Outstanding Story (Sub-junior) - Twilight
“Twilight” is one of the outstanding stories (sub-junior) of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2019 written by Juliana Yang, Challenger School, USA.
This whole story started when I saw a maple leaf fall into a river…
~ I ~
Fall came. Beautiful leaves of all kinds fell to the ground. In the sunset, the whole forest covered in thick red, orange, and yellow glimmered.
Now, do you know that maple leaves are always eager to fall down from maple trees as soon as they change color? Probably not. But now you do.
Well, it happened one day that a maple leaf called Sparkle discovered that her daughter, Little Twilight, doesn’t want to fall down! You’ll never be able to imagine her shock.
“Never!” Little Twilight cried, “I don’t understand why others want to be separated from home forever. Why can’t we just stay at home peacefully?”
Unfortunately, a day later something happened to Twilight that she never expected.
That day, the wind howled as it blew harshly at the maple tree. All the leaves jumped up and down excitedly, eager to fall off the next moment.
But none of them did. In fact, Twilight, who was nervous the whole day was swooshed from side to side.
At first, she managed to grip on a skinny branch.
But unfortunately, her mother, who was waiting for a better future for her daughter out in the world gave her a great push, and down the tree she fell.
Poor Twilight! Full of force, the instantaneous speed made her race herself the whole way down and –
She hit the water of the river below.
Twilight thought this was the worst moment of her life. But it wasn’t. A flying squirrel was chasing after her! Every second, he was closer to her. Then, with all his might he caught her and just as he was about to eat her –
~ II ~
“Well,” he chuckled admiringly, “What a cute little leaf this is! What a big waste it’ll be if I ate her!”
At this moment, poor little Twilight wiggled like an eel and cried, “Don’t eat me! Don’t eat me!”
“Don’t eat me,” the flying squirrel mumbled, deciding whether to eat her or not.
At last, he shook his head and said, “Fine! I’ll let you free!”
“Can you be my friend?” Twilight asked, hopefully, “I need a friend to explore the world with me.”
“Explore the world?” laughed the squirrel, not taking this seriously at all, “Someone as tiny as you want to explore the world? Do you know how big the world is?”
“No,” said the maple leaf, “But I can tell you about me. At first, I wanted to stay on my maple tree forever and ever. But after my mother, Sparkle pushed me down, I’ll have nothing to do but grant her wish and explore the world.”
After this explanation, the squirrel thought that this piece of leaf is pretty sensible. So he said, “Sure, I’ll be your friend. My name is Fluffy.”
“My name is Twilight,” said the other.
“Where do you want to go first?” asked Fluffy.
“I don’t know,” said the leaf nervously.
“What! You’re planning to travel aimlessly?” cried the squirrel.
Twilight didn’t tell him, but leaves are always aimless. Wherever their destiny lead them to, that’s where they will be.
“Yes, I am,” she said. And just to not make Fluffy regret being her friend, she quickly added, “But it would be really fantastic.”
“Maybe,” said the squirrel suspiciously.
They travelled for days along the river. One day they stopped by an oak tree to feed Fluffy on acorns.
Suddenly, they heard a tiny voice weeping. Who could be there?
The sound came from behind a bush, so Fluffy dug the bush open. Inside was a tiny, ugly moth. Even though she looked so crazy, Twilight felt bad for the tiny creature.
So she said, “Who are you?”
“I am I.” chocked the moth.
“What’s your name?”
The moth turned away. As he did, a noise like slip slip slip sounded.
“Hi Slip,” said Fluffy and the three of them burst into laughter. After they were done laughing, the moth explained to them her story.
“When I was born, I was a caterpillar. A caterpillar can become either a butterfly or a moth. Even though my parents are both moths, I thought there was still hope that I would become a beautiful butterfly.
My mother thought the same as me. So when I became a larva, she named me Butterflia.
I loved my name, but when I became a pupa, I knew that this lovely name won’t suit me. When my legs and my tiny wings turned brownish grey, I realized that I would become a moth for sure.”
Speaking of this, she wiped a tear.
“How did you end up being here?” asked Twilight, wanting to know more.
“As I grew up, I became more and more ugly. Everyone made fun of me, and they called me Uglyia. I became furious, so on night I flew away from home and landed on this bush.”
Then she burst into tears once more.
“Don’t worry, we can call you Butterflia, right Fluffy?” said Twilight in a comforting voice.
But she shook her head.
“If you call me Butterflia, and another moth hears us, she’s going to spread the news and my peers will laugh at me even more.”
“Then let’s call you a pretend name,” insisted Fluffy, “Slip” she added, laughing.
Soon “Slip” wasn’t only a pretend name. As they travelled, they called her Slip at any time.
~ III ~
One night, Twilight, Slip and Fluffy were climbing up a snow mountain. They didn’t know, but they were hiking up the Denali Mountain, Alaska.
Remember, back then when Twilight fell from her maple tree they were in Whitehorse, Canada. Their maple tree was along the Yukon River. Now that they travelled for a month, they already reached Alaska.
The wind was circulating rapidly like a tornado. Too much wind resistance forced them to stop and rest.
“I feel like something bad is going to happen.” said Fluffy.
“Don’t say that,” said Twilight, “It’s never to happen.”
But it did. Just one minute after, bundles of snow started to roll down the peak. At first, they could manage to fight their way up. But soon, the weather worsened. There was a heavy snow. Balls of snow came flying in every direction towards them. Snowflakes were dancing crazily. The wind howled like a cayote.
It was an avalanche!
The whole world shook, and Twilight was so frightened that she dared not to open her eyes. Even if she wanted to, she couldn’t.
She felt Fluffy’s paw suddenly. He was trembling violently, although feverish. Was he trembling because of cold, or of fear? But Twilight thought that he was scared, so she said, “Don’t worry, Fluffy –”
“Open your eyes!” interrupted Fluffy.
“It’s rude to talk like that –”
“Open your eyes,” he repeated.
She slowly opened her eyelids. At first she half opened them, but as soon as she saw what’s going on, her eyes popped wide open. They were in the clear, white, soft, smooth, completely snow! There was only a light snow, and this was the best weather in days. The nightmare is over.
She was just about to start congratulating when she suddenly realized something – where’s Slip? Now she knew why Fluffy’s trembling: Slip’s gone!
~ IV ~
“Slip,” whimpered Fluffy, sobbing.
Twilight tried to act brave in the state they were in. “Don’t give up so easily, Fluffy. We’ll find her.”
“It’s not as easy as you said,” argued Fluffy.
“I was only trying to make you feel better,” insisted Twilight, “that hurts me.”
Despite their argument, Twilight and Fluffy were way more worried about Slip. One day Fluffy came to a small cliff edge.
“I’ll jump down there, and we might find her,” he told Twilight. But she shook her head and said, “The moment you hit the ground with your head —”
But Fluffy wasn’t listening. As you might know, Fluffy is an extremely truthful friend. He would be selfless when something happens to them. And as you could imagine, he jumped down the cliff.
Poor Twilight! Now she was left all alone deep in the depths of the gigantic snow mountain.
The thought of her two best friends disappearing made her shudder. And then she had an even worse thought. What if she cannot find her way out and gets trapped in here forever?
But Twilight didn’t cry and shout, “What could I do? Save me, Fluffy! Save me Slip!” like anyone else in her case would do. She was very independent. She just sat down and thought of different ways she could do to find her way out.
For days, she roamed like this. Instead of thinking for herself, she thought more about her friends. Did Fluffy get his feed on acorns? Did Slip’s wings get hurt? She didn’t know.
Well, it happened one night that she saw two shadows coming towards her. She thought that it was some kind of polar bear coming to eat her, so she started to run away. Suddenly she heard one call, “Stop, Twilight! We’re Slip and Fluffy!”
~ V ~
Twilight couldn’t believe her luck. Overjoyed, she ran over and embraced her friends.
Then she realized that Fluffy was limping on one leg. Quickly, she scooped a spoon of ice and placed it on Fluffy’s wound. Confused and a little angry, she said, “I knew you’ll get hurt. Tell me what happened.”
“After I jumped off that cliff, I landed on one leg. Then I heard a voice below me. It was Slip and –”
After he was done explaining, Twilight felt bad for him. So she said, “Fine, I’ll forgive you this one time. Just don’t do something as silly as jumping off a cliff edge anymore.”
The rest of the trip in the Denali Mountain went smoothly. Twilight drew a map of the way they could get out and they found their way out before the next avalanche.
Finally, they got out.
One night, they sat in the snow. (Everywhere in Alaska is covered with snow plus now it’s winter.) Fluffy was exaggerating her leg pain while constantly whining and Slip was stretching her wings when Twilight suddenly saw something she somehow saw before in Whitehorse.
A flash of blue and green light flashed across the sky. Orange light made the sky so pretty that Twilight thought she was dreaming.
At this point the fascinating scene had attracted all three friends to look up and admire. When the blue and green mixed, a beautiful shade of aqua and orange filed the sky. Soon purple and red lights appeared, too.
It was the North light!
Then suddenly all the colors swirled together and everything was over.
The sky became black again, and it looked as if nothing happened. Twilight stood there, her eyes shining with bewilderment. She was first amazed, then dazed, and before she could say something –
“I couldn’t believe it! That was so pretty! I wished it never ended!” cried Fluffy, unable to control his excitement.
“Yeah. It was extraordinary.” agreed Slip.
“I’ve seen something like that before,” said Twilight, finally having a chance to talk, “I believe the thing we just saw was the north light –”
“The North Light?” wondered Slip. Her voice sounded fearful, “My mother once told me that if you go north enough to see the north light, you’ll freeze to death!”
Fluffy trembled, but Twilight tried to calm them down. “Don’t worry,” she laughed, “Before in Whitehorse I saw them a thousand times, and did I freeze to death?”
She tried to sound cheerful, but actually deep down she was not feeling very brave about this. Alaska was way north compared to Whitehorse. What if Slip’s mother is right? Then they will freeze to death?
~ VI ~
Twilight’s insides twisted, and she felt sick. She was not actually ill, but she just felt like that for some reason. She didn’t want to admit being scared, but she knew that no matter what, one day she’ll have to admit it.
As she felt even more sick, she thought she had an indigestion. The feeling was horrible.
The next day, the temperature dropped. And the next day, it kept on falling. And same as the next day.
For some reason, Twilight felt as if she was going to freeze. Before, they had been through colder temperatures, but this time, she didn’t know why but she felt as if it was the coldest of all.
At last, she felt so sick, cold, and scared that she toppled down into a faint.
When she awoke, Fluffy was coming towards her.
“Bad news, Twilight. You’ve caught a disease called Frightened Flu. I’ve heard of it before, and now you have a –”
Fluffy stopped. Now he was so worried that his voice became weak. “Dangerous fever.” He finished, whispering.
Do you know that if an animal catches a fever, it could cause them death? Fluffy was an animal, and his aunt died of high fever. That’s why he was so scared of Twilight’s fever.
“I’m no frightened, Fluffy.” said Twilight, still not admitting that she is. Her voice was so soft that you could have not heard it.
“You should soar into sleep,” said Fluffy, and he left so she could rest.
It was a week later. Twilight was well enough to continue travelling, but still weak. Slip and Fluffy helped her to her feet and they set off.
The Frightened Flu attack not only gave Twilight a horrible fever but also a sequela. When she was asleep, she would have nightmares – she and her friends freezing to death. When she’s awake, the whole day she would be petrified by anything even a tiny bit related to her nightmare.
She was also delirious, she kept mumbling strange things. They made no sense to Slip, but Fluffy understood them perfectly. One night she cried, “Don’t eat me! Don’t eat me!” and Fluffy remembered when she first met him. Another time she was half asleep, but she managed to whisper weakly, “can you be my friend?” and Fluffy remembered her begging face when she asked him to be her friend. That time she was cheerful, but now she probably will never be like that anymore, thought Fluffy. Thinking of this, he wiped a tear.
But he was wrong. One morning Twilight woke up feeling merrier than ever. She didn’t have a single nightmare the night ago, and her eyes were bright for the first time in weeks.
When she told Slip and Fluffy, they knew that the worst was over. Fluffy never felt so relieved.
~ VII ~
The days were long and peaceful for about a year after that. Nothing happened. In this year, Twilight, Slip and Fluffy finished exploring Alaska. They built many snowmen (tiny snowmen), saw so many north lights that Twilight was not even a tiny bit scared anymore, and visited many pine leave (Twilight’s friends).
Twilight was so used to peaceful days that she forgot that conflicts actually could happen to them. But unfortunately, something happened the next day.
It was all like this:
One morning, Twilight woke up feeling homesick. She had been away from Whitehorse for almost two years. She went to tell Fluffy that she wanted to return to Whitehorse for just a couple of weeks and they could continue travelling.
But when she came to him, he was cuddling into a ball and secretly sobbing.
“They could, but I can’t – why just I can’t? It’s no fair. It’s unjust – it’s unjust!” he mumbled as he wept.
“Are you okay?” asked Twilight.
“Go away!” he cried.
“What happened?” she asked kindly, trying to ignore how rude he was.
“Go away,” he repeated.
Now Twilight couldn’t’ be patient anymore. “Tell me what happened!” she said.
But Fluffy didn’t hear anything. He only continued sobbing. It was obvious to Twilight that he had something in mind that he didn’t want to tell her.
Twilight didn’t’ force her best friend. And for some reason, she felt as if Fluffy meant more to her than Slip. But she just kept that thought deep down – she never bothered to express it, even a tiny bit.
She felt like that Fluffy was so close to her that they built a connection. She could somehow feel his mixed emotions, and watching him sob lowered her mood.
Thinking of this, she automatically bent down and wiped his tears for him. She hated to see him like that. Tears whelmed in her own eyes. “Don’t worry, Fluffy. I’m always here for you.” She whispered.
Fluffy opened his chubby, furry hands, and wrapped her into a tight hug. Then, Twilight knew that she now does not only like him, but also love him.
After hours, Fluffy finally calmed down and decided to share Twilight his story.
“Twilight,” he said softly, “I’ll tell you this, but don’ tell anyone…not even Slip.”
“Of course.” Twilight promised.
Fluffy started, “I was born as a prince. I was the squirrel prince. I grew up in my palace, and I love it there. My mother and father gave me so much love that I thought home was the warmest place in the world.
One sunny day, my father came to me with the palest face I’ve ever seen. He told me that another squirrel family was going to take over our dynasty. And that night, those horrible men came. They put my mother in prison and made my father a slave. One of my father’s faithful chancellors helped me escape to Whitehorse. And the rest of the story, you already know…”
Twilight was shocked. She never knew that such a little cute squirrel like Fluffy could be a prince. She somehow felt unpleasant. Was Fluffy going to say that he was going back to his palace and leave them forever? Was he crying because of that? Twilight didn’t know.
“After leaving home for two years, Twilight, I want to return into the arms of my parents. I miss them so much! But I can’t be together with them! If you missed Whitehorse, you can still return there,” continued fluffy, “But can I return to my home? No!” And then instead of a little sob, he burst into tears and threw a temper -tantrum.
Twilight tried to make him feel better. But at this moment, Slip came in. “Are you guys okay?” she asked.
Fluffy hid his face. But it was too late. Slip fluttered in and cried, “Wait. What happened, Fluffy?”
“Nothing,” choked Fluffy. Slip turned to Twilight. “Really nothing.” said Twilight.
“Are you sure?” asked Slip.
“Fine, I’ll tell you,” said Twilight. Fluffy gave her a quick glimpse and trembled. “Fluffy hurt his leg when he was playing.”
Slip walked away. Twilight knew that Slip thought that she was not very truthful.
Fluffy began to cry again. “She doesn’t believe in us,” he said.
“She will,” said Twilight hopefully, “I will make her believe in us.” After this, she left without another word to go to Slip.
She came to Slip. “Really, we’re telling you the truth,” she lied, “We’re a team of three. How could we hide secrets from each other?”
Slip nodded as if she believed in them, but Twilight thought that she still looked suspicious.
Twilight felt horrible. If she told Slip the truth, Fluffy would be upset. Now that she lied to Slip, Slip doesn’t really believe in her.
She wished that Fluffy wasn’t a prince. If he wasn’t, all this wouldn’t have happened and their lives would still have been peaceful.
She left Slip, and the next day she wished she hadn’t. When she woke up the next morning, Fluffy came to her and said, “We should tell the truth to Slip. We aren’t being fair to her.”
She came to where Slip usually slept, but instead of a sleeping Slip, she only saw a small note written on the snow. It said, “Sorry Fluffy and Twilight, but I must tell you this. My peers missed me, and they took me home last night. I hope to see you again!”
Twilight froze. After all, Slip was gone forever. But she somehow felt happy for her. A mixed emotion of happiness and sadness washed all over her. She called Fluffy over. At first she thought that he would burst into tears, but he didn’t. He only said calmly, “At least she is back home with everyone welcoming her.”
Twilight smiled. Fluffy had finally learned how to control his feelings.
Two more months passed. One day Fluffy stared at a piece of paper, looking thrilled. Then he jumped up and down in excitement and said, “Look, Twilight!”
Twilight looked at the piece of paper that Fluffy picked up from the ground. On it, someone with perfect cursive penmanship wrote, “Dear Fluffy, my dear son, your father I had took over our kingdom again. Come back home, my darling! Me and your mama are most welcome. Write back to me, and tell me where you are. I will send you a carriage to pick you up. Signature; Singjoy.”
For some reason, Twilight can’t stand Fluffy leaving. She hid behind a rock and let a tear escape. And then another one, and then another.
Soon, she was crying.
“Sorry, Twilight,” a voice came from her back.
It was Fluffy. He helped her wipe her tears this time, and explained, “Sorry again. I’ll have to return to my kingdom. I hate leaving you, but I’ll have to come next in line and be the future king. Don’t worry, I’m sure that our fate will lead us to meet each other again.”
Tears formed in his own eyes. He wiped them away and pretended that they never appeared.
Twilight whispered his last words to herself – I’m sure that our fate will lead us to meet each other again. They somehow helped her feel better.
Fluffy wrote back to his father, and the next day came a gold and silver carriage drawn by squirrels.
Twilight gave Fluffy one last tight hug and a quick goodbye before he climbed into the carriage.
Twilight watched the little, delicate carriage disappeared out of sight. As she did, she thought about all her good memories with her two best friends. And now they were all gone. But Twilight felt very happy. Fluffy had his kingdom back, and Slip’s peers like her now. Isn’t that the best ending it could have ever been?
~ VIII ~
And what did Twilight do? She travelled back to Whitehorse, preparing to stay there for a while and continue travelling. She thought she would meet new friends, but that never happened. Instead, she didn’t even leave Whitehorse. It wasn’t her choice to stay in her hometown, it was all like this:
One morning, she was walking around the maple tree she had fallen off, along the river. Suddenly, huge bundles of dry grass came flying towards her.
It was the gardener of a nearby house. He was weeding. Twilight ducked and tried to not get buried, but still, a huge bundle of weed fell right on her. And, after a few months, the little maple was buried into the ground.
I’m sure that what happened to Twilight sounded like a tragedy, but actually it was the opposite! You won’ believe what happened. She grew into a new maple tree! The old maple tree that she had fallen off and the new maple tree she had grown into looked nearly identical. They stood side by side, like twins.
The tree that Twilight grew into looked absolutely wonderful. The slender branches stretched far and wide, and soon the little leaves were glistening in the sunshine.
And one day, one of those little leaves didn’t want to fall down her maple tree was pushed down by her mother, and this same story happened again and again.
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