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Emma and the Minotaur


5 The Forbidden Forest
Sunday morning came and Emma rose early. She thought that Jake would be eager to get going and
she was excited to return to Glenridge Forest. There was a lingering hope that the singing tree had been
real.
When Emma went to the living room, she saw that Jake was still sound asleep. He was sprawled on
the couch with his arms pointing out at odd angles. She shook the boy awake and he opened his eyes
and blinked in the sunlight.
“Hey, Emma,” he said groggily. “Am I at your house?”
“Yeah, come on,” she said. “We have to leave before my dad wakes up.”
Jake nodded. He stood up, still in his clothing from the day before. He went to the kitchen and
drank a glass of water before they both left quietly out the front door.
On the way to the forest, Jake told Emma what he had overheard the night before.
“They were talking about me?”
“Of course,” Jake said. “You’re eleven, right? Who else could it be?”
“But who could he have been talking to?”
“I have no idea. I didn’t get a good look at him.”
Emma frowned. A Blue Jay was watching her from a branch on the side of the road.
“Are you sure?” she said. “Maybe you were dreaming.”
“I’m pretty sure,” he said. “Didn’t seem like a dream. Hey, don’t tell your dad about it, okay? I
don’t want him to think I was eavesdropping.”
“You were eavesdropping,” she said.
“Well, yeah, but I don’t want him to think it.”
They arrived at the edge of the forest and Emma paused in front of it. She took a deep breath and
then stepped forward.
“I’m officially breaking the rules now,” she said.
“It’s for a good cause.”
That early in the morning, the forest was welcoming. Birds sang their hellos. Soft rays of sunlight
brushed the moist leaves on the trees and on the ground.
They walked on without aim for a little while.
“Do you play here a lot?” Jake said.
“Yeah,” Emma said. “Me and Will used to come here all the time. More in the summer when there’s
no school.”
“What can you play in a forest?”
“Lots of stuff. Hide and seek.”
A squirrel scurried in front of them and stopped for a moment to stare at Emma before running off
into a bush.
“What’s going on today?” Emma said.
“What do you mean?”
“That squirrel was staring at me. And there was a bird doing it back there too.”
“You’re so weird,” he said. “Which way do we go now? Do you want to ask one of your friends?”
“Maybe if we see an owl,” she said.
She took the lead and tried to recall the way they had gone when she had found the singing tree. As
she picked her way through the forest, Emma hoped that she would be able to hear the music of the tree
again and that it would show her the way.
It was almost half an hour later when Emma saw movement through the trees. Someone was
 
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