Penelope peered at her friends through the crackling flames with a mischievous grin. “Once upon a time,” she lowered her voice, “there was a dark, dark forest.”
Gripping the hands of her chair, Eloise’s eyes widened with fear and anticipation.
“And inside the forest,” Penelope spread her arms wide, “there was a dark…,” she paused for effect, “dark tree.”
Above their heads, a large maple swayed, its limbs black next to the starlit sky.
“You can’t scare me!” scoffed Junjie.
She leaned closer. “And in the tree, was a dark,” she lingered on the word, “dark nest.”
“Ohh!” Eloise covered her mouth with a trembling hand.
Overhead, a branch creaked.
Junjie’s eyes shot toward the sound. “Nothing but a bird, I bet.”
“And in that nest,” Penelope’s words barely rose above a whisper, “there was a dark, dark….” Her body tensed.
Eloise and Junjie hung on her every word.
The pounding waves filled their silence.
Junjie almost fell out of his chair.
Penelope giggled. “Gotcha!”
Their laughter carried across their campsite.
“My turn,” said Eloise.
“Once upon a time….”