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Archive for May 26th, 2013

Just two days after having the largest of her five tumours removed in surgery, Angelica was ecstatic to finally pull herself out of her lumpy hospital bed and into a soft chair beside a window, looking out across the nearby rooftops in the direction of some distant grey  mountains. She was not comfortable, but she was satisfied, just to know that she had somehow found a small reserve of strength to lift her body and her spirits and to know that her recovery was truly underway.

The past forty-eight hours had been little more than a blur to her. There were conversations and visitors she could barely remember at all, and other vaguely whispered questions that echoed inside her clouded mind like a carousel of dusty dreams, like ‘Have I had surgery yet?’, followed again and again by the exact same question only moments or hours later. She was relieved to feel a scrap of colour return to her paper-white cheeks with just a few licks of a cool icy-pole, and now finally, dressed in her own nightshirt instead of the rough, hospital issued wrap-around, she felt that she was finally returning to and reclaiming some small part of her own pre-surgery self.

She smiled at the small nightstand in the corner of the otherwise dull private room, covered entirely with orange and yellow lilies, peach gerbras, red carnations and glittery apricot singapore orchids. Then there were the helium balloons that always followed her to lift her out of her darkest moments – a pixie flying with wings and wand outstretched, pointing beyond the window, inviting Angelica to fly outside. A second bright balloon, rounder than a bubble, was adorned with happy golden fish and coral and a treasure chest, cheerfully emblazoned with the words ‘Hope You’re Feeling Better’. And every moment, she did feel better, and stronger, and somehow more alive.

Her eyes moved across the nightstand to see a small teddy bear dressed like a bumble bee, a pink dolphin and a purple octopus, a magically scented cloth rose and a life sized cut-out of a Disney mermaid, smiling with enormous blue eyes back to her where she sat in her chair. A large canvas artwork formed the backdrop to this all, hand-drawn by her best friend, Langley, representing all the characters in all the stories they had written together over many months past. There was the magical white haired boy in the long blue cloak, with the girl in pink overalls with pink bows in her hair on his left and the beautiful girl in the pretty red dress on his right, all staring far into the picture towards the enormous Friendship Tree. From its branches dangled an empty swing  and the delightful ladybug, dragonfly and butterfly mobiles the three children always loved to decorate the branches of their beloved tree with. Nearby, a ladybug, a butterfly and a dragonfly sat quietly perched atop of their respective flowers. A red  rose sat sheltered inside a glass dome beside a golden path, and the ears and tail of a red fennec fox could be spied just slightly emerging from a golden field of wheat.

In the far distance, there was an Ivory Tower, threatened by clouds but decorated in rainbow paint by some rescuers who knew how destructive that tower could be to the princess trapped inside it. A sheep cloud, a candle and a Book of Dreams appeared to be suspended in a vast blue sky that hovered in stillness over a white paper boat that floated past the Island of Lost Children, governed by a Little Prince, the hero of yet another magic-filled story. A starry night sky filled the final top corner, glistening with stars that were full of wishes just waiting to be wished. Each nurse and visitor to Angelica’s hospital room would gravitate towards the canvas, asking ‘Who did that? And what does it all mean?’ ‘This is the tale of the mighty Friendship Tree,’ Angelica would reply, her eyes sparkling with the knowledge of many stories told and many still to be written. ‘This is a Tree rich with the fruit of imagination, a testament to the fact that True Friendship is one of the strongest forces that can be imagined.’

Outside of this canvas, Angelica knew that the days, weeks and months ahead would present her with a myriad of challenges, the like of which she had never faced before. Yet for her, the treatments to come – the many months of recovery, radiation and chemotherapy that would put her life on hold and challenge her to the fraying edges of her courage and strength, were abstract and ephemeral compared to the world that came to life now on the canvas on the hospital nightstand. This world was vibrant, magical, powerful and whimsical. It could never fail to restore her faith, hope and delight. There was powerful medicine here that could completely bring her tired body back to life.

The light that shone through the hospital window and onto the canvas was filled with promise that one day – soon – every aspect of life would be vibrant and colourful once again. Now here came the orderly with her free-fluids dinner: some bland pumpkin soup, red jelly, lemon sorbet and a small tub of custard. Today, she had begun to eat again, even if the bites could only be tiny ones, and tomorrow she would begin to write again, crafting passionately magical, whimsical words to hang like butterfly mobiles from the branches of her beloved Friendship Tree.

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The white haired boy stood alone on the water’s edge, staring out across the sea with its pale blue water and not a single ripple upon its mirror like surface. The clouds overhead were drifting like wisps of the finest cotton, stained in pinks and reds, draped carefully across the sky as the sun set upon the distant horizon. Their colours reflected within the water so still and the surreal vision stirred his mind, as did much that life had to lay before him. The tranquil sounds of a single eagle calling turned his head and for a moment he thought of the loneliness he had afforded himself in times gone past, and how those times had changed so, now that his friends were a part of his life.

More recently he remembered how the darkness had formed and threatened to alter what he had come to know, challenging his visions of the future and all that it held. He was magic, but then sometimes he wondered, because whilst he believed, he did not know if others did as well. Over the last weeks he had set afloat several paper boats, each sent out with a message of hope and a little magic, and as he watched, the tiniest white object could be seen in the distance being teased by the softest breeze, barely breaking the water’s surface. As it came closer, he could see it was battered and worn, yet it had weathered the storm. It was indeed the very first one sent and as he lifted it from the water with the tiny droplets shattering upon his feet as he stood, he noticed some new words written upon it, the message that was written read “All is well.” He smiled widely because he knew somewhere his friend was smiling too and as he turned his back on the ocean he so loved, and the soft light that the last of the evening sun played upon all it touched, he sent a thought for his friend. He made his way to the tree and his other friend whom he loved so dearly, to tell her the news.

The path was well worn and easy to follow, especially for a young boy whose mind was always so full of adventurous thoughts, and as he walked a single dragonfly, iridescent blue with rainbows bouncing off its wings flew close by as if watching over his journey. As he made his way through the magic forest, which had begun to stir with the faeries and elves preparing for some fun and frolicking on this night, he saw a tiny light with a glow soft, yet intense. It was a firefly and it flew erratically, then its light faded which left him thinking of how right now, the message returned upon the paper boat had dissolved his worries and sadness. He continued along the path, then he stopped, transfixed at where the forest ended and the field which led to the tree began. There, dancing in the moonlight he spotted a little fox, much like the one his friend had brought back to life not long ago when the tiniest liquid diamonds were formed, and a single red rose grew. The rose could still be seen near the fox and her celebrations were as if in thanks for what it meant to her. He remained quiet watching intently and before long the fox paused, and gave a quick glance in his direction, before smiling as only a fox can then disappearing into the wheat field nearby.

He had to tell his friend the news, and sooner than later, after all she had been as worried as he was, so he moved on quickly. When he reached the Tree she was waiting, and she eagerly poked her head through the branches enquiring. “So, do you have any news yet or do I need go search for myself.” The red ribbons that tied her hair dangled in front of her face and she blew them so she could see. She was impatient, but then she loved her friend in the pink overalls and he knew she had been as worried as he had been. He nodded his head in acknowledgement and she nearly fell from the branch as she went to clap her hands in excitement. He climbed the Tree and sat beside her, with the tiny butterfly mobiles spinning memories that filled the Tree and their minds. He unfolded the paper and he read to her the simple words that the message contained. She smiled at the words, because she knew that the first part of their little friends’ journey was completed. There were many more roads to travel and many twists and turns that hid from view all that the future still held, but now they knew for sure that they and the thoughts of many others would carry her and protect her from the darkness and its steely cold grip.

He thought carefully and wrote down these words in the Book of Dreams.

 

Today I found a paper boat,

Sailing on the silver sea.

A wish I’d sent some time ago,

Came back once more to me.

 

A thought contained on paper fine,

The magic wrapped within.

Woven with a tiny hand,

Where hopes and dreams begin.

 

A journey long that has begun,

As journeys often do.

Except this time it will be shared,

By many not a few.

 

So as we travel understand,

We’re with you all the while.

And all we ask for in return,

Is the gleaming of your smile.

 

Together they now sat wondering when they would see their friend once more, and as they did, the soft giggling echoed from the distance, followed by what sounded like a ‘Yeeee Haaaaw’. She was near, and they would meet soon, they just knew it.

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