With my stomach in knots of anticipation I walked through the sturdy oak doorway that would lead to the answer. It must be in here. I walked to the non-fiction section and scanned for a book on pine trees. I still can't believe what I saw, could it have been my imagination?
It was something flickering in the shadow of the pine last night as I sat on the steps of the school waiting for dad to pick me up. It's a tall pine that was dedicated years ago to some kid named Willee. He must have been special because there's a plaque with some dog engraving, his name, a small rock garden and that tree. That tree that Mrs. Vinney guards everyday at dismissal time with fear in her eyes that someone might deface a pine cone. She is over the top freaky and must have known him. He died like ten years ago and some kids say the tree is haunted. This really gets Mrs. Vinney going if she's ever in ear shot of comments like this, almost makes you wonder. Maybe it is? I swear that little flickering thing I saw had arms and legs but it was so fast and small. It seemed like it crawled right inside and Mrs. Vinney won't ever let anyone near the tree so how am I suppose to look? My plan is to research the tree itself, see if there is any kind of creature that inhabits it normally because I am the kind of kid who needs things explained. And that little armed and legged glimmer needs some explaining.
Aha! Conifers. I know what conifers are because in the second grade Mr. Judas taught us all about them. The guy is like obsessed with trees and showed us a slide show once of him hugging some tree during a "demonstration." He thinks that we all need to save the trees and plant the trees and blah blah blah. Mr. Judas is crazy too, but in a different sort of way from Mrs. Vinney. Mr. Judas runs marathons, eats granola and sits on some rug every morning before the kids come into the classroom humming. Mrs. Vinney just always looks scared, she watches kids over her glasses and has this strange tone in her voice that makes it sound like someone is constantly changing her volume. "class I want EVERYONE to get their EYES on PAGE 44." She is so dramatic.
I begin to pull the book off the shelf, it's one of those tall Discovery Kids books that is full of pictures and words. My favorite. I begin flipping through the book but I don't see anything about conifers being a habitat for flickering probably imaginary creatures. Fail! Suddenly Mrs. Vinney comes around the corner, "ERICA, what ARE YOU doing in the LIBrary during LUNCH hour?"
Dropping the book, I push my glasses back up my nose and tell her, "oh, nothing special, just putting this book back on the shelf, it must have fallen."
As I reach down to pick up the book I notice a decorative card on the back cover page that reads:
In Memory of William Lee Pine
May you always be in our memory
and always in our hearts.
I gasp and then quickly try to cover it up with a sneeze, "AAA, achoo! Well, I guess I better be going. See you in fourth hour Mrs. Vinney." I say quickly as I rush past her.
"WELL aren't you EVEN going to put the BOOK BACK?" says Mrs. Vinney annoyed.
I keep going, puzzled, but now, even more intrigued. What is it about that tree that is so special and what was it about William Lee AKA Willee that is so secret?