It was a clear winter morning as Mrs. Thompson stood like a sentry, watching her two sons, one in kindergarten, the other in the fourth grade, frolicking in the playground.  Tommy, the younger one, was a mischievous little fellow, always finding new ways to exasperate his mom.  James, the older, a stark contrast to Tommy, was studious and quiet.  “Tommy, don’t you dare jump out of that swing!” Mrs. Thompson called out.  “Don’t worry, Mom, I won’t,” he replied with a giggle as he soared through the air and landed in the sandbox with a bump, having leaped out of the swing as his mom was speaking.  She whirled around as she heard the bump and admonished, “Tommy, didn’t I tell you not…  Tommy!  You come out when I’m speaking to you.  You deserve a good scolding, you little rascal.  You could have hurt yourself jumping out of a swing like that.  I’ll close my eyes and count to ten.  If you’re not out by then, I’m going to find you myself and you’re really going to get it.  One.  Two.  Three.  Four…”

            Tommy rubbed his eyes and blinked.  He was sitting in a meadow, the sun already high in the sky.  He was surrounded by tall grass, gently waving in the breeze.  He could hear trickling water and birds chirping happily.  He stood up and scratched his head, wondering how he arrived in this pretty place.  However, being that his little head couldn’t puzzle out an answer, he soon stopped troubling about it for a five-year-old’s attention easily wanders.  His surroundings were of a more immediate concern and he began to explore.  He made his way toward the trees he could see in the distance.  As he walked, he began to yawn for it seemed about time for his customary noontime nap.  Tommy entered the welcome shade of the forest and lay down on a soft carpet of green grass next to a quaint little brook that splashed its way into a gully.  As he stretched out with his hands behind his head, he saw a beautiful scarlet-breasted robin looking at him curiously.  “Hello, Mr. Robin,” Tommy said.  “And hello to you, too, kind sir.  Who is this handsome young man that I may have the pleasure of meeting?” the robin asked.  “Well, my name is Tommy.  But wait!  You’re no robin.”  “Of course, I’m a robin.  Don’t I look like a robin to you?” he chirped indignantly.  “Well, yes, but robins don’t talk and you’re talking, so you can’t…,” but Tommy’s statement was interrupt by a cry that reverberated throughout the whole forest, “Tommy!”

            “Five.  Six.  Seven.  Eight.  Nine.  Ten.  Tommy, you’d better come out now, or else James is going to come and get you!  James, will you go find Tommy for me?   You know all of his favorite hiding spots.  I’m going to go sit down; I have a headache,” Mrs. Thompson sighed.  “Sure thing, mom.  I’ll be right back,” James replied.  James checked every nook and cranny in the playground and park.  Finally, he went and sat in the sandbox, his brother’s favorite spot in the entire playground, hoping to get some inspiration as to his brother’s whereabouts.  Suddenly, he felt a spinning and sinking sensation as the sandbox and the playground disappeared.  With a bump he landed on his backside in the same beautiful meadow that his brother had been in only ten minutes ago.  As James gazed around, he recognized Tommy’s little red Mickey Mouse cap lying on the ground.  James looked as if he had been struck by lighting, “Tommy!” he screamed.

            “That was my brother James,” Tommy said in a wondrous voice.  “James!  I’m over here,” Tommy yelled at the top of his lungs as he raced out of the forest toward the sound of James’ voice.  The two boys sprinted through the tall grass towards each other and as they collided, James clasped his brother in a giant bear hug.  “Thank goodness you’re all right,” James said, “We have to find a way back home.  Mom is going to be worried to death about us.”  “Why don’t we stay here, James.  It’s so pretty.  I even met a robin that talks,” Tommy suggested.  “A bird that talks?  Well, maybe he can help us,” James replied incredulously.  “Mr. Robin?”  “I’m up here,” he warbled.  “Hello, I’m James.  Tommy and I have a slight problem.  We got pulled through a warp in a sandbox to arrive here but don’t have way home now.  Could you help us?”  “There is a whirlpool in the forest, but I don’t know if it contains a warp.  Follow me.  I’ll take you there.” 

            Mrs. Thompson was getting frantic.  James didn’t come back and neither did Tommy.  She called her husband, she called Tommy and James’ friends, and she called the police.  A whole entourage of policeman, fireman, and concerned friends arrived at the park.  She was afraid that her kids had been kidnapped or worse, killed.  A full-scale search was being conducted and Mrs. Thompson wept with fear and doubt in her heart.

As the two boys followed the scarlet-breasted robin, James gazed in awe at the beautiful scenery, at the lush green forest and the fragrant flowers and ferns.  James would stop every few moments and examine a leaf or smell a bud.  The beautiful little brook that flowed alongside the forest path enraptured him.  Finally, after their scenic trek through the forest, they reached the whirlpool, lined by rocks and moss.  “You know Tommy, we don’t even know if this whirlpool will take us anywhere.  Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all,” James said, absentmindedly fingering a fuzzy fern.  “I want to go home,” Tommy stated.  “This is the chance of a lifetime, though.  We’ll never get to come back here again.  I can feel it.  Look at all these beautiful plants and flowers.  I can’t leave just like that,” James implored.  “I miss Mommy,” Tommy whispered.  With that, James fell silent.  A war was waged in James’ heart just then, but love for his family triumphed over the beauty of nature.  He took one last, good look at the splendor of Mother Nature and holding tightly to Tommy’s hand, stepped into the whirlpool.