wendy found herself in the old shack. suddenly the wind picked up swinging the door wide open. bracing onto the old kitchen counter, wendy shielded her eyes from the flying dust. a violent gust pushed her over. after finding herself on the floor, the wind died down and the door quietly shut itself and wendy picked herself up to lean on a beautifully carved wooden chair. her eyes widened as she gazed around what seemed to be not a shack, but rather a beautiful and dreamy candy-shop.
"why young lady, what are you doing down there?" an old woman, with a basket hung on her arm, reached down to help wendy to her feet.
"i...i'm not sure, really.." wendy stuttered.
"you might want to watch yourself now, the wind is coming in a little differently around here.." and if wendy were clear from the dust, she could have possibly seen a twinkle in the old woman's eyes.
"what do you mean, ma'am?" wendy asked as she straightened out her wrinkly dress.
"i'm not sure. you'll soon find out." and with a smile, the old woman walked into another room.
Wendy stared blankly around her. a friendly looking man stood behind a counter, checking and bagging the candies from a customer.
glass jars with gum drops and all sorts of colorful candies lined the shelves above the man. around the tables in the cozy room were decorated with vases that displayed an array of delights, from licorice to lollipops and butterscotch colored candy chews. looking up, wendy saw the ceiling plastered with a gold and white striped wallpaper that shined with different colors as the candy reflected from it.
beside her, she found a row of clear cases side by side filled to the brim with every kind of sugered dream found under the sun. she reached into the one filled with gummy hearts. taking a red one, she plopped it into her mouth.
her eyes watered as the taste melted onto her tounge.
"mllaaghhh...." she spat it out as quickly as she had put it in her mouth. the taste was bitter and sour, brittle and dry and suddenly the aroma found itself at her senses. the stink almost made her vomit on the floor.
"my, what in the world is this..." she looked at her hand where she spat the gummy heart.
"but mr. rabbit, why do you have to leave now?" wendy tugged at the rabbit's arms.
"my dear child, the wind is calling to me." he placed his paw on her hand.
"whatever do you mean, mr. rabbit?"
"i'm not sure child, we will all find out in the end." they both stared beyond the watery horizon as the sun began to set into a firey reflection. the gentle whisper of the wind brought tears to wendy's eyes.
"when will we see you again, mr rabbit."
"soon, child, soon." they both looked behind them at the group of friends. their eyes drooped and their smiles were cast down. the rabbit walked over and gave a hug to all of them, one by one. first to his long-time friend, mr. man.
"you and i, we've been through a lot friend."
"i won't forget you mr. rabbit. especially not your heart-warmin' tea and soul-meltin' biscuits. no one will ever forget it, no one."
"this is for you, mr man," the rabbit handed mr. man a vial with a champange colored liquid. "i've successfully captured the aroma of my tea and biscuits, a request that's taken a long time to achieve. whenever you think of me, this aroma will bring back the sweet memories of our celebrations."
he moved along to lyle and lilly, the beloved orange tigers.
"mrs rabbit would've loved to thank you for your patience when the kids hopped around your garden. you always did make the best swample pie, lilly. and lyle, thank you for showing me the magical side of The Forest. our many adventures are engraved in my imagination."
"Grungent, you are the wisest fool i know!" the rabbit chuckled as he gave the old owl a grand hug.
"and you are the biggest eared fool i've ever seen." the owl's feathers rumbled in a graceful dance as he embraced the rabbit.
"i hope you never forget me. i'll never forget what you've taught me, grungent."
"my prayers are with you, rabbit. tell the children we'll learn to fly soon." the rabbit gave a slight bow as he turned to see the little rodents: codle, janey, wally, zip and zach, lined up in a formal line.
"oh come here you little rascals!" the rabbit's arms spread open. the rodents ran happily and jumped on the rabbit in a group hug.
"you don't have to go, mr rabbit." janey grabbed onto the rabbit's leg in a sad hug.
"do you not like us?" suggested codle.
"no, he has 'nother adventure to attend to, right mr rabbit?" answered wally knowingly.
"what kind of adventure?" asked zach
"a high-flyin, sharp-kickin, far-reachin' adventure! that's what it is!" piped zip
"yes, another adventure indeed!" the rabbit picked himself up from the ground as the rodents got off him. "you little ones behave yourselves now. grungent only has one pair of eyes. learn as much as you can and one day, you can fly just like him." the rabbit winked at the owl.
"really?!" zach jumped at the foot of the owl.
"yes, zach, if you eat your vegetables and read all the books in the library."
"aw man...i hate readin" codle frowned.
"you willl learn to love it one day. grungent will tell you wonderful and magical fairy tales of far away lands. and if you open the right book, the magic will come right out at you!" the rabbit raised his hands to indicate a picture of magic.
"really?!" codle jumped up and down clapping his hands,"i love magic!"
"what kind of magic?" zach tilted his head in wonder.
"you'll see little one, you'll see." the rabbit smiled at all of them, tears welling up in his eyes. turning away he directed his gaze back at wendy. the girl stood with her hands clasped together. there was a look not of sadness or happiness on her face. the rabbit walked over and gave the girl a hug.
"And you my dear child, will never be forgotten either. you've come at such a wonderous and confusing time. but i'm glad you came. very glad."
"i'm glad too." wendy forced a smile.
"you do not have to be happy for me, for happiness is shared. and if i feel no happiness right now, you do not either."
"but i am happy. and i know you are too" wendy smiled again, this time more genuninely.
"yes, i am happy, happy not for parting, but happy for the memories. happy for my friends."
and wendy understood.
in the horizon, a boat appeared, gracefully on the edge of the water and sand. the sun was nearly down now and the birds had retreated to their nests. somehow they sensed a feeling of sadness was creeping up in the night. eleven shadows broke up the blinding orange as they proceeded towards the boat.