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The Disappearing Forest
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Tilly was a little girl who was in a grumpy mood most of the time she spent at home. She didn't mean to, but her mummy was always busy doing silly boring things like cooking, washing and sitting at her computer.
It was alright during the day because Tilly had her friends to play with at school, especially Lizzy who was her very best friend in the whole world. They played together at break time, often giggling and laughing in the playground.
All the laughing stopped however, once her mummy picked her up from school and bundled her hurriedly in the car to go home.
As soon as they entered their house it was always the same and Tilly knew what her mummy was going to say. "Go and play Pet, while mummy makes the dinner".
Tilly turned on the TV but lost interest within minutes. She wandered into the kitchen to see what her mummy was making for dinner.
"What we got tonight mum?" Tilly asked, knowing her mummy was going to correct her.
"What are we having?" her mother responded automatically, "We are having your favourite," her mother said with a smile, "macaroni cheese."
Knowing she was going to be told to go and play again, Tilly stamped her foot and glared at her mother. "I hate macaroni cheese, I won't eat it!"
With that, she stomped out of the kitchen and went to her bedroom where she took out all her toys and threw them around the room in a temper.
Then she flung herself on the floor and burst into tears. She didn't know why she said she hated macaroni cheese, because it really was her favourite food.
Later at the dinner table, Tilly scowled and played with her food until her mummy took it away and said, "Alright, if you're not hungry you can go and tidy your bedroom."
Sitting on her bedroom floor feeling very sorry for herself, Tilly thought that she knew what she would do. "I shall run away, and then mummy will be sorry."
She put her favourite toys in her school bag and sneaked out into the back garden. "Maybe", she told herself, "if I hid in the shed overnight, mummy would come looking for me and she would be so happy to find me, I would get lots of kisses and cuddles."
Tilly was just walking towards the shed at the bottom of the garden when she heard laughing and singing. It was coming from the other side of the fence. Peeking through the fence, she was surprised to see a forest of tall trees.
She didn't remember having seen a forest there before but suddenly a voice exclaimed, "Come on then, or we will miss the dancing!"
Tilly followed the sound of the voice until she emerged into a clearing where dozens of elves were dancing around a big fire. Too surprised to utter a sound, Tilly stood with her mouth open in amazement.
Before she had a chance to speak, an elf grabbed her hand and she was dancing with all of them around the fire.
Tilly loved dancing and she found herself singing and twirling as though she had been doing it all of her life. Lanterns were lit as darkness fell and Tilly couldn't remember ever having been so happy before.
Gradually the elves started to leave and Tilly turned to the one nearest to her, asking where they were going. "Can I come with you?"
"No," the elf replied. "You left home, we didn't."
Standing all alone in the clearing, Tilly felt herself shivering. The fire was dying out and she could hear strange sounds coming from the forest.
"I don't think I do want to run away from home," Tilly thought to herself, trying to find her way back to her garden but the more she tried to find her way back, the deeper she went into the forest.
Suddenly she heard a deep laugh which almost sounded like a growl.
"Oh, ho my friends, what have we here?" boomed a deep voice. Tilly screamed as several small gnome like creatures emerged from the trees.
"We have another run-away," one of the ugly creatures said with an evil chuckle.
"Oh no," replied Tilly quickly. "I haven't run away, I'm just trying to find my way home."
"Why would you want to go home?" another creature asked. "All parents do is boss you around - pick up your toys, eat your food, don't talk with your mouth full, don't make such a noise, brush your teeth, go and play quietly. If you stay here with us you never have to do as you're told EVER again," suggested the creature cunningly.
Tilly saw the creatures exchange evil smiles and knew she didn't want to stay here and live with them. "No, thank you," she replied. "Can you just show me the way home please?" she asked. "This is your home now," answered the creature. "Come with us and we will show you how to really have fun."
The creatures started to laugh and Tilly just knew without being told that their 'FUN' would be bad. "Just let me go home," Tilly whispered with tears in her eyes.
One of the creatures asked what was in her school bag and Tilly held on to it tightly. "Only a few bits, nothing you would like."
"Aren't you holding it awfully tight for just a few bits?" asked the creature with an evil look.
He tried to snatch the bag but Tilly turned and ran as fast as she could. The creature let go of the bag but not before he had torn the outside pocket. As she ran through the forest Tilly could her them laughing at her but she didn't care, all she wanted was her mummy.
Tilly sat up and blinked. She was sitting on her bedroom floor and her heart was pounding like mad. As she rubbed her eyes her mother walked into the bedroom and sighed. "Oh Tilly, you haven't even started putting your toys away yet. Come on, I'll help you."
"Didn't you even miss me, mummy?" Tilly asked tearfully. "Darling I always miss you when you're not around," her mother said giving her a hug, "but it has only been an hour since dinner."
"But I have been gone all night," Tilly whimpered with fear in her voice. "I danced with the elves and bad creatures chased me through the woods."
"I think maybe you have been asleep," her mother replied gently.
"Oh, no, they were real mummy and they tried to steal my school bag. Look they even tore it!"
Tilly couldn't believe her eyes. There wasn't a tear in her bag, even though she remembered hearing it tear.
"I think you need some nice warm food inside you and an early night darling," suggested her mother.
Tilly sat snuggled up to her mummy eating macaroni cheese, her favourite food.
Tucked into bed feeling safe and warm, Tilly knew she would never try to run away again.
In the weeks that followed her mother noticed a big change in her. Tilly sat at the kitchen table drawing while her mother prepared dinner, she always put her toys away before going to bed and so she was rewarded with a story every night.
This was her special time with her mummy and it made her feel loved and safe.
Sometimes she would wander down to the bottom of the garden, just to make sure the forest hadn't come back, even though her mother insisted it had just been a bad dream.
A short story by Sheila Helliwell
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