Overall Winner – 6th Grade Story Contest
A wail could be heard from the sacred tree. The guardian of the tree jumped, startled. The old man hurried over, limbs popping. He gaped into the hollow. A baby girl watched him, impossible wisdom in her eyes. One brown, one green. Oh, she looked just like a human tree, beautiful and graceful. Her eyes, oh, her eyes. It had been so long since he left the sacred tree, he had forgotten his name. “Cayden,” he whispered, gazing at the baby. “My name is Cayden.”
Eleven years later, the village was celebrating the found day of the miracle baby. Willow herself was walking through the crowds, laughing and talking. “Thank you,” she said to the baker, who was offering free maple cakes. This was not a normal birthday occurrence. But then, Willow was not a normal girl. For one thing, she was unnaturally smart. Her eyes were spellbinding, and also seemed to have the power to make people remember. That was not even the most astonishing thing.
Willow could understand the language of trees. She could even occasionally make them grow. No one knew why. Willow’s mind often strayed to this, and it did near the bonfire that signaled the end of her found day. Willow wondered if it was because the sacred tree (which happened to be a willow) had magic in its roots.
“Willow?” her adopted grandfather, Cayden, asked her gently. “Time to start the bonfire.”
“Oh!” Willow said, startled out of her thoughts. “Of course.” She smiled at the old man, the smile that everyone in the village had fallen in love with. She hurried over to the pile of sticks. Only sticks that had fallen off of trees. Thanks to her special connection and her kind- heartedness, she refused to cut down trees.
As she gracefully bent down to pick up the lighter, she closed her mismatched eyes and listened. Suddenly, the voices of the trees became clear. They were singing to her, as they had often done when she was young. Now they did it more seldomly, but their love was the same. Willow knew this in her heart, as she listened to her found day song. After all, she was their biological daughter.
As she listened more closely, she realized her found day song was not as happy as always. It had a note of worry threaded into it.
Willow frowned. “I wonder why?” she thought. Her (she had come to think of them as hers) trees were rarely worried. And when they were, it was usually with good reason. Willow’s frown deepened. This could not mean anything good.
Not two seconds later, a truck came roaring into the town. The people of the village, including Willow, coughed from the horrible exhaust fumes. No one in the village drove a truck or even a car. And besides, everyone was at Willow’s found day gathering.
The trees flooded Willow’s mind with worry. With a pang, Willow realized she knew why they were here. Opening her eyes she saw her adopted parents, Sophia and Luke, fighting to
get to her. In the tree language she shouted, “Danger! Oh, trees, I wish you could move!” Angry tears fell from her cheeks as her parents enveloped her in a hug.
“ Why are you here?” Luke asked the official coolly. “ You are far from welcome.”
Willow’s fury bubbled over. “Y-you monster! You are here to take our trees!” She pulled away from her parents, staring down the government official. The official looked away first, blinking furiously.
“Yes. And if you don’t like it, then too bad,” said the snooty woman. “You don’t have the magic of talking to trees, so you can’t stop us. Cut them down!”
Several men came out of the truck with axes. They approached the forest. Willow’s insides froze. The villagers stared at her. One brave soul shouted, “But what if we do have the tree magic? Then we could save the forest, right?” He sounded confident. He thought Willow was powerful enough. More confident then Willow felt, anyway.
The government official just stared at them. They expected her to do something, like yell at them, but she only scowled and turned to the truck. Willow felt even more nervous as several more men piled out. Everyone was looking at her. What if she couldn’t summon the power to stop this horrible, horrible thing that was happening?
She had too, she told herself. If Willow could not do this, then she would never forgive herself. She steeled herself, and gathered all of her courage, tapping into a deep well of bravery inside her.
“I have the old magic,” she announced. “Begone, or I will use it.” Suddenly she felt braver. “But first, a lesson. The trees are alive!”
“Willow NO!” shouted Luke, being restrained by his father, Cayden. “It’s too dangerous! I can’t lose another daughter!” His voice broke, and Sophia gathered him into a hug.
Willow had heard about their first daughter, who died in birth. “I have to,” she called back. Then she turned to the official, who was watching the whole thing with a smirk, and the men, who looked amused. “You will never win against the trees, because they have the power of LOVE!” she shouted the last word in the tree language, hoping that her trees would understand what she wanted them to do.
Their branches twisted into hearts, and with a little help from Willow, they each spelled a word inside the hearts. Some men that had gotten to close yelped in alarm. Everyone watched in awe as the trees grew, spelling words that made people’s hearts lift to the sky with hope and joy.
FRIENDSHIP . LOVE.
Then Willow turned to the official, breathing hard. The woman’s face was blank and shocked. She stared at one word. FAMILY. “I have been blinded,” she whispered so only Willow could hear. “Thank you for opening my eyes.” She called the men and boarded the truck. She looked back at Willow, this time smiling. “I will never forget you, miracle child.” Willow smiled back at her.
“Willow! You did it!” shouted Sophia. The crowds of happy people running towards her made her famous smile go even brighter. “I love you,” whispered Sophia. Luke just hugged her. Her smile was blinding, and her eyes twinkled.
“So how about we finish that bonfire, huh?” Willow said, laughing. “After all, one does not turn eleven every day, right?” She picked up the lighter, then got an idea. She willed the branches to burst into wonderful green flames. She giggled happily as everyone gasped in delight. “I love you all. More than anything in the world.”