This is an optional narrative essay a student submitted with her application to Southwestern University, and it helped her gain admission there.
Kay Teekell, Optional Essay
Prompt: You've got a ticket in your hand—Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?
The parchment flaps dangerously in the wind as I clutch it tightly to my chest, and tendrils of my hair whip back and forth blindly as I bend low over Landroval’s back, huddling close to him to escape the grasping gusts. As my fingers twine through the Great Eagle’s feathers, I go over the paper in my mind, searching for anything I might have missed.
Landroval, in the name of your brother, Gwaihir, I bid you transport this scribe to the forest of Fangorn and ensure her safe passage. I regret the necessity of imposing on you in this abrupt manner, but I thank you for your patience and loyalty to our cause. Fly swiftly. — Gandalf the White
The old wizard had come upon me in my small village off the coast of Gondor, and we had talked deeply of the recent events concerning Mordor and the destruction of the Ring. As the day had passed, our talk turned to the present, of things yet to be done, and before I’d known it, I’d agreed to go to Fangorn to record the lore of the Ents as well as their attack on Isengard. Why Gandalf chose me I had no idea, but I immediately packed my parchments and inks and awaited him to inform me of how I was to arrive at the isolated forest. Little had I known that I was to be left with a letter, something of a ticket I suppose, which explained to a rather irritable Great Eagle that he was to carry me.
A flap of huge wings jars me back into the present. Landroval the Eagle has barely spoken a word to me for the entire trip of two and half days, and it is beginning to feel quite lonely. Luckily, my journey is soon to come to an end, as Gandalf had hurriedly informed me that the voyage would last no longer than three cycles of the sun.
I crane my neck carefully to the side and catch a glimpse of dark treetops in the distance. The wind squeezes tears from my eyes, so I duck down once more, trying to stifle the sudden homesickness that has set upon me. The scent of warm, downy feathers makes me feel a touch calmer, and soon we begin to lose altitude. Lazily, we spiral down on an incline until I feel Landroval’s talons touch earth.
“We’re here. Move along, then,” the eagle grunts, shaking himself slightly in annoyance.
“Yes, yes, and you have my thanks for carrying me all this way on such short notice. I’m sure it was quite inconvenient for you, and I appreciate your assistance.” I slither off of Landroval gracelessly, my case gripped tightly in my fists.
The bird inclines his head slightly and takes off without another word, flapping his great wings until his bronze figure is naught but a speck in the darkening sky. I turn stiffly to the trees behind me and stare, wide eyed, at the dense undergrowth that seems to go on forever between the giant elms and oaks. Now that I’m here, I realize just how vague the old wizard was in the direction I am to take and the actions I am to implement.
“Are you the scribe we await?” A deep, creaking voice sounds out from my right, and I jump, my knuckles whitening on the handle of my case. A shape rises out of the trunks and starts forward toward me, and I step back in alarm. It is a huge creature with brown and green mottled skin and branch-like protrusions growing off its shoulders. As it approaches, my fear abates when I catch a glimpse of its eyes. They are a soulful brown twined through with shades of green, and they calm me somehow, seeming to both reassure and intrigue me.
“I am the scribe sent by Gandalf. My name is Kay. Are you Treebeard?” My voice loses its quaver by the last sentence.
“Treebeard. Fangorn. I have many names. You may call me Treebeard if you wish.” He looks at me strangely. “I see that it was not just my previous visitors who are carefree with their names. Come now. You are welcome here.” Slowly, the Ent turns back to the forest, extending a long, seven-fingered hand toward me.
I cautiously approach and place my hand in his, and before I have time to process, Treebeard has swung me up into a hollow between his arm and side. His hide is softer than I expected, and after I recover from my initial shock, I run my hand along one of his many branches.
As we traverse into the deepening gloom, the dimming sunlight dappling the leaf-strewn ground, I finally find my voice. “Thank you for welcoming me into your home. I am indeed honored to record the deeds of such a wise and ancient race.”
Treebeard chuckles softly. “Such flattery I have not received in hundreds of years. I think you would like those two—what were they called? Hobbits, yes. You remind me of them: very small, though less talkative.”
“Thank you,” I reply uncertainly.
“Now, daughter of men, I have a question of grave importance for you. Have you heard any news of the Entwives?”