By Jada White (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)
To delay the inevitable lecture she would receive from the strangers she called Mom and Dad, Lily did what any sane teenager would do. She went for a walk through the woods with her best friend Savannah. Ever since she could remember she and her parents just didn’t see eye to eye. Everything turned into an argument. When she got caught cheating on an English test and received a call home she knew they would over react. Savannah tried to prevent Lily from making yet another idiotic mistake. She expressed that arriving home late would only make matters worse, but everything she said went in one ear and out the other. There was nothing she could do but follow along behind her friend as she entered the dark shadows surrounding the woods.
Lily had been in the forest a million times which is why she was so confused when she discovered a path she’d never seen before. Without saying a word she led Savannah down the path and into a small clearing. Before her stood a green wall made of grass, twigs, and trees. In the center was a heavy wooden door twice the size of both girls. They glanced at each other as the sound of music and laughter flowed out from under the door. Without giving it a second thought Lily grabbed the handle and pulled. Once the door was open they were shocked by the abrupt silence. Not a single soul was behind the door. All there was to see was a field of grass too tall to see over and a little garden gnome.
“Welcome!” called the gnome, frightening the girls, “I am Daniel. Who are you?”
“Savannah and Lily,” they said after taking a moment to catch their breath. “What happened to the people we heard? What is this place?”
“They all went to dinner. I can take you after I give you a tour!” said Daniel avoiding their last question.
As Daniel turned and walked into the grass the girls whispered arguing about whether to follow or turn back. Their curiosity overpowered their suspicion and they ran to catch up. Behind them the only exit that they knew of slid shut with an audible click.
Savannah and Lily walked for what felt like hours behind the little gnome. They couldn’t help but look around for signs of other people. Every once in awhile a noise in the distance would catch their attention. They would look for the source but be unable to tell which direction it came from. Eventually, they emerged from the grass and were shocked by what they saw. Ten foot tall wood structures rose from the ground, one faintly resembled a person and the other, some kind of animal. Weeds had started to climb up the legs of both structures and the only metal swing was broken and rusty.
“Welcome to Tyler Park,” said the gnome enthusiastically.
“Shouldn’t there be children here?” asked Lily. “Where is everyone?”
“Dinner!” said Daniel slightly annoyed.
A familiar voice that both Savannah and Lily recognized cut through the air. Back at the path leading to the big wooden door their parents were calling them. The girls made eye contact then began to look around. For the first time they noticed how dark it was outside.
“Maybe we should go home,” Savannah suggested as she stared up at a bright white crescent.
“Nonsense!” replied Daniel. “Stay for Dinner. I’ll take you there now.”
Before the girls could protest he walked back into the grass. This time they exited in front of a circular clearing. On the outside edges were glowing lanterns. There was a round table in the middle and tiny wooden chairs surrounding. Five identical copies of Daniel stared back at the girls.
“We should leave. Now!” Savannah whispered to Lily.
“I don’t think so,” said Daniel.