Highly Commended Story - The Megalo Dasos Forest
“The Megalo Dasos Forest” by Temitayo Ifeoluwa Banjo, Superannica Writers’ Academy, Nigeria, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Temitayo is 11 years old and lives in the city of Lagos in Nigeria. She is actually from Ogun state, also in Nigeria. Her hobbies are writing, singing and dancing. She attends Superannica Writers’ Academy.
The Megalo Dasos Forest
In the Megalo Dasos forest in Greece lies a dense of sapient acacias called Plars. Plars have trunks resembling a human face. By midnight when the darkness is almost absolute, only a smattering of luminous stars scatter in the perfect night-time velvet and the moon in a beaming glow; the Plars spread out their branches as arms and wobble their goggling eyes totally aware of the humming insects, chirping birds, howling critters and whispering breeze for tree to tree. No one could suspect what Plars become at night.
Maybe the children at Camlipus School could, but unfortunately the school had built a large fence shutting out the forest completely. Nevertheless, children came to school in the day and of course were snuggling up in bed at night in their homes. In the Megalo forest lived the wisest living beings of all times but they were viewed as just a bunch of cooking wood. Plars are one of the oldest living organisms in Greece; most Plars lived over 600 years. Palaióteres fondly called “Mama Palaó,” was the oldest of them all. This majestic; 118-foot tall Plars is a pleasurable sight to behold. Over the course of her long life, she had survived hurricanes, disease and logging sprees, serving as a leader of all the Plars.
On a certain day, Sirus Callas; a 10years old orphan boy who attended Camlipus School was on his way into his class when he bumped into one of his greatest terror – Icarus. Sirus has continually been bullied by the gloomy and fierce looking – Icarus. Most student thought Icarus’ family were descendants of the Darnose giants north of the Caucasus Mountains. They were known for their towering height, large arms, feet and legs. Icarus was the most feared boy in school and the leader of a group of 6 – 10 boys.
Sirus was without parents. He was quite skinny, too polite and respectful. He was an easy pick for these obvious reasons and was clearly not in the top of the social hierarchy. Sirus hadn’t a proper defence, not in any way, shape or form. The moment any of the boys turned against him, was the moment Sirus turned into prey. He was consistently being chased by this pack of wolves in and around school, in class, on the yard, on his way to and from school- there was never a moment to catch a breath, never a moment where he could come to his senses, no protection or help at all from anyone. He was alone, he was spat at, got cornered, kicked, beaten up and his lunch pack taken on a daily basis. He sucked up the worst insults ever, had threats every other day or so, even to his life, and got publicly humiliated in several ways, was laughed at for the usual stupid reasons, was ignored in various humiliating ways, he was a prey, he was hunted severely. His life in school was terrifying.
On Sirus’ 10th birthday his Aunty Helen had baked him an apple pie of which he had fantasied eating all by himself. But he didn’t know how to stand against Icarus and his pack. When it was lunch time, Icarus was right there to collect it as usually. Sirus hesitated.
“Hand in your pack loser!” bellowed Icarus.
“It is my birthday today”, please can I have my lunch for today, I promise to give you my lunch tomorrow and on every other day. Sirus pleaded.
“Give it to me, you parentless geek, who cares if it’s your birthday.” Icarus scoffed. Icarus snatched the lunch pack off Sirus’ hand; he took out the apple pie and stomped on it with his big left foot then smeared it on Sirus’ face. All the other kids started to laugh out loud and there were several echoes of loser! To get away from the humiliating scene, he ran off not minding where he was running to. He ran through the broken fence into Megalo Dasos forest hoping to be safe there. He found a safe harbour under the arms of Mama Palaó and he cried so loud that his tears made her reveal her true nature. She lifted him up into her branches and in what seemed like a trance she spoke to him in his late mother’s voice.
“Show kindness even to people who don't deserve it, not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours,” she encouraged. Sirus left the forest a happier child. He came to the forest whenever he was sad and Mama Palaó had a way of lifting his burdens with words that she spoke to him in his late mother’s voice. Sirus had found a trunk to rely on.
Sirus had changed the perspective in handling Icarus and the other bullies. He began to pay attention to Icarus. He noticed Icarus needed a new coat for the coming winter so he took out time, with his aunty’s help he made a colourful coat for Icarus. Icarus was surprised and happy too at Sirus’ kind gesture. His mother was very ill and will not be able to make a coat for him. Sirus started to help some other students with extra arithmetic classes after school. Soon he invited Icarus; he was able to help a lot of students improve their grades. He started to gain the attention of his teachers and even his bullies. People began to respect him because he was adding great value. Then Sirus gained confidence. He assertively told Icarus and the other boys that disrespecting people of any sort wasn’t good. Sirus spoke to them in Mama Palaó’s actual words, “Never look down on anyone, you only see what they choose to show you.” Icarus and his pack were sorry and they promised to be a better people. Sirus found out that Icarus’ mum’s health was deteriorating; Icarus didn’t want to lose his dad. Sirus’ pains were Icarus’ greatest fear. Sirus reassured him that all will be well. Sirus took Icarus to the forest. Mama Palaó was there to help him as well. She asked the boys to bring Icarus’ mum. When she was brought, the sap from Mama Palaó’s trunk was given to her and she was well again.
“We should always show respect even to people who don't deserve it, not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of ours.”