Japanese maples [11/100]

When I was in 4th grade, we learned about myths in the form of those stories like “How the zebra got its stripes.” We were supposed to write our own. I remember having a flash of inspiration and I knew what I wanted to write about.

My story was called “Why Japanese maple leaves are red.” I wrote a story about how the Japanese and Chinese were in a brutal war, and I think there was something about a Chinese soldier capturing a Japanese soldier. The Japanese soldier pleaded for his life, and the Chinese soldier spared his life, but cut off his hands. He wanted to keep them so he hung them outside on his tree.

After a few weeks, he had forgotten about the bloody hands and they had sort of dried and attached themselves to the trees as leaves. That’s why Japanese maple leaves look like hands and are red.

My teacher ended up calling my mom, though not for the reasons I would have expected — that my story was pretty morbid and disturbing. She was impressed with the writing and thought that I must have heard the story somewhere and copied it. No, my mom reassured her — the story was all mine.

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