The Forest of Imagination

Sandy baked a brand new pecan pie for Jill with Miko’s help. Miko thankfully was the kind of person to see the chaos Sandy left behind in the kitchen and immediately offered to start cleaning. Otherwise Sandy would have had to to clean it all up herself before turning in that night. This job was definitely harder than the one she used to have. Long hours in the 7th Avenue diner were always cut short by the train schedule. If she missed all of the trains, that day and the next were ruined and her manager understood that. But here in Kemono Café, everything was now Sandy’s responsibility no matter how long it took. Sandy had the time to reflect on all of this with Miko nearby to talk to. Somehow extra hours in the café didn’t feel as intense. There was a feeling of ownership in every mess and Sandy loved the fact no one ever yelled at her and never had the opportunity to do so.

Okay, I think got it all. Thanks, Miko. I didn’t mean to trap you into doing chores. No worries. But we really should get going. You don’t want to be out in those woods when it gets dark. On it. We can let the pie rest on the way.

The two women locked up the cafe together. Sandy felt an immense surge of pride that her first day went so well. It was complete chaos in the morning, but nothing truly bad happened. She rose to the challenge Maxine had given her.

Their journey took them north a short distance to Fable’s farms and ranches. Sandy admired how far you could see over them all and the beautiful backdrop of green woodland beyond. Walking in Fable reminded Sandy of dioramas back in grade school with sharp brightly colored in layers sliding past as they walked.

My gosh, the farms are just… right there. I’ve never seen a farm before! That’s Pageturner Ranch! Even though half of it isn’t technically a ranch… You should meet Liz sometime. She’s a hoot. Oh yeah? She looks kind of like me. So I like to pretend she’s what I would have been if I was a super Fable rancher and got all buff and stuff. You never wanna see me swim by the way. I’m like 30% fluff and air. *giggle!*

They passed Pageturner Ranch on their right, walking a long empty road up to the slowly growing woods. Sandy had seen a forest once back home and it definitely did not look like this one. The trees grew aggressively high as they approached and immediately looked thick and impenetrable. At a glance, they looked like a solid painted wall of thick trunks wider than Sandy was tall. They reminded Sandy of stories of great redwood forests, but she didn’t know enough about trees to know if this was one too. A thin muddy path led between the trees and winded into a thin layer of fog, which crept between the rays of sunlight that pierced the dense canopies. Sandy was excited for a hike in such a beautiful and ominous place, but something Miko said didn’t sit quite right with her…

We’ll probably have an hour or so to visit before we’ll have to turn right around. Are you sure? The forest is big but… it can’t be bigger than the town and that doesn’t take an hour to walk across. This is called the Forest of Imagination. It’s much bigger on the inside, trust me. How can a forest be bigger on the inside than on the outside? *shrug* Do you have to deliver her mail all the way in there? Nope. Jill doesn’t get any mail. Sometimes I tell her about the letters she gets and she asked me to just stamp ‘Not at this address’ on each one and send them back. That’s… Wow, that’s- Hardcore? Hehe. That’s Jill. Maybe she’ll be annoyed when we come to visit. That’s what I would have guessed. This is kinda weird for her. Maybe we shouldn’t, then- Well… No. I’ve changed my mind. We should still try. Maybe if she likes it, she’ll invite us again. That’s a nice way to look at it. But she might just say thanks and send us right back. I totally won’t be surprised. I hope not. It would be nice to have another friend.