The Other Side of the Hedge

Rompshire

 

1. Talking Trees

It had snowed earlier that morning and Anne waited for the school bus in the cold.

She stamped her feet on the ground to keep herself warm. She jumped up and down. She twirled her arms. And suddenly her bag fell off her shoulder.  As she bent down to pick it up, she heard the roar of the school bus coming over the hill. It was swerving on the icy road.

The big yellow bus skidded to a halt in front of her.

“Look lively! Get in,” shouted the driver.

Anne hadn’t seen this driver before, a wild-eyed old woman with her tangled hair and tattered shawl.

Anne climbed aboard. An instant later, the bus lurched forward, and she stumbled all the way down the aisle, lost her balance and fell into the back seat.

The bus was empty!

Anne looked out of the back window just in time to see her usual school bus full of children coming over the hill.

“Where are we going?” shouted Anne above the engine noise. The bus was moving fast.

“You’ll see,” cackled the old woman. She stepped on the gas.

The bus rounded the corner. Right in front of them loomed a giant hedge that stretched across the road.

It was about to crash.

“Watch out!” shouted Anne.

Then everything seemed to be happening in slow motion.

Instead of crashing, the bus glided through the hedge. It floated down onto a narrow road. From the back window, Anne watched in amazement as the hedge closed the gap where the bus had just come through.

“This isn’t the way to school!” shouted Anne.

The driver rolled her eyes and said nothing.

“I want to get off,” said Anne.

“Nonsense!” And don’t disturb me. Can’t you see I’m driving?

“Where are we going?”

“Where do you think we’re going? We’re going to school.”

The bus driver pointed to a ruined tower in the distance.

Anne didn’t recognize anything as the bus hurtled along. The landscape looked so different. Ancient trees lined the road, their trunks were so thick that some of them grew together.

“That’s not my school,” shouted Anne.

The bus screeched to a halt.

“Enough talk from you,” said the grumpy old woman. “Out! You’re going to have to walk.”

Anne stood for a long time watching the bus disappear.

She zipped up her coat against the wind.

Behind her, she could see the hedge stretching across the road where the bus had come through. She walked back. But there was no way through. And she didn’t like the look of those gnarled trees beside the road. Suddenly it was all too much. She sat down and cried.

The only sound was the wind in the trees. They seemed to be whispering to each other.

Anne listened.

“What’s that thing doing?” said one of the trees.

“Don’t you know anything?” said the oldest and most scary-looking tree. “That is a girl, and she is crying.”

“Is that good?”

“No! It means she’s unhappy.”

“I’m not surprised,” said a tree, which looked like a very long-eared rabbit.

“The poor thing only has two branches.”

“Those aren’t branches,” said the first tree. “Those are arms.”

“Oh! Look, it’s stopped crying. Do you think it can hear us?”

“No. That is a human girl. Humans can never hear what trees talk about.”

“I can understand what you are saying,” said Anne to the most hideous-looking tree.

“Bless my bark! That is peculiar,” said the tree.

“I’m lost,” said Anne.

“Lost?” said the tree. Trees don’t approve of walking about, so they never get lost.  “What’s lost?”

“It means I don’t know where I am,” said Anne.

“That’s easy. You are here.”

“Yes, I know I’m here. But I should be at school.”

This puzzled the tree because trees don’t usually go to school. They are quite content to grow up in the same place without any lessons at all.

“So, are you saying you want to be somewhere else?” asked the tree.

“Yes, and I’m so cold,” said Anne.

“If you have to move about, why don’t you go over to Warmwood?”

“Warmwood?”

“Yes, just look over on the other side of that field,” said the trees. “You’ll be warm in there.”

She thanked the trees, climbed over the low stone wall, and walked across the icy field toward Warmwood.


2. The Gatekeeper

Thick brambles barred the entrance to Warmwood. Anne walked around the edge to try and find another way in. Even though the trees on the outside were bare, she could see patches of green inside. It must be warm inside, she thought to herself.

Sometime later, she found herself back where she had started. She must have walked around the entire wood. She sat down on a log. “Is there a way in?” she said to no one in particular.

“Oh, yes,” came the reply. “All you have to do is ask nicely.”

“Who said that?” Anne asked. She couldn’t see anybody.

“Me.”

At first, she thought it might be the trees talking. No, this was altogether a different voice.

“Me, me, me,” repeated the voice.

She looked up to see a raven sitting on a branch looking down at her. Anne knew that ravens were intelligent birds. They could mimic human speech. But she didn’t think they could actually talk with people.

“I thought you just copied speech. I didn’t know you could actually speak English,” said Anne. “You’re a raven, aren’t you?”

“Yes, that’s what groundlings like you call us. My name’s Corax.” He fluffed his feathers. He was black as night.

“And my name is Anne. What are groundlings?”

“You are. You can’t fly, can you?”

“No,” admitted Anne.

“That makes you a groundling.” Corax looked very superior.  “Not to worry. Even if you can’t fly, I’m pleased to meet you, Anne. But you’ve got something wrong.

“What’s that?”

“I’m not speaking English. You are speaking Cor∙cor∙vus∙ish, the language of ravens. How did you learn it?”

“I don’t know,” said Anne. “It sounds like English to me.”

“That is strange. Have you noticed anything else odd?” He flapped his wings and then settled down again on the branch.

“Everything is odd! I got on the wrong bus. And it went straight through a gigantic hedge. The driver was a mean old woman and…”

“Mad Morag,” interrupted Corax.

“Who?”

“Mad Morag. She probably wanted to take you up to that old ruin on the hill.”

“She said it was a school.”

“School, pool!” said Corax “She used to be a school teacher, but she was so grumpy all the children ran away. You were lucky to escape. How did you do it?”

“I just told her that it was not my school.”

“She hates that.”

“Yes, she made me get off the bus and walk. Now I can’t find my way back.”

“Back where?”

“The other side of the hedge.”

“Ah! Now that is tricky.” Corax scratched under his wing and looked thoughtful. “Why not ask Mrs. Emily Piecrust, who lives in the wood? She might be able to help.”

“But I can’t find my way in. I’ve walked so far,” said Anne, “And I am cold.”

“Cold, mold,” said Corax. “You goundlings are always complaining about something.”

“I want to get into the wood,” said Anne.

“Well,” said Corax. “This is the entrance.”

“But there are high brambles all the way around. I can’t see over the top.”

“Oh, that doesn’t matter,” said Corax. He strutted along the branch in an attempt to look important. “You’ve come to the right place. I am the gatekeeper.”

“But I don’t see a gate,” said Anne.

“It’s right here.”

“Where?” Anne was beginning to get upset.

“It’s as plain as my beak. It’s right in front of you. Why don’t you ask me to come in?”

“Let me in!” shouted Anne.

“No, no, no. That will never do. You have to use the magic word.”

“I don’t know the magic word,” said Anne.

“I—think— you— do,” said Corax.

“I don’t.”

“Take your time; think, think, think.”

“All right,” said Anne. She thought for a while. “Abracadabra!”

“No.”

“Shazzzam!”

“Not even close,” said Corax.

“Abba-dabba-ooga-booga-hoojee-goojee-yabba-dabba-doo!”

“No! No! No!” Corax hopped up and down on his branch. “Not that magic word, the magic word. Come on, you don’t want to stand out in the cold all day.”

“Let me in.” Anne stamped her foot. It had not been a good day. She was close to tears. And then she remembered.

Please, may I come in?”

“Well done!” said Corax. “All you had to do was ask nicely. Politeness works magic.”

And at that moment, magic did happen.

Suddenly, hooves thundered on the frozen ground. And from out of the wood jumped the most beautiful white horse Anne had ever seen. An instant later, it was panting in front of her.

“I can hear her thoughts,” said Anne.

“Of course you can,” said Corax. “Go on, get on.”

Anne climbed up a small rock and got onto the horse’s back. Mare and rider leaped over the high brambles and into Warmwood.


3. Warmwood

Anne and the mare left the leafless trees at the edge of the wood. It was definitely warmer here. Anne noticed the beautiful red and gold leaves. This is like fall, she thought to herself.

 Oh yes, it’s all very nice, thought the horse.

“Horse, are you talking to me?”

Lovely, isn’t it?

The voice sounded like it was coming from inside of Anne’s head.

“How do you do that?” said Anne.

Do what?

“I can hear you, but your lips aren’t moving.”

Frankly, I am surprised at you! You can speak horse very well, but there is no need to tease. You know as well as I do that we horses are telepathic.

“What do you mean, telepathic?”

We can read each other’s thoughts, so there is no need to do all that tiresome speaking.

“Really?”

Yes. Go on, try me. You just think instead of talk, thought the horse.

Do you know what I’m thinking? thought Anne.

Of course, I do. You were thinking: Do you know what I’m thinking.

“I said that aloud,” said Anne.

I don’t think you did.

“Well, I prefer talking,” said Anne.

Anne discovered that while she was sitting on the horse, she knew what it was thinking. Mostly, it thought of eating lush green grass.

“Do you have a name?” asked Anne.

I am called Echo, thought Echo.

“And I am Anne.”

I expect you’ll want to go to Mrs. Piecrust’s house?

“Yes, please,” replied Anne.

As they traveled along the narrow path, they seemed to be going downhill, and it was getting much warmer.

I’m hungry, Anne thought to herself.

Me too thought Echo.

The problem with telepathy is you can’t turn it off. Anne thought of the apple in her bag. So did Echo. In fact, Echo now started to think of nothing but that apple.

“I’ve only got one apple. You have all this grass to eat,” said Anne. She looked about her and noticed they had now come to a place in the wood where it was just like summer. The grass was green, flowers grew in the undergrowth, and butterflies flapped about in the balmy air.

You could have some grass, and I could have the apple, thought Echo.

“I am a girl, and girls don’t eat grass.”

Oh! thought Echo, and tried not to think of apples, and to only think of grass.

If you’ve ever tried not thinking of something, then you know how hard that can be.

“I only have one apple, and I’m going to eat it now,” said Anne. “You can stop and have some grass.”

Good idea, because when you’ve eaten that apple, I won’t be thinking about it, thought Echo sadly.

But they didn’t stop because they were almost there.


4. Piecrust Lodge

 

Mrs. Piecrust lived in Piecrust Lodge, a log house in the shape of half a pie dish on the summer edge of spring in Warmwood. She was waiting at the front door when Anne dismounted. Echo walked off behind the house, probably to think about apples. The pine trees smelled sweet in the warm air.

“Well, well, who has Echo brought home now?” said Mrs. Piecrust, rubbing her hands on her apron.

“Hello,” said Anne. “I’m Anne.”

“And I’m Mrs. Piecrust. Welcome. I don’t think we’ve met before.  Are you hungry?”

Anne said she was, and Mrs. Piecrust asked her what she would like to eat as they walked toward the kitchen on the first floor. The smell of freshly baking pies grew stronger.

“Let me see if I can guess what you’d like to eat,” said Mrs. Piecrust. She bent down and took a close look at Anne. “I think you’d like a burrito.”

“Yes!” said Anne.

Mrs. Piecrust frowned, stood up, and folded her arms. She looked big and scary.

“I beg your pardon, young lady! What did you say?”

“I mean yes, please,” said Anne, remembering her manners.

“That’s better,” said Mrs. Piecrust. She looked much friendlier.

“Manners are important,” said Mrs. Piecrust softly. “That’s what I tell Jo.”

“Who is Jo?” asked Anne.

“My daughter. She is about your age. I expect she’s out riding Echo in Afternoon Meadow. She’ll be home soon.”

Anne noticed the hands of the clock on the kitchen wall hadn’t moved. That might not seem unusual, but they must have been there for some time. Mrs. Piecrust had baked four more pies, and Anne had eaten a burrito, an ice cream bar, and made herself some delicious hot chocolate.

The curious thing about Piecrust Lodge was that it was a different time in each room. It was always morning on the ground floor, where the kitchen was and afternoon upstairs on the middle level. At the top of the house, it was always sleepy nighttime.

They went upstairs to the late-afternoon sitting room. Its big window looked out onto Afternoon Meadow. Anne watched as Jo rode Echo over bales of hay. Jo and Echo glided around the meadow at high speed.  Soon Mrs. Piecrust called down to Jo to come in.

The three of them sat in the late-afternoon sitting room drinking pop and eating slices of anything pie.

“Why is this called anything pie?” asked Anne.

“It’s because it tastes of anything you want it to taste like. It’s one of Mom’s specialties,” said Jo.

Mrs. Piecrust said, “I must leave you two. I have to look at Mr. Piecrust’s Favorites in the oven. I don’t want them to burn.”

Mrs. Piecrust went downstairs to the morning kitchen. But no sooner had she left, than she called the girls to come quickly.


5. Chief Chicken Molly

 

“I’ve just had another of those complaining telephone calls,” said Mrs. Piecrust.

“From the chickens again?” asked Jo.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Piecrust. “Will you girls go down and talk to them?”

“Are they saying the same thing?” asked Jo.

“Yes,” said her mom. “They’re complaining your dad is taking too many of their eggs—again.”

“Come on,” said Jo. “We had better go and see what the problem is.”

They went around the side of the house and down to the henhouse. The chickens were walking in a circle with signs that said, NOT FAIR! and ENOUGH! A sign scratched on the henhouse door said ON STRIKE!

“They’ve finally done it,” said Jo. “They’ve been threatening to do this for a week now. I don’t know how they got the telephone number of the kitchen.”

“What does ‘on strike’ mean?” asked Anne.

“It means they are not going to do any work. The chickens are no longer laying eggs for Dad.”

The chickens were laying their eggs, but hiding them from Mr. Piecrust.

“We demand our rights!” shouted Chief Chicken Molly. “Mr. Piecrust is taking all of our eggs.”

“Not fair!” shouted the rest of the chickens. “Leave some for us.”

Now it was true, Mr. Piecrust did take all of the chickens’ eggs. He didn’t realize that Mrs. Piecrust was getting complaining phone calls from the chickens. In fact, Mr. Piecrust didn’t even know about the chicken’s secret phone or how they had learned to use it.

As everyone knows, if you want to talk to animals and birds, you have to be very quiet. Mr. Piecrust couldn’t understand what his chickens were saying because he was not a calm man. He always made a loud noise wherever he went. His big feet went clump! clump! clump! His voice boomed. He was always whistling and talking to himself. Jo and her mom didn’t see much of him during the day because he spent most of his time fixing things in the tool shed beside his vegetable garden.

“Mr. Piecrust ignores us,” said Chief Chicken Molly.

And at that moment who should come walking around the side of the house but Mr. Piecrust himself. At first, he only saw Molly and Anne.

“Hello,” boomed Mr. Piecrust, “And who have we here?”

“This is Anne, Dad,” said Jo. “Echo brought her to see us.”

“That’s nice. Now you have a friend to play with,” he said in a friendly voice. “It’s nice to meet you, Anne.”

“It’s nice to meet you too, Mr. Piecrust.”

It was at that moment Mr. Piecrust saw what was happening. He couldn’t hear what the chickens were saying, but he could read the signs.”

“What!” he bellowed. “On strike! Never!” He tried to shoo the chickens back into the coup. But they scattered. He tripped on a root. Splat! He fell headlong into the mud. The girls giggled and then tried very hard to look serious. Mr. Piecrust was sitting in a puddle, shaking his fist at the chickens.

“Come back here! I want your eggs.” But they didn’t come back.


6. The Secret Plan

 

In matching warm pajamas, the two girls were tucked up in their beds at the top of the house in the small nighttime bedroom. Even though they were tired, they didn’t go to sleep right away. They whispered in the dark about the chickens, riding horses, and knitting. Both Anne and Jo were learning to knit. In the starlight coming through the open window, Anne admired the beautiful gold and red scarf Jo was making.

“Is it made of wool?” whispered Anne.

“It’s made of special Warmwood Wool,” replied Jo. “But, I’m having difficulty finishing off the end.”

The scarf was softer than any wool Anne had ever felt, and it smelled of warm toast.

“I can show you how to finish this off,” said Anne. Jo passed her the needles, and Anne, who was becoming quite good at knitting, finished the scarf for Jo.

“Would you like to keep it?” said Jo.

“What a beautiful gift,” said Anne. “Thank you so much.” She wrapped the scarf around her neck, lay back on the pillow and fell fast asleep.

***

At that very moment, deep in Warmwood, a secret meeting was being held.

“We are ready,” said Chief Chicken Molly.

Twelve chickens stood in two neat rows at the edge of the clearing. Each one had special flying goggles on and a small parachute strapped to her back.

“You’re going to have to show me again,” said Corax, scratching his black beak with his claw.

Beneath the cover of darkness several nights before, Chief Chicken Molly and two of her best friends, Cathy and Betsy, escaped from the henhouse. They journeyed deep into Warmwood in search of help. They found their way to Corax and the rest of the ravens, and together they hatched a daring plan. They would teach Mr. Piecrust a lesson.

Their plan was called OPERATION EGG DROP. For three nights now, the ravens had been giving the chickens secret flying lessons. At first, the chickens looked silly because they could do nothing but hop up and down. Some complained that flying was too tricky. But Chief Chicken Molly was determined. Her girls meant a lot to her, and by golly, they were going to fly.

And fly they did.

Learning to fly is not easy. If you’ve ever taken flying lessons from ravens, then you’ll know how simple they make it look. Ravens can fly upside down, zoom up into the air, and dive down with tremendous skill. Some of the chickens secretly thought they were just showing off, but they were too kind to say so.

As for the ravens, they couldn’t understand why the chickens found flying so hard. By the third night, the chickens were no longer crashing into the trees or parachuting out of the sky because they forgot to keep flapping their wings. But they must improve if Operation Egg Drop was to succeed.

“Chickens ready?” said Chief Chicken Molly.

“Yes, ma’am!” cried all the chickens together.

“Scramble!” she commanded.

With Chief Chicken Molly in the lead, the chickens ran as fast as they could along the clearing flapping their wings wildly.

Moonlight glinted on the ravens’ black feathers as they stood silently watching. One of them was making notes on a clipboard.

“Chickens up!” he said as the last of the chickens became airborne. And not a moment too soon! They almost crashed into the tall trees at the far end of the clearing.

The chickens made their turn and flew back across the opening in the trees.

“Branch!” called Chief Chicken Molly.

“Branch!” echoed the rest of the chickens. A moment later, all of the chickens were standing on a long branch high above the clearing.

“Good work,” said Corax.

The ravens cheered. The chickens felt proud. 


7. Action Stations!

Very early next morning, Mr. Piecrust went down to the henhouse. It was empty again.

“I want my eggs,” he said aloud.

If only he had looked up into trees above the henhouse, he would have seen all his chickens in goggles and parachutes standing to attention along a high branch.

If Mr. Piecrust wanted his eggs, well, he was going to get them.

“Bandit at five o’clock,” shouted Chief Chicken Molly, as she dropped off her branch and dived down toward Mr. Piecrust.

In the next instant, it was raining eggs. One chicken after another dived and dropped her egg on Mr. Piecrust. One fell right on his head. The yolk ran down his face, and he fell over.

“Direct hit!” squawked Chicken Betsy.

Mr. Piecrust got to his feet and ran toward the house. But the chickens were swooping low now, and every single one of them was a direct hit. Mr. Piecrust was covered from head to foot.

“Stop, stop,” he cried as he stumbled through the side door of Piecrust Lodge.

Jo picked up the ringing telephone in the morning kitchen. Chief Chicken Molly wanted a meeting.

The girls followed Chief Chicken Molly’s directions, and, after only getting lost once, they found the secret place in Warmwood.

“Thank you for coming,” said Chief Chicken Molly. “Please read this,” she said, handing a letter to Jo. The handwriting was terrible.

“I can’t make it out,” said Jo. “It looks like chicken scratching.”

The chickens all looked at Jo and frowned.

“Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t realize what I was saying.”

“Chicken scratching!” Chief Chicken Molly looked cross. “That is our best handwriting.”

Anne had no problem reading the letter.

 

Dear Mr. Piecrust,

We will come back to the henhouse and give you SOME of our eggs in return for SuperYum feed instead of just plain old hen feed. Further, we have been cold at night and would like one of those new WarmlyWarm heat lamps. Thank you.

 Signed,

 The Chickens

 PS. We didn’t like to have to bombard you with eggs, but you wouldn’t listen.


8. Peacemaking Girls

Mr. Piecrust sat in his bathtub, trying to get some smelly egg out of his hair. The chickens had used their oldest and stinkiest eggs for OPERATION EGG DROP.

Eventually, in a fresh set of clothes, Mr. Piecrust came down to the morning sitting room. He sat in his favorite overstuffed chair looking out onto his vegetable garden. He did some thinking.

Outside in the hallway, the two girls approached the door.

“You go in first, Anne,” said Jo. “He may still be angry about the chickens.”

“I expect he is. No, you should go in first. He’s your dad,” said Anne.

“Yes, but you can read the letter better than I can,” said Jo. “And you’re our guest. He won’t be grumpy with you; that would be bad manners.”

Brave Anne opened the door. The girls went in, but Mr. Piecrust wasn’t grumpy at all. He had already figured out that taking all of the eggs was not really fair. Anne read the letter. Mr. Piecrust agreed to the SuperYum, but the WarmlyWarm heat lamps were tough to get, so he asked the girls if they would talk to the chickens. Would they come back if he made a special heat lamp in his tool shed for them?

Mrs. Piecrust opened the door. “There’s a telephone call for you in the morning kitchen, Anne.”

It was Chief Chicken Molly wanting to know how their negotiations were going. At the other end, Anne could hear enthusiastic noises when she told them Mr. Piecrust had agreed not to take all of their eggs. The chickens clapped excitedly when Chief Chicken Molly announced they were going to get SuperYum. But when Anne told her about a homemade heat lamp, the chickens became quiet.

“I am going to have to call you back,” said Chief Chicken Molly. “We have to talk this through.” Negotiations were getting tense.

A few minutes later, the phone rang again. “We agree to the homemade lamp,” said Chief Chicken Molly. “But we want lipstick, too. My girls need to look their best.”

Soon the chickens were basking in the new henhouse heat lamp.  Some of them even wore sunglasses, others had tiny beach towels.

The chickens were happy.


9. Skyrun

Not long afterward, Anne and Jo were sitting in the morning kitchen.  Mrs. Piecrust sat down beside them.

“Anne, we wouldn’t have the chickens back without your help,” said Mrs. Piecrust. “Is there anything we can do for you?”

“I’ve enjoyed myself so much here, but I really should go home,” said Anne. “Can you help me find my way back?”

Mrs. Piecrust looked at Jo. Jo looked at her, mom. At the same time, they both said, “Skyrun.”

“What’s Skyrun?” asked Anne.

“It’s not what, it’s who,” said Mr. Piecrust. “Skyrun is a horse. Few people have ever seen him.  Only those who have done a good deed can summon him. You should try, Anne.”

“How do I do it?”

Mrs. Piecrust said, “You must go to the outer edge of the wood, beyond early spring.  You must be very quiet and concentrate on your thoughts. Think about him coming to you. You have to use your imagination.”

“I’ll miss you,” said Jo. “Don’t forget your scarf. It’s colder where you’re going.”

“I’ll miss you, too,” said Mrs. Piecrust.

“So will I,” said Mr. Piecrust.

Anne hugged them all, said goodbye, and walked by the henhouse where the chickens stood to attention and saluted. They looked very smart in their new lipstick.

“Goodbye,” they all said, “Come back soon.”

Anne waved goodbye to the chickens. As she walked down the path, she heard the sound of hooves behind her. It was Echo.

I know you’re leaving, thought Echo, but I can’t take you to where you’re going, only Skyrun can.

“Will he come, really?” asked Anne.

If you imagine him well enough, he will come. Imagination works wonders.

“But what does he look like?” asked Anne.

He looks different to everyone who has ever ridden him. You must think of the kindest, bravest, most beautiful horse you can. And with that, Echo turned and trotted back to Piecrust Paddock.

The path came to an end. Tall trees barred the way, and it was noticeably colder. Anne pulled the red and gold scarf out of her bag and put it on. Instantly she felt warm and comfortable. It was as if Jo was there with her.

“I suppose this is where I should call Skyrun,” said Anne to herself.

“That’s right,” said the ravens.

Anne looked up to see branches of the high trees lined with big black birds.

“Oh, I didn’t see you there,” said Anne.

“We’ve been looking after you,” said Corax. “You did a wonderful job helping make peace between Mr. Piecrust and the chickens. Now you should sit down, be quiet, and think about what you need next.”

“I shall miss you,” said Anne.

“Maybe not,” said Corax, “When you go home, look carefully at the ravens you see. We might still be keeping watch over you. And you can speak our language. All you have to do is talk to us.”

“Thank you,” said Anne.

“We’ll be quiet now, so you can imagine,” said Corax.

Anne said goodbye and closed her eyes and thought about horses. She thought about all the horses she had ever seen. At last, Anne gave up and thought about nothing. It was at that moment she opened her eyes, and standing before her was the most magnificent horse she could possibly imagine.

Come, he said to her in the deep silent language of horses. Skyrun was so big Anne had to climb up a small tree to mount him.

Skyrun galloped through the trees. Everything was a blur now; then, they burst out of the wood, galloped across the frozen ground toward the high hedge. Skyrun jumped. They seemed to be flying higher and higher. An instant later, they were over the hedge. Skyrun stopped beside the road, and Anne dismounted. Before she could even say, “thank you,” he vanished.

Anne found herself waiting for the school bus, just as she always did. She noticed her bag on the ground. Just as she was picking it up, the school bus arrived. It was full of her classmates. She took her seat as usual. But as she looked out of the window, she saw a raven flying beside the bus. Had it all been a dream? She felt in her bag for her apple. Instead, she found a small anything pie and a warm scarf.

No, this was not an ordinary morning.

 

THE END


Copyright 2010, 2020 C.P. Richards