Painting ©Helma Petrick
She knew this was the right place, because of the wolf face smiling at her from high among the smooth stones.
Here, it whispered.
I know, she replied eagerly.
We’re waiting for you, said the rose nodding gently among the branches of the big tree.
She hesitated and looked back along the path towards the road that wound about until it reached another road and the house where she lived. But the path had gone. The cart ruts filled with pale sandy soil and separated by tall wavy grass were no longer there. She crouched down and parted the tall yellow flowers, felt the ground until she found the indentation made by a metal-rimmed wheel long ago. She picked a flower and smiled at its yellowness. The path was still there if you knew where to look. And she did.
Come, the wolf said. Come and dance.
Dance, said the rose, and a wave of perfume broke over her face.
Can I go home, after? She asked.
If you want to, said the wolf.
Only if you want to, said the rose and the spreading tree.
Only if you want to, repeated all the trees in the great forest beyond the wall.
Then I’ll come, said the little girl.
The wolf howled with delight, and the wolves and foxes of the forest picked up his song. The spreading tree leant gracefully to one side, and the wall opened to let the child pass. She skipped through the narrow, root-curly gap and joined in the spring dance that only ever ends if you want it to.