A Magical Encounter in the Woods

Several of you have already seen part of this post (I’m looking at you, Megan and Clara), but that was a mistake! When I was trying to save my post, I think I must have pressed Publish instead of Save Draft. I deleted it, since it wasn’t finished, but now that it’s done I’m posting the real thing. On the mistake I posted, you guys were asking if there was going to be a part two. It only ended suddenly because it wasn’t done. Have we got that cleared up?

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Hi! I was at a sleepaway camp all weekend (more on that here, on my other blog), and it was wonderful, except for the times when they were trying to starve us by not letting us into the dining hall and when my legs cramped from sitting in the auditorium for like two hours.

Moving on . . .

I have a photostory for you guys today! Enjoy 🙂

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I woke up before everyone else, and decided to make the most of the beautiful, crisp morning and go hiking in the woods behind our house. Once I was dressed, I threw some supplies into my backpack, flew across the yard, and set foot on the bouncy, tawny pine needles marking the start of the forest.

There were no clearly defined trails in our forest, as we hardly ever hiked in the same spot more than once before the woods had time to heal the places we’d trampled. It was a good thing I had my trusty map with me! It showed all the landmarks in the Spooky Forest (what Mom and her brother had named the woods when they were young), and with it by my side, I’d never gotten lost.

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Taking deep breaths of the frosty September air that seemed to freeze my lungs, I set off through the forest. The radiant sun, looking like a dazzling orb fashioned from the purest diamond, was smiling down on me. It warmed my back, beating down on my shoulders.

I rested for a moment, shrugged out of my backpack, flipped open the flap and dug around in it. I pulled my worn map from the bag, unfolded it, and ran my finger along the paper, trying to figure out where I was. If I’d entered the forest there — I jabbed at the section of the map marked Happy House of AG — and I’d hiked in the general direction that was north — I looked up, then, and spotted a creepy, crumbling statue of a rabbit — then I must be there! My finger put a dent in the map as I poked it near the  bottom, where a crudely drawn bunny was depicted.

Folding my reliable map into a tiny square, I shoved it into my back pocket and trekked on.

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About twenty minutes later I decided to stop for a snack, since I’d skipped breakfast. I sunk to the ground and leaned against a tree, then fished a granola bar out of my backpack. Being the terrific multi-tasker that I was, I opened a water bottle with one hand while pulling down the green wrapper of my granola bar at the same time.

Once I’d finished my snack, I shoved my trash into the side pocket of my bag. Then I fumbled around in the main section for my map, but my fingers never once brushed against paper.

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Panicking  slightly, I turned my bag upside down and its contents tumbled to the pine needle-blanketed ground. There was an extra water bottle, a can of bug spray, a tube of sun block, an apple, a flashlight, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but no map.

No map? How would I find my way back to my house?

Then I remembered that I’d stuck it in my back pocket. Relieved, I reached for it but came up empty. I tried the other pocket. Same result. It must have fallen out.

And that’s when the panic really set in.

I was lost.

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After stuffing everything back into my bag, I scrambled to my feet and tried to get my bearings. I should’ve known which way I’d come from, but as soon as I realized I was lost my mind went blank. I whirled around, my mind spinning. Had I come from that direction? I think so — but, wait, that looks similar too!

I put my hands on my temples and cried out in confusion. Would  I be lost in the woods forever?

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I began to pace, and as I did so, I spotted something pink in a clump of pine needles. Assuming that it was a piece of litter left by a previous hiker, I headed over to it. Plucking it from the forest floor, I saw that it wasn’t trash at all: the pink string was attached to a compass.

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I wound the bubble gum-colored string around my hand and examined it. It was just a compass . . . nothing weird about it. But it could help me find my way back home!

A sudden thought stopped me from setting off in search of my house: this compass belongs to someone. It looked like an instrument you’d want to keep, too, with its thick pink cord, sturdy glass, and glinting metal edge. Someone would come looking for it, I was sure. And if I took it, that would be stealing. So I should just leave it at the base of the tree, right?

I was reluctantly stooping down to replace the compass when an idea struck me. If there was an address label on the back of the compass, I could use the tool to get back to my yard, and then contact the owner so they could collect their instrument! It was a brilliant idea, as far as I was concerned.  But all my hopes were dashed when I found, upon flipping it over, that the silver back of the compass had nothing on it except for the name of the company it was made by.

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I made up my mind and knotted the string around my neck. If I didn’t take it, I might stay lost in the Spooky Forest for much longer than if I did used the compass.

I adjusted the straps of my backpack and stepped away from the tree. I was getting out of here, now.

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I glanced at the compass that was dangling around my neck and gasped. I was pretty sure that I knew generally which way north was, and the arrow on the compass was not pointing in the direction I thought it should. The arrow was aimed south, not north! I didn’t know how a compass could break, unless you held a magnet up to it or something. Was the compass supposed to point south, then?

There was only one way to find out.

I needed to find the user manual! Except . . . compasses didn’t come with user manuals. And who carried a manual around in their backpack?

I had no idea what to do. Follow the arrow or my instincts? As good as I was at school, the art of learning north, south, east, and west had always puzzled me. It could be that I was just plain wrong about what direction the compass was pointing to, and that it was really telling me which way was north. I finally decided to trust the compass.

I set off, following the arrow.

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After wandering about for awhile, I reached a beautiful little part of the woods with a huge branch loaded with pine needles casting glorious shade on the ground. The day was getting really hot, and my legs were killing me, so I placed my bag on the ground in a shady spot and sat on it.

And that’s when something weird happened.

There was a melodious tinkling sound.

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I looked up, wondering if the odd sound was coming from a bird, and that’s when I saw them. Two tiny creatures, perched on a branch above my head. One had orange-blonde hair and was wearing a dazzling arctic blue dress with layers of puffy, glittery tulle on the skirt.

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The other one, who was reclining lazily on the branch, had long, dark brown hair with hot pink streaks. Her sparkly magenta dress had butterflies on the bodice and petal shaped pieces on the skirt.

“Are you . . . fairies?” I breathed, staring up at them in awe.

The pink one giggled and rolled onto her stomach, stretching in the sunshine like a sleepy cat. “Do you see any wings?” she demanded. When I shook my head, she explained, “We’re sprites. Sprites are pretty similar to fairies except that we don’t have wings, we’re all super flexible, and we’re a lot more mischievous!”

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The sprites wriggled down the thinner branches sticking off the bough they were on with the grace of a gymnast. They curled up on a bed of sun-warmed pine needles beside me.

The blue sprite introduced herself as Avery and the other one told me her name was Briar.

“I’m Molly,” I said.

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Briar came up to me and stroked one of my soft curls with her tiny, delicate hands. “You’re hair is beautiful, Molly,” she complimented.

I beamed at her. I’d never thought my brown hair was anything special, but if a sprite thought it was gorgeous, I must have been mistaken!

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Soon Avery and Briar had pulled me into a traditional sprite dance. They all had powers of nature, like fairies from a Disney movie, and they incorporated their talents into the dance. Watching the spectacular display of magic was more than enough to make my day.

We joked around after that, telling each other about the customs of our worlds. Their culture was so different from mine, so fascinating!

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I’d been with the sprites a good hour and a half before I realized that I needed to get home. My family would be waking soon, if they weren’t up already. But how would I get home? I was still totally lost, and something was bothering me.

I hefted my backpack onto my shoulders and began, “You know, guys, I was wondering . . . how did I find you? I mean, I was lost, and then I stumbled upon this compass, and then I found you.”

Avery stood on tiptoe and studied the compass. “Briar!” she exclaimed in an exasperated tone.

Hunched over sheepishly, Briar slunk over to her friend and asked innocently, “What?”

The blonde sprite tapped the compass pointedly. “This is one of the compasses you messed with, isn’t it?” Briar grinned at her wisely, and Avery, staring up and me, continued. “You see, Molly, Briar finds compasses in the forest all the time. She takes them home and fiddles with them. Then she hides them around the woods. Those compasses lead people here. I annoy her a lot, so she wants other company from time to time. Some day a scientist in going to find us, I bet, and take us for experimentation.”

I nodded in understanding and touched the instrument. “Do you want it back?”

“No, you can keep it,” Briar decided. “We like you, and without it, you’ll never find us again!” She seemed to remember that I was lost and began tinkering with the compass. A minute later, a steady tick, tick, tick, came from it, and she said, “I reprogrammed it. It’ll point toward your home now, but only for twenty minutes. Then it’ll go back to pointing here. Can you get home in twenty?”

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I thanked them and hiked off, homeward bound. I couldn’t wait to tell my best friend, Emily Bennett, about what I’d discovered! Boy, would she get a kick out of it. Old Molly McIntire finding sprites!

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21 thoughts on “A Magical Encounter in the Woods

  1. Pingback: The Mermaids of Murky Pond | Happy House of AG

  2. Pingback: Ruthie wants to tell you something….. | Buzz About AG

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