"Colin, get away from the TV," mom said. "Get some fresh air."
"It's too cold to go on a hike with grandpa," I answered.
"There might be a big snowstorm. Or, a tree branch might fall on my head."
"Don't be silly," mom said.
"It will be a great trip," grandpa added. "You'll see."
Now all we do is walk. My mitts are full of snow. And my ten toes are cold. What if a wolf tries to eat me?
I hurry up to grandpa. "How far to go?" I ask.
"We'll be there soon," grandpa says.
I don't have time to talk. I have to keep running after his long legs.
What if I fall down? By the time grandpa notices I might be frozen. Then polar bears might think I'm an ice cream cone.
Grandpa finally turns around and bends down. His eyes are twinkling like stars. "We're here," he says.
"Finally," I answer, giving him a high five.
Beside the trail is a little brown cabin. It looks peaceful hiding behind the trees. We go inside.
"It belongs to a good friend," said grandpa.
We shake off the snow. Then Grandpa gets a broom and sweeps it away. Now I get warm socks, from my backpack.
We go outside and make a fire. "Stay close to the heat," says Grandpa. I watch him go back into the cabin.
Then I hear music. I look around. Nothing. I look up. Nothing. Then I look down. Something invisible is making tracks in the snow.
My eyes get really huge. "Cool," I say.
Chills jump around my shoulders. Then down my back. And right to my warm toes. I look back at the cabin. No grandpa.
The footprints move away from me. And I follow. The snow is deeper away from the cabin. The music sounds like a flute.
The footprints go down a small hill. Then travel around a stack of fallen branches. The music brings me farther into the woods.
Suddenly everything is quiet. When the footprints disappear, I get scared. I look back. My own footprints are gone too.
Trees seem to grow larger. Then seem to move closer together. I wonder if I am going to get squished.
"Back off!" I yell, ready to give them a karate chop.
I hear breathing behind me. And I take a fast peek. Is that a face full of broken teeth? I run deeper into the forest.
I'm sure it must be a horrible bear.
I run faster. "Grandpa!!" I yell. No answer. I fall in the snow. A rabbit hurries past my face.
As I look up, the trees bend down. Just like grandpa always does. I go over to where their branches point. It's like a neat path for me.
The music begins again. And the footprints come back. I follow them once more. I walk past huge trees with more pointing branches.
I see an owl with monster eyes. He does not look angry or dangerous.
I come to a clearing full of animals and birds. They watch me from a large circle. I follow the musical footprints right into the middle of them.
There are deer like in my schoolbook. Their antlers are crooked.
A bear has a shiny black coat. His paws hide under the snow. Now his claws cannot catch me. Do all bears smile like that?
An eagle jumps around on the ground like a bundle of feathers. He must be friendly. He doesn't try to bite me with his curved beak.
A stinky fox sits beside me. He has a long nose and bushy tail.
There are many rabbits. Each time they move, music plays. That's who made all those tracks!
These forest creatures seem to like me. They give me back pats.
Grandpa's voice is in my heart. "The woods are full of friends," he told me once during sleepy time. Now my feet feel warm and cozy.
Even my toes are excited. I wave ten bare fingers at everyone.
Then I jump up and down. It feels good not to be afraid. My voice yells, "Hey! Ho! Hi!" Nothing happens at first.
Then echoes come back like a boomerang. "HEYYY! HOOO! HIII!" Everyone mixes in with wild sounds. Now I know they are my friends.
Another sound comes to my ears. "Colin!" It is not very loud at first, but it gets louder. "COLIN!!" I know it is time to go back.
Grandpa needs me.
Before I leave, I say, "Thanks" to everyone.
My throat has a hard time to swallow. My heart beats faster. I will never be afraid in the woods again. I look at my new forest friends.
"I'll come back," I promise. "Lots of times."
Now the birds and animals leave. They have to go back to their own families. A white rabbit makes footprints for me to follow.
And brings me back to the cabin.
Soon the music fades away. And I wave goodbye.
Grandpa is waiting with arms spread wider than the sky. He looks like a huge windmill. I run to him like a snowplow.
I make noises like a thunderstorm.
My feet jump from the snow. And I fly into his arms like a happy boy. "No more scared-cat in the woods, grandpa!"
Then he gives me a great, big, grandpa hug.
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
81 Queen Street, Unit 6, Truro, Nova Scotia
Canada B2N 2B2 Phone (902) 897-2344
Word Count = 891 for the above story
All messages for Richard or Esther can be sent directly to:
email@example.com. They enjoy reading comments on their work. Readers are welcome to visit their website at: www.wsprog.com/rp/. Free downloads also available. They live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Many blessings on your loved ones.
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Richard L. Provencher
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