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Calumet and the Pines


KC Crawford


Based on a true story

Calumet grew up under maple leaves, under the thick and thin trees that lined his brick street. The leaves would turn nearly every color of the rainbow throughout the year and colored the street like a paint-by-number. Every branch and twig created a canopy of safety and comfort that kept the cool shade in and the hot breeze out. Calumet loved the trees, the fortresses of leaves. But like all love, Calumet got too comfortable and looked for something more.


 The slight crackle of maple leaves in the hot breeze was soothing as he walked down the uneven brick. But when he crossed the way the crackling calmed and Calumet heard a very different sound as he laid eyes on the group of pines. The prickle and patter of pine needles in the wind was much softer and harder to hear, so he ventured closer. The green, pointed needles acted like pixels that created a huge fury monster with spikes and brown gunk seeping down the limbs. Calumet walked underneath the gigantic monsters and found more prickling noises, tan-sap and even some nice shade. And this is where he sat for a while and imagined all of the things he could use this natural hidden-palace for: a snow fortress, a castle, a cave, army barracks, a big pet monster, and on and on and on.


The breeze dwindled as the clouds coated the evening sky and Calumet decided it was time to return to his safe haven of the maple-lines, brick-laid street. As he left the cold under-shade of the pines he noticed something at his feet. There, at his shoes on the road, was something he couldn't recognize. It looked like an egg had been splashed all at his feet, and in the yellow-cream mess there was a very white, very clear skeleton. But of what?


He sat on the curb, just at the edge of the pines, and stared at the liquid mystery for a while. It didn't look like a bird; it couldn't be a baby bird. The long neck was cocked back and twisted, so that the head was nearly touching the curved spine. And weren't those teeth? Maybe not, but there was a snout-- it didn't look that much like a beak. It looked just like an Alligator, but its arms were too long. It looked just like a dinosaur, but those didn't exist anymore, Calumet thought. What was it? What could it be?


As his irises fixed and focused on each bone in the fluid scene he became more and more confused. And then, with no particular catalyst except the whistling pines, Calumet had an epiphany. He realized that the tiny, thin bones created a baby bird. And with more shock and grief than one would imagine, Calumet ran as fast as he could back to the maples, back home.

© 2008 K.C. Crawford

K.C.CRAWFORD shares...


BIO: I grew up in Columbus OH, but I've lived all over the US. I've worked as a journalist in Chicago, and now as an editor in Ohio. I also play and coach lacrosse.

MOTIVATION: This is about losing innocence and is based on something that happens to every little kid.