As the young girl tip-toe runs through the barren forest with brown, orange, and red leaves scattering the ground, she stifles a giggle. Looking frantically behind her, she tries her hardest to keep quiet since they are playing hide-and-seek, but the crunchy leafed bedding on the floor of the woods keeps her from being so stealthy. Since she thinks she finally lost her older sister Betsy, she hides behind a huge moss-covered log of a tree that had fallen years ago by one of the worst storms in Minnesota, and was beginning to fall apart by the rotting core. Catching her breath, and listening for the foliage to rustle as a sign her sister may be near, she peeps her head over the green, fuzzy, whats-left-of-a-tree log. All you can see is her brown curls frizzy and doused with leaves and brush from twigs and a dirty face with bright green eyes. She smiles and her pink cheeks perk up, knowing she found the best and safest spot to hide. Her sister will never find her here. As she waits, she leans back against the moist wood of the dead fallen tree and begins to day dream, slowly drifting into a soft slumber.
Not knowing how long it had been, the young girl opens her eyes and stands at attention, knowing she was going to be in BIG trouble with her Paw, since she isn't supposed to be out after dark, and it's far past dusk. Hopefully not too late, though. Running through the woods, she begins to cry, because she can't see anything and all the paths look the same. After collapsing and sobbing to herself in her arms, she hears a rustle behind a bush near a huge deciduous tree that she has never seen before. It is beautiful, and almost seems to have a feint glow to it. A bit frightened at the noise, she decides it was some pesky animal rustling through the brush, but her eyes can't seem to leave the tree. It is still full of life, the colorful dead leaves have yet fallen as the others have.
The leaves aren't all brown, but orange, yellow, dark brown, and different shades of the colors. Walking closer, she feels almost a pull towards the tree. It is huge, and she can't see the tops of it, because it is so dark and cloudy about halfway up, or so. Creeping closer, she reaches out a hand, carefully stepping against the now moist foliage on the ground. Her toes squish in the leaves over the wet dirt, mushing brown water between her toes. Not even phased, she touches the tree with one hand, drawing her arm back quickly. The tree is abnormally ice cold, and it is humid and sticky in the air, so it doesn't make any sense to the girl. Still entranced, she touches both hands to the cold bark of the deciduous tree. The mahogany glows where her hands lay. The tree seems to push in where her hands are, as if the warmth of her palms are opening a strange mythical door. She abruptly stops, looking at her hands, and back at the tree. The glowing where her hands were begin to fade, and she steps back a moment.
Smiling, and feeling quite adventurous, a feeling like she is in a fantasy story tale, she then presses even harder with her hands, soon making an opening that's just big enough for her to climb through. She enters head first, trying to look around. It is dark and she falls to the floor which is that of a tree stump. Standing, she brushes her dirty hands on her white nightgown, smearing dirt on the front. As the glowing opening closes, a dim light comes from a tunnel that seems to lead underground. Is it magic? Are there fairies and genies? Treasure or another fabulous hiding spot? She gets on her hands and knees, creeping toward the glowing tunnel underground. It is just big enough for her young petite form. She crawls through and crawls more, until she reaches an opening to an underground lair where cement walls and columns hold the ground up. There are torches lit all over the room. Ahead there is a stone throne, with a skeleton with thinning hair and a long grey beard that hangs around his bony drooped jaw. She gasps and stifles a surprised shriek.
Walking slowly towards the throne, she crosses a long stone path that has water on either side, dark and mysterious to what swims under the murky liquid that seems to have a look of tar. Still barefoot, her dirty feet slap the path, as she slowly creeps to the throne which is occupied by a once-important being. Reaching out, she picks up a gold ring on the ground where (at one time) it fell off of the skeletons bony hand. Her heart races from excitement, and terror at the same time. What was this place? Are there more rooms? There is a wooden chest with a padlock, sitting in the skeleton's lap. It is small, but looks valuable. As she carefully grabs the chest to look closely, cobwebs and dust separate from the bony structure of a had-been man. As she moves the chest, a rustling sound from above her, and immediately shrieks of bats begin to fill her ears. She turns quickly and runs down the path screaming, with the wooden chest in her arms, and the ring over her finger. Making it to the hole she climbed through earlier, she tosses the chest on the ground in front of the tree and quickly squeezes out.
As she continues to run in fear, she looks back and sees the glowing entrance grow smaller and disappear. Running aimlessly, she finds her way back to the farm. Relieved, she walks through the tall grass towards the wooden house which has flickering candles in the window. She sighs and looks at the chest, hoping there's something special inside that may please her father, whom she knows is waiting up for her to come home. Scared, she slowly creeps up the steps and waits by the door for a moment, her heart racing and adrenaline pumping. Calming herself down, she closes her eyes and breathes deep breaths, before reaching out to open the screen door. Closing it softly behind her, she creeps in, but as she thought, her father is perched in his favorite rocking chair by the fire, puffing on his tobacco pipe. Grimy, dirty, and frazzled, the girl looks to the ground, and sets the chest at her father's feet.