In A Small Clearing

April 17, 2011
By Anonymous

Sometimes when the sun is out, the light filters through clouds or trees, casting out gentle rays over the world below. In these woods on this afternoon, the light is like heaven parting with some of its essence, sending magic to a certain clearing. The dignified pine trees tower imposingly over a solitary mouse on the forest floor. He spies a small acorn, and with his sharp little eyes and whiskers flicking nervously about, darts to the acorn, snatches it, and dashes to safety in a dense bush nearby. A small stream trickles down through the forest, uninterrupted until it meets a huge oak tree, where the water parts and continues in two separate paths. The ancient, gnarled oak seems misplaced in the forest, a foreigner in a pine world.

A robin flits down and lands on one of the old tree’s boughs. He trills at the top of his tiny lungs, breaking the spell that the rays of light have cast on the clearing. A pair of martens chase each other across the ground, spiraling up the oak and across a branch before leaping up into a pine tree, continuing their chase with chatters and squeals. A doe leads a newborn fawn to the stream to drink. The speckled baby wobbles on his new legs, excited at his first outing from his den. A wood pecker pecks for his life, banging his tough beak against a pine’s bark, hoping for a worm. Disappointed, he flies away. The forest is peaceful again for a moment until, from the direction of a small trail, a pattering of little feet and the rustle of leaves can be heard distantly. The doe lifts her head, and freezes for a second, her fawn watching her anxiously, before bounding away into the forest. The baby hurriedly scampers after her and out of sight.

A squirrel tears at top speed through the clearing and bounds up into the safety of the same great oak. He is soon followed by a streak of white and tan, which barrels straight past the tree before wheeling around and stopping at the oak. Now this animal is revealed as a dog, a large, strong and lean collie dog. He is jumping around and scratching the bark, his ears twitching and his shaggy white tail whipping around, revealing his excitement. He dances about trying to reach the squirrel in the tree, his shiny golden fur gleaming in the rays of the sun,, His tongue lolls out of his mouth and he pants heavily. When he realizes that he can’t jump high enough to reach the the poor animal, he settles down and decides to diligently stare the animal out of the tree, his liquid brown eyes concentrating intently on his goal. His concentration, however, is soon thwarted by another arrival.

“Napoleon! Napoleon! Whered’ you run off to, ya great blockhead?” Yet another creature bounds into the clearing, but this time, it was a boy, about eleven years of age. His fiery red hair reflects the sun and his freckles pop out with his exasperation. He sits on the ground, breathing heavily after the pursuit of his dog.

“Say, Whatchya lookin’ at, Neppy? Hey, itsa squirrel! Well, its nothing really special, ya know. Heck, I saw a squirrel once that was twice that big! Sorry, Neppy, we can’t catch it cuz its time for supper. Sorry, though, old boy. Come on, let’s go home.”

Napoleon whines and barks at the tree again when he sees the boy get up and turn to go. “Napoleon, we have to go. Come on, boy. Tell you what, we can look for another squirrel tomorrow, but now we have to go!”
He starts jogging away to his home. Napoleon, knowing he had lost, follows his master reluctantly until he forgets all about the his former play and leaps ahead of the boy, racing him home. All is quiet in the clearing once more.

The author's comments:
after reading the opening scene of Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck, I was impressed by the discriptive opening and buildup to the entrance of the main characters, and wanted to try something like it myself.

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