She’d been playing in the woods for almost an hour now. The wind was low, and the leaves around her rustled as they danced in their music.
She smiled as she dug up dirt to fill her little bucket. But then she looked up, seeing a massive pine tree that stood in the distance. There was a tiny yellow door fixed to its base. What she’d find inside would take her breath away.
Cindy Graham was eight when her family moved to Forks, Washington. A native of Miami, everything in Forks swept her off her feet, thrusting her into a beautiful and equally mysterious world.
For Cindy, moving was one of the hardest things she’d had to do. She left behind friends she’d known since she was a toddler, a neighborhood she loved, and the school of her dreams. But her discovery would make the move worth it.
The first thing Cindy found interesting about Forks was its climate. Unlike the sunny and bright city she’d been born in, Forks seemed dull and always blanketed in fog.
Her neighborhood was always surrounded by pines forests as far as her little eyes could see. Although she’d heard her siblings complain about Forks, to her, it was a place straight out of a magical book.
The forests in Cindy’s area had countless birds that always came to her window sill to say hi. She’d seen elk and foxes while camping with her dad and sea otters in Rialto beach.
But what made Cindy love Forks wasn’t the animals or fantastical weather. It was the trees that surrounded her home. Although she didn’t know it yet, a secret find was waiting for her in those forests, something that would change her life forever.
The day Cindy made her magnificent find, she’d been looking for flowers with her mother in the nearby woods. The forest was fresh with dew and smelled like moss.
Cindy and her mom spent the morning searching for some weird flowers her mom needed for work. She’d tried to explain it to Cindy, but the devouring beauty around them had already snared the girl’s attention.
Three hours after Cindy and her mom began their search, they finally had enough flowers. Since their home was a stone’s throw away from where they were, Cindy’s mom asked her if she wanted to stay and play.
“Yes!” the little girl exclaimed. She’d always loved plants, and being in a sea of them was heaven. She agreed to stay out till lunchtime then return home. She knew something was waiting for her out here.
Cindy set out into the trees with her pink bucket and miniature shovel in hand. She wanted to collect some soil for the flower vases back home.
She’d filled her bucket to the halfway point when she noticed a massive pine tree in the distance. The tree didn’t strike her as odd at first, given many trees around her were gigantic. But she felt something draw her to it.
Cindy obliged to the gut feeling telling her to go to the pine tree. Her sight layered it from top to bottom, and she realized it was older than most of the trees around. It also had a tiny yellow door at its base.
It seemed ancient, with layers of moss and high branches that melded into the green canopy above Cindy. She felt her heart do a weird dance within her chest as she neared. What was happening?
Among the things that Cindy loved in her life were plants and fantasy stories. She’d read a chapter from her favorite fantasy series every night before bed.
She always saw herself as an explorer while in the woods, and the idea of adventure and discovery always made her wish she could live in those beautiful stories. Her wish would be answered today.
Ready for adventure, Cindy neared the tree. She squatted before the door, studying it before her little hand moved to explore. Seeing nothing dangerous on the yellow wood, Cindy reached for it.
The door opened with a creaking sound, and Cindy lowered her head to look inside. What she saw made her mouth fall open.
A fully furnished interior stared back at Cindy. She spotted miniature furniture and kitchen wear, arranged nicely as if someone lived in the little house.
Cindy’s heart swelled with happiness. She’d read about fairies and woodland creatures living in thick forests away from the prying eyes of humans. Had she discovered one of these magnificent civilizations?
Cindy set her dirt bucket aside and fell into full investigator mode. She took in everything before her, making sure not to tamper with the way everything was arranged in the house.
She was in the middle of her investigation when something inside the tree caught her attention. She jumped up, searching for a small stick she could use to poke around the house.
Cindy pulled out a piece of rolled paper from the house’s interior. The paper was brown, thoroughly leached of color, and tied with dirty twine.
The adventurer in her was overcome with excitement. What could be inside a paper hidden deep within a miniature house in such a big forest? Cindy was about to open and she heard her mom call for her.
“Cindy,” her mom’s voice mixed with the fluttering of leaves and buzzing of insects. Cindy placed the paper in her bucket and closed the yellow door. After ensuring it was well-fastened to the tree, she hurried to her mom.
Cindy told her mom about the little house in the woods. She looked back at where she came for, seeing nothing but endless leaves and pine trees. Would her mom believe her story?
Cindy’s mom took the paper with care, taking the twine off it. Her brows drew close as she read, “July 1995: In the memory of our little Ellie, we love you forever and always.”
She explained everything to the curious girl, telling her a family must’ve built the house for their late daughter as a way to remember her. “This is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever found, my sweet adventurer,” she said.