The children ran into the forest just before nightfall. They were each dressed in brown robes except for their feet, which were bare. The cold, damp soil soft beneath their toes. They ran and ran until the fire from the camp could no longer be seen, and then they ran further still. It was the middle of spring and the rain from the afternoon had just let up. They found their way, all four of them, to a clearing in the woods where only a single willow stood.
The oldest of them crouched under the drooping limbs of the tree and found its trunk. He touched the base of the tree and grabbed a hold of the bark with both hands. The bark gave way allowing him to part it like a soft velvet curtain. There, just behind the folds of tree bark was the heart of the tree, beating slowly and softly glowing a deep, dark green color. Grasping the heart with both hands he tore it from the willow tree. He took the still beating and glowing heart to the younger three children and he broke it into four equal parts. They each took their piece and began eating it ravenously. A dark green fluid spilled from the pieces as they chewed, covering their faces and brown robes and ground around them.
They each took turns breaking small branches from low hanging limbs of the willow tree and tying them to their arms with twine. They dug into the soft, wet soil with their bare feet until the ground covered their feet up to the ankle.
The sun had set and night was enveloping the clearing around them. They stood all night, buried to their ankles in earth. Some staring longingly at the night sky while others let their heads droop towards the ground.
By sunrise there was no trace of the children in the clearing. There was only a single willow tree surrounded by four saplings, the ground stained a dark green beneath them.