“See, I told you it’s not real,” said Marie. “Come on, let’s go home. We’ll get it if we’re late, you know.”

“But…I saw it!” cried Caleb. “I did, really!”

His sister huffed and shifted her schoolbooks from one hand to the other. “You’re just a little kid, Caleb,” she said. “When you’re eleven like me you’ll see why this is so dumb.”

“This isn’t like the time I saw the ship in a puddle,” Caleb cried indiginatly. “I’m not seven anymore, Marie! I know what’s real.”

“Uh huh. You keep telling yourself that, Caleb,” Marie said. She turned around. “I’m going home, and you’re following me even if I have to…drag…”

She stopped. “What is it?” Caleb said.

“Look over there,” Marie said softly.

Behind them, the trees of the wood gradually spread out until the burst forth in a clearing covered with a carpet of autumn. In the midst, with a few stray leaves clinging to it, was a great stone hand, palm out but facing away.

“It’s the Hand of the Forest,” Calbe said. “Jusst like I told you. Do you think it’ll grant our wishes?”

“I don’t know,” Maries said softly. “I don’t know.”

“Let’s find out.” Caleb was a quarter of the way to the hand before his sister could even cry out.

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