short :: The Forest Girl

.:. T.I. Pendraig

Once upon a time there was a little girl with a little dog. Every day the little girl left her small house by the woods to search for flowers to use in beautiful bouquets, which she sold at the market in town. She did this every day, rain or shine, because her mother had once told her that a bouquet of flowers could put a smile in everyone’s heart, and too many people had lost or forgotten theirs. Every morning she could be found wandering the forest and humming to herself for company.

The little girl loved her little dog very much, so he wasn’t allowed to come along. He never hurt a fly, gentle as he was, so the little girl decided he wouldn’t do to be a guard; she would rather herself be hurt than allow him to come to harm.

One day, the little girl was choosing a very pretty blue rose for her ninth bouquet when an agitated moose walked toward her. Those are my roses, the moose told her. If you put it back as it was, I will leave you; but if you do not, I will attack you. The little girl had already added the rose to her basket, and there was no way for her to put it back. She knew the moose would attack her. She hoped and prayed that her little dog would be okay by himself. There was a way out of the house if he needed to leave, and he could go into town; someone would take care of him. He was very lovable.

I cannot put it back, she finally said to the moose. I have already snipped it off. The moose nodded and replied, Then I must attack you.

The moose readied to charge, but at the last minute a small blur began biting and snapping at the moose’s legs. It was the little dog, and he had been hiding in the bushes like he did every day to protect the little girl. His determination was so mighty that the moose gave up and hurried off, away from the determined little dog.

After the moose had fled, the little dog trotted over to the little girl with a doggy smile — he had protected his little girl! But the little girl, who had dropped her basket full of flowers, stepped back with wide eyes; her hands were over her mouth, heart astir. When the little dog yipped at the little girl, she cried out, and with her fear she became very small and hid away among the roses.

The little dog whined and whimpered all day and night, and all day and night the next. He stayed by the blue roses for weeks, fed only by his hope and love for the little girl. A month passed, but the girl never came back. Finally, the little dog returned to town and began walking around and sniffing plants — flowers mostly, roses especially. He continued to do this for many years, always going home at night to the small house he and the little girl had lived in in hopes of seeing her waiting for him as he always had her.

He died nine years later, still hoping and still yearning, lying in a bed of blue roses nestled by the side of the woods, listening to the quiet laughter of the little girl in his mind, whom he still loved very much.