Results of The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2018/19: Magic and Trickery

Thank you to everyone who entered The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2018/19: Magic and Trickery. We loved reading your poems and stories and we hope that you will enter our new competition, on the theme of Hopes and Dreams. This is now open and you find out more information here.

Over eight hundred young writers entered The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition 2018/19. We were incredibly impressed by the quality of the writing and it was really tough to pick the shortlists.

Huge thanks to the judges Patience Agbabi, Gail Ashton and Adam Baron who chose the final winners – we are really impressed by the results!

So here are the winners…

 

Ages 5-10

1st Place

Option 2 – A tale involving someone playing a trick.

By Emily age 10

 

Rusty & The Cheese

Once there lived a mouse called Rusty. He was a musty grey colour with fine straight whiskers as pointy as needles.  Rusty was very greedy. Every day he went around stealing others food.  Rusty `s best friend was an owl called Oak.  Oak was very wise owl.  He had big brown eyes, and his wings were a shiny chocolate brown colour.  Oak noticed that Rusty was stealing all the other animal’s food.  Rusty had stolen from the hare, the tortoise, the fox and the rooster.  Oak even found his own food missing, and even though Rusty was his best friend he needed to teach him a lesson.

First, Oak made a big pile of fake cheese out of rocks and yellow paint he had found in the back of his barn, and then he sprayed it with scented cheese smells from the bakery.  Rusty craves cheese.  Next, Oak tied the top of the cheese with string to a branch in the big chestnut tree.  At the top of the branch was a cage, so when Rusty tried to eat the cheese the cage would fall on him.  The cage was made of thick metal bars all overlapping and, was square shaped.

 

Now all Oak needed to do was hide and wait for Rusty to appear.  He flew off to his perch and sat very still and quietly.  After a few minutes he could hear Rusty coming through the long green grass, then out of the bushes he appeared.  Slowly he shuffled towards the aroma of cheese and sniffed the air.  His whiskers twitched with excitement.  He quickly scuttled over to the cheese pile thinking this was going to be his best meal ever.

 

Suddenly, Rusty put one of his legs on the cheese and ‘Bang!’ the trap fell right on top of him with a loud crash.  Oak swooped down silently from his hiding place and told Rusty that he only set the trap to stop him being greedy and, stealing everyone’s food.  Oak was pleased the trap had worked successfully.

 

Rusty was really frightened, he felt so small and pathetic in the huge cage, he tried to squeeze his way of the bars but he was too big and the gaps were too small.  Oak said Rusty could only come out if he apologised to everyone and promised to stop stealing other animal’s food.  Rusty quivered with fear as he didn’t like being in the cage and he was feeling very guilty.  He agreed to do as Oak had said as he didn’t want to be in the cage any longer.  Oak pulled the string up and Rusty was free.

To make sure Rusty did as he was told, Oak picked him up in his mouth and flew him round all the other animal’s houses to say sorry.  They all accepted his apologies and knew their food would be safe from now on.

 

Oak had done his deed and, lived up to his reputation as being the wisest animal in the forest.  Rusty went back to scavenging for food wherever he could find it but not off other animals!

 

2nd Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Ashira age 8

 

DETENTION TO ADVENTURE

Josh Scragg again was ordered to leave class

For shouting out loud, “Shakespeare is an ass!”

The boy abhorred learning about writers of old,

From Dante to Dahl, they all left him cold.

Dragging his feet, Josh walked to detention

When he saw an unknown man who caught his attention.

“Follow me, young master,” said the figure as he walked

Towards the school chapel which was usually padlocked.

“Who on earth are you?” Josh questioned the man.

“Call me Geoffrey,” he replied with an outstretched hand.

Trusting the stranger, Josh entered the door

Which few people in the school had stepped through before.

The door was enchanted and would only open

For those, for some reason, its magic had chosen.

On the other side of the door that day,

The old streets of London from years ago lay

Curving and turning, protected by stone city walls

And in the distance the sound of bells chiming from a cathedral.

“Come on, matey,” Geoffrey called, “let me take you to the pub.”

Well, that was an offer Josh could not snub!

The malodorous roads they strode in style

Until they reached the Tabard Inn, after a while.

Entering the pub, Josh was knocked off his feet

By the smell of beer, sickly and sweet.

Geoffrey led Josh to a table of guests,

A gaggle of characters who seemed comically dressed:

One in fine armour, one armed with a sword,

Then a lady who liked to “Praise the Lord!”

Many more were chatting around the table

Where they each took turns to tell a fable.

Now, Josh hated books but these tales he loved,

Stories of the bad, the ugly and the good.

Such great company was the merry throng,

Josh did not realise he’d been there so long.

Nearly sundown, Geoffrey announced it was best

For the group to set out on their adventurous quest.

To the city of Canterbury they would go

And visit the shrine which everyone knows.

Geoffrey shouted, “Josh, why don’t you come?!

Get on your horse.  There’s food for your tum!”

Josh replied, “My mum will worry about me.

Besides, she will have made my tea.”

With sadness the two chums would have to part

And to the group Josh bid farewell with a heavy heart.

Josh and Geoffrey galumphed to the enchanted door

Even though they wanted to be acquainted more.

Geoffrey said, “Now you know tales can be fun,

Have a go each day at reading one.”

Josh brought out his phone and took a selfie of them both

And made reading each day his promise, his oath.

He went back to the school via the door

But couldn’t tell anyone what he saw.

Josh kept the pledge, just as he had said,

Each day at least one tale he read.

Very soon, Josh’s most famous author

Was none other than Geoffrey Chaucer.

The Canterbury Tales came alive off the page

Like Josh had been there himself in a bygone age.

 

3rd Place

Option 2 – A tale involving someone playing a trick.

By Dylan age 7

 

The Modern Tale

 

The modern tale begins on a gloomy, dark night that had just done a “you know what” in a dirty pot. Our main character is a woman named Juliet Iron Buns who has a dad who is called Mr. Iron Buns, who is the boss of Toothpaste Inc. Now let’s get on with the story. Now where was I ……oh yes so on that dark, gloomy night Juliet was out with her love, a man called Ronald Rump and they were in a fast food restaurant called the most diabolical name a fast food restaurant could possibly be called…drum roll please …………the name was called “Cheesy Hut”. But the problem of them being in love was that Juliet was already married! That night they weren`t just there to get a double cheesy hut burger special coming with a plastic toy, no they definitely were not, they were there about their sinister plan. “So I’ve got a plan Rumpy my man” said Juliet so suspiciously, that even the waiter thought something fishy was going on. “Alright so this is it. At the tip of dusk, I ask him to give me a kiss and when he does that smoochy thing I fart in his face and it’ll be the stinkiest fart anyone’s ever done and whilst I do that you tell my stupid old dad that a gigantic flood is coming to get him distracted for twenty-eight minutes”. At dusk the plan was hatched. They did it. At that very moment Ronald thought he could do the same. That night he stuck his naked bum out the window, exactly the same as Juliet did but the husband was one step ahead of him. You see, the husband was lucky enough to go to cheesy hut the night before them and buy a £5 red hot chilli pepper just in case he ever needed it. At that very moment, when Ronald was about to fart, the husband stuck the red-hot chilli pepper up his bum. Instantly, he yelled for some water to soothe his almost burnt botty, and the dad thought the flood was coming, so he crashed down the stairs in the bathtub like a random, interfering idiot. Whilst he was in the bathtub the tap was still on and it caused a flood. The end.

 

Highly commended

Option 2 – A tale involving someone playing a trick.

By Denis age 10

 

Jacob’s Magical Stone

 

As we continued on with our journey to Canterbury it became the Taylor’s turn to tell his tale.

 

So he began…

-::::-

 

Long ago my friend Jacob was grazing the landlord’s cattle in a field when he realised he was very hungry. Thus, he went to the nearby woods and picked up some fallen branches for the fire to cook few grains he had in his pocket. However, this forest belonged to a greedy landlord who put a ban on taking any wood from the forest. But the feeling of hunger overcame the fear of being caught. So, he went to light a fire. He took some water from the stream and started cooking the grains in his pot. After few minutes he put a stone on the fire so it could keep the porridge warm.

 

Suddenly, he realised the Landlord was passing through the forest in his lavish clothes and golden carriage. He quickly picked up the hot stone with the coat he was wearing and ran off to a different place in the woods away from the fireplace and carried on cooking his meal.

 

Unfortunately, the landlord had made a turn towards Jacob and curiously peered into what he was doing.

 

“Oi, peasant”, he said, “what is it that ye are doing there?”

 

“Nothing but cooking my porridge on my magical stone.” Jacob replied smugly. “All I need to do is to say: 1- 2- 3, warm my food for me! And the magic does its work with no coal or wood.”

 

At first, the landlord didn’t believe a soul of what Jacob said, and looked around to find any traces of a fireplace. Then he reached to feel the stone and realised it was actually hot.

 

“I’ll buy it for 100 gold Guineas!” he exclaimed.

 

But Jacob knew that he could get twice more out of this foolish landlord and negotiated 200 for his rock!

 

When the landlord came home he told his wife that they wouldn’t need to use coal or wood to cook their food anymore. He placed the rock on the table and tapped it with a stick and sang the tune: it didn’t work, he tried harder and harder until he took a mallet and smashed the rock in half.

 

Bursting with fury, the landlord stormed back to find Jacob who had already spent all his easily earned gold Guineas on sheep, goats, cows, a horse, shoes, and lots and lots of delicious food for his family. Therefore, when he commanded to get a refund Jacob told him:

 

“I would give you a refund but because you broke the magic stone it’s no use to both of us.”

 

So he walked off with his head down knowing that he had spent 200 gold Guineas on a simple rock.

-::::-

 

“This is a very cunning tale, Mr Taylor! Thank you for sharing it with us!” I replied as he finished the story.

 

“Well, who wants to go next?!” I asked…

 

 

Ages 11-15

1st Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Sudiksha age 13

 

Tempting Time, and Mystical Magic

200 years in the world, and I have yet to come across the reason for human ignorance. Well, my darling sister says that it is because I hardly ever ‘get out’ and interact with the co-existing race, but I like to think it is because of the wild and limitlessness of human imagination, that sometimes surpasses the real capabilities of us wizard-kind. (Also possibly because of a book I recently read, one which is immensely popular among humans. It sounded something like… Henry, was it? No… Ah, it was Harry Potter.)

At least their present impression of us is much better than it was around a century ago. Around that time, it was impossible to ever admit you were a Warlock, because the term often referred to an evil-doing sinful person. I, myself, once came across such an incident. I sometimes wonder why such a simple incident had such a huge impact on me and stayed with me through the century. Maybe because of the compassion it taught me, or possibly because the great friend I made because of the encounter.

It was a clear night… Or was it a cloudy one? Forgive my memory, it is unfortunately not one of the things that differentiate us from humans, and with 200 years to remember, I find it to be quite a disadvantage. Being a wizard of time, I hardly ever remember it as it passes. I advise those who I meet to do the same, as the true beauty of time is how quickly it passes, and unless you learn how to forget what is gone, you will never cherish what remains.

Back to the clear night. I was walking in a forest, more like looking out for my next prey. The next person who would succumb to greed, and then realise his mistake too late. It was a fun job most of the time, quite entertaining if you could ignore how bad you felt when every single human succumbed to greed. Ah, good times…

As I was saying, in the clear night, I spotted a young man. He was dressed like a soldier, but one which had come back from a truly devastating war. I was vaguely aware of the war so many humans were losing their lives for, I knew this because of my dear friend- a Wizard of death. His job had become really tiring around then, he almost always made sure to remind me how much he envied my job, and we laughed. That reminds me, I haven’t really spoken for a long time. Oh well, I’ll send him a letter so we can meet up.

The soldier looked extremely disembodied, and could hardly walk. I smiled as I realised what I could offer him. I predicted how long it would take for this young lad to succumb to the pleasures I could provide as I walked towards the soldier, who stopped once he noticed me approaching.

“Young lad,” I said putting on my usual façade, which dripped of sympathy and pity, “You seem quite err…  broken. Must you keep living like this?”

The boy laughed, “I feel quite proud of these scars, sir. They remind me of the great service I have done to my land.”

I was not shaken, almost all of them tried to act noble at first.

“I understand, but it’s quite sad that a capable young boy like you lives in such a pitiful state.” The boy laughed again, this time making me raise my century-old eyebrows.

“Is it? I have never felt pitiful nor capable, actually.” I faked my laughter, starting to get slightly annoyed at this point.

“Of course, wouldn’t it be nice to turn the clock back to when your body was in better shape.” I said trying much harder than before. This time the boy though for some time before answering, I smiled inside as he thought, knowing that I had won.

“I’m not sure, but I suppose going back in time wouldn’t be all that bad…” This was my cue, I took it and revealed my true glowing form. (Sometimes the shine really hurt my own eyes, but it always put on a good show.)

“Behold, human! I am the great Wizard of Time. I can grant you your wish, and take you back to a time your body was much healthier, but be warned, Time takes just as much as it gives, be ready to sacrifice once you accept. Do you accept, Do you want your ultimate wish to be granted?”

The boy seemed lost and in a daze for a while, before he answered,

“I am honoured to witness this miracle, but unfortunately I have no desire to be blessed by you, sir.” I was taken aback, at his bluntness, his nobleness and the fact that he was still calm, “Though it would be wonderful to get my young and youthful body back, I do prefer to keep my experiences of war. Please forgive my disrespect.”

I was somehow proud of the boy. I promised myself that time would be good to the lad as he was one of the few who understood the true treasures of time.

Before I could congratulate the boy for declining my offer, the boy started laughing once again. His laughter echoing through formerly silent forest. A sudden blinding light made me cover my eyes, and once I could open them the boy had disappeared.

Just as I gained control of my senses, a loud, yet appealing voice sounded through the forest, “You, fellow Wizard, have been caught in my trap. I am the wondrous Wizard of illusion. Is a noble human your innermost desire? I show you only what you want to see, dear brother, but what you want isn’t always what you get.”

The voice faded as my inner organs settled in from the turmoil.

From this encounter I learned something, something I probably always knew, but as the Wizard of time refused to believe until then. The daring and noble boy, was a bit from my imagination that was supported by my brother’s magic. And maybe what he said was right. A noble human is just an illusion, and we, as Wizards, ought to keep reminding ourselves of that.

 

2nd Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Noah age 12

 

The happy couple stand hand in hand gazing across the lake with the gentle water stroking their ankles. The autumn sun glimpses over the lush valley, casting golden threads across the water. His hands, muddy from the effort of planting the acorn, rest protectively on her belly.

Spring comes and as the first shoots emerge from the ground of that planted acorn, the same woman cradles her new born son.

At the tender age of seven, the boy goes to the lake to swim with his family. Bored, he begins to swing on the young oak tree next to the lake. The youthful branch can’t hold his weight and it snaps. The child falls to the ground cradling a broken arm as he looks up at the newly fractured branch.

He’s now a young teenager in the depth of winter. The majestic tree stands frozen in the snow. The boy stays inside, cocooned in blankets but unable to shake the cold. The doctors have no answers, but he knows.

At 20, the young man travels around the world, seeking answers to his strange connection. He is oblivious to the storm back at home that floods the lake. He shoots out of bed, coughing up water and then cries himself back to sleep worrying about his tree.

He finds love at 35 and from that love comes a child, then another, and a third. Under his proud, strong oak grows new saplings from the fallen acorns. A brother and two sisters play in the abundance of grass surrounding the tree as the man watches over the precious saplings. One evening, his children return home to bed in the arms of their loving father but only two wake up the following morning. In his grief and despair the man runs to the tree to find one sapling missing, stolen by careless, but unknowing, saboteurs.

The tree grows older and as the years pass, the man mourns over the death of his youngest girl. He keeps an obsessive vigil over his tree to protect the two remaining saplings.

He’s fifty now. It is autumn and as the sky grows melancholy and cries gentle rain, he finds himself ill. He goes straight to his tree and sees it is diseased. Fearful that the disease will spread to the precious two young trees growing under its bows he campaigns for his faithful oak to be felled. He knows this will bring about his end, but will save his beloved children. It is with both joy and sadness that he learns of the date that his tree will be cut down.

Winter comes and as the date edges closer, so does his end. In his final days he gathers his family around him. He says his goodbyes and expresses his love to each of them. Knowing they are safe, he is content. With the touch of the bulldozer, he draws his final breath and falls asleep.

 

3rd Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Megan age 12

 

LIVE LIKE THE MOST STYLISH CELEBS TODAY

THE VIRTUAL GENIE IS HERE TO STAY!

I’m a virtual genie, one of a kind,

I am at your service, (if you don’t mind),

Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Also,

Please Comment your desire down below,

Fatter or thinner, taller or smaller,

Maybe you fancy a nice roast dinner.

To your hearts content you’ll receive wishes,

Relax a bit; no more washing dishes!

I hope that you feel inclined to subscribe,

See you soon! Terms and conditions apply…

 

Terms and conditions

 

Of course, it comes at a minimal fee,

One hundred pounds per wish, practically free,

With an extra cost for each that comes true

One thousand pounds, the price is fixed like glue.

It will not go down and will not go up,

If you want it to change, well tough, hard luck!

But don’t you worry! You won’t even know!

There is no warning, your money just goes.

When you click ‘subscribe’, although hidden well,

You legally agree to let me sell.

Because of this writing in such tiny print

I can scam you all, I can make you think,

That this whole joke is free and free to all!

Yet, I’m not breaking any rules at all.

A pity I know, but anyway!

At least the Ts and Cs are shown this way,

So that, if you can be bothered to read,

You won’t be falling for my trickery.

So bravo! Well done! If you’ve got this far,

Most of them don’t even scrutinize half.

They are forced to sleep, caused by apathy,

And then they forget to finish the read.

So next time you think you have scored a goal,

Read the small print, to see what it unfolds.

It might be an unneeded waste of space,

But it’s always good to be sure you’re safe.

 

 

Highly commended

Option 2 – A tale involving someone playing a trick.

By Greg age 12

 

Once upon a time , in a far off land, there lived a dragon: Baak. He was not just any dragon, though, he was the biggest, the strongest, the most powerful dragon that was still alive at the time. His blood-red scales shimmered like dying embers; his eyes were like two giant rubies with thin black slits, darting around like a cats, looking for prey. His scalding breath was as hot as molten lava and his ivory teeth and talons were as sharp as swords. Baak lived in a cave at the base of a huge mountain; he would eat anything that came close. He guarded it with great care, for it contained his spoils of war: gold. He would attack towns and bring all of their gold and jewels back to his cave. Among all of these riches there was one odd thing. A wooden goblet. It could make the drinker immortal – or so the legends said.

 

One day, a traveller arrived at the entrance to the cave, in the hope of making a deal with Baak. His name was Seamus Dagger. He had a crooked, skinny nose and long, matted hair. He was tall and thin, wore scruffy clothes and always carried a smooth, patterned stick. There was a round, red scar on his slender, bony hands. It was a puffy, blistered brand mark. If you were to look closely, you would see that it read “THIEF” in the very center.

 

“Oh great dragon, Baak!” Dagger bellowed, “I am here to strike a bargain with you. I am but a mere peasant, but I wish to earn some of your gold!”

Baak raised his head, jutting his neck out, and roared in anger. He then sent a stream of flame towards Dagger, who quickly dodged to the side.

“You are not worthy of my treasure. The only way I would ever give you some my treasure is if you could… make the moon eat the sun. Ha! That’s so ridiculous that if you could do that I’d give you all of my treasure!”

“DEAL!”

 

Dagger waited weeks for the right conditions, the weeks added up to months and the months added up to years. Finally, two years later, after watching night after night of stars in the sky, he knew that the time was right. It was time to fulfill his deal with Baak.

 

“Baak, I have returned! I have acquired the power to make the moon eat the sun and I am here to show you!”

“Ha ha! Very amusing, little human!”

“Behold my power!” exclaimed Dagger as he raised his arms and the moon began to rise in broad daylight behind him. It slowly rose up to the sun and then began to bite into it. The moon carried on going until it had completely swallowed the sun.

“How? How did you-”

“I believe that is my end of the deal completed. Now, where is my treasure?” Dagger said with a sly smile…

 

Ages 16-19

1st Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Amélie age 16

 

mama,

mama who smells of white sage,

mama whose quicksilver fingers bridge

the gap between the lace and the lack.

 

mama,

mama who sways in her bedclothes,

mama who teaches the eclipse how to dance the pavane,

fingertips brushing beneath humid night.

 

mama,

mama whose first love was silence,

mama who coyly winks at the space between words,

parchment capillaries flooded with ink.

 

mama,

mama who swallows the soft,

mama whose veins heave with wonder,

peter pan bruises blemishing skin.

 

mama,

mama who soaks in her truth,

mama whose serpentine tongue spells out

verdant prayers to desperate ears.

 

mama,

mama who wreaks gentle havoc,

mama who grinds jasmine with mortar and pestle,

floral tissue lining granite wombs.

 

mama,

mama whose sun anoints feet,

mama whose moon bears the water

that moistens sacrilegious lips.

 

mama,

mama who devours venus-stone,

mama who spits out a heart: throbbing, pulsing;

bleeding secrets into virgin mouths.

 

mama,

mama who escaped the temple,

mama who spits on your eucharist, the blood of christ

staining her weathered hands.

 

mama,

mama who bathes in limbo,

mama who waits for the water to reach her lungs too,

for the salt to erode away the ache.

 

daughter,

daughter who lies under bone-light,

daughter who fills up with cavities when mama’s asleep,

mama who stays up all night.

 

2nd Place

Option 1 – A poem or story about someone or something magical.

By Nell age 16

 

The European Theatre

Based on the true story of Captain Jack Tueller.

 

Orchestras are touring Europe. Band members, recruited for their ability to kill, perform in the most esteemed of trenches. The overture begins with bullets, each rhythmic beat snatching a life. Shells scream into soprano, serenading the fallen, and eruptions conclude, bellowing through death’s dissonance. Conductors cocooned miles away sit plump at mahogany tables, devising more destruction; composing the song of war.

 

Jack’s favoured instrument was not a gun. Swaddled like a newborn, strapped to the seams of his parachute, lay a humble trumpet. Companion to countless flights across a world at war, in times of need the trumpet opened its lungs and roared, soothing the minds of troubled soldiers and keeping bullets at bay from Jack’s plane. Remarkably pristine in such a dirty world, its music held a magic that only Jack could tame.

 

One particular night, lonely in an apple orchard hidden within the folds of rural Normandy, Jack and his trumpet yearned to play. Terror bled through the unit, yet one enemy sniper remained; a risk deemed unworthy even for the relief Jack’s trumpet could bring. “It’s your funeral”, he was told. Aching to cure the tormenting silence, and with no better alternative, Jack pursed his lips, the trumpet smiled and readied itself. And they plunged, Lili Marlene crooning to the night, lulling the leaves and hushing wizened trees. Crescendos spiralled from the orchard, fingers of song waltzing with winter’s air, caressing the cheek, wiping the tear of a mere boy just meters away. Trumpet breathless and all stresses shooed, the music stopped. Not a shot rang out.

 

Night departed through a curtain of rain. When morning came, the air fell dead and life stood still. The truth of war an incomprehensible dream. Growls of a Jeep announced the harsh arrival of reality. A military policeman slid from the passenger seat, standing stock. “Who played that trumpet last night?”Jack glanced at his instrument, a sliver of light making it wink. “I did”. The yank beckoned to his vehicle, apparent Jack was to follow.

 

The boy was just 19. Prisoner behind barbed wire on Omaha beach, the German sniper’s eyes were wide, flitting over each face he’d been taught to hate, finally settling on Jack, whose trumpet gleamed in hand. It appeared alien in such a place.

 

Through tears, knees sinking into sand, the enemy began to sing. Lili Marlene, beautiful and haunting. “Unsere beide Schatten, sah’n wie einer aus”. The kid’s own love song. “I couldn’t fire last night”, he said through cracked mother tongue. “You played me the song my fiancée in Germany loved. I thought of my family, and couldn’t face hurting yours”. For a moment, war was meaningless. Tentatively, a hand reached past barbed wire. An offering of peace, an unspoken understanding. Jack shook the hand of the enemy. He was no enemy. They were just two boys, doing what they were told. United, fleetingly, by the magic of music.

 

3rd Place

Option 3 – A description of a magical place.

By Penny age 16

 

A Delve into the Woods

 

“Don’t go into the forest!” Daphne’s parents would say, just as their parents and forebears had.  In their lore, little ones went into the woods and never returned.  Still the soothing whispers of the trees and reassuring presence of their strong trunks enticed Daphne.  Her curious heart yearned to uncover the woods’ mysteries.  While a guiding sense of safety would tug her away from the woods’ luring lushness, on occasion, Daphne would venture there, unnoticed.

As Daphne escaped to the woods, she recalled learning the art of becoming a shadow — walking silent and hidden.  Her grandmother had taught her.  A remarkable and formidable woman bond strongly to nature, she did not fear the icy grasp of winding branches.  She did not let myths and rumors taint her love for the woods.  She had said that trees had souls and noble ones, for they would surrender their lives so that others could enjoy their capacity for a house or fire.  Grandma had told Daphne that she never wanted to break her connection with the woods, even in death.  Perhaps she lives as a tree spirit of myth:  a dryad.

Walking below the eerie forest canopy, Daphne relished the silence.  She responded to the quiet whispers of the trees and watched the shadows dance through the night.  Stars blinked through holes in the canopy like tiny diamonds, and she reached to grab them unsuccessfully.

She walked for hours until she was deep in the woods and could no longer see the sky above.  When she turned for home she realized that she didn’t know the way.  She wandered for hours more. The cold tore at her skin and left her exhausted and famished, and she collapsed to the ground in a heap.

Daphne slowly cracked her eyes to the sound of her name.  She sat up slowly, and as her vision adjusted, she found a strange creature as green as envy and bearing sharp elfish features.  A mischievous grin danced across his lips, and his eyes glowered with devilish desire.  Daphne recognized him for a goblin.

She asked what he wanted from her or rather tried.  From her throat, dryer than a carpet of long lost leaves, no words issued.  As she croaked, the goblin replied, “Daphne, you are out of time, but I can give you more.  You either live on like your grandmother or accept your fate.”

Daphne’s thoughts tumbled in wild exhaustion and fear.   As she chose, her life faded.  She left her old body and embraced new light.  The goblin still wore the same malicious grin.

Later Daphne’s father walked the woods in search of his wayward daughter.  He found nothing except haunting trees.  As he later came to a clearing, he found standing at its center a lonesome laurel whose leaves spoke in the whispers of a little girl.