Preface: (Aren't literary words fun?). Here is a story. It is a bedtime story. I made it up lying on the carpet, my hands beneath my head, staring at the ceiling. I told it to a little boy, and it put him fast to sleep. I am writing it now because I am too sleepy to do any schoolwork, and want to go to bed soon. I will not finish it tonight, but some other night I hope to. I wish everyone a good night.
It was a misty day in late April. The sun had winged its way to the heights, pierced the clouds for a few moments during naptime, and was now falling, out of sight, towards its rest behind the Johnson's garage. For Timothy, three years old, had divined its hiding place, and secretly planned to seek it out some night and wrestle it across the Johnson's driveway out into the street, where it would light the yard so that he would be able to play forever and not go to bed when he was supposed to.
But the sun was not his object this particular day. No, he was enjoying his after-naptime romp through the back woods, his sister Lisa trying her best to keep up with him, but failing, of course. For young boys, Timothy knew, were much more clever and agile than grown-up girls like Lisa. Why, she was all of nine years old already! He felt sorry for her, for soon she would not be able to show her age on her fingers, and what is the fun in being older if you cannot show it to people?
The sun was to the left, its warmth cutting through the mist in rays of water droplets, water-stained, moss-covered bark, and reflecting pools in leaves. The leaves squished and squelched beneath his feet and he squirmed his toes and nose and paused to examine his footing in the deep muck. Satisfied, he turned about, his wide body giving him ample balance, and saw Lisa moving with behemoth strides through the forest behind him. He giggled uproariously and dashed away into the woods, a broad smile on his mouth, leaning his weight forward like a ship's sail caught in the wind, and his grinning face was his own figurehead, his arms the rigging.
But ships do not have feet, and oceans rarely have roots, so the ship that was Timothy was, as a matter of course, surprised to tumble down into the leaves. Undaunted, he put himself back on his feet, examining himself soberly. He was somewhat dirtier than before. A leaf was stuck to the base of his hand by a clump of mud. A black-stained pine twig clung by a drop of dirt to his chin, and his shirt had several new stripes on it.
"Timothy! You'll get all dirty!" cried Lisa, her tone important and full of peril, for she thought to be dirty one of the worst things that anyone could be.
He laughed harder and ran on into the woods. There was nothing in these woods for quite a while -- he had heard his father say once that there was nothing until the next neighborhood, and Timothy expected that was quite a long way.
Now, running in the woods while someone is following you is a tricky game. Run too fast, and you might loose your sister, and never find her again, and that would be a shame. Run too slowly, and she may well catch you, scold you, clean you up, tickle you, or something of that nature. Of course, at some point you must let yourself be caught...but not until you're quite done with your romp. So Timothy had to check over his shoulder often to make sure Lisa was neither lost nor about to swoop him up with her great big strong arms. After going some ways on, he saw that she was falling behind. He turned around, flinging the leaf from his hand by his motion, and laughed loudly so that she would catch up. He saw her moving slowly from tree to tree, but she was going more in a circle than coming towards him, so he shouted "Wis-AAA!" and began bounding back towards her, slightly annoyed that she would abandon the game.
Lisa, meanwhile, tired of pretending to chase her baby brother, slowed to a walk and wistfully glanced at the treetops above her, humming tunes that only she could discern, and glancing into the distance occasionally to make sure she could still see Timothy. Soon he was almost out of sight, and she was day-dreaming about whatever it is big sisters daydream about (many of you, dear readers, may be big sisters yourselves, and I am sure you choose choice daydreams, but I cannot tell what they might be, as I can only speak for big and little brothers, and not for sisters at all). His call made her jump and forget her dream, and, feeling a little guilty for letting him get so far ahead as she now saw he was, she began to run towards him.
As Timothy came near to Lisa, she ducked behind a tree, and, amused to find that she had known better after all, and invented a new game where he chased her, crept up to it giggling, careful to step quietly so she would not hear his approach.
As Lisa caught up with Timothy, he hopped down out of sight into a creek-bed, and, stirred to greater haste at the thought of what he would look like if given a chance to enjoy himself in the muddy stream, Lisa hopped down to the bank. "Timothy!" she cried scoldingly as she spotted him, and then she stopped very abruptly and took several steps back, so that she bumped into the bank and sat down on it, dirtying her dress. "Oh!" She said sadly, examining it, and then turned back to the little creature that she had thought before to be Timothy. "Now, see what you have made me done?" she scolded.
Timothy let out a squeal, halfway between delighted and terrified, for he had grabbed not Lisa, but a branch, and the branch had gently drawn itself back from his chubby hands. The brother and sister saw each other -- the real each other, finally -- from where they stood, not more than a few moments' Timothy-run apart.
Lisa pursed her lips, folded her eyebrows, placed her hands behind her back (over the mud on her dress), and examined the creature that she had mistaken for Timothy. Timothy, meanwhile, sat down and stared at the one that he had mistaken for Lisa.
The two creatures were very similar, yet, especially in their faces, the brother and sister could tell them apart easily, though they would not be able to say why, similar to how two puppies may look just alike to a visitor, but are easy for their master to name. They were brownish-green creatures, and their skin looked like bark, but they did not crackle or crumble as they moved. The bark, indeed, seemed able to bend easily as far as it needed to. Leaves and moss clung to them, and they wore boots lined with thick wet dirt with an upper of leaves and a lower of their own bare feet. They were each about as tall as Lisa, each had two arms and two legs like Timothy, and they had faces. Their faces were strange, and made Timothy look very serious. They had no noses to speak of, and if they had mouths, Lisa could not see them. Timothy looked at the eyes of the one nearest him, and yawned. Its eyes, Lisa mused, were like acorns. Not green acorns, or dirty acorns, or scratched acorns, but the acorns that have fallen unbruised, and been washed clean in a pool of rainwater till they shine a perfect rich reddish burgundy that makes you think of smelling good living wood and knocking on knotholes in trees, and root-beer flavored candy. The eyes did not look deep, but they seemed to shine the color of wet, clean wood deep in the forest where the light cannot come and yet you feel perfectly cozy and at home, until, of course, some naughty leaf drips a drop of water down the back of your neck and makes you gasp. The creatures looked at them with their eyes, eyes that reminded Timothy of the blind dog that lived next door, and also of the eyes of his teddy bear.
"What are you?" asked Lisa politely.
"We are the Grenobles," they answered, and as they spoke Lisa saw their mouths, but once they were silent she could not find them again.
"Ha!" said Timothy. He was amused that little treeish people talked. He was of the age where he had not yet firmly decided anything about the world, and so did not know that he should be very startled to find such creatures.
Lisa, on the other hand, knew quite well that there should be no such thing, but was old enough to know that it is silly to deny what you see with your own two eyes. So, she smiled and said, "We're Hunters," for that was their father's and mother's name. "We live through the woods that way. Where do you live?"
"Will you help us find it?" they asked.
"Do you not know where your own home is?" she asked in pity and astonishment, thinking that they were lost.
"We would know better if you showed it to us," they replied.
"Ha!" said Timothy again.