Cora trots down the slippery slope. Her heart feels lonely, and her little legs feel wobbly. But it’s not like her to complain, so she scrambles on the muddy trail alone. She would love to meet some friendly critters to brighten her mood. Her body shivers and her tummy rumbles. She misses Ma and Pa so badly.
They wouldn’t leave me alone with the trees and the scary crunching of the leaves. Cora thinks to herself. And those sounds are scaring me! Owls screeching, the howling wind, and unnerving grunts and growls in the distance act like robbers, stealing her courage. Besides being afraid, I am very hungry.
Then those tummy rumbles turn into fluttering butterflies because her imagination runs wild. She senses her courage fly up into the darkening sky. The trees seem to grow taller as their twisted branches resemble long arms reaching out to grab her. “I have to stay strong like Ma and Pa taught me. My body may be small, but my strength can be just like theirs!” Cora says as she continues forward on the trail while the world around seems to close in on her.
She doesn’t understand how she became separated from Ma and Pa. One minute they were trotting down the trail together, but when she turned around to tell them that she saw a cool caterpillar, she noticed they were gone! Cora doesn’t think home is too far away but looking up at the surrounding trees makes her dizzy. And in every direction she turns her head, another trail winds its way to somewhere. Only she doesn’t know where!
“Wait, is that singing?” Cora says for all the animals in the forest to hear. She halts on the path and listens to the hopeful tune. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel afraid. “I hear happy hums, too!” She says with delight. “Maybe Ma and Pa are looking for me!”
Instead of following the trail, she paces back and forth, so excited to see her parent’s loving faces. “I think they’re coming around the bend, and when I see them, my heart will burst with joy!”
But as quickly as Cora’s fear disappears, she notices the big bush ahead shudder and the unsettling sight makes her heart skip a beat. She hopes it’s her ma and pa, and not a big, fat, furry bear claw! She feels stuck in her mucky tracks. Even if she motions them to move, her hooves won’t budge an inch. The excitement she felt before has turned into alarm because she doesn’t have a clear view of what lurks behind the shrubbery.
Cora would feel a little better if she could still hear the singing and humming, but the music stopped when she saw the big green bush shake. “Who goes there?” She asks with a spirited voice. “Show yourself! I am not afraid of you!” Cora thought her courage had left her for good, when it had been with her all along. She just had to give it freedom to shine.
With eyes wide open, Cora watches in wonder while her ma and pa sprint out from around that same shaking bush that made fear travel from the tips of her ears to the tip of her tail. Now she understands the panic her wild imagination caused.
Ma and Pa run up to their precious little girl, loving on her with kisses galore! “We’re so sorry, Sweetheart! Pa and I were talking about the upcoming Deer Dance on Saturday, and then we realized you continued on without us. We had lost you and started to panic!”
“It’s okay, Ma, I’m a big girl so I stayed strong the whole time. Well, maybe I did get a little scared, but I kept thinking of how you and Pa taught me to be brave. And I want to grow up to be brave just like my parents!”
“Oh, Cora, your Ma and I are so proud of your bravery! Come on, let’s go home now. I think we all deserve a feast of acorns and apples!” Pa says to his courageous daughter as he lovingly nudges her to lead the way. Cora and her ma and pa trot in the opposite direction on the path, heading to their haven, while her heart pounds rapidly out of celebration.
Her family is finally together again.
~ The End ~
© Lauren Scott, baydreamerwrites.com – All rights reserved.
Illustration: Chris Mendez
MCD – Mendez Custom Designs