short story: Hope and the Forest of Dreams
Once upon a time in the Forest of Dreams there was a lonely child left behind. Her parents no longer believed in dreams. So the animals took her in and named her Hope. They raised her as one of their own.
On the day of her 8th birthday she began to ask questions about where she came from and why she was different. The animals would only say she was a true gift of love, and when the time was right she would know the answers to her questions.
Hope was walking through the Forest of Dreams one day and heard the tears of a tiny abandoned fawn. He was frightened and shivering. Hope reached down to comfort him and he stood up to follow her. They became best friends and the two were never alone again.
As the fawn grew Hope named him Running Deer, because he loved to run in the meadow at the edge of the forest. Running Deer became very fast and agile. Hope began to grow too, but not as fast. Their friendship grew even faster.
There came a time when Hope could not keep up with Running Deer. There came a time when Hope would spend time with her other friends, because Running Deer would stay away for days at a time.
The wise old owl told a sad Hope that Running Deer was ready to join the herd and find a mate. The owl said he would not go as long as Hope needed him.
After a time, Hope began to see that Running Deer had fallen in love and was ready to make his own family. Hope could see that Running Deer was sad, so she went to the meadow to meet him. Hope told Running Deer it was okay for him to go. They would always be friends and he could always count on her. She clapped her hands for him to “start” as she always did to send him off. He looked back once and then was gone.
Hope soon made new friends with the other animals. It was never the friendship she had with Running Deer. She saw him occasionally with his herd and family.
One day an evil man entered the Forest of Dreams. He was a hunter, looking for deer. Hope saw him and sent all the animals deep into the forest. Hope tried to scare the man off. Unlike the other strangers he was not easily scared off. The hunter followed Running Deer’s tracks and soon caught up to him. Hope put herself in front of Running Deer to save his life. Running Deer was safe, and the animals all saw the man disappear from the forest.
Hope’s life began to slip away and the wise old owl asked her to never forget. He knew she would, they always grew up and forgot the Forest of Dreams. Somehow, he believed Hope would never totally forget even though she would grow older and have her own family.
Hope woke up in the hospital. Her mom and dad were sitting beside her. The coma she had slipped into now subsiding. Slowly she began to wake up and remember her family. In her arms lay a stuffed deer, well worn and well loved. And she remembered.