at the leaves and branches above you. You always used to climb trees when you were smaller, but you didn't feel like now was the appropriate time.
You clenched your fists before you pounded them against the tree, cursing at everything that caused you trouble in your life.
"Why is my life so crappy?" you asked loudly to no one. "Why can't it just be easier?"
At that moment, you felt a pair of eyes watching you behind a nearby bush. Instantly, you drew your fists away from the tree and whipped around, eyes darting from side to side. Is someone watching me?
You pressed your back against the tree, your breath coming out deep, slow, and silent. Your heartbeat quickened when you spotted a pair of tiny violet eyes staring back at you.
You took a step forward, regretting not bringing a flashlight. "W-Who's there?" you asked, your voice slightly trembling although you tried your hardest to hide it. You bent forward and grasped a nearby stick, holding out in front of you defensively.
A few more seconds passed until the eyes blinked before a tiny figure stepped out of the bush and into the moonlight, staring up at you with sad eyes.
"Oh," you said quietly as you dropped your stick, hearing it fall to the ground and cause fallen leaves to rustle. This tiny figure didn't seem to be harmful. You had been expecting a wolf or coyote or something of the sort, but that wasn't it at all. Stood in front of you instead was a tiny boy who appeared to be barely up to your knees in height. He had blonde hair, with a single strand that stuck out and looped into a curl, white, ruffled clothing that had various kinds of debris clinging onto it, and in his arms was a cream colored teddy bear. His violet eyes stared up at you with an expression mixed with sadness and loneliness, instantly making your heart melt.
He's just a baby and he's here all alone in the woods! you thought, your heart racing in concern. The two of you stood there a few yards away, staring at each other. You didn't know what to do. Here you were, hoping to escape your home and into the woods to get some peace and quiet, and instead you find a child. On closer inspection, you noticed that he was shivering with fear and cold.
I have to help him… you thought to yourself as seconds ticked by and the both of you stood still. You knew that any false move you made would've scared him and cause him to run away, so you had to be careful.
You let out a tiny smile, staring at the child with a warm, friendly expression. "Hi, there!" you said cheerfully, trying to get him to understand that you weren't going to hurt him.
In response, the boy hugged the bear closer to his chest. "H-Hello…" he murmured, his voice trembling and soft.
You got down on your knees so that you were more or less level with him. "Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you," you said quietly. "What are you doing here in the woods all by yourself?"
A few more seconds of silence passed, and you noticed tears glistening on the edges of the little boy's eyes. "I…I don't know…" he said so quietly that you were barely able to hear him.
You stood back up and took a few more steps closer so that you were a few feet away from him before you got back down on your knees. Your sudden closeness caused him to take a few steps back, but he did not run away. "Do you know how you got here?" you asked the boy gently.
He slowly shook his head. "N-No…. When I opened my eyes I was already here."
Could it be that he's a country…? you wondered to yourself. You looked down at the boy and smiled. "What's your name?"
A few more seconds of silence passed before the boy buried his face in the teddy bear. "…I don't know," he whimpered.
You stared at him, pity filling your eyes as you gently wrapped your arms around him and pulled him into a hug, concerned at how cold he felt. The sudden action made him grow tense, so you gently massaged his back with one hand to comfort him. "I'm sorry," you murmured. "I'm _____. If you want, I can give you a name."
The boy lifted his head to look up at you, his eyes quickly filling with excitement. "R-Really?"
You looked down at him warmly. "Of course." A few more moments passed as you studied his face carefully. You weren't good with names, and you wanted to name this kid something that was original and fitting. "I'll call you Matthew," you said after a few more moments passed.
"Yay!" he said happily as he wrapped his tiny arms around you. You smiled, thankful that you had finally gotten his trust.
A few more seconds of silence passed before you heard Matthew give off a tiny cough.
"Oh, are you sick?" you asked in concern as you pulled away from the hug just enough so that you were able to look at him properly.
Matthew sniffed. "I…don't know…"
You smiled before you patted the top of his head. "Don't worry. I can take care of you if you'd like."
He looked up at you in surprise. "You will?" he squeaked in disbelief.
You chuckled. "Of course. Besides, I can't just leave you here in the woods all alone."
In return, Matthew buried his face in your shirt and asked, "_____, c-can I call you Mama…?"
You smiled before you pressed your nose against his soft hair. "Of course, Mattie."
A few more moments of silence passed before you finally decided to head back home. You stood up, cradling Matthew in your arms, before you spotted his teddy bear lying on the ground, figuring he must've dropped it when he had hugged you.
You smiled to yourself before you picked the bear up from the ground and began walking out of the woods and back home. The night was now clear, the moon lighting up your path. You looked down at Matthew, who had by now fallen asleep in your arms, his breath coming out soft and light.
He's so cute~! you thought as you briefly watched him sleep before you set your gaze back in front of you. Somehow, meeting this cute little boy in the woods made you forget all about your stressful life. But now that you remembered it, you figured that it would've been a lot easier to handle. Hopefully taking care of Matthew meant that you would've gotten to skip a few meetings and lay off the paperwork. But now with somebody there to help you deal with your stressful life, you felt some of the weight being lifted from your shoulders.
You paused at the entrance to your house, feeling the cool wind blow through your hair. You once again looked down at Matthew, still sleeping peacefully in your arms. Now you had a new responsibility—the job of taking care of a little child, just like a mother. You had a feeling that it wouldn't have been as hard as doing paperwork for your boss or going to meetings.
Don't worry, Matthew, you thought to yourself. I'll always be here to take care of you.