Caroline was alone in the forest to shoot photos for her portfolio. While walking along the trail, she noticed a young girl walking alone. When asked why she was walking in the forest alone, the girl disclosed something that concerned Caroline.
Caroline was a successful freelance photographer who decided to pursue her passion for the arts instead of working in her wealthy father’s company. Her father respected this decision and continued to make her a part of his business by inviting her to be the official photographer for all of their events.
Caroline worked alone when she didn’t have clients to broaden her portfolio. One day, she decided to take photos in a scenic forest near her town to take pictures for her latest gallery feature.
While taking photos, she caught up with a young girl walking on the trail in the same direction. She noticed that the girl was alone, without any adults supervising her.
Caroline decided to approach her to ask if she was alright. “Hi there. I’m Caroline,” she said, waving at the girl, who looked to be about 11 years old. “What are you doing out here alone?” she asked.
“Hi. My name is Cara. I walk here almost every day. This is the way to the house that I visit,” the young girl explained.
“You visit a house here in the woods?” Caroline asked, surprised.
Cara nodded and pointed to the small hut they were approaching. As soon as they neared, a man came out. He looked tired, and it was clear he was homeless.
“I come here to take care of him,” the little girl said, running towards the man to hug him. At first, Caroline was concerned until Cara said, “Hi, dad!”
“Hi, I’m sorry for intruding,” Caroline said. “I saw Cara walking alone, and I was worried. I’m glad to know she’s with her dad.”
“That’s alright. Thank you for looking out for her. My name is Luke. Cara is my only child with my ex-wife. Please, come in,” he said, gesturing towards the small house.
Caroline obliged and entered. She was surprised to see that although the house looked old, it was neat and clean inside. There were barely any things in it, save for a bed, a lamp, a few clothes, and a kitchen set.
“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but why do you live here? Why don’t you two live together?” Caroline asked.
“My mom left my dad a couple of months ago. She took the money from their joint savings account so that the court would think he didn’t have any money. Because of that, I can’t live with him, even if I want to,” the little girl explained.
Caroline felt sad for the little girl simply because she knew what it was like to be a daddy’s girl. She, too, loved her dad dearly, and it pained her that Cara couldn’t be with her dad.
“My mom doesn’t know I’m here, too. She re-married and spends all of her time with her new husband. She doesn’t really care where I go for as long as I go back home at the end of the day. I spend all my free time here instead because dad and I enjoy many things in common,” Cara added.
“I’m sorry to hear that, sweetheart. You’re so young to be experiencing such a thing,” Caroline couldn’t help but say.
Luke nodded. “I know. It hurts me that she has to go through all of this. None of it is her fault. My wife wasn’t happy with our average life and wanted more. I couldn’t give that to her, so she decided to divorce me in such a messy way,” he shared.
“This is my grandmother’s old house. She wanted to retire near a lake, so she built this house. When my ex-wife kicked me out, I knew this was the only place I could go,” Luke added.
Luke and Caroline spoke for the next couple of minutes while Cara looked through Caroline’s camera. She found out that Luke used to own a small but profitable business in the nearby town but had to close it down when his ex-wife took his money.
The next day, Caroline returned with food, water, and clothes. Luke and Cara weren’t home yet at the time, so she waited for him outside for almost an hour. When they arrived, they apologized. “Sorry, Caroline! We were out swimming in the lake,” Cara explained.
“No worries, that’s perfect! I brought hot meals we can enjoy. You two must be hungry,” she said, smiling as she raised up the paper bags she was holding. The three of them enjoyed their meals together, as they exchanged stories of how their day went.
After a while, Caroline noticed an iron box sealed with a padlock and camouflaged between two wooden cabinets. “What’s in that box?” she decided to ask.
Luke followed Caroline’s sight, confused. He never noticed the box before. He decided to pull it out, and using an old wrench, broke the padlock so they could see what was inside.
Once he did, they gasped. There were a couple of small gold bars. “How could this be? I never knew my grandmother had a gold stash hidden away! Cara, we have money! I’ll be able to open my business and fight for your custody in court,” Luke cried.
Caroline smiled at how happy Luke and Cara looked. She then decided to joke: “You’ll need a wife to care for your daughter while you’re at your shop.”
Although she was just joking at the time, she never thought what she said would actually happen. Caroline made sure to help Luke and Cara every step, even offering Luke to rent a small apartment owned by a friend of hers while he put up his business.
Realizing that Caroline was a beautiful and kind-hearted woman who had nothing but good intentions for him and Cara, Luke started courting her. They began dating and eventually moved in together.
Caroline helped Luke run his business. She would take photos of the store and the items he sold and post about them online. They made a great team, and the business became profitable again in just a short period.
As soon as he was ready, Luke filed a petition in court to regain custody of Cara. His ex-wife barely fought a good fight, and he was awarded full custody. Caroline, Cara, and Luke lived together as a family and were very happy.
A couple of years later, Luke and Caroline got married. Caroline’s dad had only good words for his daughter’s husband after the celebration. “You were right, sweetheart. Luke is a good person and a great businessman. I’m glad you chose him to be your husband and that you decided to help him then.”
Caroline thanked her dad with tears in her eyes. “Thank you, Dad, for giving me those gold bars. I really wanted to help him. I couldn’t help but see you in him, dad. You were in a similar situation when mom left us and took your money. I didn’t want Cara to suffer the same way I did just to fight to be with you again.”
It turns out that when Caroline realized Luke and Cara weren’t home when she returned that one day in the woods, she had someone place the old chest inside the house. Luke and Cara never found out, and it’s a secret Caroline was willing to keep forever.
What can we learn from this story?
- Even the most random encounters can lead to beautiful endings. Caroline had no intention of finding love, but she eventually found it after that one random afternoon in the forest. It was as if her bumping into Cara was fate as it led her to Luke, who became the love of her life.
- It’s never too late to start over again. After his wife left him, Luke had to survive living in a small house in the forest. However, with a little bit of help from Caroline, he was able to bounce back up, revive his business, and start a new life with her altogether.