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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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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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He stood overlooking the rolling valley in the soft evening light, with the Tree bathed in the glow of the sun’s golden rays. His long blue coat with its polished buttons flapped in the breeze, gently tapping on his legs like a small child seeking his attention, with the buttons making a tinkety tink. As he studied all that lay before him, he watched as the wheat field swayed like the surface of the ocean with an ever changing texture. He glanced in the direction of the Tree and as he looked closer he thought he saw with his tiny eyes a glint of light as it reflected from within the Tree, and as he concentrated harder he could hear the smallest sound of laughter echoing from within. ‘No, it can’t be,’ he thought to himself, but there it was again, ‘surely not?’ Excitedly he ran through the wheat field, nearly falling as his tiny legs almost lost all control as he leaped and bounded on his way, and when he finally stood at the bottom of the Tree, he waited and he listened intently. The laughter was still there, but it had become weaker, almost more distant as if fading into obscurity far from the deepest reaches of his imagination as if drifting away from where it had begun.

He climbed the Tree to where he would usually sit and once inside he gazed around, but there was not a single soul to be found, not a sign that anyone had been here in the last while. He bowed his head and he wondered, then as the breeze blew through the dangling green leaves he heard it once more. He turned then looked overhead and there he noticed the familiar sight of a mobile with the remnants of shattered butterflies suspended precariously from the fragile pieces of string. As it wavered in the light he saw one final in tact butterfly, the last one hung from a rainbow coloured string and as it span in the breeze so the softest laughter could be heard. He thought to a time not long ago and he remembered this one, the rescue one, the one that had sacrificed all to search for the small boy that had drowned in all his sorrow and self-pity, the one that told of the lengths to which friends will go for one another. He approached it cautiously, with the light reflecting like a kaleidoscope from its silken wings and as he did so it fell, and with an outstretched hand he grasped and held on tightly so that it would not disintegrate on the barren ground below as so many others had.

Held now tightly within his tiny palms, he could see that whilst it was the same one, there was now more. Its words told of misfortune and despair, joy and suffering and waiting for the joy once more, but how could he be so sure, was that the laughter mingled with a sadness? He thought long and hard, and then he climbed down from the Tree, planting his feet firmly on the desolate earth below with a tiny puff of dust as he landed. He stepped away from the canopy that shielded him, and as he stood there with the hum of the night echoing he looked deep into the night sky. He reached out and grasped a small piece of the delicate velvet that spanned the sky which in turn held the many stars of hope in his vision and then he clenched his fist and took a piece in his hand. He made a soft velvet bag and he placed the delicate butterfly within mingled with just a few stars for protection, and as he did it began to stir before he closed the bag tightly. In the distance the light radiated from the magic forest and the faintest sounds of the faeries and elves carried upon the breeze to where he stood, their songs drawing him towards them. He trod the path of fortune that he had travelled so often before and as he reached the forest he watched in wonder as the small ones danced and sprinkled their magic dust upon the ground around them. He watched in amazement as everywhere it landed tiny flowers grew, in pinks and reds and blue, and dragonflies flitted carefree here and there. ‘Was this life giving, did it really have the magic he had come to find?’ he thought to himself. He thought no more and he quickly gathered some of faerie dust and he placed it inside the black bag alongside the butterfly mobile and stars, and as he did so the butterfly began to stir to life with its delicate wings fanning slowly like the beat of a tiny heart, which brought a smile to his face.

His soft blue eyes sparkled in the moonlight as he stood looking out from where the forest met the wheat field once more, and he watched as a fox danced in the moon’s glow. He sat quietly, unseen, admiring the enthusiasm with which she moved, full of life, full of believing, not a care in the world. Then as he looked on a flash of light raced across the sky, exploding like a firework and sprinkling hundreds of tiny stars across the land and like little diamonds they sparkled here and there and he searched through the field gathering each and every one of them adding them to his magical collection. Everything inside the bag now glowed bright and strong and the energy it contained was stronger than any he had made before. All this time with his concentration so intense on his task, he did not see that the fox had stopped and was looking on with a smile on her face, because she understood who he was and what it was he was seeking. He had nearly filled the bag but he wanted more, so he looked to the sky and his favorite constellation of Orion where stars are born, and he reached deep into it with his mind. With his imagination he gathered up a handful of the brightest ones that would shine like only a candle could shine, and he placed them into the bag as well.

With his prize held firmly, he made his way back to the Tree and he climbed inside with the silence all around him. There was still no sign that any one had been there and he wondered if they ever would again, but then maybe there was still time? He went to the Book of Dreams and he tore out some of the blank pages it contained and placed them inside like tiny blank butterflies waiting to be filled with words, then he took a single piece and put it in his coat pocket. Before he closed the bag to protect all that it contained, he made a tiny dragonfly.

 

Believing in the one you are,

Thoughts that give you strength and hope,

Words that carry you away,

At times when you don’t think you’ll cope.

 

Laughing in the morning sun,

Crying in the midday rain,

Then smiling at the stars that shine,

Because like you they’ll shine again.

 

For each and every star that falls,

A wish awaits for you to make,

A dream come true in times to come,

With every little step you take.

 

The stars you hold within your hands,

Are gathered there for you to see,

So even in your darkest hours,

You will pull through it’s your destiny.

 

He finished and put this into the bag, and then he placed his hand into a hole in the solid trunk of the Tree, searching with his tiny fingers, and when he removed it he was holding a small candle, like the light of life to be shared, to glow when the darkness was at its worst, a reminder of all that life is and ever will be. His treasure was now complete, the magic was captured, and now he placed the bag where his friend would usually sit with her pen and paper in hand and then he turned, but before climbing down he made a wish. It was a wish he would not share, but a wish just the same, a wish upon the star that he had seen earlier and had waited to use. He climbed down from the Tree with its rough-hewn bark and as he stood there, all was silent. The forest was asleep and the fox was gone, but as he always knew, the stars still shined, they would always shine, they would always smile and their laughter would be heard by all those that believed. He knew his friend believed just as he did, and he only hoped that his gift could give her the strength that his words had so often given before. Only time would tell, but like before he truly believed and he would never let any other thought cross into the enquiring mind of the child she was, and that one day she would realise her wildest dreams.

He sat now by the ocean blue, with his bare feet resting in the cool waters as if drawing from the magic that it offered. He took the piece of paper from his jacket pocket and he folded it carefully into the most wonderful of paper boats, and then he added some words of hope, of believing. In the moonlight, he watched as it set sail as so many had before in search of a dream. He had sprinkled this with some of his magic, yes his. He thought he was magic, no, he knew he was magic and his words would always be like air and water, they would always speak of all the positive things that life has to offer and they were there for all those less fortunate than he, all those that needed a helping hand. That was who he was and always would be and his happiness was found in the happiness that he gave to others, the most wonderful of gifts that costs nothing but a simple smile. He would wait here until this paper boat returned and he would hope that his friend would find the gift he left for her. Now as he sat quietly, the stars smiled down upon him and he smiled back, and the colours of the Milky Way glowed in reds and pinks, with just a touch of cobalt blue smudged across, intermingled amongst the stars. He laughed, and they laughed to. Yes life was a wonderful thing.

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From the moment she had been told about the illness that now consumed her, she found herself torn from her normal daily life, and now the time she would spend climbing her favorite tree had become a thing of the past. The Tree was a special place to her, a place of security and comfort where honesty, trust and respect were shared with her friends as they sat and told stories of magic and wonder, with a friendship that had become so unique. They had written many words for all the world to read, inspiring words telling stories of a boy and a girl that shared words and nothing more. Within the Tree she had hung her many words of joy and happiness like tiny butterflies, strung into delicate mobiles that reflected the smallest amount of light which played upon the faces of her friends that climbed there with her each and everyday. But now things were different, with the endless confusion that surrounded her spinning like a tornado, blurring so that she could no longer see clearly.

Today she stood within the Tree ever so quietly, her tiny heart beating a fearful tune. Her frightened little face hid behind the dangling spangled butterfly mobile that spun effortlessly in the soft breeze. The coolness of the air that drifted through the leaves that enveloped the tree brushed against her skin as she remained quiet and still, sending a little chill through her weakened body. As the rainbow colors of the butterflies danced upon her face, she grimaced at the thoughts that now played within her mind. Around her now, hands grappled to take hold, pulling her here and there with all sorts of treatments and cures, but not so much as a thought as to how she may be feeling. There is so much to understand, yet to balance her life there are so many things she will never understand, making the decisions she needed to make even more complex.

Hiding in the highest branches her young friend watched and waited patiently. He wanted to reach out too, but he did not want to confuse her, he just wanted to offer her calming and reassuring words that so often before had eased her mind in the complex world in which she sometimes explored. As he moved carefully to get a better view he slipped ever slightly and in a startled turn, she saw him there and she returned his broad smile with the one of thanks she had so often given before. They were good friends and she treasured the words he spoke. Words so calm and well thought, never judging her thoughts, but instead balancing them so that she could carefully guide herself on whatever journey she may need to take.

She waved her arm to call him closer and he obliged, swinging down from where he stood on the higher branch, taking up a place not far from where she sat in the Friendship Tree. Her fearful look had seemed to ease ever so slightly, but then he knew she would always put on a brave face so as not to worry him. He asked her what she was doing and very quietly and carefully she led him to where they were able to see clearly through the branches. There she pointed and he could see a shape, a shadowy form moving from tree to tree in the distance. A puzzled look fell across his face, and she turned her head to look at him, with that touch of fear upon it once more. “It’s the darkness. It’s looking for me, I just know it is.” He knew she was not well, but that the darkness was close was certainly concerning and he knew that they had to do something and that time was of the essence.

He looked at her with the reassurance that she had seen so often before, and then he reached deep into the pockets of his long blue coat. She gave him a quizzical look as he fumbled with his tiny fingers to find what it was he was looking for, and before long he produced a large candle, a pen and a piece of paper. He placed the pen and paper nearby and then he lit the candle, placing it in a golden storm lantern so that its flame could never be extinguished. He hung this from the branch above and then he picked up the paper and pen, and he began to write. She looked at him in a puzzled manner, and then he explained. “Did you know that the darkness cannot survive where there is light?” She shook her head whilst absorbing his every word. “Yes,” he continued, “and the candle will burn from this day forward like life itself, to keep the darkness away, so it may never come near you again.” She was becoming excited and a new strength seemed to grow within her. He then continued. “The darkness can also not live where there is oxygen, and my words are like air, like the oxygen we breathe, and I will write as long as I can so that it will never survive.” The fear had now drained from her face and the courage he knew she had now brought a new lease of life to her, and the confidence that had seemed to of left her before, returned once more.

She had listened to his words so often before, and through all his wisdom he had always told her to believe. “Without belief, what hope do we have?” he would say. Finally, she was ready more than ever to face what lay ahead, to embrace the challenges as they unfolded. She knew it would be tough, but she did believe and at the same time she now knew more importantly that she would never face this alone, that there would always be someone to protect her.

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He sat within the confines of his tiny world shielded from so much by the knowledge of all that he had learned on the journeys he had taken on his own. Until now he had been responsible for himself, although at the same time he did care about others. Then things have a way of changing and sometimes destiny offers us a different path to choose and without really knowing we are drawn in a different direction, with a new future laid out before us. He pulled the collar of his magical blue coat tight around his neck and sighed. There was so much to be done, yet time did not seem to be his friend, as a matter of fact it appeared to be no-one’s friend.

It was a cold winter’s day and the sun was slow to rise, leaving the wondrous colours to linger as it raised its weary head to shine its life giving light on those that were lucky enough to greet the new day. The intensity of the orange, red and pink tones were such that they added extra warmth, just by way of the vision that it offered. Like so much in life, things changed and spring was just around the corner offering hope for new growth, and here and there the smallest of buds could be seen forming on the tender tree branches, like mischievous children trying to get an early look at a Christmas gift. The chilled air that was carried on the breeze bit into his skin with the sting of a thousand needles, and although the sunlight warmed him, it was still not quite enough to take away that chill.

He was far away from the protection that the revered Friendship Tree so often offered, and he was on a quest to find a very special something that he would share with his friends. What he searched for was magic, but it was not his magic, it was ancient magic that was borne long ago, and his journey had taken him far to a sacred forest full of more magic and mystery than he had ever come to know could be. As he entered the forest the dense canopy shielded most of the light that the winter sun had radiated, with a scattering of dead leaves and moss strewn across the path as he wound his way in. Strange sounds reverberated from the darkest corners of the forest and the strands of grey green moss that hung from the trees like old Christmas tinsel made for a very eerie sight indeed.

He walked for what seemed like forever, with each tree looking the same as the one before, and the winding path made him wonder if he was just going around in a spiralling circle. He had all but given up, when he saw a faint glow from around the next bend, and as he moved forward he was presented with a small clearing where the sun’s light had broken through the canopy of tall trees, revealing wooden monument in the shape of a large bird. He entered the clearing, and as he walked around the statue he marvelled at its detail. He stopped to read some ancient words, in a language he did not know, and something told him this was where he would find what he was looking for.

“Whooo are you?” came a voice, with a sharp then deep tone. He turned and sitting before him on a wide tree branch was an Old Owl. He stared intently as it tilted its head side to side, with its large eyes slowly blinking. “Whooo are you?” it asked again. He stood there with his mouth wide open, because he had never seen a talking owl before, and this was a sight to behold. “I am the white haired boy, and I am on a quest to find a special magic for my friends, a magic that will protect them when I am not there. The owl was silent and blinking slowly he turned his gaze to a nearby branch. The boy followed the owl’s gaze and there on the branch were a hundred tiny mobiles, spinning in the bright sunlight. The owl explained carefully to the boy, the story behind how they came to be and what power they held, and when he was finished he told him to take one for each of his friends and when the time was right, the owl told him that he would receive his gift.

The white haired boy thanked the owl and turned to go, but as he did the owl barked. “Remember these words. Your destiny is written, and when the time is right, you will finally know whooo you will truly be.” The boy did not understand, but he would always remember the words the wise old magical owl spoke. He followed the path once more, careful to retrace his steps so as not to get lost. The forest with all its dark places was less imposing now, and tiny fireflies had come to light the way. When he finally reached the place where he had entered the forest, he stopped and turned, once more thinking about the owl and all he had told him, the gifts he now held in his tiny hand and the words he had come to know.

It was late in the afternoon and he had a few hours travel before he would finally reach the Friendship Tree, and as he walked he took in all the beauty and grandeur that this world had to offer. He knew that if his life was to end, that he would have had the best time ever, helping so many and having the most wonderful friends. He had come to understand so much and in the journey this life had given him, he had gained a whole new appreciation for all life, not just his own. In time he hoped he would understand the owls parting words, but for now his mind was on his two friends.

The unfamiliar path had become familiar once more with the sweet smell of the daisy flowers and a single red rose being absorbed with every breath taken. The sound of the ocean as it rolled and crashed like thunder made him smile widely, as he now knew he was nearly there. Then as he climbed the last hill, there before him stood the valley with magic forest in the distance, and the mist from the ocean further away filling the air like tiny teardrops. The sun was setting, and the last of the clouds in the sky danced as it bathed them in reds and pinks, which made him long for his two friends even more, and become even more excited at the magical gifts he had that he would give to them. The Friendship Tree also stood before him in all its glory, evergreen, ever alive from the many words written in a book by the children that climbed it.

As he walked towards the tree, the sun said farewell for another day, and the stars began to light the night sky so as to watch over them.  A shooting star made a fleeting journey before disappearing and he cast a wish that his friends would be there to greet him when he reached the tree. As he approached in the dimming light, he could hear the sound of giggling coming from within the tree, then the soft glow of the Lantern of Life that was suspended within. He quietly climbed the tree, and as he reached his favourite branch he spied his two friends, the girl in the red dress with the ruby lips, and the girl with the pink bows in her hair and the wide smile. They did not see him as they played, making tiny folded butterflies, but then he coughed slightly and they turned to see him standing there smiling widely at them. They smiled widely back as the light from the lantern danced his shadow upon their faces.

They stood and hugged him, because they had not seen him for a few days, and he explained that he had been on an adventure, a journey to find something special. They both frowned because they loved adventures, but he told them that this adventure was only his to take. He asked them to sit down, and he told all about the mystical forest he visited and the old owl, he then gave them the magical gifts that the owl had given him. They unwrapped them, and found a tiny circle like a spiders web, with pretty beads and a feather suspended from below, they looked closely at them, in a slightly puzzled manner and he explained just as the owl did.

“The gift I have given you will protect you when I cannot. It is called a Dream Catcher. At night, your dreams are caught in its web, and only the good ones go through with the bad dreams caught so they will perish in the morning light. It is also a medicine wheel, with ancient magic and each part of its being has a meaning.” He paused as they sat intently focused on his every word. “The web represents the spider, ever repairing the eternal web of life, weaving your life dreams and energy as you sleep. The ring represents the mother earth and the humble walk we do upon her. Each bead it contains has a meaning too.”  He pointed with his finger at each one as he spoke. “Blue represents the sky, with the sun, the moon and the stars. Purple represents the inner self, with yellow representing the direction the sun rises each day, and it gives us the ability to see far beyond what is in front of us and focus on the task at hand.”

All the while he was smiling that he had remembered all that the old owl had told him, and he felt life flowing from his words. He continued once more. “Red is the wisdom of our ancestors, enabling us to grow strong with honesty, hard work, family, integrity and love. Black represents healing, but it also represents the road of self-destruction, and the lessons learnt that will guide us wisely. White represents knowledge and using that knowledge in a good way. Last of all green. This is mother earth, the one who feeds and protects us from the elements, giving all we need to live on this earth.”

They smiled and the girl in the red dress asked. “So what of the feather?” He smiled. “I was getting there. The feather represents the ability to fly close to the creator. It represents the ability to be love and to love, to take a risk and get out of the nest and to fly on your own. The ability to live beyond your shadows, and last of all once hung, the feather represents the air.” Finally he explained, “The gift I have given you represents the four elements of life. Earth, Water, Fire and Air, all the things necessary to sustain life.”

They took their gifts and hung them from the branch overhead, where they danced in the breeze. The magic they would bring to each of his friends would remain for all time. The white haired boy thought for a moment, and how it had told him he would receive his gift when the time was right. Just then, a sharp pain suddenly came to his shoulder blade, and as he removed his shirt, emblazoned on his skin was a Dream Catcher, except upon his there were three feathers, each one coloured to represent one of the three friends. He had always believed he was magic, but now the owl had bestowed upon him an ancient power which he would use wisely to protect all that he knew. He always had belief, and he hoped his friends would truly believe as well.

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A little boy is waiting here,
He’s looking for some dreams.
He thinks he may have lost them,
Or so that’s what it seems.

He’s searching high and searching low,
Tween branches all so green.
Not a single one does he now find,
Nor are any to be seen.

He chooses that he’ll take a chance,
And in a girl he trusts.
Feared that she will judge him so,
Because he thinks she must.

Sharing all the simplest things,
Thoughts that carry far.
The things that you don’t often find,
True friends I think they are.

In time he comes to understand,
Her kindness is so pure,
A friendship formed so easily,
Serendipity for sure.

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