The Juniper Tree
My two brothers are sparrows in the juniper tree. My two sisters are branches of the juniper tree. Go and find my head, one brother says to me. Go and find my body, says the other brother. My two sisters are silent. Or maybe the leaves of the tree are speaking too loud to the wind. When the wind pauses I hear one sister say, Go and find my birthday cupcake, the one with the single candle that mother gave to me. Go and find my pearl earring, the other sister says, the one I left under my pillow. Now the leaves of the juniper tree are opening and closing—I only hear the Juniper tree. It is laughing at something the wind said.
Reading the story the boy looked over his shoulder and realized the book was closing, taking the evening with it. Soon it would be dark and he was alone in the forest. He had only read a page of the story, and did not know what would happen next. He had always wanted to sleep in the hollowed-out shell of a tree that had been struck by lightning and had its inner core burnt out. He had read that some large trees were rather selfish. Their bark left a covering of chips on the ground that was poisonous to the seeds of any species of tree but their own. Were there really small lakes in hollows, high up in the canopies of the forest? Would the old couple miss him at home? They seldom spoke, and if they did, it was in a language he did not speak. It might be years before they realized that the doll he left in his place never spoke or closed its eyes.