“Come Out Dryad” is another story I wrote for my writing course I took through the Institute of Children’s Literature. It originally was longer, but due to word count requirements I had to cut it shorter.
I feel the story feels very rushed, but the character development feel strong. Because this story is meant for a younger audience -eleven to thirteen I would say- it is good that I got the story out in such short words. And that was one of the goals of the lesson. To deliver a good story in a short amount of words suitable for a younger audience.
Anyways, here it is. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think by posting your comments.
Lightning flashed, and rain crashed angrily on the tin roof of Grandpa’s cabin. Twelve-year-old Mara sat inside Grandpa’s study, full of its wonderful books. Power had been cut to the cabin, so the building lay in darkness accept for the light dancing in front of her now, emanating from the warm fire Grandpa and her sat by. He read from a book he claimed spoke the truth.
“And that’s the truth about Dryads. They aren’t just some made up fantasy creature,” his rough but loving voice said. A knowing smile spread across his face, though Mara couldn’t figure out what it meant. Is he fooling me?
“Will we meet one some day?” Mara asked.
“Oh of course. There is one out in the back oak tree.” Grandpa shivered a bit. ” I’m a tad chilly. I’ll go get us some hot chocolate.”
Grandpa’s big red chair looked lonely as Grandpa walked away. Mara jumped into it, grabbing the green hardcover book. Flipping through the pages sent excitement through her. “I so want to meet one of these creatures.” I hope they really exist. She brushed a brown lock of hair out of her face. She began reading a page that told how to contact a Dryad.
She jumped from Grandpa’s seat as crashing and banging came from outside the study. A painful moan sent her heart into her mouth. “Grandpa!” she screamed.
Mara ran from the study into the blackness. She felt her way to the stairs using the railing along the walkway. It took forever, she thought, to get down the stairs where her foot felt something on the floor.
“Grandpa?” she said softly. A moan came from Grandpa. “What happened Grandpa?”
No response. He had fallen down the stairs and lay badly hurt. “I’ll get you a blanket.” She felt her way through the dining room to the living room and grabbed a blanket off the couch.
After placing the blanket over Grandpa she thought of what to do. I need to get help. Fear struck her. No way she could get help. They had called the neighbors earlier to find if they had power, but a tree must have fallen on the phone line for all they heard sounded like a whole bunch of nothing. She didn’t know how to drive, only being twelve.
Quickly an idea came to her. Grandpa said there was a dryad in the oak tree. I sure hope he isn’t joking. Mara made her way to the kitchen then out the back door into the yard. Lightning flashed above, and rain pelted her skin, drenching her instantly.
She ran to the oak tree and started pounding on it. “Dryad, I need your help. My Grandpa is hurt.” Nothing happened. Mara couldn’t think straight in the situation. She needed to hurry and get help. Think Mara. Slow down and think. Okay, the book said I needed to offer food. Then I need to say something, but I can’t remember.
She ran into the house and started Grandpa’s gas stove, putting the kettle on for hot chocolate. Then she made her way through the dark to the study and finished reading the part on how to contact a dryad.
Offer food and then say: Dryad, this meal I bring you. For this meal I ask for audience. Dryad meal for audience. This is the meal, now where is the audience.
“I can say that. This won’t be hard,” Mara said to herself. She glanced at the big red words reading “Caution” and a message beneath it, but in her rush she skipped over it.
She made her way down the stairs to the kitchen and prepared the hot chocolate.
Carefully holding the cup she made her way to the tree and said the words. To her surprise the oak’s bark opened up and the most beautiful women she had ever seen stood in front of her, dressed in leaves.
The Dryad looked at her quizzically then snatched the cup of hot chocolate from Mara. After draining the hot chocolate in a gulp the Dryad began to shout. “That was cold. You seek a presence with me, and you offer a hot drink which is cold.” The Dryad pushed Mara into the mud. ” I should smite you right here.”
“I’m sorry,” Mara cried back, holding her self out of the mud with one hand, and holding the other up, incase the dryad actually struck her. “My grandpa is hurt, I need your help.”
The dryad advanced on Mara. “The old man, speak more child.”
“He fell down the stairs and is badly hurt.” Long wet hair covered Mara’s face. Mud drizzled down her cheeks.
The dryad stopped the advance. “Us dryads don’t take kindly to strangers just knocking on our trees. We like proper introductions by those we know already. Your a stranger offering an improper gift. This sends me in a rage. Yet I know the old man, and he is a friend. Fine girl get out of the mud and lets help your grandfather.”
Mara picked herself up and led the way to her grandfather. The dryad made some type of magical ball that lit up the room like a torch in a dark cave, accept this gave of blue light.
A cry startled Mara more in this already disturbing situation. The dryad gave it, now on her knees, bent over Grandpa. “Old man, poor old man.” Mara came close, but the Dryad pushed Mara away. She is rude. I thought she would be nicer.
“Girl, bring me a branch from the oak tree,” the Dryad snapped.
Mara felt her way to the backyard and ran to the tree. The branches sprouted from the trunk to high for her to reach. She climbed the tree often, though never in the rainy dark.
Hugging the rough bark, she inched her way up the tree slipping on the wet bark. Mara’s teeth held painfully clenched as her knees rubbed on the rough bark with each slip. She finally reached a branch and hung from it, her hands hanging on tightly.
Mara began swinging from the branch. “Come on, break you stupid branch.”
She heard a crack and then a snap, a scream from the house, and then felt her heart lift into her mouth. Her feet hit the ground, then her bottom as her legs buckled. Wet grass and mud inspired her to quickly get back on her feet and she ran to the house. “Why did she scream?” Mara said out loud.
Back in the house Mara stared at the Dryad holding her arm painfully. “Give me the branch girl.”
“Why are you hurt?” Mara confused herself with the concern for such a rude person. Though she felt it her fault; she asked for its help.
“I and the tree are one. If either of us get hurt, we both get hurt. THE BRANCH GIRL!”
Mara handed the Dryad the branch. She wanted to whack her with it.
She tried to hold Grandpa’s hand but the Dryad pushed her away again. The Dryad stood up with the branch.
Mara winced in pain as a sudden beam of light blinded her sending her arms for her face. A high pitch whistle painfully wracked her brain. Then it ended.
Vision slowly came back and focused. She saw her grandfather standing upright.
“You have a very rude girl, she gave me cold hot chocolate,” the Dryad said to Grandpa.
Grandpa tried speaking, but the Dryad put her index finger on his lips and shook her head. “I expect some gifts for this very disturbing disturbance old friend. Now I take my leave. I also expect this girl to come visit me with you, and have her properly introduced and taught how to politely call a Dryad.” With that the Dryad took with her the light and left Mara and Grandpa standing in the dark as she went back to the oak.
“GRANDPA!” Mara squealed, almost crying, but extremely happy. She ran and gave him a big hug. Grandpa laughed slightly with a confused but happy laugh.
Mara looked up from her Grandpa’s belly with big happy eyes, “Grandpa lets make something like tea. I don’t want hot chocolate.”