“Jaz, you must go to your grandmama’s house,” said Mrs. Tomuro.
“Yes, Mama,” said Jazakee.
“Go ask her for oil for the lamp. We are running short on that. Bring Tobuka, too.” Mrs. Tomuro pointed at the Siamese kitten lying in the corner.
Jaz and Tobuka set off into the forest. It was all dark and the trees seemed to have shriveled black. Tobuka meowed in fear. “The forest can be…scary at times like midnight.” Jaz tried to sound brave as she told Tobuka it was normal to feel scared sometimes.
Owls hooted, mice skittered around frantically, and coyotes howled in the distance. Jaz shivered. She felt as if someone were following them. Then she saw something move in the bushes. She did not wait to see what it was. Turning around, Jaz broke into a sprint. Tobuka was right behind her.
Something was slithering behind them. “Don’t turn and look around!” Jaz told Tobuka. “That is a serpent which can turn you to stone if you make eye contact with it!” She had heard stories about the deadly creature from her grandpa when he was alive. She knew about its green scales and red eyes. But her warning came too late. She heard a dreaded crackle of rock magic behind her. She squinted and turned around. Tobuka was a big statue. But the serpent had slithered off.
Jaz shuddered as she looked at Tobuka’s rock body. Something about it made her feel nervous. Its mouth was wide open. Its eyes were sightless and under the moonlight, the entire statue seemed to move as if it were shivering with her. Its shadow cast onto a tree. “Rest in peace for now. I will defeat the terrible snake to revive you,” promised Jaz as she looked away from her best friend’s statue.
She turned around and reached into her pocket for a piece of watermelon flavored gum. Chewing gum helped to relieve stress. But she pulled out a little mirror instead. She remembered it in an instant. Her mother gave it to her as a birthday gift. She suddenly realized the key to defeating the serpent.
But first she would go to her grandmama’s house.
Jaz walked the treacherous way to her grandmama’s little red hut. Thorns snagged at her dress and she thought that a few vines were probably snakes, watching her. She walked in. It was all dark. “Had mother not told gran that I would visit her? Had she turned off the lights?” Wondered Jazakee.
She called, “Granny?” No answer. “Gran?” Nothing. Then she heard an odd slithering noise. No---the serpent! The lights went on. Jaz closed her eyes and held up her mirror. She heard the serpent hiss in pure terror.
Opening her eyes, she saw that the serpent had turned to stone. It saw its own red eyes and was defeated by itself. She heard a gasp and then, “Jazakee Tomuro?”
“Granny!” cried Jaz.
The snake statue disappeared into thin air. Where would it go? Thought Jaz. But that was not important now.
“Gran, may I have some oil for the lamp?” asked Jaz.
Gran handed Jaz the oil cup and Jaz said, “Arigato.”
Jaz skipped away from her grandmother’s hut. She had destroyed the killer-creature! Now even the midnight forest seemed to be home. Then, she saw a little cat pacing around the area where she had met the serpent.
“Tobuka?” The little cat turned around and ran toward her. Jaz picked him up and hugged him.
Then Tobuka and Jaz hurried home to give their mother the oil for the lamp.
Serena Wang is a 4th grader at Cedar Crest Academy. This is her first story with the Youth Review.