Eira wandered through the snowy forest. A young girl, her heart raced at the thought she was lost, only for her to shake her head and deny the notion. Wrapping her arms tightly around her torso she looked left then right. Nothing but white with thin black streaks shooting up from the ground—adolescent trees cutting her line of sight into horizontal bars. Where was her father? She wanted to see if the pond behind his house was really frozen like he said. He had a few chores to finish but told her to go on ahead, he would join her in a few minutes. But she had waited and waited and he never came.
Growing colder by the minute she headed back towards the house, each step like wading through thickening cement. She stopped for a moment, her vision fogging over with every breath she took. Sinking to her knees she put a gloved hand into the snow, expecting the cold to wake her up only to feel warmth instead. A short little rest couldn’t hurt, she thought as she folded forward, eyelids growing heavy. Just a quick little nap before going back to the house…
Opening her eyes Eira looked up, momentarily blinded by a white-hot reflection the sun cast on the snow. A figure loomed over her, large and broad. “Hello,” it said, holding out a hand. Eira took it and was pulled gently to her feet. As her eyes adjusted to the light she took in the strangely dressed creature standing before her. Craning her head back, she saw it was a giant black crow dressed in a pure white jester’s outfit, complete with a ruffle neck collar. Over its face it wore a plastic white rabbit’s mask, nose extended to accommodate its beak.
“Hello.” The crow spoke. “I’m happy you’re awake.”
“Where am I?” Looking around, Eira saw she was still in the forest. “Have you seen my dad?” She asked. “He was supposed to find me.”
“I’m afraid it’s too late for that.” The crow said. “You’ve been asleep here for a very long time. Too long to go back now.” Holding out a gloved hand, it continued. “Come with me.”
“I’m cold.” Eira said, taking the hand.
“You’ll get used to it in time.” Eira looked around as they walked, recognizing the forest but seeing no familiar land marks that told her she was near her father’s house. “I’ll tell you a secret,” the crow said. “There’s a big amusement park in the middle of the forest. It’s a very special place where children like you live and play all day.” The crow looked down at Eira through its plastic mask. “I’m sorry, but please understand your father didn’t take care of you. That’s why I’m here.” The crow’s big feet crunching through the snow, slow enough Eira didn’t struggle using quick, wide steps to keep up. After a few minutes the sound of children screaming in the way that is lost to them with age reached Eira through the trees. “Here we are.” The crow said, stopping in front of an impressive entrance way, beyond spread the most dazzling amusement park Eira had ever seen. Colorful lights danced over spinning tops and rollercoaster seats while soft plucks of music could be heard everywhere. Enclosed in a white lattice fence the park had no name and no gates, open to anyone who happened to find their way there. Inside children of all ages ran from one attraction to the next, little puffs of warm air gathering in huddles as they laughed. “You can stay here forever.” The crow crouched next to Eira. “I watch over this park every day and night. I know all of the children and not a single one is ever left alone or forgotten. Do you want to go inside?”
Eira looked at the park before looking over her shoulder back the way they’d come. In her heart, confused as she was, she understood what had happen. “I’m cold.”
“I know.” Standing up, the crow once again took her by the hand and led her into the park.