Connor Conrad and the Forest Children

by Krys-Darcelle Candace Dumas

Caribbean Sunset by Sara Abed, age 10
Connor Conrad looked up from his game of marbles. Just a moment before his brother and sister had still been playing in the yard. But now they were gone.

“James?” Connor called to his friend, “Where are Sally and Benjamin?”

“I don’t know. They were here a minute ago.”

Connor started to sweat. He had been ordered to watch Sally and Benjamin while his father went to the supermarket, but he had looked away from them, only for a moment, while he took his turn with the marbles. Where had they gone?

“We have to go look for them, James.”

“I can’t,” said James. “It’s time for me to go home. Sorry dude, but you’re on your own.”

James took off, leaving Connor to ponder on his own. Connor was worried. He thought about what would happen when his father returned and asked him about the two younger ones.

“Maybe they went around by the school to ride their bicycles,” Connor thought. “I’ll go look for them there.”

He jumped onto his bike and set off down the hill. He followed the road as it swerved around a dark bend. The trees to the sides leaned over the pitch and blocked out the sun. Connor had never been down this street by himself before.

The branches from the trees bent further and further, turning into hands that reached for his head and shoulders. He sped faster, until one of the hands grabbed him by the back of his shirt and yanked him right off his bike.

He hit the ground with a loud “thump.”

“Doo loop! Doo loop!”

“Who’s the-the-the-there?” Connor stammered. He stood in the centre of the road peering up into the thick brush.

“Shhhhh! Crack!”

There was definitely something there.

“Doo loop! Doo loop!”

There it was again. Then Connor heard a girl laughing. Sally!

“Sally? Sally, is that you? Benjamin?”

No answer.

“I have to go after them. I have to get them back home,” thought Connor.

He stiffened his upper lip, strut out his chest to hide his fear and made his way into the thick brushes to find his brother and sister.

The voices got louder and louder. “Doo loop! Dooooo looooooop!”

Suddenly there was a boy’s laughter. It definitely sounded like Benjamin.

Connor turned and hurried towards the sound. Then he stopped.  A tall tree, taller than any of the others, stood in his path. At its foot sat Sally, playing patter cake with a strange small child. Benjamin too was there, laughing loudly. He ran around and around in circles, seemingly  playing a game of tag with two other children who kept saying: “Dooloop! Dooloop!”

Connor stepped up to his brother and sister.

“Sally! Benjamin! What are you doing here? Why did you wander off?”

Sally and Benjamin  seemed not to notice Connor. But the other children did see him.

“Doo loop! Doo loop!” They started to dance around Connor, singing a strange song.

Doo loop. Doo loop.
We are children of the forest.
Give us sweets or give us brothers.
You can’t get them this is true.
We will take your sister too.
Doo loop, doo loop.

Big fluffy straw hats bumped up and down over the strange children’s eyes as they danced. Connor noticed that their clapping hands only had three fingers each, and that their footprints in the dirt went the wrong way. They also smiled with grins that took from ear to ear. Forest children! Douens! Conner had only heard of them from his grandmother. He hadn’t thought they really existed. Connor watched the Douens in growing fear. He really wished he had looked after Sally and Benjamin as he had supposed to.

Doo loop. Doo loop.
We are children of the forest.
Give us sweets or give us brothers.
You can’t get them this is true.
We will take your sister too.
Doo loop, doo loop.

Connor mustered up his courage. “Sweets? Is that what you want?”

Connor knew it was his responsibility to get his brother and sister home safely. He wasn’t about to leave them with these strange creatures. But what could he do. He had no sweets. As he stepped back from the creatures, the pockets in his pants hit heavily against his leg. The marbles! Maybe he could convince the Douens that the marbles were sweets. That way he could get Sally and Benjamin back. Connor took the net sack out of his pocket and pretended to be hesitating.

“I do have these... They’re the best sweets I’ve ever had. I’m not sure I really want to give them away.”

He looked at the Douens carefully.

The Douens hopped up and down with excitement, clapping their hands and crying even louder.

“Doo loop! Doo loop! We’re the children of the forest. Give us sweets and take your brother. Doo loooooop!”

Connor took one of the glass marbles out of the bag. The biggest one had blue, orange and purple swirls and was almost as large as his hand. He pretended to lick it. “Hmmn, these really are very good.” Then he held the marble up for the Douens to see.

The Douens all stared at the colorful glass thing. They jumped even higher now, greedily licking their lips and clapping their three-fingered hands. One of the Douens rubbed his belly and grinned even wider. With their hands outstretched, like real children begging for treats, they started moving towards Connor. It was working!.

“Give us sweets and take your brother.”

“Doo loooooooop!”

The Douens really thought the marbles were sweets!

Connor put the large marble back in the sack and fastened it tightly. With all his strength, he threw the sack towards the highest branch of the tree. There, the sack remained stuck, hanging so very high above the Douens’ heads.

The Douens stopped their singing, rushed toward the tree and started climbing quickly.

At this time, Sally and Benjamin finally seemed to come about. They stood still in the clearing. Their eyes began to clear, and, slowly, they appeared more themselves. They looked at each other, glanced around and shook themselves as if to free their heads. Without the song of the Douens, the spell was broken.

“Connor? Where are we?” Benjamin asked.

“No time to explain”, Connor said. “We have to run. Now!”

The Douens were still climbing up the tree towards the marbles. Connor grabbed Sally and Benjamin by the hand and quickly pulled them along. They ran out of the dark brushes, up the winding road, and up the hill, all the way home. Connor had abandoned his bike, but he did not mind, as he was sure he was hearing the Douens close behind him: “Doo loop! Doo loop!”

They burst through the front door just as their father was setting the grocery bags down in the kitchen.

“Dad, I’m so sorry.” Connor said. He was crying, as were Sally and Benjamin. They all were relieved to be safely home again.

“What’s wrong with you three?” their father asked with a puzzled look on his face.

“I just took my eyes off of them for a minute, and they were gone, and there were Douens.”

“Doo loop! Doo loop!” Sally and Benjamin piped in.

“I gave them all my marbles to get Sally and Ben back.”

“Connor, I don’t understand. Slow down and start at the beginning.”

Connor’s father listened attentively to the tearful story. At the end, he was very proud of his son. Connor had taken the responsibility to get his brother and sister home safely, even sacrificing his favorite marbles for them, and he had told the truth about what happened.

“Calm down, Connor. I left Sally and Benjamin with you because I knew you were responsible enough to watch them. Don’t worry. They are safe. You did a good job. They are home now and everything is okay.”


About the author

Krys-Darcelle Candace Dumas is a 26 year-old writer from Trinidad and Tobago. She aspires to revolutionize the literature coming out of her home country. While completing her English degree at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, she was taken under the wing of Wayne Brown. He recognized her creative talent and encouraged her to publish her work. In 2007, Dumas’ short story 'Pretty Death' was acquired by the Jamaica Gleaner. She has also published short stories in the Jamaica Observer and a children's book, 'The Adventures of Drippy the Raindrop' in collaboration with the Buccoo Reef Trust. She currently works as a copywriter in advertising and as a tutor at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.

About the illustrator

Sara Abed is 10 years old and from Iraq. Her hobbies are gymnastics and taking care of animals; she also enjoys playing the piano.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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