“It’s not fair Fefe,” Yani cried, “why can’t I come along with you and Fufu to the tree house?” she asked. Fefe replied, “Because Yani, it’s only for big girls like us. You will only spoil things.” Fefe put some of her toys and a few snacks her mother prepared into her backpack and headed out the room. Yani did not like being told she was too young for anything, and she didn't like not being able to play with Fefe and her friends. They always left her out when they were having fun. She did not like being little. It was not fun at all.
Yani went to her mother who was in the kitchen preparing dinner, “Mommy,” she said, Fefe won’t let me play with her and Fufu in the tree house.” Her mother smiled, “You’re too small to play in the tree house Yani,” mother said, but when you get a little bigger, then you will be able to climb the tree safely. Until then, you can help me make some cookies after I finish cutting these vegetables.” Yani liked making cookies with her mother but she really wanted to play in the tree house.
Yani found her father in his tool shed working on his latest painting. “Daddy what are you doing?” she asked. “I’m sanding this piece of wood so that I can make a picture frame,” he said. “That sounds like fun Daddy, can I help? She asked. “Not this time Yani; you might hurt yourself,” Father said. Yani left out the shed, being little was definitely no fun at all.
The next day, Fefe asked her mother if she could go skating in the park with Fufu and her friends. Her mother and father agreed to let her go. “Can I go too Mommy?” Yani asked, “Sure you can, I will get your skates.” “Aw mom, she will only get in the way,” Fefe protested. “Now Fefe, you should not be so mean to your little sister, she only wants to play with you and your friends. Take her with you and keep an eye on her.” Father took Fefe and Yani to the park and told them he would be back later to pick them up. He reminded Fefe to watch Yani and he told Yani to stay close and not wander away from Fefe and her friends.
Fufu, Oni and Mina were waiting at the swings with their skates when Fefe and Yani joined them. The girls put on their skates and went round the park a couple of times. Yani tried to keep up but the girls were too fast for her small legs. “Fefe,” she cried, “wait for me, you are going to fast.” Fefe and her friends frowned but they had to stop for Yani. The girls took off their skates and went to play on the Jungle Gym. Yani tried to climb the bars but she had a difficult time reaching them. “Fefe,” she cried, “I can’t climb up, can you come down and play with me on the swings?” “No Yani, you go and play on the swings by yourself, we are talking now,” Fefe replied. “Stay on the swings and don’t leave the sand box” Fefe warned. “I want to talk too, can you talk down here?” Yani asked. “This is big girl talk,” Fufu said, “and you are too little,” Oni added.
Yani stomped off to the swings. “One day I will not be small anymore and I will show everyone I can do big things too.” It wasn’t until later that Fefe noticed how quiet and behaved Yani was being. She climbed down the jungle gym and went to check on her. When she got to the swings, Fefe was horrified. Yani was missing. Fefe and her friends looked everywhere for Yani, but they could not find her. Fefe had no choice to tell her parents, she knew they would be angry at her because she did not watch Yani carefully. Fefe’s parents were not happy with Fefe at all, but more than that, they were worried about Yani. They prayed she stay safe until they found her.
By seven o clock, everyone in the neighborhood and the police were out looking for Yani in the park and nearby woods. When night fell, Fefe and the other children were told to stay indoors, only the adults could continue looking for Yani. Fefe sat in her room with her friends. She did not like waiting, she wanted to help, and after all, it was her fault Yani was lost. If she had not yelled at Yani and told her to go away, Yani would be at home in her bed now. Fefe pulled out a pen and paper. “What are you doing Fefe?” Oni asked.
“I’m going to go and find my little sister,” she replied. “But the adults said we have to stay here, it’s not safe,” Mina warned. “Yes Fefe, besides, it’s really dark and scary out there,” Fufu added. “But I can’t just sit here and do nothing, this is all my fault. If anything happens to Yani, I will never forgive myself,” Fefe said, “and I need your help if I’m going to find her.” Her friends looked to one another and then nodded. It was just as much their fault as Fefe, they should have been nicer to Yani, after all, she was only five years old.
Mina and Oni were excellent artists; they drew a map of the park and the surrounding areas on a piece of paper. Fufu helped Fefe find some warm clothing and flashlights. Fefe made a final check of all their things and the girls quietly crept out of the house. They made their way to the park. “Okay,” Fefe began, “if we are going to find Yani, we are going to have to think like a five year.” The girls nodded. “Okay, where was the last place Yani went?” Fufu asked. “To the swings,” Oni replied. So the girls went to the swings.
Mina sat on one of the swings, “hmm, Yani would have been bored playing alone since there were no other children to play with earlier today. Do you think she wandered off?” “Yes, Yani does not like to be alone for too long, she would have found something to do,” Fefe answered. “Now, when I was five years old, I loved searching for pretty flowers to give to my mom,” Oni said, “Maybe she went to the flower patch. It’s not too far from here.” So, off to the flower patch the girls ran.
At the flower patch they found small foot prints in the dirt patch. “Well, it looks like she was here,” Fufu pointed to the foot prints. “Look at that,” Mina pointed her flashlight to a broken flower branch. Just as she did that, a pretty butterfly flew from its branch. “Oh, how pretty,” Oni squealed as she tried to catch it. As she bumped into more flower braches, more butterflies began to fly. They followed the butterflies out of the patch; they were at the edge of the park, facing the woods. Oni managed to catch one of the butterflies and put it in an old apple juice jar. "Yani could not have left the park from here because this fence goes around this whole area," Oni said.
Suddenly, they saw a little rabbit hop by. “Hmm, Yani loves rabbits, she would have run after one if she saw one hopping about,” Fefe thought to herself. The rabbit ran along side the fence until it came to a small opening in the fence “Do you think she crawled through here?” Fufu asked. It’s big enough for us to crawl through so Yani would have had no problem getting through chasing a rabbit. Once outside the park, Oni noticed an opening in the woods. “There is a narrow path just ahead,” Oni pointed ahead of them.
The girls began to follow the path. It was now dark; they only had the moon and their torches for light. Fefe began to mark the rocks and trees they passed with a white piece of chalk, so that they could find their way back to the opening. Oni took out a piece of paper and began charting a map of their turns and paces through out their journey. She drew landmarks on her map, like the bunny at the large tree with two tree trunks. She drew the funny rock formation and the fallen tree that blocked their path.
“What are we going to do now,” Fufu asked, “maybe we should turn back,” Mina said frightened. “I can’t go back now, I’ve come too far, besides, Yani was here.” Fefe pointed her flashlight to the bottom of the tree trunk, there was a pink and blue ribbon stuck to it. “Yani was wearing that today,” Fefe said. The girls jumped over the tree and continued. Suddenly Oni motioned everyone to stop and listen, “I think I hear water,” she said. “Me too,” Mina said. Sure enough, they found a small creek nearby. I did not know we had a creek in these woods,” Fefe said.
Just as they were about to cross the creek, Fufu noticed what looked like a boat made out of a leaf and stick. It was caught between two rocks in the creek. “The water is running downward,” Mina pointed out, “so the boat had to come from up the creek,” Fefe continued her sentence. The girls began walking up the creek. After what seemed like hours, they stopped at a large rock to take a rest. Suddenly they heard a noise. The girls froze. Then they heard the noise again. This time it sounded like crying. Was it an animal, do animals cry?
The girls thought but they did not know. They started searching the darkness with their flashlight. Then something caught Fefe’s eyes, it stuck out from behind the rock. She slowly walked up to it, there looking up into the light was Yani. She was wet and covered in mud. “Yani!” Fefe cried, “We found you!” Fefe and her friends hugged Yani. “What happen?” they asked her. Yani told them how she got bored playing by herself on the swings so she went to the flower patch to pick some flowers for her mother.
She found some butterflies and followed them to the hole in the fence. Once outside the fence she tried to catch and play with a baby bunny but it ran away and she followed it. She eventually found the creek and made a boat, but, while playing with it, she fell into the creek and got all wet and dirty. “When it got dark, I did not know how to get home again,” she began to cry. Fefe hugged her little sister again, “I’m sorry Yani, I should not have left you alone or told you to go play by yourself. From now on, you can play with us anytime you want,” Fefe said.
Mina put some warm clothing on Yani. “Come on,” Fefe said taking her sister’s hand, “let’s go home.” With her map and their markings, Oni led the girls back to the park. Just as they were walking up to their house, Mother and Father drove into the driveway. “Yani,” they cried. Yani ran to her mother and father, everyone was very happy to see that Yani was not hurt.
The next day, family, friends and neighbors came to visit Yani who was sick with a cold and runny nose. She told everyone about her adventure and how Fefe, Fufu, Oni and Mina cleverly found her and brought her safely home. Yani promised she would never go off by herself again and that from now on, she was happy being small.