The crescent moon hung in the inky sky like an unfulfilled promise.
She cast a dull silvery glow on the forestland that lay sprawled at her feet, no more than an endless clump of interfused silhouettes at this time of the night.
A gentle breeze rustled the leaves, and the whispers and the susurrations travelled urgently to the far ends of the forest.
Two little heads peeped shyly out of the hollow at the base of the oldest eucalyptus in the forest — a three thousand-year old resident of the woods well-versed in the ways of children and only too happy to abet mischief-makers and trouble-seekers.
The boys — no older than five and seven — hesitated.
The eucalyptus stirred and with a stray root gave the lads a little flick each on their backsides.
"Off you run, you two," the tree bid.
"Ow," yelped the little one.
"Thank you, Mr. Eucalyptus," said the older one with more composure than his slightly raw rump would permit.
The boys tiptoed through the forest as quietly as they could, which, to tell the truth, turned out to be a very noisy affair and would have scared away the moon, the older boy admonished the younger one en route.
But they made it without incident to their destination — the edge of a clearing secretly tucked away in the folds of the forest. They abandoned the camouflage of the trees and stepped into the clearing together, then looked up longingly at the moon.
"Could we play tonight?" they beseeched her.
No response came their way.
"Could we play tonight?" they implored once more.
She opened one eye lazily and muttered, "Manners."
"Could we please please please play tonight?" the little voices chorused.
The moon let out a languorous sigh at first.
But unable to conceal her pleasure for much longer, she puffed out her cheeks and billowed out like a balloon into a perfectly rotund shape that adorned the sky as its centrepiece.
Under her argent watch, a little centaur and a tinier unicorn frisked and frolicked in the clearing all night.