Tufina and the Forest
This is an example of a children's story comission I did for a certain Mister Garrett. I'm happy to report that the granddaughter this is written for enjoyed the story greatly.
This is a story about Tufina, a little girl your age. Tufina lives by a giant forest with her mother Maria. She made sure that she went to bed on time, ate her vegetables, took her showers, went to school, brushed her teeth, and everything else little girls sometimes forget to do.
One day, Tufina decided she wanted to run away. She was tired of having her mom tell her what to do. So she packed a knap-sack of bread and left her house, into the giant forest. Her mother found out that she was running away, and tried to run into the woods after her daughter. “Tufina!” she yelled into the undergrowth, but the girl didn’t want to listen.
She was going to be free. She’d eat whatever she wanted, go wherever she wanted, sleep whenever she wanted... she didn’t have to do anything she didn’t want to. She was so happy about this that she even started humming a tune as she walked under the great trees of the forest. It helped to drown out the sound of her mother screaming after her.
Tufina walked along like this for some time. Then, with one wrong step, the ground swallowed her foot. Down, down she went, sinking deeper into the soft, sandy dirt, too scared to scream. She closed her eyes and prayed.
That’s when the sinking stopped.
She was in a small, dark little den – so dark that she couldn’t see her hand in front of her eyes. With a gasp she shook the dirt off her clothes and stood up. Thankfully, she wasn’t hurt. She was just lost.
A dazzling flash of light filled her vision. When her eyes adjusted she found herself face to face with a little blip of fluttering light. “Dear me!” a small voice squeaked, “Another child has fallen into the sinkhole.” The little blip fluttered close to Tufina’s face and added, “Oh, and it’s a human!”
“What are you?” Tufina said as she looked at the blip. She could see the outline of another little girl in the orange light. Wings stood out to the sides of the little light, and a bright, smiling face smiled at her from the center of the light. The little creature made Tufina feel calm and happy all at once. The light fluttered a bit longer before landing on Tufina’s shoulder. She made herself a little seat on the folds of Tufina’s T-shirt before settling in.
“If you must know, dear, I’m a pixie. I’m one of the magical beings that live in the forest, helping children that lose their way.” She paused to take a deep breath. “It seems like I have my hands full today. First this little rabbit falls into the hole, and now you...!”
The little underground den brightened to show a small, white, lop-eared rabbit sitting timidly at the edge of the hole, shivering. “Yes. His name is Hazelroot. We’ve been in here together for a while now, already...” she stopped to talk to the rabbit. “Come on, Hazelroot. She’s not going to hurt you.”
The rabbit stood up on his hind legs and gave the pixie a cock-eyed look.
“Of course she can’t understand you!” The pixie then turned to whisper in Tufina’s ear. “He says that he wants to hear you say that you won’t hurt him, Tufina.”
The girl gasped. “How do you know my name?”
“Because I’m working a little magic on you,” the pixie said simply. “After all, if you and Hazelroot are going to spend time in this sinkhole together, you might as well talk to each other as well.”
“Hello?” Tufina heard a tinny voice coming from the rabbit. “Can you hear me?”
“Yes!” the little girl said, “Yes, I can hear you!”
“Great!” the little rabbit hopped a little dance of joy. “Then you aren’t going to eat me, right?”
“Not at all.”
Hazelfoot hopped over to his new friend. “Great. Then I can tell you that my mommy’s coming to get us. We’ll be just fine.” He pointed to one of the walls of the den. “Hear that scratching? She’s digging down to us right now.”
Tufina smiled, but she felt a little odd inside.
“I ran away from my mommy today,” Hazelfoot continued. “She wanted me to stay in the burrow all day long because she thought I’d get too muddy. So when she wasn’t looking I darted out into the woods! It was great, until I fell in here, and... well...”
“I know how you feel,” Tufina said.
The rabbit looked up at her hopefully. “But she loves me a lot if she’s coming out here to rescue me like this. I may have thought she was being mean, but she really does care for me.”
“You’re right, she does!” the pixie chimed in.
“But doesn’t your mommy make you go to bed?” Tufina asked.
“And does she make you clean your room?”
“And does she make you eat your vegetables?”
The rabbit laughed. “I do that on my own!”
“But she’s being so mean!” Tufina started to say, but the pixie tugged on her ear.
“Tufina,” the pixie said, “your mother only does these things because she loves you and cares for you. She knows what’s best for you.”
Tufina heard her mother screaming in the woods. “Tufina!” her mother screamed, “Tufina! Where are you?”
“I’m right here!” Tufina screamed back, but there was no response. Just then Hazelfoot’s mother broke through the burrow’s walls and hopped over to her son. The hugged, as bunnies often do, by running up to each other and rubbing noses.
“Hazelfoot!” the rabbit-mother yelled. “I was worried sick about you!
Hazelfoot sighed and nuzzled his mother close. “I’m sorry, mommy! I won’t do it again!”
“I’m just glad you’re safe, honey-bunny.” The mother said to her son, nuzzling him.
“And I made a new friend!” Hazelfoot pointed with his front paws to Tufina. “She’s a good human! Honest! She can talk, too!”
The mother-rabbit smiled. “Fancy that. This is the girl who lives at the forest edge, isn’t it?”
Tufina cleared her throat and answered the rabbit. “Yes, ma’am. I live at the edge of the forest, in a house with my mom.”
“She ran away like me,” Hazelfoot added.
The mother rabbit shook her head. “That’s a shame. She loves you a lot, dear. I saw her when I was digging for my little bunny here. She’s worried about you.”
“Is she?” Tufina asked, but before the mother rabbit could answer
she heard the sound of a shovel digging into the ground above her.
The pixie leaned to whisper in Tufina’s ear. “That’s your rescuer.”
“I know,” Tufina said. She was smiling big. “I’m glad she’s here.”
“I’m glad for you too.” The little pixie nodded, stood from Tufina’s shoulder, and started to fly away. Hazelfoot and his mother were already darting up the hole – they didn’t want to stick around to find out what was behind the loud noise above them.
“What about Hazelfoot? And you? Will I ever see you again?”
“I’m sure Hazelfoot will be around your house a lot more often. You just made yourself a friend for life – he’s a nice little rabbit. I’m sure you’ll have fun little talks for years to come. As for me, just ask the animals. I’m sure they’ll know where to find me.” The pixie winked at Tufina, turned, and flew out the hole that Hazelfoot’s mother made, just seconds before the ceiling of the den crumbled away. Daylight poured down through the trees.
“Tufina!” her mother yelled. She reached down into the dark pit and pulled her daughter from the sinkhole. “I was worried sick about you!”
“I’m sorry, mommy” she said, and then they were hugging. Tufina’s mom walked her back to the house. Tufina took a shower. She ate her vegetables. She went to bed early.
And, for the first time ever, she loved her mother for it all.