by AMBER YOUNG
There was once a vast grove. Tall, towering trees with leaves that blanketed the earth from the fierce light of the sun. Patches of clovers and tiny buttercup flowers were carefully nestled among the green, vibrant colors and strands that were laced with dew. Living within these trees and plants were animals of many kinds. There was Finch, a talkative bird, with soft brown speckles feathers that blended in perfectly to her surroundings. There was Frog, and Toad, the two different but very close friends. There was Squirrel, he was a grey creature that never seemed able to stay still. Lastly, there was Turtle, who was very shy.
The animals would go on with their lives, hunting, exploring, building shelter- and gossiping. Finch could fly, so she was able to get a perfect sky view of everything. She always had something to talk about. One day, while Frog was searching for her lunch, Finch landed beside her.
“Afternoon.” Frog said kindly, tilting her head to Finch.
“Frog! You’ll never believe what I saw Toad doing!” Finch chirped, and Frog turned to look at her.
“What do you mean?” Frog responded curiously.
“She was saying such horrible things about you to Squirrel!”
“How many times must I tell you, Finch, just because you are bored does not mean you can try and start a fight between Toad and I.”
Finch chirped again, outraged. “You don’t believe me? Go ask Toad yourself!”
“You are ridiculous, Finch.”
But Frog was more curious than irritated. Had Toad really been talking behind her back? She decided to ask Squirrel. He was the one that Finch mentioned Toad was with.
“Squirrel?” Toad asked, later that day, as the grey creature raced down his tree to greet her.
“What do you need, Frog?” Squirrel greeted her.
“Has Toad been talking about me?”
Squirrel paused, before speaking again. “She’s very mad with you. After what you said about her, I would be too!”
“What did I ever do?” Frog wondered as Squirrel raced back up his tree. She would go ask Turtle. He was friends with everyone, and he was always trustworthy. He would know what was going on.
“Hello, Turtle.” Frog greeted as she found him lazing about under some mushrooms. “I have a question to ask.”
“Oh.” Turtle shrunk back into his shell, speaking out to her. “What do you need to ask?”
“Finch told me Toad has been saying terrible things about me, and Squirrel told me she’s mad at me!”
“But you haven’t actually talked to Toad herself about all of this?” Turtle wondered.
“Why should I have to?”
“I think something was…lost in the translation here. Last I knew, Toad was in a perfectly fine mood, resting out by the giant oak tree. You should go talk to her.”
“You are no help, Turtle! I need to find out what she’s saying without her knowing!’
Turtle sighed, and Frog left to go find Toad. That was her last option, after all.
“Toad!” Frog cried as she hopped up to her friend, Toad looking annoyed at her sudden appearance. “How come you’re mad at me? How come you’ve been saying bad things about me?”
“What do you mean? I should be the one asking that, not you. I know what you did!”
“What did I even do?”
“You have been saying bad things about me.”
“Who ever told you that!”
Toad became angry. “Finch knows everything, and everyone knows that.”
“Just stop, Frog. If you won’t own up to what you did, fine, but don’t talk to me anymore.”
“Toad, please wait!”
But Toad was gone, and Frog was all alone. She barely noticed the chirping laughter from the tree above them.