At last, Carrie thought, as “Fourth grade, Miss Ann” was called over the intercom. She grabbed her backpack and fought her way through the teeming hallway filled with excited children calling out goodbyes. Her first year at Crestview Middle School had been overflowing with new friends and experiences, but she couldn’t wait to be in the woods.
After an excruciatingly long carpool wait, Carrie was finally at home. She rushed up the stairs, almost tumbling over her little sister. “Do you want to make potions with me?” Bridgette asked.
Hurriedly, Carrie mumbled something about plans before flying over the remaining steps and changing like Superman into a T-shirt and shorts. She was about to rush out when she stopped to take a look at herself in the mirror. Had she changed during the school year? Big brown eyes, short curly red hair, and freckles all over her nose. Nope. She still was absolutely normal. Carrie sighed. At least she was going to the woods. If something special was ever going to happen to her, she always felt it would happen there.
Only at the beginning of the forest did Carrie realize she had forgotten her shoes. The woods were so peaceful, with honey-toned light drifting gently through the laced treetops, and soft moss creating a pillow. After walking awhile, Carrie stopped to rest on the banks of a stream. She was about to take a drink, when she stopped herself. As inviting as it looked, she knew that in modern day only heroes in books could drink safely from streams. Regretfully, she was raising her head when she stopped as if she was a robot that had been abruptly turned off.
On the mossy bank opposite Carrie was a perfect miniature house. It was the size of a notebook, and the height of one if turned sideways. A white fence surrounded the house and yard. Its walls were the color of butter and the texture of stucco. It had a pair of tiny front windows and six more scattered about the sides of the house. All the windows had wooden mullions the size of toothpicks. They were even filled with stained red, blue, green, and yellow glass molded together. A beautiful wooden door the size of a large pink eraser and intricately carved with climbing vines stood between the windows. Carrie also noticed a tiny brass handle that at one point must have been a regular button. The red roof was neatly patched together with what looked like hardened tree sap. A stone path winding around the house led to a grove of miniature trees, perfectly manicured and one even having a swing dangling from a branch! Near the back of the house, a rectangle of exposed ground with tiny sprouts peaking up in neat rows could only be a garden. Lying near it was a watering can the size of a thimble. The pathway also turned into steps leading down the steep, sandy bank to a tiny wooden dock tied to which a petite boat bobbed in the current.
Carrie’s big eyes widened further as she drank the scene like a warm glass of milk before bedtime. Could she be dreaming? Could something this wonderful and abnormal happen to her, and no one else? Was this the difference she had been waiting for? Her mind swarmed with questions.
She splashed across the stream to get a better look but stopped short when she noticed the flaming sun sinking steadily in the sky, casting shadows all around her. How far was she into the forest? She turned around but could not see the path she’d been following. Then she looked at the house where the evening sun through the glass was making tiny pictures on the moss.
It was later then she thought; she had best be getting back. Besides, it was the beginning of summer, and she had weeks to explore. Something like that couldn’t just vanish, could it? Her parents were probably getting worried. Sadly, Carrie wiped her dripping feet on the moss and threw one last look over her shoulder before vanishing between the trees.
* * *
A small figure sitting in a nearby branch watched Carrie’s retreating back. The girl with the flaming hair had come, just as He’d predicted, but left so soon? Yet the figure was not worried. She’d be back. Oh yes, she’d be back.