The Woods

On a warm summer morning not too long ago, a boy went walking through the woods near his family’s farm. In one of his pockets, he carried a small broken compass, a blue sodalite worry stone given to him by his grandfather, and an unfathomable horror disguised as a coin.

As the boy was passing by a huge and gnarled oak tree, a squirrel fell from above and landed roughly at his feet. The boy stopped and stooped down to make sure it was all right. The squirrel blinked its vermillion eyes and locked its gaze on the boy as it struggled to rise. 

The squirrel rose, then continued to rise until it floated up to eye level with the boy. 

The boy, unafraid, said, “Hello, squirrel.”

The squirrel, still dazed and still floating, shouted “HIBISCUS!” and disappeared into thin air.

The boy shrugged and continued on his way.

The woods soon opened up into a small meadow with a spring-fed brook meandering through it. On one side was the greenest grass the boy had ever seen. The other side was filled with flowers of every imaginable color.

Weaving through the flowers was a yellow and black bat whistling a happy, high-pitched tune. It spotted the boy and flapped toward him. As it got closer, the boy could see the bat’s face and backside were covered in pollen.

The boy, unafraid, said, “Hello, bat.”

The bat sneezed.

Then the bat sneezed again.

“Bless you,” said the boy.

The bat screamed in agony and disappeared into thin air.

The boy decided to walk through the grassy side of the meadow and soon found himself back in the woods.

The woods grew thicker and darker. There was no sound except for the scrunches of the boy’s footsteps as he continued on his journey guided by a force he couldn’t explain. Eventually, he saw a distant glint of light and walked toward it.

As the boy got closer, he could see sunlight squeezing through a break in the forest canopy above, spotlighting a huge stump where once a mighty tree had grown. He walked up to the edge of the stump and stopped. He could now hear a dim hum that grew louder and louder.

Suddenly, at the stump’s center, an object appeared out of thin air. It was a can of new Minute Maid Hibiscus & Honey Lemonade Frozen Concentrate, available now in your grocer’s frozen beverage aisle. 

The boy, unafraid, said, “Hello, refreshment,” and disappeared into thin air.

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