Magic in the Forest
After clearing the rose garden in his uncle’s yard, John William ran deep into the forest until he was breathless and alone. He stood in a thicket of trees, feeling small. A cool breeze blew through his curls, leaving goose bumps on the back of his neck. “This was a bad idea,” he whispered. Something extraordinary caught his eye.
A bundle of lights twinkled and danced in midair. As he approached, they spiraled away at a pace slow enough for him to follow. He pushed through ferns and tree branches, trying not to lose sight of them. They twirled around and then disappeared under a rock.
“No, don’t go.” John William dropped to his knees and lifted the rock. Nestled in the dirt was a mysterious key. The few remaining twinkling lights landed on it and vanished. He pulled the key out of the dirt. It looked like wood but felt heavy and cool – like some sort of metal. The key chimed a beautiful melody in his hands.
John William gazed at his find in disbelief. It sparkled in the sunlight. Next to him, the bushes rustled and the chiming intensified. A frog leaped out of the bush, landing gracefully on his hind legs. John William gasped and dropped the key in a panic. He knelt next to the frog, chuckling. “Careful, little guy – you nearly scared me out of my shoes!”
“Scared out of your shoes? That’s just plain ridiculous!” said the frog, spitting all over John William’s shirt. “Well, I suppose I’m here for you.” With hands fisted on its hips, the pudgy green creature looked John William up and down. “Pick up the key, boy! Let’s get to the passageway.” It abruptly hopped in the other direction, wiggling ferns out of the path. Without saying a word, John William snagged the key and followed. A talking frog far exceeded his expectations for discovery in one day.
They arrived at a peculiar dead tree with an extra thick trunk. The key chimed and sparkled again. “It’s time,” said the frog. The melody grew louder. As soon as the sun contacted the key, a beam reflected off it and hit the tree trunk. The key almost slipped through John William’s hands again. “Be careful!” The frog hissed. In an instant, the tree came to life, sprouting vibrant emerald leaves on every branch. The sunbeam created a slit in the trunk. “The key – hurry!” The frog pointed to the slit.
John William squinted one eye and shoved the key into the tree. The entire base of the trunk dissolved into the tiny specks of twinkling lights he’d seen earlier. His mouth dropped open. “Close your mouth, boy!” shouted the frog. “This is it! Are you ready to change your destiny?” It gave John William a wink, leaped into the tree, and disappeared.
“This feels like a dream.” John William gazed at the tree. “There is nothing left for me here – so what have I got to lose?” He took a deep breath and then backpedaled to get a running start. “Goodbye, mom and dad. I love you.” He glanced at the sky. A beam from the sun shot down and warmed his face. The vibrant energy of the lights drew him in. With an anxious heart and uncertain mind, John William ran as fast as he could and dove in to the tree headfirst.
There you have it - John William took a chance. How could he resist an offer from a talking frog? He is about to discover the dangers of visiting a magical land.