Early Childhood Fiction
TIPTOP, LAST LEAF
M. C. Arvanitis
FREE TO COPY
Illustration by Mary Lou Beaulieu
Tiptop began as a tiny bud on the very tip of the top branch of the Maple tree in the City Park. The ground below seemed a long way down, but she didn’t worry. Not yet.
In the spring the buds opened into shiny green leaves. By summer Tiptop had grown to be the greenest and largest leaf of all.
Mrs. Robin flew by. “My, what a lovely big leaf you are. May I build my nest under you, please?” she asked, “You can shade my babies from the bright sun and the rain.”
“Certainly,” answered Tiptop.
As time went by, Tiptop danced with the butterflies in the hot summer breeze. During the day the squirrel family scampered below her branch playing tag with each other. Merle Squirrel, the bravest of the bushy tailed squirrels, climbed to the top branch to play with her. In the evening she enjoyed listening to Mrs. Robin singing to her babies in the nest below her.
Sometimes Grandpa Wind turned wild bringing loud thunder and sharp flashes of lightning. When that happened Tiptop swayed back and forth, but her stem was strong, and she held to her branch. The storms never lasted long and she forgot about them as soon as they were over.
Autumn came and Tiptop noticed that the other leaves were turning yellow around the edges. She mentioned this strange happening to Merle.
“Maple tree’s leaves turn colors in the autumn,“ he told her. “Then they fall off the tree.”
“Fall off the tree?” Tiptop looked down at the ground. It was a long ways down. “I don’t mind changing color but I could get hurt falling that far.”
“Grandpa Wind will carry you down safely,” Merle explained.” It is his job to help the leaves fall to the ground when autumn comes.”
Tiptop shook her leaf. “I don’t care what the other do, I’m staying right where I am.”
“You’ll wish you were down with the others when winter comes,” Merle warned.
As the leaves turned yellow, Grandpa Wind blew harder determined to get his job done before winter came. One by one the other leaves floated to the ground. Tiptop turned yellow but held on tightly. She felt her stem getting weaker. She began to cry.
Druelda, the fairy butterfly, flew by. “Why are you crying, Tiptop?” she asked.
“I am afraid to fall from the tree”, Tiptop sobbed. “It is too far down.”
“It is Mother Nature’s plan that leaves fall from their trees in the winter,” Druelda explained. “You will bud out again in the spring.”
Tiptop begged, “Please Druelda use your magic to let me stay here forever.”
“It is not wise to ignore Mother Nature.” Druelda shook her head. “I must advise you to change your mind.”
“Please, please,” Tiptop pleaded.
“Very well, I will give you your wish.” Druelda waved her magic antenna and at that instant Tiptop turned green again. She felt strong. Grandpa Wind could not blow her off the branch now.
Tiptop enjoyed the cool autumn weather. But when the fall breeze turned to icy winter blasts Merle left to join his family in their nest of twigs on the lower branches.
Tiptop didn’t like being alone. Worse yet, she had never been so cold in her life. The other leaves on the ground were snug and warm under a blanket of snow.
“Maybe I will join them after all,” she thought. But when she tried she couldn’t let loose from her branch. Druelda’s magic worked too well.
Grandpa wind turned colder and the winter snow covered Tiptop with ice. Merle was right. She should have followed Mother Nature’s plan. She started to cry again.
From her winter hide-a-way Druelda heard Tiptop’s cries. She flew back to the Back Yard Tree. “What is your problem now?” she asked.
“I am so lonely and cold,” Tiptop sobbed. “I wish the magic would leave me so I could join the others.”
“I’ll be happy to give you that wish,” Druelda waved her magic antenna again.
Poof! Tiptop turned yellow. She let loose. Grandpa Wind gently caught her and carried her to the ground.She snuggled warm and safe between the other leaves under a blanket of snow. “Thank you, Druelda,” she called. With a happy sigh Tiptop closed her eyes and went to sleep.