The Green Tunnel
Jo Cooper
       The kitchen smelled like new cookies
     Grandpa looked at the clock. "It's time to get the mail. Do you want to go get it while I clean up our mess?"
     "Sure, I'll go," Mark said. He put on his dark red jacket that matched his jeans. It had his name printed on the back.
     He hated to leave the warm kitchen and the freshly baked cookies.
     Grandpa helped him button his jacket. "Here, take this paper bag to carry the mail so you won't drop any important letters on your way home."
     Grandma was working in the yard. "Are you going for a walk?" she asked Mark.
     "No, I'm going up the driveway to get the mail," Mark said.
     The driveway was a green tunnel. The tall trees grew together at the top and the bushes were thick and green on both sides. It was a long way to the street.
     Mark walked a few steps and stopped. There wa a fuzzy, black caterpillar making it's way across the driveway. "I'll take you home to show Grandpa," he said, carefully putting the caterpillar in his bag.
     Mark walked on, past the oil spots on the road.
     The ivy that humg down from the tree tickled his face.
     A little brown bird was taking a bath in a puddle.
     It quickly flew up in the tree when Mark came too close. A loose feather drifted down to the ground. "I'll take you home to show Grandpa," Mark said putting it in his bag.
     Mark walked on a few steps, then stopped to pick up a pretty orange and yellow leaf. "I wonder what kind of a tree you came from? I'll take you home to show Grandpa," He put it in the bag too.
     Just them the neighbor's cat ran out to meet him. "I'm going to get the mail," Mark said as he patted the white cat.
     The cat purred.
     Mark walked on. Soon he saw an empty soda can on the side of the road. "I'll take this home to show Grandpa and we can put it with the cans to recycle." He dropped it into his bag.
     He walked on. "Buz-z-z," Mark heard a bee. He stopped and watched the bee fly in circles and then land on a clover plant.
     "I'm going to get the mail," Mark said.
     The bee buzzed.
Mark walked on looking down at the black driveway. Soon he stopped to look at a twig. It was shaped like a Y. "I'll take you home to show Grandpa," Mark said putting it in the sack.
     He walked on. The bright sunshine trickled through the trees above him. A red squirrel waved his bushy tail high in the tree.
     "Did you drop this?" Mark asked picking up a round, brown acorn that had fallen from the tall oak tree. "I'll take it home to show Grandpa," and he dropped it into his sack.
     He passed a crack in the driveway. The tree roots had pushed up underneath making a small mountain for a line of ants to climb.
     Now Mark could see the cars going by on the street. He was almost to the end of the driveway.
     "Swoo-osh" A big red moving truck went by just as he got to the mailbox.
     He pulled open the large, black mailbox that stood on a tall stand above his head. It was empty. He looked down the road.
     "Oh, here he comes now," Mark said. The postman's red, white, and blue truck was coming up the hill. When it reached him the postman handed him some letters and a magazine.
     "Here, I have a bag to carry them in so that I won't drop any important letter." Mark showed the postman his bag. There was no room in the bag for the mail.
     "Oh, what will I do? My bag is full." Mark took the things out of his sack.
     "I have a brown acorn, a twig shaped like a Y, an empty soda can, an orange and yellow leaf, a feather from the little brown bird, and a fuzzy black caterpillar."
     The tears came to Mark's eyes. "Maybe I can't take them home to show Grandpa?"
     The postman rearranged the stacks of mail beside him.
     Mark looked in the truck. There was a brown lunch bag on the seat. "Have you had your lunch, yet?" Marks asked.
     "No, not yet.......oh." The postman noticed Mark was staring at his bag. He took out a sandwich and an apple and handed the sack to Mark. "You can have this if you need it."
     "Thank you very much," Mark said, as he carefully put all the mail in the lunch sack. "Good! Now I can take everything home to show Grandpa." He refilled his other sack with the acorn, the twig shaped like a Y, the empty soda can, the orange and yellow leaf, the feather from the little brown bird, and the fuzzy black caterpillar.
     The postman drove away.
     Mark hurried back through the long, green tunnel. The new cookies would be cool enough to eat.
The End
  Picture book
1000 words
by Ralph Cooper, 10-11-07
     Jo planned that this would be a picture book for children. She sent proposals to Harcourt Brace, Dial Press, E.P. Dutton and Curriculum magazine. No luck. She also made a dummy book which had 27 pages, each with room for an illustration and a portion of the relevant text. The picture of the "Green Tunnel" is our driveway.
     Six days a week I walk down the driveway to get our mail from the box on the road. It reminds me everyday of our loss and brings tears to my eyes, but it also helps me to recall happy memories.

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