The Long Way Home, by Clare Rhoden
At one time, there were three sisters.
Lizabelle, Bellabelle, and Clarabelle.
Lizabelle was the most beautiful sister; Bellabelle was the cleverest sister; and Clarabelle, the youngest sister, loved animals.
The sisters lived on the edge of a forest, where trees grew thick and where the shadows under the trees were as dense as black velvet. In these shadows, magical creatures and natural creatures played together, little knowing that their two kinds should not meet. The magical and the natural don’t always play well together, and sometimes their play turns deadly. But this was the Forest of Innocence, after all, and many of the creatures knew no better.
Lizabelle the beautiful sister was the first to walk into the Forest of Innocence. When she didn’t come home by sundown, the other two sisters were worried.
‘Where can Lizabelle be?’ asked Clarabelle.
‘She walked into the forest,’ answered Bellabelle thoughtfully. ‘But she sure is taking ages to get back. She must have taken the long way home.’
The next day, there was no sign of Lizabelle. Bellabelle told Clarabelle to wait at the edge of the velvet darkness, because she was going to follow Lizabelle. ‘I will find her,’ she reassured her little sister. ‘I will follow her tracks and we will soon be home.’
Clarabelle waited for most of the day. ‘Lizabelle and Bellabelle must have taken the long way home,’ she said aloud. She smiled. On the other side of the velvet black undergrowth, a pair of shining green eyes gleamed at her in admiration.
Clarabelle, now the most beautiful and clever sister alive, loved animals.