Little House in the Big Woods
Finally, Kiera came to a clearing in the woods. The sun had returned, its rays warm and comforting. Whatever powers she had possessed had been dispelled, and Kiera was back to normal. But she was no longer afraid. At the edge of the clearing was a waterfall, with flowers of all shapes and colors stretching across its ends. In front of her, was a house, a quaint little cottage with a small front door, almost too small for a normal person to fit through. Kiera cocked her head curiously. She could hear a soft, sweet voice speak inside, with the scattering and twittering of small critters. Curiously, she approached the door and peeked inside. To her relief, Kiera saw the woman she met earlier. She was singing a merry tune with small deer, rabbits, raccoons, and birds surrounding her, taking dishes into the wash basin and cleaning them. Others were sweeping and dusting, occasionally sneezing and coughing. The woman sang:
“Just whistle while you work
And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place
So hum a merry tune
It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace
And as you sweep the room
Imagine that the broom is someone that you love
And soon you’ll find you’re dancing to the tune!”
Just then, the woman spotted Kiera peeking through the door and smiled warmly.
“Come in, come in!” she called.
Kiera slowly entered the cottage, carefully navigating around the busy little animals.
“I’m glad you’re alright, I was afraid something would happen to you” said Kiera.
“So am I! I didn’t realize you got lost in the woods too” the woman replied, “Oh I was so afraid! But my new friends helped me through the darkness and brought me here!”
The woman looked around the room.
“I believe seven little children live here. All alone with no mother or father, and the place was a mess. So my friends and I are going to clean it up and surprise them.”
“You’d do that for someone you’ve never met?” Kiera asked, surprised.
“Well of course! You should always help someone in need, even when you don’t know them.”
Kiera thought for a moment, taking in what the woman said.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right!” she replied, “Thanks!”
“Oh, I don’t believe I’ve ever told you my name. I’m Snow White.”
Kiera put her hand to her chest. “My name’s Kiera. It’s nice to finally meet you officially, Snow White.”
Finally, the house was sparkling and glittering. The clothes had been washed and hung to dry outside and the windows were open so the natural light would pour in. Snow White decided to bake a pie for the little children to have when they return. Kiera happily assisted her.
“You’re quite good at this, Kiera” Snow White complimented.
“Thank you” Kiera replied, “My friend Aqua taught me how to make pies. She’s quite the baker back home.”
“Where are you from?”
Kiera didn’t answer immediately.
“Far away,” she finally said, “I’m still looking for my friend.
She turned to Snow White.
“What about you, Snow White?”
“Oh, I live in a big castle on the other side of the forest,” Snow explained, “Although, I’ve never really considered it my home.”
“Well, I believe that home is where the heart is; and you’re heart can go anywhere. A home could be a place, a land, a friend, or both!”
Snow White frowned a little.
“The castle used to be my home…But I think it’s about time I find my home somewhere else.”
Kiera slowly nodded.
“Yeah…I know a bit of what that’s like…”
She put her hand to her heart. She thought about the Land of Departure. That was the only home she had ever known, but the castle itself never truly felt like home. She always felt the castle was just as its name stated: a Land of Departure. It was never permanent. She always thought she was destined to leave, and that her true home was elsewhere.
Then she thought of Ventus, Terra, and Aqua. Her heart ached when she thought about being away from them. Even though she wanted to find her real home, she wanted her friends to come with her, especially Ventus. She remembered the promise she and Ventus made, about traveling together, always being together. Her hand tightened.
“Oh! It’s ready, Kiera!” said Aqua.
Kiera eagerly opened the oven, which was ginormous. Inside were two steaming pies, which looked like cherry. I took two oven mitts and pulled them out.
“Now, we have to wait for them to cool before we can try them” Aqua instructed.
“How long?” Kiera asked
Aqua chuckled, and smiled.
“Do you think, if Ventus wakes up, we can give him a piece? That is, if it turns out right.”
Aqua’s smile turned into a beam.
“That sounds like a wonderful idea, Kiera. I think he would like that.”
“Why do you think he went to sleep? Why did his loss of memory make his head hurt so bad?”
“I don’t know, Kiera. Master Eraques didn’t tell me or Terra what was wrong with him. By the look on his face, it doesn’t sound good.”
“Well, when he wakes up, I’m going to be his friend! That way, he won’t be sad anymore!”
Aqua chuckled, then sighed.
“Oh Kiera. Don’t ever change.”
“Well,” Kiera added, “Maybe this will be your new home. Perhaps the children will let you stay, and they will be your friends. After all, it does seem they have no mother or father.”
Snow White smiled.
“You know, that is a very good idea!” She declared, “Perhaps I will try that.”
After a while, Snow White pulled the pie out of the oven. It smelled heavenly, and wafted throughout the entire cottage.
“It’s perfect, Snow!” Kiera announced.
Snow White smiled. Then, she yawned.
“Oh my, I didn’t realize how sleepy I was” she stated.
“Why don’t you rest a bit?” Kiera offered.
“You are too kind, Kiera” said Snow, “I hope someday I can repay you.”
“No need, I’m just honored to help someone in need.”
Kiera frowned again as she thought for a moment. Then she stood up.
“I must be going” she declared, “I need to go find my friend I was with.”
“Oh, right now?” Snow White replied, disappointed, “Surely you can wait until the pie is finished!”
Kiera smiled sadly.
“I’m sorry Snow, I wish I could.”
“Well, alright then. Thank you again so much for your help. Here, I actually have something for you,” said Snow, “It’s not much, but I hope it can help you on your journey.”
Snow White handed Kiera a small brown sack with an apple stitched on it, with munny inside.
“Wow! Thanks, Snow!” Kiera exclaimed.
“I think I’ll be staying with my new little friends for a while. So come back any time! We’ll bake another pie!”
“Sounds wonderful! Maybe next time I’ll actually get to eat it!”
The two girls chuckled. Then, Kiera opened the door, and departed outside.
She finally spotted Terra in the meadow. Kiera grinned and ran up to him.
“Oh good! You’re still in one piece!” She exclaimed.
Terra was quiet. He seemed deeply bothered by something, and didn’t fully realize Kiera was standing there. Kiera frowned.
Terra snapped back to reality.
“What?” He asked.
Kiera sighed with slight mocking irritability, “I’m glad you’re not dead!”
Terra snorted, his worried expression instantly melting away and returning to normal.
“Oh, you thought I wasn’t gonna make it, huh?” He asked, raising and eyebrow.
Kiera scoffed. “No! I just thought you’d be a bit more battered after I left!”
“Ha! You of little faith!” Terra quipped, “I’m surprised you came back alright, running off into the woods like that!”
“Well, I remembered you, Aqua, and Ventus, and I felt braver.”
Kiera clutched the wayfinder that was sticking out of her pocket.
“With you three, I’m unstoppable!”
“Yeah, that’s true.”
“Come on! Let’s keep moving!”