Tiny stared into the flickering flames and forced herself to smile. There was so much to be grateful for but sometimes the winters felt lonely; the earth was sleeping and the birds had flown south. Her heart withered and gave a small cry. In that moment there was a knock at the door. Tiny leapt to up answer it but the only thing on the stoop was a birch-bark envelope. She read the mulberry ink letters that looped like purple kites on the wind. They said, “Dear Tiny, you are cordially invited to the Feast of New Beginnings.”
Tiny looked up and down the street. It was deserted save for a rustle in the holly tree, a giggle, and a snort. She narrowed her eyes. Someone was plotting something special. Usually she was the one planning the surprise, but for once she was the surprisee. Suddenly the world felt larger. She returned to the glow of the fireplace and opened the envelope. Inside was a hand-drawn map of the Wild Briar Wood with a large red X where Lonely Tree stood. Within seconds, she had grabbed the map and shot straight out the door.
As Tiny journeyed through the Wild Briar Wood, eyes burrowed into her from every direction. She shifted uneasily, trying to enjoy the tingle of unknowing. Finally she reached the place where X marked the spot. Tucked within the craggy roots was a gift box wrapped in a purple silk bow. Tiny shivered with excitement. She opened the box to find a creamy cupcake decorated with a capital red ‘O’ and another note. This one read, “Nearly there, Tiny. Keep going! Head to clearing for the final reveal.”
As Tiny waded through leafpiles, and scooted beneath the bramble, she spotted Mary Margaret consulting a map of her own. In the sky above, Constance Goldfinch held a red letter in her beak. Tiny held the box to her chest and hurried on her way. When Tiny burst into the clearing, a glorious surprise awaited her—a cupcake tower that stretched from the pine carpet to the ceiling of stars. One spot was empty, a space for the letter ‘O’. She climbed the rickety ladder and placed her cupcake. All at once, her friends emerged, clicking their nails and clapping their paws. Tiny stood back to read the message on the tower. “You belong here.” Tiny’s heart grew so large, she imagined it could swallow the sky. This Dawn of New Beginnings would begin with friends and with love, the best kind of all.