By Rod Martinez

“Where’s Cory – I thought he was with you. He was helping you with the utensils, remember?”

“No Honey, I thought he was with you! I saw him follow you to the fire pit. See, those are the logs he was carrying.” She pointed at the pile of recently chopped twigs on the ground.

The parents stood outside, hands on their hips near their small family trailer that was parked deep in the woods. This was a new camping spot they’d never been to before and was a surprise adventure for their son. He had no idea where they were going when they got there, but he sat in the back seat of the dual-cab Ford F150 glaring out at the scenery in wonder.

She remembered looking back at him in his seat, his dark curly hair tossed by the wind of the open window and his dark eyes following every contour of scenery.

“Cory’s missing, what are we going to do? There is absolutely no cell phone service up here! Why did we pick this remote part of the mountains of all places to bring him on his first camping trip?” the mother started in tears.

“Honey he can’t have gone too far, he was standing right here just seconds ago. We just have to find him. Come on.” he ran his hand through his long beard in a frustrated gesture.

He grabbed a walking stick, and glared around for a few seconds, “We can’t panic Honey, Cory is a smart boy, I’ve taught him all the rules.” He assured her.

She opened her eyes after a deep exhale, wiped her tears, and noticed the small trail leading into the woods from just behind their trailer.

“His curiosity would force him to follow that path.” She pointed still panicked.

“Yes, our little inquisitive tiger would want to explore, you’re right. We need to find him quick.”

The morning sun was bright and warm, and the parents darted off onto the path.

“Cory? Cory Honey it’s Mommy. Baby, please don’t go far. We’re coming right behind you so that we can all have an adventure. The whole family.”

“Yeah Tiger, it’s not fair you have all the fun. Come on man! Besides, you have to help me make s’mores in a little while.”

“Remember when Cory had done this once before in the backyard of your boss’ house last Labor Day? He was only six. With his loving curiosity about nature and especially birds, he wandered off when he followed a bird into the woods. It took us half an hour to find him, perched upon a limb talking to the birds.”

“Yeah, I remember. I’m sure he’s encountered some native bird that he’s never seen before and is trying to follow it.” Her husband said.

“Cory? Honey, can you hear me?”

She stopped to glance around and he tripped over a stump.

“Oof!” 

His loud thump on the forest floor would have caused his wife to giggle if she wasn’t worried about her son. The walking stick flew out yards away from his grip. He hurriedly stood wiping leaves and dirt off and she rushed to him. 

“David, stop clowning around, this is serious!”

He noticed pink and purple dust on his shirt that he got from his fall to the ground.

“What’s this stuff?” he dusted it off and sneezed.

“Where’s our baby?” his wife said in a pout.

Cory was usually quiet around most people but had a big curiosity for the world around him; his parents knew this too well. Nature and colors were what fascinated him most and the fall leaves of the northern Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains are as colorful as they came.

The bird squawking angrily over their heads caught both of their attention. David stopped and looked up.

“Look Lori, a robin. Boy, she sure seems pretty mad about something.”

“Probably lost one of her kids too!” she huffed, not bothering to look up.

“Wait.” Her husband held out his arm to stop her in her tracks. Then he pointed upward.

There, perched on the huge tree, was their son slowly climbing his way toward a big hole in the middle of the thick bark. 

“Cory!” his father cupped both hands to his mouth.

“Shh.” The boy shot back, steadying his grip on the tree.

His mom stared up, her son was holding something in his left hand, which made it harder for him to climb.

“Honey, what are you doing?” Lori called. 

He continued his slow ascent high above them.

Her eyebrows curled down in a quick frown. “Cory David Perez, Jr., you come down this instant!” she pointed her finger to the ground and pounded the walking stick with each syllable.

Her son had finally reached the hole and the parents noticed something small coming out of it. Gently, he reached out his left hand and placed an egg on the ledge.

“This uncracked egg was sitting on that soft grass down there near the tree,” the boy smiled, “…here’s your baby Mrs. Faerie, all nice and safe.”

The parents witnessed as a small faerie stepped out on the ledge and took the egg in her hand.

Lori tapped her husband’s shoulder in awe, “D-David… is that a…?”

“I hope you name it Cory when it hatches,” the boy continued, “Cory is a name for a boy or a girl, so you won’t have any problems naming it, ok? That’s Cory, C-O-R-Y, without the E in there. I’m with my family. That’s them down there, see?”

She stepped out, looked down, and smiled at the bewildered couple.

The angry bird above flew away after the pink and purple faerie waved her off. After placing her egg back in the nest, the mother faerie waved down at the parents. Her bodyguard bird, a robin, landed on another branch and watched intently as the boy slowly lowered himself back down the tall tree and into his father’s arms.

“Cory, Honey,” his mom started, “…don’t you know how scared I was thinking that I’d lost you?”

David lifted him off the tree and planted him on the ground between them. His mother cupped his face in her hands and kissed his cheek.

“Yes Mommy,” he smiled adjusting his glasses, “… I wasn’t going to go far, honest. But when I saw that Mrs. Faerie lost one of her babies, I had to do something. The robin flew down to me to tell me where it belonged. You know that birds talk to me, right?”

“Uh, sure son.” She patted his head.

“That’s my boy.” His Dad smiled, “just next time son, why don’t you tell me and we can go in together – promise?”

“Promise.”

A robin’s feather coated with sprinkles of pink and purple dust floated down and landed on Cory’s mother’s head.

David scooped it off and handed it to his son.

“And here you go Tiger, I think Mrs. Faerie left it for you – for a job well done.”

The family strolled back to the campsite hand in hand, though both parents stared back puzzled at the tree.

Attracted to words at an early age, Rod’s first book was created in grade school, his teacher used it to encourage creativity in her students. His high school English teacher told him to try short story writing, he listened, and the rest – as they say, is history.

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