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Posts Tagged ‘story’

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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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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The sign said ‘Garden’, but it seemed like nothing more than a long unkempt driveway that wound its way into an unseen distance. She pulled her long pink jacket tightly around her body against the chill of morning air. Then a tight row of stone steps called her down another leaf strewn path until she arrived at a lake where light played tricks and trees seemed to reach from beneath the water’s glassy surface back towards the branches they reflected.

Tiny bridges reached to a tiny island, but these were not hers to cross, so she circled the lake slowly, engrossed by the reflection of the world beneath the surface that seemed so much more real and vibrant than the one she inhabited. The stippled back of a rainbow trout broke the water’s glassy veil twice, sending it to endless ripples, ripping her briefly from her reverie back to the ground on which she stood.

Then a vibrant flash of candy pink caught her eye from the nearby bridge where a small child suspended over the rails glanced up quickly from the water, catching her attention and squealing with delight. The brief meeting of their eyes was as deep as the lake itself, as true a reflection as the connection between actual trunk and reflected leaves.

Then like the fish, the child was gone, and the adult knew that when she was ready to appear again, she would do all she could to make her feel safe enough to stay a little longer. The woman could neither see nor feel the magical breeze that rippled the water and caught the most golden leaves and gave them the sacred gift of flight. She held out the palm of her hand in hope, while the flutter of delicate yellow leaves danced like tiny golden kites before gilding the water below.

When no gossamer leaf kissed her hand to grant her wish, she folded it back into the warmth of her pocket before ambling up the path, towards a world where rainbow fish and butterfly leaves and children on bridges were little more than gentle whispers of what might one day be again.

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The little girl climbed the tree rather tentatively as it had been a long while since her small hands had clasped the rough branches. She was not truly frightened, but some days she wondered whether she had somehow forgotten the strength and agility needed to ascend to the lofty heights of the familiar branch which had borne her weight so many times in the past. After such a long absence, everything seemed so strange and familiar at the same time, and that in itself seemed very strange.

The boy was not here, but everywhere there was evidence that he had never been far away. Glittery blue dragonflies dangled from odd lengths of string, not just from one branch but in fact from them all. She smiled then giggled as she brushed past them; how her imagination set them free from their strings and sent them into frantic, blissful hovers, each wing moving in a different direction to achieve their magically perfect stillness, like falcons riding the rolling wisps of wind, suspended from distant clouds.

Yes, the tree was full of dragonflies, their gossamer wings glistening in the tranquil sunny haze. It took some time to spot any butterflies at all, and when she finally found them, they were somehow dull and faded and tattered from neglect. They looked like lost whispers, like tired, grubby napkins. Like a child’s toy – once cherished, now almost forgotten. Yet somehow the small child’s presence in the tree filtered soft rainbow prisms of light onto their tired paper wings, spinning ever so softly so that one might think they might almost twirl back to life. She took a breath, and exhaled slowly, savouring the air, the light and life itself.

The next time the young boy climbed, the magical breeze blew against his skin like a whispered secret. He brushed past many twigs that scratched his arms and legs as he searched for what he knew he would find. He darted between the dragonflies he had suspended from every hopeful branch. He scanned for shimmers of colour amongst the myriad of worn butterflies, but everything was old and nothing was new. Disappointed as he had been so many times in the past, he lowered his back against the tall trunk, one foot upon the branch, the other barefooted leg dangling like lost hope.

Idly, his fingers played along the rough bark of the branch that held him. The tree that once had been so young and vibrant had now grown to ancient wisdom; every furrow of bark was familiar. The next moment, something felt strange to his touch, small and soft, somewhere between the feel of bark and leaves. Careful not to dislodge the tiny unseen mystery, he bent down carefully to see whatever secret his branch now held. The magical breeze blew again, and with great care the wide-eyed boy made his way back down to the earth’s thick carpet of leaves.

Though excitement flickered through his thoughts like a ripple, he knew he would need to be more patient than he had ever been before. It might be a very long time before the chrysalis would transform, but when it finally did, the stained glass mosaic of butterfly wings would bring a new flush of colour and renewal to the tree’s ancient branches. He had already waited a very long time. And now as he looked back over his shoulder to the silhouette of the tree in the fading sunlight, he knew he could wait just a little longer, and maybe even forever, for a new butterfly to emerge.

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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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And just when the boy was certain that all was lost, a small, ethereal barefooted figure in a lavender dress with violet eyes faded from nothing into luminous reality before him. The small section of path over which she floated seem to sparkle dimly, as though lit by distant starlight. He had always been certain that faeries existed; he had felt their ever-present magic as he had wandered through the woods and explored the intricate, winding path of the secret garden. Though he had seen paintings and statues and many pairs of tinsel wings dancing across the enchanted woods of his daydreams, he had never seen one suspended in flight with his own eyes before. Now finally as he had always hoped, one had appeared before him, possibly because before now, he had never truly needed to move from faith to certainty.

‘Do you know what it is you have lost?’ she asked him in a shimmering voice unlike any he had heard before, and instantly his heart filled with hope that she would be able to help him find it. ‘Life has become so … difficult,’ he stammered. ‘Where there was once the purest joy, now there is the heaviest sadness, and it has taken over everything. And even in the brief moments when sorrow seems to fade, there is a deep void. I am still a child, but each moment I feel that I am growing very, very old.’ 

She nodded, and a lilac tear threatened to form in those spritely, bright eyes that had already spied his pain from where she had sat hidden, nestled amongst the flowers. She had seen this boy many times before as he had wandered through the woods, and of all the people she had watched intently, making their way down the winding path, she knew that his heart was the fullest with belief. When he reached the leafless tree adorned by long, strange pale pink tassels, she knew that he wondered whether they were faerie feathers, and that he would be both totally surprised and not surprised at all to learn that indeed they were. 

She could see other questions that now rose to the surface of the boy’s deep blue eyes that looked more like the ocean on an overcast day than the eyes of any child. The heart within her pounded as words from long ago echoed inside her mind, replaying the moment that the ancient faerie wisdom had passed into her possession: ‘Cascadacia, you must understand that every faerie has one special mission that she must fulfil in order to earn her Eternal Shine.’ And so she had sat amongst the flowers each warm Summer’s day and golden Autumn’s day and brisk Winter’s day until the first crisp day of Spring when the white haired boy had appeared upon the path. He had looked so deeply troubled, and before she could even make the choice to fly, she found herself hovering over the path before him.  ‘Tell me what has brought you here today and what has put those clouds into your eyes …’

The child sighed, not knowing where to start, but tracing his thoughts back carefully to his loss of levity. ‘I once had a friend – a little girl with pink cheeks and cheeky eyes that danced like fireflies. We played like only true children can, racing every day to a magical tree to dangle paper butterflies and dragonflies from its branches. How the magic breeze would blow through the leaves of that tree, making our mobiles dance like wind-chimes! How the chaos of smiles littered the heavens like comets, transforming the darkness into blissful, childlike, cosmic splendour. But then …’ he faltered, his voice trembling in the shadows of unfolding revelation.

The faerie sensed the pain of the story before the boy could tell it. ‘Then, something happened. I watched my friend … grow old before my eyes …’ His tale was one of pure lament, but as his voice faded into the background, Cascadacia knew that she must disconnect herself from all the boy said to help him understand the truth that would unfold. As though from a distance, she saw his fiercely guarded tears fall to the ground, sensing that it was somehow the loss of his own youth that caused his devastation. 

And as his story became infused with even greater sorrow, she felt the strongest urge a faerie can feel welling up inside her, subsuming her entire frame. It was several moments before the boy could disconnect from his discontent enough to notice the purple faerie begin to shake violently over the path before him. He found himself disarmed by the intensity of the unlikely sound that bubbled up from the depths of the faerie’s soul. Her irrepressible giggle grew into an overwhelming cascade of laughter, and for a moment the boy felt utterly betrayed. How could she laugh with such abandon in the face of his deep suffering? How could something as lovely as a faerie be so heartless when childhood had been so utterly lost?

The sound of the faerie’s laughter resounded throughout the woods; and with every moment, an unfamiliar joy sang into the shadows of the small boy’s mind. Though he could not form words to explain what was happening, he surrendered like dry ground to the relief of rain as all sadness dissolved completely, and he knew that sorrow would never again darken his thoughts. He had known traces of childlike joy before, but now he absorbed it to the deepest core of his being. And as he grappled with the exchange of suffering for joy, he barely noticed that while the sound of lavender laughter intensified and filled him with unquenchable strength, the outline of the faerie was slowly fading in the air before him.

Only moments before, she had been a bright and delightful confirmation of all that he had believed to be true. Now as she faded from the view of his eyes and back into wherever it was that faeries disappeared, her endlessly echoing laughter had become a golden promise that all sadness was forever banished from the recesses of his heart. He remembered the question she had asked him, ‘Do you know what it is you have lost?’ 

He tried with all his soul to remember, but the sorrow of what he had once lost was now lost to him forever. No, he had not imagined the lavender faerie or the delicious joys of eternal childhood – they were equally real and true. But what of the sorrow he once felt at the loss of his little friend, who had slowly turned in his mind from pale pink to ashen grey? Or the sadness that he felt as his eternal youth proved little more than a momentary delusion? With one final lavender laugh, these vanished completely from all recollection, completely unreal and untrue, nevermore to be entertained, even in moments of absent distraction.

In the next moment, he saw his little friend with the pink ponytails in her hair running towards him along the forest path. ‘You found it!’ she squealed with delight. ‘Found what?’ he asked, the old, familiar sense of silly fun forming a broad smile across his brightly beaming face. ‘Your sparkle!’ she giggled, ‘It’s back in your eyes – just like magic!’ And he realised that she had not grown old and neither had he, and he knew with absolute certainty that neither of them ever would and that the sadness that once consumed them both had been dissolved forever. And as they ran laughing in the direction of their favourite tree, the faerie dying in the nearby flowers smiled to know that her mission had been fulfilled, and that her shine would live eternally in the undying laughter of the children.
 

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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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