It was an ordinary day for young Isabela, but it was about to become extraordinary. Isabela went running out into her backyard like she always did after school. She was going to play on her swing set, but a glimmering light caught her eye in the forest.
She decided to run towards that light. To her surprise the light flew off further into the trees. She continued to follow the light until it stopped at a dead tree with a huge whole at the bottom. She watched as the light flew in and disappeared.
Standing beside her was a doe. The doe looked at Isabela for a second before walking into the tree and disappeared.
Curious, Isabela inspected the tree before taking a step into the tree and out onto a grassy field. To her delight, she was standing on the edge of a forest animal gathering.
An owl stood at the center, shouting for silence as the rest of the animals talked amongst them.
“Silence!! Is everyone here? Whooo are we missing?” The owl continued to try to maintain order.
Isabela saw the doe that walked in before her, went up to her and asked, “Excuse me, can you tell me what’s going on?”
The doe looked at her and replied, “We’re having a committee meeting to decide who gets to stay in the forest and who has to find a new place to live.”
“Because there isn’t enough room for all of us and the food have gotten scarce. Surely you’ve noticed, tiny human.”
“My name is Isabela, and no I haven’t noticed.”
“Well, listen on then.” The doe turned her attention back to the center where the owl started its proceedings.
“Hear, hear, I call this meeting to begin. First order of business, whooo has been digging into the Marco’s trash? We all know they’re off limits because thy just lost their cat, Hector.”
The crowd whispered amongst themselves.
“I’m terribly sorry, we just couldn’t get food last week, my little one was sick. We were afraid it was rabies!” A small raccoon spoke. The crowd gasped at the mention of rabies. They stepped back from the raccoon in fear.
“It’s all right raccoon, we will help you forage for better food.” The raccoon responded with a meek thank you and the owl moved on to the next order of business.
“All right, now we’re going to talk about why we’re all here. As you know, the forest lost another portion last month due to the new housing development. We are currently over populated in certain areas and there have been a few skirmishes in consequence.” The owl stopped and looked at the fox and the rabbit families staring off at each other. “We all know we’re supposed to cohabit this forest together.”
Some animals agreed with stamping feet or grunting.
“Unfortunately, since we are running out of real estate here, we have to vote on who has to move.”
All at once the animals started shouting out who they feel should leave.
“Get rid of the rabbits!”
The owl flapped its wings violently and they all stopped speaking. A rabbit comes running up into the center and stood on its hind legs.
“We need to have reasons, we can’t just get rid of a species because we don’t like them!” More stamping of the feet in agreement followed.
“Very well, the ground is open, why don’t you start?” The owl said to the rabbit.
“Certainly.” The rabbit started cleaning its ears nervously. “I think we should vote the foxes out.”
“THAT’S SPECIST! YOU JUST WANT US OUT BECAUSE WE EAT YOU.” A fox shouted back.
The rabbit grew even more nervous, grabbing onto one of its ears as it spoke. “No! That’s not it! You guys have taken over too much of our living area. We let you in because they tore down your home, but now you’re eating our berries and leaving us with nothing! It’s almost snow season, we need the food to survive!”
“Yeah, and you ate my dear grandmamma last winter!” A field mouse squeaked as loud as it could. “Couldn’t you have waited one more winter? She was only 2 years old!”
“I’ll eat you next!” The fox snarled back. The field mouse squeaked in fear and ran to hide behind a moose.
“Order! Order!” The owl shrieked. “Who else has something to say?”
“Excuse me?” Isabela said as she started to walk towards the center of the field. Some animals flinched in fear as she walked by. “Where are these animals going once you’ve voted them out?”
The owl puffed out its chest. “They find another forest.”
“But what if there isn’t another. Are you really sure they’re surviving?”
The other animals talk in hushed tones.
“This is the only way to preserve forest life, tiny human. You would not understand.”
“I understand… enough. But if you’re really trying to preserve life, why send them out to the unknown? I remember last year we saw some bears in my backyard! But I’m looking around, and I don’t see them here. Why?”
“They left to go into the mountains more and away from civilization after the grandfather was shot by a hunter.” The doe said as she approached the center. “Your kind has slowly been killing us, whether you realize it or not. We’re just trying to survive. My family has either been killed off by hunters or those moving boxes you sit in.”
Isabela starts to tear up, “How do I make it stop? How can I help?”
“Listen, kid, from the looks of it you’re still a child. No one will listen to you. But when you’re older, remember us. Remember what we had to do. And then do something.” The fox said frankly.
“But that’s years from now.”
The animals grew silent.
“We’ll survive. You just remember what you saw and heard today.” The owl said. “I think it’s fair we put off the exile this year. Foxes, you can move closer to where the moose live so we can put an end to your skirmish with the rabbits.”
The fox and rabbit both nod and they run off in different directions.
“We’ll reconvene after the cold season.” The animals all turned around and walked away.
Isabela was left in the center of the field with the owl.
“What if I forget?”
The owl handed her a branch with the golden light surrounding it.
“When you’re older, and we meet again, you will see this light up.”
Isabela took the branch. The doe motioned her to follow and she went through another tree and out into the forest she was in before. The doe nodded and ran away.
Isabela stood for a few seconds in awe.
“ISABELA??? DÓNDE ESTÁS??? LA CENA ESTÁ LISTA!” Isabela’s mom called out. Isabela stuck the branch into her pocket and she ran back to the house.
“Estoy aquí, mamá!” Isabela called back as she reaches the edge of her backyard. Isabela’s mom looked relieved as she saw her daughter skip happily into the home.
“Don’t you go running off like that again!”
“Now, go wash up and get the plates for dinner. Papi will be home soon.” Isabela nodded and ran up the stairs to wash her hands. She took the branch out of her pocket and set it on her dresser before running into the bathroom.
7 YEARS LATER…
Isabela, lie on her bed chatting on messenger with one of her friends. A stuffed owl watched on as she texted.
Her teenage room was filled with forest animal photos, both taken by her and from National Geographic magazines. One of the pictures on her wall is of her ten years old self holding a, “SAVE THE ANIMALS” sign near a construction site.
Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a light glowing from the top of her dresser. She curiously looked at it and then suddenly remembered.
“IT’S TIME!” Isabela called out to no one in particular. She grabbed the branch and took off running outside.
TO BE CONTINUED…
A/N: Thanks for reading the excerpt of my short story!!
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