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Photo by Chris Ainsworth on Unsplash

The river was the first place Rebecca drove to after the procedure. The air was hot and muggy, and her shirt fit too tight. Pine needles crunched under her white sneakers as she walked to sit on a bench under a willow tree. It was 1:00 pm and she was supposed to be in school. She had hidden everything, including her plummeting grades.

The riverbank was pretty much vacant other than a mother and a toddler who left not long after she arrived, the mother rolling up a picnic blanket and packing up the remnants of their lunch while the toddler wailed. A man and a woman also stood by the river about 20 feet away. Rebecca didn’t see them at first because they were as still as mannequins. …

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Photo from Pixabay

There was a rumor going around Brockfield Elementary School of an illness that turned children into trees. The spectacle began when Jimmy Chapman, a petite 5th grade boy with flaming red hair and a knack for puzzles, discovered an article in his father’s office. The article in question detailed a curious medical investigation in which school-aged children slowly transformed into trees. The article was passed around at lunch as children slurped on juice boxes and ate sandwiches cut into neat triangles, and by early afternoon a meeting between the principal and Jimmy’s father, a botanist, had already been arranged.

Anabella Stone was a 4th grade student at the time, and on that particular afternoon in late March, children filled the hallways with anxious whispers. When they asked their teacher, Mrs. Smith, whether the rumor was true, her lips formed a hard, tight line that accentuated the wrinkles on her pale, middle-aged face. …

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Photo by Kelly-Ann Tan on Unsplash

There is a town by the ocean. Only 50 people live in this town, and most of them have lived there for their entire lives. It rains every day of the year except for the month of April. On these thirty days when the sun comes out, nobody goes to work and school is canceled. Everybody spends the entire day outside. In fact, many families set up tents in the park and live outside the entire month. Here, they wait for the sun to slip through the tent flap each morning, its delicate fingers dancing in front of their shut eyelids. Children run to the beach where the ocean greets their eager toes. Parents bring picnic lunches: ham and cheese sandwiches cut into neat triangles that the children devour, their wet fingertips turning the bread soggy as it meets their salty tongues. …


Emily I. Ryan

Bay Area teacher & aspiring fiction writer

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