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Archive for the ‘life lessons’ Category

The small boy clasped the clear round crystal between the tips of his tiny fingers and he raised it to where it sat balanced before his deep blue eyes. Its polished surface glistened like starlight as the rays of the sun reflected upon it and penetrated to its core. The sun’s rich light sent tiny rainbows radiating out and bathing him in colours that danced like faeries wings across his face. As he stared past it’s etched surface to deeply within, he caught a glimpse of his reflection with his flowing white hair flicking in the breeze, and the twinkle that had not shone in his eyes for some time now. As if by magic words he used to know began to flow once more through his mind. It was like a dream of old where all the imaginations that he had ever known had begun to seep through his body and like a thousand paper boats, they now glided effortlessly into the pale blue distance in search of that place, that special place that only a true child could find or understand. A smile formed on his face and at the same time a tear ran from the corner of his eye, and as he wiped it gently with the back of his hand, he knew now that what he thought had gone, what he thought had left him, had never gone away at all. It had all just lay deep inside like a dream waiting for that moment where waking merges with sleep and carries you in its arms and into the place where those dreams become visions all so true.

He closed his eyes and listened intently to all the murmurings around him, hearing at first the soft beat of his heart, ‘pom – pom, pom – pom’, then the breeze as it carried the sounds that now drifted from the magic forest in the distance. There was a faint echo of laughter emanating from its deepest reaches, down a darkened winding path draped with deep green vines that formed a tight canopy where sunlight would not penetrate. It was here that the children lost so long ago would play, watched over by the future, the spirit of the old man that was yet to be. It was a truly magical place, a place of dreams where a child could hide and choose never to be found. Where lost was a choice, not something that happened to be. As the sounds grew louder, he felt himself lifted from his feet as if in the grasp of something even he could not comprehend, like he had invisible wings that had unfolded to stretch out glistening in the late afternoon sun, like those of an agile bright blue dragonfly. Below him the wheat field swayed as if in time with the tune that now inspired him to believe like he had never done so before, in the magic of the child that he was. The deep green leaves of the nearby tree rustled like tiny violins as he was carried through its canopy with them brushing against him, and as he was taken to that all familiar place where he had been so often before, he stood once more staring at where it all began, the ‘Book Of Dreams’. Behind him there was a whir of sound as the dragonflies and butterflies that were suspended from the branch above came to life in his presence, spinning from their silken threads at a heady pace, whirling and twirling almost out of control as he now watched on in awe of the glistening menagerie.

The dappled light that filtered through the leaves of the tree danced upon the gnarled finger like roots that radiated out from below as if themselves in search of something lost. The light had begun to fade, with the last of its warm orange tones now bathing the undulating hills that stretched across the land into the distance, to where the fine fingers of light could no longer reach, and the darkness had begun to take hold. His grip on the round crystal object had never faltered, like his belief in life and all it had to offer, and as he stared into the sky above where the dark velvet veil had begun to form, where the faint twinkling of tiny stars had begun to peak through the curtain of night as if peering at what lay below, his imagination came to life. Fireflies began to dance, suspended in the lead lit lanterns nearby, and the soft whispers, like lasting echo’s reminded him of all that he had known, and all that he had been. Where once stood a man, there now stood a child, lost to this world and all the intricacies that threatened to fall and shatter like crystal teardrops on the rippled ground below. He had reclaimed his life, and at the same time, he had maintained his greatest strength, his resolve to believe. Not just because it was the thing to do, but because he truly believed, and just as the stars would always sparkle in the sky, so it would be that he would always remain a beacon of hope for all that sought to find that little something that had been lost.

Today as he stood silently contemplating all that had flooded back into his tiny mind, he realised that for all that he had thought had been lost, now more than ever he knew that this world he had created was more alive than ever before, and no tears, no pain could ever take it away or tear it apart. This was a special place created in a dream and forged within the deepest realms of time and like time it would never fade, and it would never be forgotten. He thought for a while and then he understood that we all lose our way, and at times we look so hard to find ourselves again, we look so deeply inside the complicated world in which we have lived, that the simplicity of the child goes unseen. Like the crystal ball he held, life is fragile, but also transparent if we look beyond what appears opaquely upon the surface. Who you are is important to you and you alone, and how others see you, well, in a world where so many ideals exist, does that really matter and do you really care? He understood now that he must enjoy life for what it is, because tomorrow is never far away and may never come at all, and sometimes the darkness closes in so quickly that we just don’t get the chance to say goodbye before that light of life is extinguished forever. Dream big, dream loud, for a dream is but a wish to be made in world so complex yet so simple, where the boundaries of reality sometimes cross into the imagination in those times we let the mind slip beyond the known.

Remember that just as the sun shines bright in the big blue sky, or as the stars twinkle in the darkness of the night, with their voices, their laughter calling to be heard by the child in us all, so our life unfolds. It is forever a mystery of where it is going and where it may end. We are born into this world with nothing, and when we go we take nothing with us. But we do leave the memories that may linger and then fade, or even better still, last forever with those people that we have come to know, those we have touched so deeply with who we are and for what we will therefore always be remembered for.

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Like a paper boat I drift upon the silvery sea of life,

Bobbing gently on the waves I move so aimless.

The breeze that flickers all so softly on my worn and aging skin,

Carrying thoughts of what the future seems to hold.

 

The sunlight bathes me in its ethereal evening glow,

As it paints its colours bright upon the clouds above.

Then dancing spritely on the ripples of the sandy ocean floor below,

Like the fingers of some ancient ghostly dream.

 

Cries that echo softly now within the darkness of the night,

Calling out my name though I may never see.

Figures move like muted shadows in the forest deep,

Guiding me to places I could never find alone.

 

What one can’t see so clearly with their eyes so open wide,

Can sometimes come to life when imaginations deeply run.

Letting go of all the things I’ve ever come to understand,

It stands there now before me waiting to reveal its hidden self.

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In the deep stark silence it came and then it went,

A flicker of light like a dream come and gone.

Waiting for a wish to be cast from a mind,

Waste not a word that you may wish undone.

 

Each glistening star that still hangs in the sky,

A distant reminder a lasting regret.

Or just other wishes that wait to become,

Holding on tight not to let go just yet.

 

Faint colours I see like a rainbow afar,

Like an ocean of wonder with sparkling fish.

Closing my eyes I see many things,

I wonder in silence before I cast my wish.

 

Do the thoughts of the child pale and finally fade,

Is it so wrong to wonder just how things may be.

My wish is now cast deep into the night,

Will it come true with time I will see.

 

shooting-star-sky-dark

 

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I closed my eyes and visions formed,

Just like I slumbered in a dream.

The things I saw were all surreal,

It had me drifting so serene.

 

The magic that I thought had gone,

Had somehow found its way again.

The child that had been lost inside,

Within this dream had come to play.

 

In the moon light glow I spied a form,

With silken wings so fine.

It danced upon the golden dunes,

Beside the ocean deep and wide.

 

As quickly as the vision came,

So it had faded into night.

I knew it would come back again,

Another day it would take flight.

 

So I made a wish upon a star,

That glistened in the velvet sky.

A thought I had which came and went,

Within a tear drop in my eye.

 

Now I wait for dreams to be,

For faded hopes to shine once more.

The past is gone the future’s here,

A child waits near life’s open door.

 

 

 

 

Faeries

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The path was familiar, but the terrain seemed unknown. The child’s hands brushed the long purple cat-tail grass, then caught a drifting dandelion head as it bobbed upon the blissful breeze, making a wish before releasing it to dance away towards the sun’s bright rays.

The sweet scene proved but momentary delusion. The jaded adult stared blankly, mocked by words that no longer flowed where gentle streams once meandered through forests towards some iconic tree, embellished with fanciful stories like kite tails caught in branches where only children dared to climb.

When the feathery dandelion dissolved from sight, small feet skipped the pine-needled path to the place where kite tails dangled like mosaic mobiles from ancient branches; small hands traced the textured bark like a puzzle to be solved or a tower to be climbed.

The memory of childhood was rusting and eroding, tarnished by trials too terrible for small minds to comprehend. Some part had passed into dispassionate past, moving almost beyond recall. Thoughts that once danced brightly on air now suspended dimly in dust, threadbare and motionless like a forgotten child’s toy that might never bring joy or bright smiles again.

Hand over hand with bubbling hope, the child searched through leaves for any trace of life or light or laughter, any scraps of words or tails of kites that might unhide themselves in the tell-tale breeze. Then a reconnecting squeal of delight severed the silence. ‘You found me,’ the old man’s voice trembled, washing his tired spirit new like a breeze and a river and a kite taking flight.

‘I never forgot where to look,’ the small, white-haired boy replied. ‘The stars appear and disappear each day, turning days into endless years. Yet still this tree stands where it has always been.’

‘Another year has passed indeed,’ the old man lamented, the twinkle in his eye clouded by the threat of tears. ‘Once more, I am reminded that I am older than the universe itself.’

‘Yes,’ the child replied, ‘But you are as young as the universe too. You are the moon, but I am a star. A moon by itself is not a universe. Nor can a universe be made of a single star. I have climbed here today to show you the galaxy.’

The old man trembled as he received into his ancient hands the small box the child proffered. Actually, it seemed more like a wordless book than a box, and as he opened the cover, a galaxy of tiny paper stars and planets swirled endlessly before his eyes.

‘One day your time will come to join the stars,’ the little boy explained. ‘But until that time, you hold the stars within your hands, inside a book you must learn to read so that you might never forget what it means to be a child, though others might not understand.’

The old man closed the cover, forever protecting the paper stars that the child had cut one by one from coloured paper with tiny hands. And he sighed to know how painstakingly the little boy had glued and glittered each one, so that when light touched them, they would beam like cosmic jewels to remind him of the life he had now and the universe that would some day embrace him. And though he was eternally grateful, he also felt a sadness well inside him, for the child who had found him hidden in the tree was not the one he had most wished to see.

‘It has been so long,’ the old man’s voice trembled, ‘since the laughter of the little girl with pink bows in her hair filled these branches. I am truly afraid she has forgotten how to climb. Once upon a time she used to hang her tiny butterflies from long pieces of glittery string; I would hear her giggle from some distant place when I discovered what she had left for me to find. But now it has been so long, I am sure she has forgotten.’

Then the small child realised that the old man did not understand. ‘She is the one who sent me here! She is the one who cut out each star by hand. She is the one who gave each star its shine and placed each one inside this box for you. It may seem as though she has forgotten everything, but on certain days, her memory is awakened, and the universe that dances inside her smile flows only in the direction of this ancient tree. She knows that today is your special day, and she alone has sent me here with this gift for you.’

And as the old man’s weathered eye released a tired tear of relief, it washed down his cheek, smoothing the ripples that time had etched upon his ancient face. As more tears fell, they washed him clean and new, smudging the furrowed lines and erasing the countless years since childhood was all that he might ever know. Even now as he looked at the hand he lifted to brush the next tear away, he marvelled at how small it was, how totally devoid of any sign that he might be growing older rather than younger.

Opening the book shaped box once more, he drew from beneath the paper stars a tiny planet, made of glass so shiny and pure that it reflected his image back to his eyes so that he knew for certain now that he was indeed only a small, white-haired boy. The old man still sat beside him on the branch, but in the long distant future, gently reminding him to take all the time in the world to be a child, to marvel in the mystery of all that it meant to be so young and small.

And as the sun began to set, the boy sat quietly, his leg dangling over the branch, humming a tune, completely alone. The old man and his box of paper stars had faded into some future time and space. The child breathed the crisp air into his tiny lungs, infused with the strange scent of magical winter leaves that grew only on this tall tree while all other trees bore the barest branches. An early star shot across the dusky sky, and the child closed his eyes to whisper his wish. Today was his special day. He kept his eyes scrunched tightly closed til he was certain he could hear the almost forgotten sounds of another child’s steps skipping with delight in the sparkling starlight.

Wishing the happiest birthday ever to my dear friend, LP – may all your wishes come true today and always – Angelica 🙂 🙂 🙂

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What remains is what once-was, transformed
By thunder’s memory of ancient storms.
Lightninged limbs detached from trees
That fell to rot on forrest floors
Can never be restored.

New branches do push slowly through
The trunk’s gnarled bark, adorned with dew;
The feeble green afraid to glow
For fear it too will someday go
Down to the ground where it decays,
Where listless hours lament the days.

Will fragile leaves detach with wind
Along with twigs that break, then spin?
Or will they persevere and grow
Like branches that we used to know,
Ones strong enough to bear the weight
Of all that children contemplate?

Future, past, dark then, now bright
Imagination taking flight, but
Hiding now again until
All fear subsides –
I pray it will.

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As the rain gently tumbles upon my weary head,

The wind blows a chill that seeps through my veins.

As I wait for the clouds to clear in the sky,

For the sun to shine brightly above once again.

 

All around lays the beauty of so many things,

Each one intertwined in the lives that we lead.

Never a care or a thought may we have,

Until our time’s done and from this earth we must leave.

 

Is it ever to late to give in to your mind,

So that deep from your heart all that’s true will arise.

Unfolding before you like the most ancient text,

More than what ever will be seen with your eyes.

 

Grasp at the minutes the hours the days,

Like trying to hold a kite in the wind.

Carried away like a fast fading dream,

Ending once more at where we begin.

 

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The deep blue sky stretched as far as his eyes could see to where the orange glow of the sun teased itself above the water, as if tipping a toe into the blue green ocean which lay so calm and cool beneath it. The gentle breeze carried the smell of the rotting seaweed that had been washed up on the sand during the last violent storm that had ravaged this fragile coastline. It was spread like a carpet along the beach into the distance with the glittering of shiny shells intermingled amongst it, although to him it looked more like a sequinned scarf than a carpet, or so he thought as his imagination began to take hold. He listened to the lapping of the small waves as they rolled into the shore and over the rocks, making a tapping sound as the pebbles rocked back and forth against one another. The squawking calls of the silver gulls carried in the air, with a sharp shrill fading as they flew into the distant reaches of the beach towards the derelict light house that stood high on the prominent cliff-top which jutted out like a finger pointing towards some distant object far out to sea.

“Hello,” a voice called from behind the salt bush covered sand dunes as if it were hoping someone would answer in return. The strands of grass were clumped like a hundred porcupines spread out across the land, and as her pony tales and pink bows bounced into view, he smiled and then gave an apprehensive wave. It had been a while since she had shown herself, having spent many an hour sitting calmly in the ivory tower where she had finally found some semblance of balance between the different lives that she had chosen to lead. “What ya doing?” She squealed as she caught sight of her friend the white haired boy. His eyes reflected the sun and at the same time they glistened like the stars in the night sky, and she wondered now that she had found him once more what it would be that the days would bring, because she always found wonder in the words that he often shared, and it had been a while since she had taken the time to listen and truly reflect on them. He thought for a brief moment then explained, “I’m just admiring the beauty of this place,” as he turned himself towards the ocean once more. She smiled and then told him, “I came here yesterday and I found a paper boat washed up on the shore.” He smiled and turned to look at her once more and without asking she continued. “I liked the words very much because they were special in their own way.”

There had been many paper boats set to sail, each one with a purpose, each one searching for the answers to the many questions the enquiring mind of a child seeks. He turned, taking a few steps, and with a wave of his tiny hand he called to her, “follow me and we will have an adventure.” He began to run and she darted after him, together their tiny legs carrying them as fast as they could along the top of the undulating sand dunes, weaving through the prickly sea grass tufts that stung their legs as they flicked against them. She giggled as she chased him, and he laughed in return, because it was so much fun and it was like they had not been on an adventure together ever. “Woooo hoooo,” he shouted as he leapt through the air, landing on his bottom and sliding down the steep slope of the dune like it was a water fall that fell onto the soft beach below. “Yeeee haaaaw she cried as she followed, rolling and tumbling with a consummate, but at the same time, awkward ease down the embankment, landing flat on her face. She broke out into a riotous laughter as she rolled onto her back, picking herself up and dusting off the fine sand from her pink overalls. There, before her stood her friend with his hands on his hips like Peter Pan of the faerie tale stories she had read. He shook his head and then smiled before pointing to the crumbling tower, with its grey wind and rain weathered stone walls.

They stared at it for a while as it was bathed in the pink glow of the sunset, which made it look less foreboding than maybe it could do and she marvelled at how it was similar to the ivory tower in which she spent many of her days. He nodded his head in the direction of the old lighthouse and they trudged on, beginning the arduous final climb over the tumbled ragged rocks that surrounded it, making sure that each measured step was carefully taken. They stood at its base and looked skyward marvelling at how it seemed to reach forever into the sky. They walked around the light house running their hands across the surface of the smooth grey stones, circling it until they came upon a slightly ajar old wooden door. The white haired boy brushed away the silken cobwebs that hung around it and he pushed his hands against the door which held fast. The small girl joined him and together they pushed as hard as they could and the rusted door opened, with its hinges letting out a high pitched creaking sound like that from some old horror movie. It was rather dark and dusty inside, with the only light being that which reflected through the broken glass windows at the top of the wrought iron stairs that wound its way around the wall to the very top. “Can we go up?” she whispered as if afraid to wake some long forgotten soul. He nodded and she lead the way with each step taken sending a small puff of dust spiralling into the air, with the tip, tap, plop of footsteps echoing in the air. It was cold and dank, and in the air a damp musty smell signalled that no one had been there for a long while which made sense with all the scattered note paper that littered the floor.

“Wow,” she exclaimed, catching her breath as she reached the top of the stairs with the warmth of the sun’s rays painting her face with light. Here the breeze blew stronger as it whistled through the panes of broken glass, tossing their hair as they stood in awe of the view. Out to sea they could just make out the Island of Lost Children, silhouetted by the sun and shrouded in an erie mist that drifted all around it. As they walked around the walkway at the top of the tower, they could see far past the flower filled valley and onto the Friendship Tree, with the barren desert that stretched on for miles past it fading in the distance. The small girl stood soaking up the life giving sunlight that she needed, so that she would grow strong, whilst the white haired boy thought of the many words that would paint this picture if he was ever to re-tell the tale. They looked at the silvery light dancing on the ripples of the ocean, and as they did a dark shadow, then a second one became visible just below its surface moving effortlessly. With a woosh and a puff of misty air a whale broke the surface followed by a smaller calf. They rolled and played together putting on a show for a long while as the two friends watched on in awe. Their majesty was inspiring and the gracefulness was like nothing they had ever seen, and in a final display, they leapt from the water, landing with a splash before they swam into the distance.

They had marvelled at the life of another creature in a show that if you did not know better, could have been put on just for them, and as the last of the sun slowly fell below the horizon and the light began to fade, the small boy beckoned his friend to leave. “Come, we must go because I still have something special to show you.” As they left the lighthouse they gave it one last look, and for a moment he thought he heard a whisper, “come back soon,” it said, but then that could just be his vivid imagination along with the wind as it whistled through the structure. They climbed the sand dune with its soft sand running like trickling water behind them as they pulled their way up to the top and walked the well worn path leading into the distance.

They ambled along the path in the fading light and talked about many things, and she kept hinting at the surprise he had promised to share with her, but he remained quiet because he knew when the time was right she would receive it. The sounds of the Magic Forest echoed to where they walked as they wound their way from the sand dunes through the field of pink daisies. They paused along the path and looked as a soft glow radiated from the canopy of trees in the twilight and she closed her eyes so that her senses could carry her back to the memories of long ago. The flickering faerie lights, the hypnotic music with its swaying rhythm, and the sounds of laughter that she had not heard for so long. All of these things and more could carry her away into a dream, the place where the reality of life lay intertwined with her imaginations. There, now, she felt the words forming in her mind and she was stirred by the presence of her magical friend, so much so that she began to see the words as they drifted, forming sentences that told of a friendship and a tree and all of the wonders she had come to know. This was more than an adventure it was the journey of a dream, it was all the wonders of the world unfolding like the wings of a butterfly as it came to brilliant life, transformed from a humble caterpillar.

They continued on their journey through the forest with firefly lanterns lighting the way, and the sounds of song and laughter to celebrate her return to this special place, and no one even questioned why it was she had been away, they were just happy that she was back. As they walked along side the cool stream, the life giving water reverberated with a soothing sound as it ran across the pebbles that lined it. She cupped her hands and drew a sip of its crystal clear liquid, giving a look of absolute pleasure as she did so, wiping the tiny droplets from her chin with her sleeve. There was so much she missed about this place, so many things she had learnt along the way, and it had become clear that until now there was much which had slipped from her memory. They walked from the forest and stood beneath the mystical canopy of the black velvet sky, filled with tiny stars, all twinkling like diamonds or distant candlelights. Looking hard they could make out the soft colours that were smudged within the deepest reaches of space, and the shapes that the stars formed when joined together. It was here on the path that he sat down and asked her to do the same, as she did he asked, “did you remember that I am magic?” She hesitated for a moment and replied, “I think so.” He smiled, reaching into his jacket pocket and he produced a tiny brightly coloured caterpillar at which she became very excited, and then he asked her to close her eyes and hold out her hands. He placed it in the upturned palms of her outstretched hands, then wrapped them around his gift, asking her to think happy thoughts and make a wish. As she did, so she felt a little tickle against her skin, and as she opened her hands, holding her palms skyward, there lay a pink butterfly with its paper crepe wings beating ever so softly.

“This is the magic of your transformation my friend, it signifies that life becomes life, and that change is sometimes inevitable, no matter what was in the past.” For a moment a sad look fell upon her face, and he knew what she was thinking, so before she could say a word, he explained. “Butterflies are usually ephemeral, but this one is special. It will grow strong as you grow strong and just like you, it will never grow old.” This put a smile on her face, and then in a moment the butterfly flapped its wings and took flight into the darkness, showing no fear of what lay ahead. She watched as it flitted away, with its wings sparkling like glitter in the starlight, disappearing into the vast sky above. She smiled and she wondered, but then life was full of wonder and somethings would only ever be revealed over time as the journey we take unfolded before us like the pages of an unread book. On the distant horizon, the moon began to rise and the light from it radiated soft and white, bathing the land eerily with shadows and silhouettes. The Friendship Tree stood tall and in the light it came to life as the gentle glow  wrapped around the trunk an bounced off the leaves that flickered in the breeze.

It had been a while since the small girl had tried to climb the Tree and find the essence of the child, allowing her to see beyond the reality of life, into the imaginative and dreamy world that had so often given her a quiet solitude. She had also missed the stories that her magical friend had so often weaved, with either words of wisdom or pure fantasy. After so long away from the Tree, the time had come to make a choice, take a chance and rekindle the many memories that lay hidden in the depths of her mind. As the boy stood, his shadow fell long across the land seemed to sway in the breeze blown tall grass. He climbed the tree and before long she pulled her way onto the branch and sat quietly, staring at the butterflies and dragonflies that he had meticulously cared for in her absence. She pointed to the Book of Dreams and asked, “Tell me a story please,” to which he welcomely obliged, opening the book to where it all began, hoping that she would remember once again. The truth is that even though she may not remember every moment in time, she would not forget that they were true friends. So now the journey would begin once more, with the old mesmerisingly melded with the new and the thoughts of two children once again shared with all those that chose to read them.

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What is it that a child sees within their mind? What dreams will come true, unfolding then drifting like the mists of time as they traverse the known and the unknown realms that exist within the deepest reaches of time and space? Could the innocence of a child be all that was needed to open the door to that mystical, magical place that rides parallel to that which we know? Is this the place through which paper boats laden with thoughts and wishes shall sail, going far beyond the horizon to the nether reaches of the widest oceans before returning, ragged, but intact all the same, carrying the answers to the questions that we have sent?

As the small boy stood with his arm outstretched, he waved his hand as if it held a mighty sword, yet within his steely grip was a simple pen and in his other hand was a single piece of parched white paper upon which he had scrawled but a few carefully chosen words. The sun shone brightly bathing him in its soft yellow glow as it held fast for the last part of the day, and the stiff breeze that blew from across the dark blue ocean stung his skin as it carried the salt filled air. His coat battered against his leg like a loose tent flap in a storm, with a hollow, yet sharp sound like that of a cracking whip. He stared across the ocean into the distant unknown and there, just above the horizon, the vapours of a large dark cloud twisted and turned into shape. His eye in tune with a wild imagination saw large dragon form, bathed in the red glow of the sun, and from its mouth spewed forth the electric blue fire of lightning and the rolling roar of thunder that accompanied it carried across the ocean to where he stood in awe. So much never did cease to amaze him, and so often he would stand alone and ponder the intricacies of life and death.

Elsewhere, a small girl huddled in the solitude of The Garden of Life. The soft pink bows that tied her long dark hair and the pink runners with spangled sparkly pink laces gave only a little away of who she really was. She watched as the glow of the dragonfly and butterfly ornaments that adorned her garden bed changed colour before her ever wondering eyes like a rainbow light show. Some time ago she fell from the Tree, bruised and battered from the blows that life had dealt her and it was here that she landed, here that she felt safe and secure in a place full of blissful moments that would sustain her when no other moment could. It was warm like a soft feather doona, and on the darkest of nights with a clear sky, she could count the millions of stars that shone from above, carrying her back for just a moment to where she would grab a fleeting glimpse of her past. Long gone were the memories that had filled her days with joy and laughter, replaced by the careful, considered thoughts and words that now filled her life. Yet she was gaining greater courage with each passing day and week, and although she did not realise it yet, the time would come once more where the magic of being a child would carry her away.

He was small, but he was strong, with his words belying the true self that he had become, and as the sun bade him farewell for another day, so the stars began to twinkle in the blackness of the night, greeting him like a million children all wanting to share in the wonders his words would bring. He turned his back to the dragon in the distant sky that had faded like so many of his childish dreams, and he walked slowly along the path that wound its way through the undulating sand dunes, marked by the finger print lines of the wind. The ripples in the sand twisting and weaving like a snake from a story he once knew, ready to pounce and take him if it so chose. No longer did the stiff winds batter his tiny body, instead replaced by a soft breeze that now carried him in a drifting state as though his tiny feet did not touch the ground. Onward he went, into the Magic Forest, where fireflies danced like tiny candles suspended from an invisible string, their light painting him in an eerie glow as they went about their business. Faeries darted here and there, every now and again coming in for an inquisitive look, before disappearing once more, visible to only those that believed in their existence, and he certainly believed they were real.

With his long white hair and blue jacket he was a sight to behold as he bounded here and there, with the exuberance of the imaginative child that he was. Often he would pause and turn quickly as he tried to spy some cheeky faerie as it played hide and seek with him, giving a little giggle each time he succeeded in catching a glimpse. “Hello,” he called as he stood in the clearing, but all that returned was an echo from the hidden places deep within the forest. He called again, this time louder with more purpose, at the same time with a saddening desperation that his friend for whom he searched may hear his cry. Again it was only his echo that responded, with the fading repeat as it bounced from tree to tree. He had sailed many paper boats and for fleeting moments she had shown herself, but like a ghost on a calm dark night, she would appear and then fade to be lost once more, never managing to grasp her dreams for much longer than she felt safe. He looked mournfully around, yet here and now in the stillness of the forest he knew that she may not come again, but he could only believe.

As the stars sparkled overhead, through the clear roof of her garden, she looked to find just one that may come to life and smile ever brightly upon her. Ever so carefully she climbed to her feet, stretching her weary body and offering a tiny yawn before sliding the door to her Garden open.  She peered out into the dark distance with all the unknowns obscured by the shadows cast, yet she felt compelled to take another step beyond the comfort and safety she had found. She had been stirred by a soft familiar sound which had now faded into the hum that filled her head and in the darkness she had felt drawn to some far off place, but still a part of her was tied to where she had been hiding. In the starlight, an old metal swing glistened, smudged with the brown rust of time, and it creaked as it moved ever so slightly in the breeze as if calling her to sit once more, encouraging her to break the bonds that had restrained her for so long now. As she stepped through the doorway, she let her fingers slip free from her hold on the last piece of what had protected her, and at the same time she let her mind drift almost becoming numb until she found herself sitting alone upon the wrought iron etched seat of the swing.

She felt a calmness wash over her, and as she looked at the scars carried by the nearby statue, so she saw herself, recovering from what she had endured and this put her even more at ease because it was a sign of what could be where there once was no hope. As she sat in contemplation, the last chirping of the small birds that filled her garden could be heard emanating from the nearby bushes in which they had made their homes, and it was as if she understood the stories they were telling of what the day had delivered for them. With the calmness that surrounded her, she began to drift back into that childlike state in which her memories had begun to stir once more, and she began to wonder now if it could ever be the same again. She could only believe, but she did not want to be dashed upon some rocky shore, never to be found, so she would be cautious and only time would tell what was to be.

Of all the things that he had seen and known, there was no one thing that stood out more in his imagination than any other, and as he stood in the opening of the magic forest, he gazed all around. The many dreams, the many tales came flooding back into his mind like a giant picture show that played his life like one big fairy tale. He was mesmerised by it all and the journey that he and his small friend had taken before she disappeared. They had sought out courage and strength, truth and believing and with this they had conquered the darkness and set alight the candle of life that still burned strong. They had seen the best and the worst that the world had to offer, but they had never once given up, and the Magic Forest stood as a testament to who they had become. As he looked, he could see the twinkling of the first star with all its magic and wonder, and nearby the tiny dragonflies and butterflies that flitted from flower to flower in the soft dusk light, each with its own purpose, each with its own meaning in the cobweb that life had woven magically for them.

As the last ray of the sun burst from beyond the horizon, it reached out like a finger pointing, and it reflected from the distant ivory tower, sending a glint of light as a reminder that some thing’s still remained and that only with time and patience would they be tamed. The rainbow colours that had adorned it had been replaced once again by the stark white paint of before, yet he hoped that his tiny friend would see beneath that. He hoped she would remember what it had become and the adventure that had unfolded on a bright summer’s day a long while ago when she had been rescued from its upper most confines.

He heard a sound, and as he turned he saw a fox dancing in the nearby wheat field, as if chasing some imaginary child as is leapt here and there. As he watched the fox, he remembered a tale from his past and although he could see the fox he wondered if like his friend it was truly there or just vision from that parallel world which may or may not exist alongside our own. He turned his gaze looking once more deep into the night sky with all the stars that now shone like tiny diamonds, and then to the deeper colours of space that made this canvas upon which they were laid even more wondrous. A shooting star raced across the sky, burning bright then fading, and as it did he cast his wish before it disappeared into the distance behind the tall wide silhouette of the Friendship Tree. If he did not know better, he would have imagined that it had landed within the Tree itself but then that was the magic of his simple imagination.

Sitting quietly on the metal swing, the small girl felt the breeze of a butterfly kiss upon her cheek, and as she did so she closed her eyes to dream. Ever so slowly the old metal swing began to squeak as she was rocked back and forth. The sound was reminiscent of the old see saw on which she had found herself not too long ago, and as she opened her eyes, the soft light of the rising moon lit up her smile and for just a moment she thought she saw the silhouette of a dragonfly she had once known. She closed her eyes once again and in a moment a shadow flickered upon her eyelids, tempting her to open them once more. As she slowly opened her eyes, she sat aghast at the ethereal form of the small boy that wandered before her, side to side as if searching for something he had lost, yet he did not see her. He was calling for her, and even as she called back, he could not hear. He came close to where she sat on the swing and with her tiny fingers she stretched to touch him, calling his name as the swing made its forward motion, but as she did, so he disappeared. This left her with a lost and empty feeling as though the future had come then gone in the instant that was time as she had come to know it.

In the distance a voice called softly and she placed her feet on the ground stopping the swing in mid motion, and as she listened intently the familiar call drew her from the darkness of where she had been into the eerie glow of the moon. At the same time the small boy also heard a familiar voice and as he watched, a soft light began the radiate from the Tree in the distance. The fox stopped what it was doing, then turned and watched as the smile on the face of the small boy grew ever wider before it too was drawn forward, cautiously moving to where the Tree stood bold and strong. The small girl had let go of all that had held her, abandoned all the fear that had so consumed her, and as she ran, the laces on her pink runners danced like octopus tentacles to a silent tune. As she came closer to the tree, she recognised the shape that was her friend on the path that wound from the forest in the other direction and she called, as did he. They both stopped at the bottom of the tree, puffing and panting.

“Where have…….” She stopped him before he could say another word and she explained as best she could. “I tried, and I knew that everything would be alright, but at the same time I just could not see as clearly as I usually do.” He wanted to say something but she was so full of words and after all his paper boats he was glad to just let her speak. “I had forgotten it all, everything that I had learnt, all the simple things you had shown me, and worst of all I had become lost in my own little world, drowning in everything that had overcome me.”

He needed not say anything in return, because he understood and all that mattered was that she was back. A soft mist began to drift across the valley floor like the white foam on the incoming ocean tide. It tickled their feet as it rolled across their shoes, drifting in tiny wisps of vapour. The fox stood there, first raising one paw, then replacing it before raising another in astonishment as the mist wrapped itself around it. The two friends climbed into the tree, and lifted the fox up with them, and as the mist filled the valley floor, all around them looked like the ocean. In the pale moonlight, the fox lay its head upon the wide branch and fell asleep, whilst the two friends talked in endless conversation, making up for the time that they had not spoken over the long last while. This was not the end, nor was it the beginning. It was where they were now, it was where the journey they were on had placed them and they knew that there were more adventures, more wonders to be seen, greater lessons to be learned. Today there would be no magic, no more than the simple words written on this page, the magic of words on their own. For now they were just two friends sitting in a tree, filling the Book Of Dreams with words that told of something unique, but at the same time something that others would one day embrace and find of their own as well.

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The small boy walked alone along the winding forest path, with the flickering light playing on the leaves as he kicked his way merrily on through. His long white hair reflected in the dappled light and the buttons on his magical blue coat glistened all golden and bright like small stars. It was that magical time of the year and he had delivered all but one gift to all those that he knew, and although he could not see them, he knew that there were smiles across their faces as they removed the coloured paper that was so neatly wrapped around each and every present that he had left. A toy here a memory there, a thought or words that rhymed. There was so much he had tried to fit into the moment that he was nearly exhausted.

Tiny faeries flew along side him as he walked, and they filled his coat pockets with magic dust, before flying away once more to tend to the forest. He paused by the River of Redemption, where his reflection danced upon the ripples in the still water alongside the river bank which brought a smile to his face, and he watched as his eyes lit up wide at the imaginations he was having. He was a dreamer and his tales would hold those that cared to listen transfixed on every word and, the pictures he painted were magical, where his adventures carried even the most fearful souls to places where dreams do come true. He knew no fear, or at least none that anyone else may ever know, and in the simplest of words he gave courage and strength where before there was only confusion and despair.

As he sat quietly, he listened to the sounds of the singing birds as they chirped out beautiful tunes, with the whistle of the breeze as it gently rustled through the leaves in the trees, and the gentle of the pebbles in the fast flowing sections of water before him like the heartbeat of the forest. He watched as dragonflies and butterflies came and went from the water’s edge, sipping from the life giving crystal clear coolness that flowed on to the sea, before they moved on once more. ‘Life was surely so wonderful,’ he thought to himself as he watched the delicate fluttering butterfly, with its colourful crepe paper like wings as it was carried aimlessly by the wind, then in distinct contrast to the bold blue dragonfly with its speed and agility in full control of his destiny, keeping a close eye on the other creatures there.

As he sat, he thought about many things, and then he reached into his jacket pocket and from it he removed a tiny folded piece of paper, and he ran his fingers along its neat creases before finally pulling it into shape. He carefully placed it on the water’s surface and watched as it bobbed and weaved in the eddies that formed as the river wound its way into the distance. He did not know where this paper boat would finally end, but he did believe that it would find itself a home and that maybe one day it may even return like so many before.

The light had begun to fade as the evening drew near, and he climbed to his feet brushing the loose leaves from his trousers. He looked around at the small lanterns that hung from the weeping branches of the trees like tiny teardrops, and then he made his way to where the forest opened up onto the wide fields, becoming an ocean of soft pink flowers. As he stood admiring the undulating landscape with all its shape and mystery, he saw a small fox, reddish brown with a flash of white on its tale. It leaped and bounded here and there as if chasing something, although there was nothing to be seen, yet that did not seem to matter. It paused for a moment as it stared back at the small boy, tilting its head side to side inquisitively as though it new the child and trusted who he was, before it continued once more in its joyous dance.

As he watched he remembered a tale from a long while ago, where a girl with pink bows in her hair had found the injured fox along this same path, and how she had shown compassion enough to offer it life. The white haired boy tossed his head slightly, flicking away the few strands of hair that had fallen across his eyes, and as he held his gift tightly in his hands, he wondered if he too could offer the same to his friend. In the distance, the tall wide branches of the Friendship Tree reached into the cobalt blue sky that was beginning to come to life with the many stars that were a wonder to him. They flickered and sparkled like faerie lanterns held high in the distance for all to see. Where most people felt afraid in the dark, he felt a quiet solitude, but at the same time togetherness and comfort with the stars smiling back at him like tiny friends.

He stood staring at the Tree, where a warm inviting yellow glow radiated out through the leaves, and as he listened, he heard the familiar lalalalalalalala of his small friend, whom he had been looking for. He became excited in anticipation of the smile she would give in return for the gift he had for her. He ran to the tree, with his tiny legs barely managing to keep him upright, and when he reached the bottom of it, he ran his fingers along the coarse bark as if to greet it before calling out. “Hey there, are you here?” The singing stopped, and he waited in the silence. “I know you are in there, I heard you squawking from way up the path.” She poked her head through the leaves and with a pouty mouth exclaimed. “No fair, are you mocking me?” He smiled back and cheekily said, “nope, but I knew it would make you show your face.” She smiled then noticing his hands behind his back asked. “What you got there?” He stared all around pretending to not know what she meant, before looking in her direction once more. “There, behind your back?” she smiled, pointing to his arms tucked behind him.

He took the gift from behind his back, with its nice Santa paper neatly wrapped around it, and he held it out for her to see. He told her it was for her for Christmas, and also in celebration of the journey that she had now found herself taking. She clapped her hands in excitement as he carefully climbed the Tree and in the soft candlelight that flickered on the leaves overhead, he gave her his gift. “It isn’t much,” he explained as he watched her sit down then shake it to see if she could guess what it was. The puzzled look on her face told him that she was trying very hard, but unsuccessfully guessing what was contained within, and impatiently he whispered. “Come on, open it, cause it won’t open itself.” Her tiny fingers wrestled with the sticky tape, and then as the first piece of paper came away, so the rest followed in quick succession to reveal a brown cardboard box. She opened the box and within it she found the small statue of a boy holding a balloon.

She smiled and as she did he explained the gift. “Up until now, I have told you to believe, offering many words of strength and courage, and I have seen you grow and become strong. Now the road you walk is the destiny you created and with that I have a new word.” He smiled and as she held the small statue aloft, so that the stars sparkled around it, she read the word that was formed in the intricate wire shape held tightly in the small statue’s hands. The word was ‘Hope’. She had battled all adversity, she had fought the darkness and she had conquered her fear, so that now she had truly given herself hope. He looked at his friend, and he told her. “So many people live in hope and that is all they do, and hope on its own is just that. However when you have strength and courage, and you truly believe in what you are doing, you no longer live in hope, but instead you have given yourself hope that has true meaning and worth.” She nodded her head because she understood his words and she knew beyond all doubt that she was now in full control of her destiny. In the distance a flash of electric blue light filled the sky and the sound of thunder filled the air, startling the small girl to turn. As she turned to look at her friend once more, the small boy had disappeared, the only memory remaining being the small statue she now held. In the deep dark sky a single star sparkled brightly above all others, and a childish laughter filled the air.

Throughout our lives, we come to learn much, regret some things, and if we are truly lucky we get to meet people that understand us, people who are prepared to share the best and worst of whom we are without any further thought. Some say they are many, but I say they are unique, and those people are what I call true friends.

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