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Wonder This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Lush green leaves, chocolate cake, and tart cider.
We used the blue lake as a divider.
Hours later I felt the cold creep in.
The shifting light brushed across my skin.
“Tess, its time to go.” I called as a
Chill sent its spidery limbs across grey
Rocks scattered along the shifting shore.
Thinking of the strange world and the small four
Year old skipping without bounds as those who
Dwell in the freedom of bliss seem to do.
Paddling across the small waves, Tess let her
Finger glide on the water. In just a blur
She snapped it back with a shriek. I laughed
With delight. A world beneath our life raft.
Buoyed upon tendrils and sparks of light
I giggled at her wide eyes that were bright
In wonder. The water glowed and rippled,
Lit in phosphorescents.Tess was tickled.
I pulled the boat ashore and we started
The long trek back home. As we departed
The cold seemed to harden and I felt
Frigid breeze as I hoped my heart would melt
From its coiling fear. No one was here
And it was late. No one could ever hear.
Head towards the comfort of a warm car.
Step after long step, the road seems so far.
Just a day of adventure, secluded.
But I now know I was deluded
To think this was safe. I grew more nervous
With the dark, wishing for a knights service.
For as we walk I feel a tightening
Of fear. The dark is shattered by lightning
And I know our path has been long awry.
Tess grips my palm, and I long for blue sky.
We stumble onward for hours or more,
I could not say. Lost, we have begun war
With the snapping branches, thrashing trees,
And deepening darkness which seems to freeze.
Tess’s scared sniffles and tired eyes
accompanied by cold lead to the cries
Of wanting to be home. Silent, my lips
Cannot comfort for I feel the same whips
Of the sharp twigs and the very first drops
Of rain, which patters, pours, and even chops
Across my bare skin. The forest seems
To hold us tight, while the rain runs in streams.
Shivering I want to despair, for it
Was my fault, my idea, and the grit
Of the journey, the pain of those without
Hope weighs heavy on my shoulders. The doubt
Of the forest sharpens and twists to fill
Me. I feel the ruin of my fickle will.
When all is dark and everything is lost
I see something flicker. A glow of soft
Light creeps toward us, just as the last
Shadow of the dark is completely lost.
Tess holds tight as we take another step,
Breaking the tree line, and snapping the web.
A myriad of warming bright lights dance
Towards us as we leave the dark plants
Behind. The light twirls and sends whispers in
Musical notes. I realize then when
I have seen something like this. I was young
And naive, yet I still had a sharp tongue.
The coiled and imbedded fear unravel
As I remember. I leave Tess and travel
Back in time to a place devoid of all
The mess of life. I must be so very small.
Loud laughter, pink candy, music and lights.
With delight I even rode that ride twice.
Tess and I stand, after so much hard work
in an amusement park. The deep and dark
Forest holds a secret haven of light.
I am bewildered but all the fright
And confusion dwindles at Tess’s ever
Widening grin. Her eyes are filled with never
Ending wonder and soon we are running,
And leaping along the rows of stunning
Lights, whirling rides, and twinkling sounding
Music. I feel as if I am drowning
In the warmth of the bright night. After hours
I sit down as Tess rides the bumper cars.
As I catch my breath a memory returns
And the tendril of confusion worms
Its way back into focus. I keep an
Eye on Tess and search, looking for just one
Other human being. A worker or
Another guest. As I look the cold air
Begins to find its way into my lungs
And the music morphs, pounding into drums
Beating a steady rhythm. I begin
To frantically search the park and when
I feel an overwhelming sense of fear
I see something. A wisp of white as fair
As a moonlight beam and just as hidden.
I creep forward slowly, then quicken
My steps and peer round a stand which is selling
Sweet smelling biscuits. Another melting
White flash and I am weaving my way around
Dizzying rides, following the white gown
Of light. Around another bend and then
I stop short. White wisps, sleight as a quill pen.
It is tied loosely around a tiny creature.
A girl, made of delicate pieces which create
Impossibly small limbs and strands of hair.
Wide, unblinking eyes stare back at me, clear
As glass. Before I can take even a
Breath, darkness begins to close and to fray
My vision. Yet at the last second before
I am lost, she turns, and underneath hair
I see an outline of fluttering wings.
Darkness descends and my world tilts and spins.

My eyelids flutter open in confusion.
Blinking away sleep I try to loosen
Myself. I look about to see familiarity.
My purple curtains and matching lamp. Eerily,
Contours of light and dark start to form behind
My tired eyes as if they were timed.
Before I can make sense of the shapes
I turn to see Tess asleep with flakes
Of glitter sprinkled in her soft curling hair.
Turning again I peer onto the floor
To see our rarely used picnic basket.
I stumble from the tightly wound blanket
To look, for something seems odd. Nestled next
To the uneaten food is an object, complex.
I squint at the intricately, delicately
Patterned white object. Tremulously
I reach for it and bring it into the light.
A perfect and lone feather as if ready to take flight.



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