The Silent Beat of a Butterfly’s Wings
It was when the animals and insects roamed the land with ease, that the butterfly was considered the most beautiful creature in the land. He flew with such grace, such elegance that all the land would stop as he flew by. The vibrant colors of his wings, captivating the eyes of every animal he passed, seemed to glow in the everlasting sunlight.
Butterfly was so confident in himself, that he would beat his wings loudly to assure that everyone watched as he passed by. And did the animals watch; every time butterfly flew by the noise of his wings would make them gaze about in wonder. He did this every day, and each time the other animals would watch but it was no longer in awe of his beauty. Instead they would stare in blatant annoyance, butterfly did not notice because all knew is that they were staring at him.
The other animals had become annoyed in butterfly’s arrogance, and fox decided to call a meeting to discuss their mutual irritation. In a clearing all the animals met, fox sitting in the centre.
“Comrades,” fox boomed, quieting the other animals’ chatter. “We are here to discuss a common disinterest: butterfly is getting out of hand. He has begun to be rather rambunctious in his efforts to gain our attention, flapping his wings so loud that we hear him before we see him.”
There was a cry of outrage from the rest of the animals, and then silence when fox called for it.
“We all agree that he needs to be stopped, and so I have a plan. When we hear butterfly coming, we will not turn around to look at him. Let him fly by without our acknowledgment, the more we do this, the faster he will realise his erroneous way.”
Soon after the meeting came to an end, and the animals dispersed. The next day butterfly did exactly as the other animals had predicted, flapping his wings loudly to gain their attention. Butterfly slowed in his flight pattern when he realised no one was looking at him. Beating his wings harder, he tried to become louder yet no one turned around. With a huff, he flew away as he wondered why they did not admire his beauty. Maybe he was not loud enough.
For the next week, butterfly would flap his wings louder than before, still there was no acknowledgment of the little insect. Becoming quite flustered with the situation, butterfly decided to talk to one of the bigger animals. He spotted fox, who was hunting on the edge of the forest, and stopped to ask her.
“Why do the other animals ignore me,” he cried as she was about to pounce on her prey.
She growled in frustration as she turned on the smaller creature, then raised her head as she spoke. “You are vain, only interested in your looks, wanting everyone to admire you all the time. Rid yourself of vanity, and maybe then you will be appreciated once more. Now leave me, before I have you as the lunch I missed.”
And from that moment on, there was only the silent beat of the butterfly’s wings.
Moral: Sit down, be humble.
Shadow Bird, a nickname she gave herself, partly from envy, partly from reality, but mostly from her love for her dearest friend, Flamingo.
They were friends, but as different as night to day, light to dark, pink to gray. Shadow Bird was short and walked with her head close to the ground. Flamingo was tall with long wiry legs, neon pink feathers, and a graceful neck upon which set a distinctly regal face. Shadow Bird’s feathers were a darker hue, dark almost black.
When they walked, Flamingo always led the way. They agreed that this made sense. Being taller, Flamingo could see further down the path. Shadow Bird felt safe knowing that her friend was constantly surveying the terrain. Shadow Bird could see the shadow of Flamingo’s head jutting to the left, then to the right, watchful, and forever vigilant.
Flamingo leading the way meant that Shadow Bird always walked in the shadow of her colorful friend. Although Shadow Bird loved her friend, there were times when she would look up from her view of the ground to watch her friend’s bouncy pink feathers and wish that she could be more like Flamingo. She wished that she could occasionally take the lead.
Being young and not yet flyers, they did not ascribe to the adage that only birds of a feather should flock together. Indeed, they loved their differences as much as their similarities. It was their uniqueness which made them fit so well together, like pork and beans, rice and gravy, and forbid the thought, bacon and eggs. Whatever it was, they felt their best when they were together, which was just about all the time, from the crack of dawn to the end of light. As Flamingo once quipped, you had to crack a few dawns to make a great life.
“The butt crack of dawn,” Shadow Bird quipped back, looking up. She loved seeing her friend’s feathers blush to a rosier shade of pink.
Each Monday they made the long trek up the Wahoo Trail to the flight center for training. “Try not to panic today,” Flamingo would cautioned her friend knowing that Shadow Bird was often in a state of panic when the instructor forced her up the ladder before pushing her off the platform.
“And you, try not to cry when he tells you to spread your wings and not kick your legs like a chicken.”
All the way up the Wahoo Trail they would chide and joke with each other. And all the way back after the exhausting training they would comfort and support each other. For instants: “Even if you did plow head first into that telephone pole, it really wasn’t your fault, you just need to keep your eyes open when you try to fly” and “If he hadn’t pushed you so hard, I’m sure you wouldn’t have crashed into that glass greenhouse,” and “I’m sorry that he kept screaming at you to pull your neck in when you swooped and looped.”
“Walk faster,” Flamingo always urged her short friend. “You know we’re only safe at night in our very own nest.
“I’m walking as fast as I can,” Shadow Bird would answer. She had to take three steps to her taller friend’s one. She had to speed walk just to stay in the shade of her friend’s shadow. Once she confided to her friend how she both envied her, but appreciated her being the leader. And that she sometimes wished that she could lead the way.
One afternoon they left the flight training center later than usual, as always they enjoyed their walk; that is until the sky darkened, lightening flashed, thunder roared, and the sky swallowed the sun
“Fried eggs!” Flamingo exclaimed as the sky burst open and the rains poured down with a roar, with thunder crashing like cymbals, the wind swirling and whistling, tossing her feather into a crazy pink salad of anxiety. “Oh my!” Flamingo moaned and groaned, as Shadow Bird paced in little circles of fear and dread seeing her friend so dismayed and worried.
“We’ll be chased by cats!” – “Barked at by dogs!” - “Nibbled by squirrels!” They chirped these phrases back and forth to one another, creating catastrophic verbalizations, little tornadoes of apocalyptic whirlwinds of words.
Flamingo gave in to her fears and sat on the curbed with her long wiry legs arched, her beak on her knees, and her wings wrapped around her head. Shadow Bird continued pacing furtively in circles until she fell backward in exhaustion.
“I can’t see an inch in front of me. All is lost, we’re doomed for sure, we better make peace with the great eagle in the sky,” Flamingo said. “Without my vision and foresight, we will never find our way back to our nests.”
Shadow Bird struggled for breath as she listened to her friend’s frantic chirping. Then she shot straight up, her wings flapping rapidly as never before. “Be quiet!” she exclaimed. “I can lead us home.”
“You can barely see above a blade of grass, not that anyone can see in this storm!”
“Precisely,” Shadow Bird replied. “You have vision, but I know the lay of the land. Your head is above it all, but my eyes are always on the ground. You see the terrain, but I know the terrain.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you see? I’ve walked the Wahoo Trail a thousand times in your shadow, I have no fear of not being able to see ahead.” She stood and puffed her chest out and said proudly: “I’m one with the earth. I know the shape and feel of every pebble, every blade of grass, every twist and turn.”
“Really?” Flamingo asked.
“I do pay attention, you know. Here,” Shadow Bird said and turned. “All you have to do is hold on to my tail feathers and I’ll lead the way.”
And so she did. Down the path, up the hill, and around every bend they went. And once again, the two friends’ differences complimented each other. When they were safely near their nests, Flamingo surmised: “On a clear day, vision is dandy, but during a storm, having a grip on reality is pretty damn handy.”
The Squirrel and the Owl
A Squirrel arrived to his home to find a large hole in the side of it. Upon seeing the damages, he began to cry out, “My house is in ruin! No greater catastrophe could have beset me!”
An Owl, seeing the Squirrel’s dilemma, landed beside the damaged house. He saw the small extent of the damage and informed the Squirrel that his house could be fixed.
“My house is in ruin!” the Squirrel continued crying out, and he did not listen to what the Owl had said.
Later that day, a storm hit the forest, sending water through the hole and into the Squirrel’s house. Upon discovering the new damages, the Squirrel cried out, “My house is in ruin!”
The Owl, again, came at the Squirrels cries. “You need only to let the water dry.”
“My house is in ruin!” the Squirrel continued crying out, and he did not listen to what the Owl had said.
The Squirrel shut the doors to his house, allowing the water to soak into all that the Squirrel had, leaving his home in ruins. Upon discovering the new damages, the Squirrel cried out, “My house is in ruin!”
The Owl came once more to the Squirrel’s cries. He saw the great extent of the damage and told the Squirrel that nothing could be done now. The damage was too great.
Listen to advice so that problems will not get worse than they are.
Grain of Salt
And just like that, I clattered to the floor, my insides spilling out in embarrassing fashion across the cold linoleum. I rolled a bit, teetering back and forth, then fell still.
“What in bloody hell?” I heard a man’s voice grumble. I spotted a wrinkled, jittery hand, reaching down for me, inching closer, closer, closer…
SMACK. A flash of perfectly manicured bright pink fingernails flitted across my field of vision, swatting away the wrinkled hand and swooping my white plastic body up in a single jerky motion.
“Poison, Dad,” said the young woman who was now clutching me with a death grip. She slammed me down on the table between them. “You want another damn heart attack?”
“Grain of salt, sweetheart,” said the white-haired man, his voice playful.
She sighed and shook her head. “This isn’t a joke.”
“Honey.” He reached toward her with his bear paw.
“No,” she said firmly, pulling her fingers away and raising them to her left temple. “I can’t have this conversation again. My head hurts.”
“Eat something,” the man said, gently sliding a bowl of plain oatmeal toward her and accidentally knocking me over with his bulging knuckles.
Lying there on my side, I saw her face. It looked ragged, older than its 20-something years with dark circles around brown eyes, betraying chaos inside.
“Nah, my stomach’s been off,” she said, her face suddenly looking paler. I watched her dark ponytail swish as she turned around and squinted at a clock on the diner's far wall.
“Almost 8:30. Gotta go teach,” she said, jumping up and grabbing a rolled-up yoga mat from under the table.
“Lindsay, doll,” said the man, concern growing in his voice as he beckoned to the dimly lit parking lot. “It’s 8:30 p.m. P.M.”
“Wait, but…” the woman said, trailing off. A nod. “Yes, of course. I taught this morning.”
“You did,” said the man. “Here, take some,” he said, pushing a half-eaten $3.99 diet plate of egg whites and cantaloupe toward her. She sat down slowly, her eyes welling with tears.
“I don’t know what’s happening to me lately,” she said. She didn’t move when her father took her hand this time.
“It’ll be fine,” he said, reaching over to stand me upright and slide me towards her.
That’s when she looked straight at me. And instantly, I knew. Her headache. Nausea. Confusion. It wasn’t something I’d seen much in my days here at the Big Rig Diner in Tallahassee, but there it was written all over her face, plain as day.
She’d been decrying me as poison for years, worrying about her father, perpetually afraid genetics would take her too down the road of diabetes and heart failure.
She didn’t want to die. She didn’t want him to die. And so she had cast me out—to dangerous extremes—imagining that removing me from her life would ward off the inevitable. Now she was wasting away with alarming alacrity.
She stared at me curiously, a realization dawning, then coming into focus: moderation.
“Grain of salt?” her father asked again, pushing me toward her. She smiled weakly.
Shake, shake, shake.
hello whiskey, my old friend - pt.2
Hello whiskey, my old friend. Yes, yes it’s really me. I know it’s been quite a while. The words just don’t quite come like they used to. It’s maddening this world, isn’t it? How-
Ah, yes I know. I’m an “adult” now, don’t you know? Hah, it feels weird even just saying it. What does it matter if I still feel like I’m in high school, right? Twenty-seven years—ah what was the cliche—cold or some-
No, no, I am not sad, don’t worry, bràthair. I am not stuck in some vertex of ennui, nor depressed nor anything like that. Maybe I don’t talk as much as I used to. Maybe I don’t quite find the same things funny I did a few years ago. Maybe I have noticed, little by little, that I’m not actually immune to humanity. I am, in fact, not some immortal Peter-Man-Pan-Can-Can’t-If-Only-Haha!
Indeed, I’m actually quite satisfied with my life, broski. I am quite boring now, I admit that I don’t go out much anymore.
No more of those crazy
all night party holy damn
wow why am I waking up in a
bathtub that is full of blue
Kool-aid but the girl I happen to
like just asked me out ah shoot it
really turns out she just was playing
wing-lady to-oh-god-like I can remember
anymore I’m way way way way way way way way way
too drunk to—
god life is great
Yes, old friend, haha, no more nights like those. I am trying my best to be an adult now, man stop, haha. I have to be proper, you know. I might land a job if I try hard enough, right? I mean, shoot, that’s fair and life is always fair well maybe not but hey what happens happens, right? Maybe I was not the most motivated or the smartest or anything special or really even a little past where the ordinary overflowed somewhere a few years back or but I worked my ass off! Haha, I do-
Oh god I remember tha-
Ahaha! Man... where did the years go, huh?
Seems just yesterday I was some dumb-ass kid who didn’t really care about anything. But now look at me, strange right? Sort sort of respectable, an adult-ish creature and I wouldn’t be too ashamed at all if I were to die right now. I mean, there are holes and black spots in my soul I wouldn’t dare poke, but so what? Being human is grey and you need a bit of black to get the colors just right. Oh man, do y-
Ah, no, no. No whiskey for me tonight. Yes, boring I know. No, really I-
No, no, it’s not that at all, old friend. It’s not that I don’t miss the fun times we had. Truly, it was great. Living free, the world was our oyster, RIGHT? But. Really, here I am realizing that no, no, the oyster wasn’t an oyster at all but just a plastic bottle of something I don’t even recognize or want at all anymore.
But, lets not dwell on that. I mean, here we are. Years. But alive we are, you and I, old friend. Glad-
Oh what’s that? You met someo-
Wow, is that really the first thing you said to her?
How the stars were just pimples in the sky compares to he smile and how when you saw her face there could never be anyone else and that it would be perfect and passionate and rough and soft and how no no no we won’t be like those other couples and no no no we are special and no no no you are indescribable and no no no though sometimes my words are sad and trite and cold I couldn’t mean them any harder because God when I see you I can no longer think straight and I stutter because you are beautiful, yet, you have insides fu-
Haha, right, right. Sorry for rambling. Well, I am really glad for you. It seems like this time, you were right about all those things. That-
Wow, she really said all that back to you?
How you were her sun and moon that she would never love you to death only love you alive and that years later even after the terrible break up in some terrible dispute that horribly really was nothing at all that I will still love you quite terribly and how she would keeps all the boxes of birthday cards you handmade her and how she would always keep the box the you made her for the warm sad soul you said saw in hey and although she would never talk about it she still cared but creepy is creepy and love is patient and kind and angry and horrible and although maybe she might forget for a few years and maybe the stuffed Pikachu will sit in the back of her closet she hasn’t forgetten anything and that whatever we are now is what we are but she won’t ever forget what we were.
God, old friend. You two were made for each-other. Strange how Lady Luck is retired now. But here we are, frater. I do remember love like that. I do remember the end of love like that. But—water under the bridge—as they say, foxes and grapes and whatnot, you know what I mean. Seriously though teina, you lucked out you. I-
Enough of that depressing talk right? I mean, here we are, right? We’re alive. You and I somehow, through all of the crazy and all of the boring, yet we somehow haven’t crossed our names off on some list in the heavens somewhere or some list in Avicii somewhere or just a grocery list forgotten about years ago or that we haven’t ended up as cold, dead corpses; whoever we were, in the end we all end up with nothing but sh-
SHOOT, stubbed my toe. Ow, gah. Where was I? Ah, right...
in our pants. Caveat lector my bror, haha, sorry, this is what happens once I start talki-
Oh, what was that? I seem happier than last time? Well, I am! I-
Well, I guess that’s a good question. But...
I’m alive aren’t I?
I have found something I am somewhat good at. Not amazing, but maybe one day if I try, who knows? I have a use, a purpose, a point! What more do I need? I am living every day like well God, if i died? I’d slap him on the back and say, “Thanks for the ride, G-man!” I don’t drink much anymore, but I chain-smoke like a motherf-
Ah, yes yes, bad habit I know. I need some vice, though. Sanity and all?
Life’s not some white, pure, get in get out perfect cupcake!
Life’s more like that slab of ribs, that one tequila too much but wow it was fun.
Life’s that water-slide that scared the living daylights out of you.
Life’s that messy first date where everything kinda sucked but everything was kind perfect.
Life’s a bunch of people and places and things and feeling and sounds and music.
Life’s a bunch of experiences and tears and joy and laughter and sadness and smiles.
Life’s a bunch of words and compliments and insults and laughs and love and songs.
Life’s a bunch of things no one can ever remember or forget and THAT’S-
Why it’s so damned great?
Why do I wake up in the morning and go about my day? Because I damn well want to, of cour-
Haha, yes yes, I got a bit excited there, sorry about that.
I just feel like we haven’t talked in a long time, is all.
Maybe the last time was sad.
Maybe I was a little bit pathetic.
But still, I’m glad I can still call you veli.
Kazoku, like they say in Japan.
C’est la vie. Bloody French.
All those expressions in all those languages I don’t actually know but—
—they make me feel something. Music without music.
Anyway, funny isn’t it? Years later, here I sit.
Talking to whiskey and wine, just another madman who isn’t really angry at all-
Ah yes, I remember last year. Our last conversation didn’t end so well.
How distraught I was, surrounding by so much genius I couldn’t be bothered to read.
“An Odyssey,” I said. “An Iliad,” I joked, hah. What was the rest? OH, I remember, “Too fu”-
No, no wait, let me stop you there. This isn’t me anymore at all, tij laug. You know, after I while you realize no one needs any of those silly melodramatics at all.
Well, because life’s not really so bad.
Well, maybe I feel a bit more boring. Hell, maybe I am a bit more boring, but deep down-
No no, DEEP down. Who am I deep down, bruder?
Am I still afraid of adventure? Not anymore. God, man, living is adventure!
Huckleberry-Finn? Just a name!
Well, you talk about all these flowery word but what are they?
What is hubris without a silly human, dueling Atlantis water pistol in hand, all-in with his life on the line?
What’s the point in pettifog over the name of some car in some street?
Desire? Desire is raw humanity. Desire is not something that belongs to rubber and steel and vinyl and glass.
Crime, punishment, these are for us, for the men and women, not mice nor pigs any animals on the whatever farm.
I wasn’t alive in 1984, and damned if I remember who Aesop even is anymore.
Names? Names are just words on paper and sounds on lips and they mean nothing without the thing behind it and—look —God is a word in a book just like any other and Odin is a word as is Hades and Thor and all of them! All of them just words, sometimes ugly sometimes beautiful, but everyone forgets that so is Lot so is Ægir so is Andhrímnir and cooks are a still lovers and cooks are still fighters and Lachesis will still judge your ass whether or not you remember how she was fate itself and Hildebrand and Hadubrand who invented the cliffhanger, well dammit, they are as glorious as Hercules even if no one else thinks so.
So here we sit, old friend.
Well, maybe we realize that we are not all that shiny or exciting. Who cares if we end up another of Les Misérables? Don’t you remember the ending? Jean Valjean died, as do we all. But-
Why? Why do I care?
Hah, your memory fails you, ախպեր. Glory and dramatics and action and all of this and all of that and if you don’t have life is pointless and God-
What’s wrong with not wanting that?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s not so horrid a mortal sin, so taboo a way of life, to just be me or you or whoever you are or want to be today. What’s wrong with a bit of contentment? Life isn’t action and gunfight and spies and orgies and car chases and cops and robbers and death and chaos. Life is dull and sharp. Life is alive.
In the end, Jean Valjean died content, did he not?
Why not live like that as well?
#prose #poetry #writing #streamofconsciousness
The Boy and the Wind
There once was a Boy who liked to go outside. He would sit on the rocks at the top of the ravine and listen to the wind and the birds. He did this often for over ten years and then one day, he heard a voice.
“Hello?” he asked, standing up. “Can you just leave me alone?”
“Don’t you want to hear a story?” the voice asked.
“Who are you?” the Boy was scared and readied himself to run.
“You’ve been listening to me for years! I am an old friend,” the voice said.
“Are you the Wind?” asked the boy.
“Yes,” the Wind answered. “Do you want to hear a story?”
“Yes,” the Boy settled back onto his rock knowing he had nothing to fear from the wind.
“A long time ago, there was a boy, just like you,” the Wind began. “Eventually, he grew up into a Knight who went on a long journey, trying to find the Fountain of Youth.
“The Knight traveled for days. The days turned to weeks, the weeks to months, the months to years, and eventually, the Knight was an old man. He bought a little house, on the edge of the town and little children would come and visit him. He’d tell them stories of his travels. He’d tell them about the dragons he had slaughtered and he’d tell them about the witches he had outsmarted, and he also told them about the lesson he had learned. He called it the Lesson of the Wind.”
“What was it?” the Boy asked eagerly. He heard the Wind running its fingers through the trees, rumpling their leaves.
“No matter how much we want something, no matter how hard we try, not every story is meant to have a happily ever after,”” the Wind told him the lesson. “Do you know why it’s called the Lesson of the Wind?”
“No, why?” the Boy asked, scooting towards the voice so he could hear.
“Because no one ever heeds it. They throw it to the Wind,” the Wind sighed. “They toss it away and forget about it and then wonder why their life is so sad or so messed up. If they had heeded the Lesson they would have been prepared.”
“Oh,” said the Boy. “Too bad they didn’t listen.”
“Yes, too bad they didn’t,” the Wind agreed. “But you can. You can live your life, prepared, knowing that it might not end the best but you’ll be able to make the best out of it.”
“I will,” said the Boy, standing up. “I promise I will heed the Lesson of the Wind.” And the boy walked home feeling resolved that he now could be prepared.
But, if you ever sit still for a minute or two, you will hear also, the Lesson of the Wind. Listen to the Wind and heed it’s advice so you can be prepared too.
See the Sea
A little lake is all it takes,
to let Narcissus find he thinks he never fakes
his beauty, his body without flaws,
but he couldn't refuse to look at his reflection, because
he had the urge, a sting,
like a lightning bolt from the Olympian Gods their King.
In another land with another thought
where Thor, Freya, Odin and Fenrir fought
the lightning of the first ached the sky.
A beautiful sight, no one could deny.
Whether there's lightning in the real sky, or in one’s soul
you may find yourself; not in control.
But that shan't throw you off your feet,
be the king of the sky; the Celestial Sphere,
above Poseidon's fleet,
speak for what you stand, be a voice the people need to hear.
The White Rabbit and the Winter Wind By C.L.Shoemaker
In the meadows of Downshire, warmed by a bright summer sun, lived a plethora of creatures from moles and hedgehogs, to robins and squirrels. In the deepest burrow under the large oak tree the majority of the meadow’s rabbits resided, each a glorious burnt brown, cedar or russet tan, with fur that gleamed in the sunlight. They all easily blended into the surrounding landscape except for one, a snow-white rabbit that was the oddest colour, if he was even a colour at all. He had arrived one afternoon, quite lost and confused, and had remained with the other rabbits, despite the fact that he clearly didn’t belong. Who had ever seen a rabbit as white as the snow? No matter where he went, he was easily picked out for his bright, white coat. At first the hedgehogs and squirrels had suggested that he roll about in the mud to match with the other brown rabbits. White rabbit had done so but his new-found colour soon washed away in the rain. Robin had suggested he try to eat all the hazelnuts he could find as their brown colour might turn his fur a silky tan. The little rabbit had tried that too only to have a terrible tummy ache for a week. A woodpecker suggested he cover himself in brown leaves and dark twigs to appear the right colour. White rabbit tried that as well, but the leaves only fell off and the twigs got caught on things and poked the other animals, much to their annoyance. After rolling in mud puddles, eating acorns and hazelnuts by the bushel, and trying to hide under leaves and twigs the little white rabbit was ready to give up. The other animals laughed at his colour and called him a frosty snowball until a cold wind from the mountain took their attention away from the small rabbit.
The chilling wind started out light, but then grew in strength and persistence over the weeks. By the end of the month, the animals were all shivering and began to complain amongst themselves about this strange wind. A council meeting was called; Squirrel and Hawk volunteered to go up the mountain to uncover the problem. Their attempts at discovery didn’t last long as the hawk was blown out of the mountain cave in a flurry of feathers and snow, while the squirrel was frozen into an ice block before he could inquire about the problem. The animals voted again and sent up the old red cardinal, who was used to cold winds, and a tortoise who had more weighted mass than the eagle. While the cardinal could withstand the cold, he wasn’t able to get an answer only a hissing voice telling him to “Go away.” The tortoise, while not able to be blown off the mountain, wasn’t able to endure the cold and went into a hibernation to keep alive. The cardinal had to push him back down the mountain where he thawed out under the oak tree.
The animals were out of ideas. The mountain wind couldn’t be reasoned with and it certainly didn’t want to negotiate. Everyone who went up the mountain either froze or was blown away. Then one brown rabbit piped up.
“What about the snowball. He’d fit in up there. He’s white and no one likes him either.”
The white rabbit tried to hide behind some fallen leaves and blend in, but his bright white fur gave him away.
“Yes, that’s an idea,” the oldest frog noted. “Send him up,” he agreed, ignoring the laughter from the other rabbits.
The little white rabbit had no choice and so started up the mountain, hopping his way up the rough trail as the ground changed from dirt to snow and then to ice.
When he arrived at the top of the mountain, a huge gust of wind bellowed out of the cave. “I told you to leave me alone” the wind howled. The little bunny hunkered down as he was blow across the ice and bumped into the side of the cave.
“That was the tortoise and the cardinal,” he explained quietly. “I’m snowball, the white rabbit.”
The wind laughed. “A rabbit. Why did they send you?” he growled.
“They don’t like me down in the meadow. I’m not like any of the other rabbits and I suppose I don’t fit in. So, I’m often alone. You’re alone up here too, aren’t you?”
“I prefer to be alone,” the winter wind hissed, ruffling the rabbit’s fur.
“Oh,” the rabbit whispered.
“Now leave before I blow you away,” the wind threatened. Before the little rabbit could turn around the wind huffed and blew but he couldn’t find the rabbit to blow him off the mountain top. “Where are you?” the wind asked. “I can’t see you?”
“How can you not see me?”
The wind growled. “You’re white. You blend in with all this snow and ice,” he complained.
The little rabbit grinned in surprised. “I do? Oh, I’ve been hoping to find a place where I belong and blend in,” he sighed contentedly. “Down in the meadow all the other rabbits are brown, and they match with the trees and the dirt hills. I’m so white I stand out everywhere. I think that’s why they don’t like me,” he sighed. “It’s lovely and warm down there—”
“I don’t like the warmth,” the wind howled. “I tried to come down to the meadow once before and everyone hated my arrival. They wished I would go away and never return, so I retreated to this mountain top where no one ever sees or hears from me,” the wind sighed.
The little rabbit felt his heart melt at the wind’s sadness.
“No one appreciates the cold. Everyone just hates it” the wind added.
“I don’t mind the cold,” the little rabbit noted. “I have all the warm fur I need to be in the snow,” he said with a smile. “Have you tried visiting the sun before travelling to the meadow?” the rabbit asked. “The sun is always welcoming, even to me. He warms my fur in the daytime and heats up the meadow in the summer. He’s still there in the winter and he doesn’t care what colour my fur is, so perhaps he won’t care about your chill.”
The wind thought about it for a moment and replied. “If the sun is as welcoming as you say he is perhaps I will speak with him.”
The rabbit waited on the mountain top as the winter wind visited the sun. He was as warm and welcoming as the rabbit had promise and offered to warm the winter wind up before he rushed down upon the meadow. The sun explained that everything in the meadow was in balance and the winter wind was needed during the cold month, but a different wind was still needed for the summer. As the wind and the sun talked, the winter wind’s breeze turned gentle, perhaps from the rabbit’s kind words or the sun’s friendly heat. The sun made a deal with the wind, that for half of the year he could visit and be warmed by the sun’s rays, but for the other half he needed to bring snow and ice to the meadow for the winter months. The winter wind agreed.
Upon returning to the rabbit, the wind was warm and comforting.
“My goodness, you’re warm from speaking with the sun,” the little rabbit observed.
“I am” the wind noted with surprised and glee. “He is as nice as you said he would be. Perhaps I will try to visit the meadow now? Do you think they will ever welcome me?”
The rabbit thought for a moment. “I’m not sure but whether you are cold or warm, I will always be your friend. My fur lets me enjoy your winter snow and ice. So, I’m happy to be with you either way.
So, the rabbit and the winter wind came down from the mountain together with the wind bringing warm summer breezes with him as he went. The meadow was much relieved to see that he was no longer blowing cold air and snow and they were happy to welcome him to the meadow. The little white rabbit was praised for his role in taming the winter wind, although all he really did was befriend him and see beyond his cold exterior. And that is how the winter wind, changed into the summer wind with the help of a little white rabbit and some sunshine.
Moral: Kindness and a willingness to see beyond a person’s difference can lead to understanding, new friendships and healing.
Two Trolls’ Tails
Once there was a troll who lived in a cave in the woody hills beyond the bridge beyond the town around the bay beyond the fjords by the sea. The troll’s name was Trouble, and he was very good at it. This was because Trouble always had his magic paintbrush with him.
With his brush, Trouble could paint anything he liked and have it become real. He liked to paint up flocks of birds and let them loose over parades so they would poop on the marchers as they played their instruments. He liked to paint gaps in the fences so the cows and the sheep would run wild and get snapped up by the wolves. From time to time, he even liked to paint a fire onto a barn, just to watch the dancing light against the starry sky.
For years and years, Trouble would travel about the town, thumping his long tail happily on the dirt streets, painting problems for the folk there. Powerless against the troll, the people of the town had long since given up trying to get rid of him. Instead, they gave him treats and presents and things to occupy his mind so that he’d leave them be.
He laughed at their gifts, but here and there, Trouble tried the treats. Each time, the pleasure they gave him grew. Now and again, he’d open a present. Each time, the treasures added to his joy.
Trouble began to read the books they left for him. He solved puzzles and liked how smart they made him feel. He learned to play the guitar they laid by his cave. Over the years, the townsfolk’s plan had nearly worked. Trouble was so content in his cave that he only ventured out once or twice a year.
Eventually, it came to be that time passed so quickly that one day, Trouble realized he hadn’t been to the town to play a prank in ages. He found when he tried to walk to the mouth of his cave to look around, his joints were stiff, his lumpy body soft. The black fur sprouting from his thick, gray forearms had gone silver and when he looked in a mirror the town people had given him, he saw the leathery skin of his face had the lines of a thousand wrinkled etched across it.
Though he’d long since grown old, alone in his cave, it didn’t trouble him. Trouble just picked up his paintbrush with his aching, shaky hands and got to work. The troll simply painted himself as he wished to be and soon his skin was that of a young troll again, like gray leather, if leather were made out of mushrooms.
Healthy and strong once more, Trouble realized he hadn’t been to the town to play a prank in so long that the entrance of his cave had completely grown over in twisting ivy. Pushing open his door, scattered on the ground he found the old remnants of the last of the gifts of the townspeople. Such was their fear of Trouble that even when he’d been gone for so long, their tradition of paying tribute to him had kept on alone for some time.
Curious, he painted himself invisible and went across the bridge to see how things were in the town. He found his prank days had become festivals for them. They still talked about Trouble the troll, but only as stories to their children to scare them a little closer around the bonfires. Apart from that, they had forgotten they were ever afraid of him. The towns people had forgotten Trouble was ever real.
Staring up at a statue of himself the people had stood in the center of their town square, Trouble started to wonder if he were a troll at all. Sure, it was nice to be remembered. The children of the town dressed up as trolls every year and went around banging on the front doors. If the people answered and gave them a treat, they’d leave peaceably. If they didn’t, the children would play a little prank on them before running away cackling. Trouble the troll had become a legend in their culture, even if they didn’t remember why.
Just the same, Trouble wasn’t happy with being merely legendary. He had the wealth of kings in his cave, but it didn’t matter. There was no one left who understood what being a troll really meant, and it was all his fault. Dragging his brush in the dirt behind him as he walked, Trouble headed for his cave, his head held low with no idea what to do.
Then, his floppy, sharp ears caught the unmistakable thud of a troll’s tail. It was a sound that could only mean a vicious prank was happening. Trouble looked in a circle around himself, but saw his tail was perfectly still. Then, he heard the sound again and with it, the screaming of many men.
With a flourish of his brush, Trouble painted himself up into the sky so he could see better what was going on. Far below, the people looked as small as dolls as they struggled against a great wind. Up and down the streets, great gusts knocked over people and carts and everything else that wasn’t nailed down.
By his runny, expert eyes, the troll could see at once that it wasn’t an ordinary wind, but a magic one. His curiosity growing and growing, he looked around for what was making the windstorm. When he saw it, Trouble couldn’t believe where it came from.
Down by the bridge sat the prettiest lady troll that Trouble had ever seen. She was cackling with glee so that she was doubled over and clutching at her sides. Her matted hair was the color of mustard, her knobby skin the most delicate shade of charcoal ash.
Hanging on for dear life, a company of the King’s finest soldiers clung to the bridge. From time to time, one of them would come loose and get tossed about by the winds. The unfortunate soldiers would spin in the air and batter against the bridge until they got their grip again, or their comrades succeeded in snatching them out of the air, which wasn’t often.
Whenever the winds would threaten to die down, the lady troll would put a silver pan flute to her lips and whistle up a brand-new bluster. The knights and their squires and their horses would thrash and scream at her to stop, but that only made her laugh the harder.
All at once, Trouble’s curiosity turned to jealousy. He knew that he was the real troll of this town, but unless he did something, then all he would be was a washed up old ogre, a half-forgotten myth tucked away in his fabled cave of treasure. With angry slashes of his brush, Trouble painted a hole in the air.
On the other side of it was the lady troll, piping away at her flute and watching the soldiers fly up to disappear into the clouds before falling screaming back toward the earth. Reaching through the hole, Trouble grabbed the other troll by the shoulders, pulled her through, and then smeared the hole away.
“Who are you?!” he demanded, brandishing his brush under her nose, “What are you doing in my town?!”
“Your town?” called the lady troll, “No one’s seen a troll here in a generation. That’s why I came. You see, I used to live near the castle, but the humans’ King finally got angry enough with my jokes that he had his soldiers chase me away. He was so mad, I knew I needed to go far enough for him to forget about me. This town was perfect to start pranking, so what else should I do?”
At that, Trouble hung his head and cried, his magic paintbrush falling out of his hand to clatter on the stones outside his cave. The lady troll cocked her head at Trouble a moment, then slowly, she moved to stand beside him. When Trouble didn’t protest, she sat down with him. When he still did nothing, she put a hand on his arm, and then around his shoulders.
Before long, the lady troll was holding Trouble, gently patting him on the back as he laid his head on her shoulders and wept until his sadness was used up. Sniffing and snuffling, wiping at his damp eyes and snotty nose, Trouble looked up to see the other troll was smiling at him most pleasantly.
“My name is Treacherous,” she said, “And I’ve come such a long way to find a new place to play my pranks. If it’s not too much bother, could I stay with you awhile?”
Trouble blinked and pulled away, unused to such things. Blushing, Treacherous said, “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to impose. It’s just, I have nowhere else to go. I’ve gone so far already, but everywhere I go, every town has its trolls.”
Now it was the other troll’s turn to cry, wiping her eyes as she told him, “This was the first town I thought could be a home for me, but I see now this is still your place. I had no business playing my flute in your town and I’m sorry. If you tell me to, I will leave at once and find my own home. Whatever you say, I hope you will forgive me?”
Trouble looked at Treacherous for a long time. In the pit of his belly, he felt a strange turning he hadn’t had since the third time he’d been a youth ago. As the feeling rose up into his chest and bumped up against the bottom of his heart, the beginnings of a smile bent the melancholy lines of his face in a new direction for the first time in a hundred years.
He looked out over the ancient bridge. Soldiers and squires and horses lay scattered around the bay. Some of the were stuck on rooftops. Others were laying in heaps on the dirt road and in the grass. One clung to the flagpole standing on the town side of the bridge. Others thrashed in the bay, shouting and swearing, as they tried to get out of their heavy armor while it pulled them under the water. Soon enough, all that was left of them were sparkly bubbles bouncing on the waves splashing up where the stones of the bridge pattered down like a rainy avalanche.
Trouble saw how on the town side of the ruined bridge, the people were getting together to clean up the mess and rebuild. When he saw how they cried over it, how they shouted at each other about who was supposed to do what, that feeling at the bottom of his heart climbed all the way up into his chest, warming his entire body. He didn’t know what it was, but when he looked back at Treacherous he knew just what it meant.
“Don’t be silly!” he told her, “Of course you may stay with me! I have plenty of room in my cave!”
Treacherous stared at Trouble uncertainly, “Are you sure it wouldn’t be a bother?”
“Come and see!” he said, took her by the hand, and led her into his cave.
Inside, Treacherous looked around with her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open in surprise, “Why, Trouble! This is a palace!”
Trouble nodded, looking about his cave and seeing his things as if for the first time, “I suppose it is. I never thought about it. The people gave me these things.”
Treacherous spun around and looked him in the eye, not believing her ears, “They gave you all of this?! But you have so much! You’re practically a King! Why would they do this?”
As embarrassed as he was proud, Trouble muttered, “So I’d leave them alone.”
Treacherous clapped her hands and spun around in excitement, trying to take it all in, “Your pranks were so awful that it was worth this much to them to keep you away?”
Trouble blushed, “I never thought about it.”
The other troll took him by the shoulders, “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard any troll anywhere say!”
“Ever!” she added, then said, “Alright, let me stay and I’ll fix this place up for you. Once we’ve got your cave all set, you have to show me your pranks!”
Trouble dug a finger into his nose and pulled out a booger. Looking it over, he asked her, “What’s wrong with how it is?”
Treacherous shook her head at the mess. No matter how much he had, Trouble had never put away anything in his life. Walking through his cave meant wading knee deep in a pond of gold and silver and all manner of expensive, fancy things.
“Trust me,” said Treacherous, “This is going to be fun!”
Trouble thought about it. He’d never pranked with anyone before. It had been so long since he’d done a proper prank at all that he didn’t know if he even remembered how.
Sheepishly, he told her, “Alright, that’s fine. Just so long as it isn’t a bother.”
By suppertime the next day, the inside of Trouble’s cave looked as good as three palaces put together. Whatever Treacherous wanted, she just whistled out a tune on her silver pan flute and there it was. Watching her work, Trouble found his hands itching for his brush the way they hadn’t in a hundred years.
By breakfast the day after that, the two of them were talking and laughing and making magic together like old friends. While they walked through the town, Trouble painted a lion and a giant bear to set loose in the streets. Treacherous whistled up a lightning storm with so much rain that soon those streets became like little rivers, the panicked townspeople drifting into the bay as they sat in pots and tubs and whatever else would help them float.
In a week and a day, there wasn’t so much as a stone stacked on top of another stone to show the human town had ever been there. Putting the finishing touches on an ill-tempered unicorn with a scorpion’s tail, Trouble’s hand hesitated as he realized it. Scratching his bottom in wonderment, he nudged Treacherous in the ribs to get her attention.
“Hey!” she shouted in irritation. She’d been blowing up a wind that filled the watery streets with hopping, poisonous toads, but a screeching, wrong note made them into poisonous dolphins instead. She ignored them as they jumped and played their way down the street, turning the water so thick and green wherever they passed that the villagers on their rafts became dizzy just from the stink of it.
“What was that for?” she demanded.
“Don’t you see?” asked Trouble, waving an arm around them, “This place is all pranked out.”
Treacherous scratched her head with her pan flute as she turned a slow circle. Sure enough, as far as she could see there was nothing but a great, grey wasteland. The waters of the bay were inky where the dolphins hadn’t gotten to them yet, and it smelled like oil.
“Huh,” she said, looking out over the ruined lands. Here and there, scrubby plants poked their way through the dry ground. Skinny, trembling animals darted in and out of their slight shade. There were no people left to play with. There were only the bones.
“I think you’re right,” she said, turning to him and smiling as she asked, “What should we do now?”
“Now?” said Trouble, casting his eyes to the horizon, “How about we head back to your home and see what the King has done with it while you were gone?”
Treacherous’ eyes were dancing with delight and she leaned forward and kissed him full on the lips, “Perfect!”
The two trolls twined their tails together so that they stood side by side. Anymore, they’d gotten to used to pranking together that when they did their magic it was hard to say if Trouble was painting Treacherous’s songs, or if she were making melodies about his pictures. Surrounding themselves with beautiful smears of color and improvised rhythms, they disappeared from the ruins of the old town around the bay beyond the fjords by the sea.
When they got to the King’s castle, appearing out of thin air in a burst of mischief, they knocked it over at once like a pile of wooden blocks. Cackling with glee, they played with the soldiers like dolls, knocking their heads together and giggling like fools all the while. By the next day, the capital was dancing with the flames of their friendship and Treacherous was leading Trouble by the hand to her old home.
Trouble looked around the cave with a smile. It was simple, compared to his. There were scarcely any treasures and he doubted all the gold and silver coins she had could cover the floor. Just the same, the signs of her were everywhere. Everything in Treacherous’s cave had a place and every place she’d made in the cave had something of the same poetry she put into her songs. Treacherous’s cave looked just like her and Trouble didn’t think he’d ever seen a better one.
“I know it isn’t much,” she said shyly, “It was hard to get much pranking done, living so close to the King.”
“I think it’s perfect,” said Trouble, and he meant it, “Just like you.”
Stepping in close, Treacherous gave him a kiss while their tails twisted together, “Well, now that you’ve seen it, what would you like to do?”
“Now?” said Trouble, “How about we go on a trip?”
Her eyes bright with happiness, Treacherous wrapped her arms around Trouble and gave him a kiss, “That sounds just right.”
Years and years passed. Treacherous and Trouble travelled across the whole world for so long that they’d forgotten all about the old Kingdom. Every day, they were always somewhere new. Every day, they were always there together.
In the way trolls do, their magic blended as it grew so that it became almost like one great, bright thing. Neither of them noticed it when another tail showed up in the mix. From their love a new magic was born, but they were so happy together, Trouble and Treacherous might not have realized it was there at all, hanging like a monkey from the long braiding of their tails. Then, one day the pranks changed.
Sitting on the beach of an island in the middle of a tropical sea, Trouble had been happily painting sea monsters. He thought of every isle they’d been to since they’d gone out over the oceans and thought it fair that he should make a terrible creature for each of them. All the while, Treacherous was puffing out storms and switching the tides, pulling little islands out of the water only to sink them again after people tried to land their boats there.
Then, all at once, a giant ball of dirt crashed down into the ocean like a meteor. It sent up such a great splash that it took the sea the rest of the day to fill itself back in again. As far as they could see, the people on the islands and their little island towns had all been washed away. They laughed at the sight of it, pointing out the little collections of refugee humans for each other as some of them tried to make rafts out in the water with anything they had.
“Did you do that?” laughed Trouble.
“I thought it was you,” said Treacherous.
Looking at his wife, for that’s what she’d become, he asked, “Well if it wasn’t you and it wasn’t me, what was it?”
And then, they saw the baby. The little fellow had their loose, leathery skin. His body was tufted with patches of coarse, yellow-brown hair the same shade as his mother’s. Thumping his tail happily in the sand, he didn’t have a paint brush or a pan flute. That wasn’t unusual; trolls don’t get their tools until they’re older. Instead, the baby was happy to sculpt the sand with his fingers and toes, bringing his creations to life with burbling, delighted laughs.
“He’s so cute!” said Treacherous, scooping the little troll into her arms, “He’s got your blisters!”
“He’s so smart!” said Trouble, clapping happily as their young son threw a handful of sand so high in the air it couldn’t help but turn into a dragon, “He’s got your style!”
They stood together, holding their new baby in their arms together. Trouble asked her, “What should we call him?”
Treacherous grinned from ear to ear, “I think he’s Terrible!”
“Perfect,” said Trouble.
Treacherous turned and looked at her husband, “Well, we can’t just sit on the beach with a baby to take care of.”
“I think you’re right,” said Trouble, “what do you think we should do now?”
She thought about it only a moment before the answer came to her, “I think it’s time we should go back home.”
The three trolls’ tails all twined together, Trouble and Treacherous kissed each other and he told her, “There’s nothing I’d like more.”
All around them, Trouble painted them back home. He drew his cave filled with neatly arranged treasures, enough that they’d never want for anything. Treacherous played her pan flute until all the gold glittered and the silver sparkled and there wasn’t so much as a speck of dust on any of it.
He painted the woody hills that hid the cave beyond the great bridge. Treacherous piped out the birds and their songs and she played up some people to hear them and be happy. He drew the town around the bay beyond the fjords by the sea. She played until it was full of people and ships and families as happy as their own.
When it was all ready, suddenly they were there. It was as if they’d never left it the day the two trolls had first met each other, except now it was somehow even better. Even the greatest prank he’d ever played couldn’t compare with it. With Terrible and each other to look after, neither of them could imagine a better life.
In the distance, even the tall spires of the Kingdom’s castle shone again where they caught the sun, ready and waiting for Terrible to snap like pencils when he was old enough. Hand in hand and tail in tail, Treacherous and Trouble watched with delight as Terrible took some dirt and sculpted his first basilisk. They laughed as it ran hissing through the town, turning every person it could touch into stone.
“Do you think we should give him something?” asked Treacherous, “For his hands?”
Trouble watched his son’s nimble fingers fly as he made a goblin with a lance of lightning and a saddle to ride the basilisk, then shook his head as his delighted tail thumped the ground, “I think we should let him be. I think Terrible’s onto something there.”
She kissed him, her own tail thumping along with his, “That sounds absolutely wonderful!”
Autumn leaves tilted between maple trees, gracelessly gathering on the damp earth. The wind hummed gently through the branches like a mother as she stitched her childrens clothing. Tasseled corners of a thick woven blanket clumped together, binded by mud and broken foliage from having been dragged across the wilting forest floor. The scratch of lead on parchment illustrated the scenery, striking the colour from the vibrant leaves.
All was quiet, save for the strokes and the humming of the trees. All was still, save for the sweeping of a hand and the tumbling leaves. All was alive, save for the dead foliage and the creature watching me.
The creature was long, his heavy body pulling on the branches of the maple tree I leant against. Scales each a different shade of brown, not unlike the autumn leaves. Sienna, umber, ochre. Hard curved scales created hollows for the creatures eyes - a glowing and ethereal, molten gold.
His name was Taref. He had been the first to die in this forest.
Winter had gripped him in her calloused hands and pulled him down into the river of which he hunted. As he had struggled against her, flailing like a brush stroke amongst a thousand others, she twisted him, and brought a rock down upon his brow. She killed him and adorned him with his heavy crown.
Being the first to die in a newborn forest was a curse. Much like the seafarer Davy Jones, first dead on the ocean, Taref was sworn to guide the souls of the newly-dead.
But now, this moment, as leaves were falling dead on the ground, Taref watched me.
To avoid the monks of the monastery, I sought refuge in his forest, hoarding parchment and tools in a hollowed tree.
When I first saw him, I had ran. I ran all the way back to the harsh hands of the monks and dropped my supplies. That night I wept in the dormitories, then I heard a sound I would soon grow to know as that of Taref’s body sliding down barken trees. It sounded like the bristles of a brush being forced against the grain of a wooden table.
When I opened the window, I could see his dark shadow against the ground, returning to his forest, and my parchment and lead left on the oak panels beneath my window. Gone were the concerns that he may harm me. I went back the next day with a bottle of wine, stolen from the cellars of the monastery, as a thank you.
Sitting on a rotting pine tree’s trunk, overhanging a steady running stream, Taref told me about himself, and we drank. The water twinkled like the stars of the sky and the green bristles of pine trees fluttered aimlessly through the air. A friendship had been born, and thus grew the habits of our strange pair.
Taref found new scenery, and guided me to each new spot. At the locations, I would sketch, and Taref would watch me, often whispering to me tales of death - some deaths took place in the location I sketched, some far away in foreign lands. Sometimes Taref would leave me, to tend to his duties, but he always returned before nightfall, to guide me home.
Years had passed and gone were the days of the monk’s lashings. No longer a child, I made my worth as an apprentice to an artist, finding new sceneries for my master to paint.
He never knew a forest spirit helped me.
My visits grew more and more frequent, as winter approached. Soon Taref would be busy tending to death, he wouldn’t be able to meet with me so often. It quickly came to the time that I would visit two locations a day, so I might save half my sketches for when winter comes.
Taref slid down the tree closer to me. His tongue lashed out in anticipation. Today he told me of a new death. Before me, in a hollow betwixt the roots of a great maple, lay ghostly signs of a battle. A one sided fight of nature. A rabbit, out scavenging, had it’s scent caught by a fox. From the moment the fox had smelt her, she was no longer alive. That’s how Taref said it, like he had heard her die.
He had seen it playing out, almost in slow motion, as the rabbit registered the hunter, silent amongst damp leaves. She had darted away, trying to get back to her hole. The fox charged, small and swift. Smaller than the rabbit anticipated. As she stumbled into her hollow, a home and sanctuary, she discovered the true size of the fox. He followed her down and ended her in a quick bite. There had been little blood - collected by the scruffy brown fur of the rabbits coat - and the fox emerged from the rabbits hole victorious.
As I sketched, I imagined how I might paint the scenery. Though it held not picture of rabbit or fox, I’d spent so much time with Taref I could almost feel the death myself, and it reflected in my sketches. The leaves were shuddering and the trees a little more twisted, like they were gathering to create a cage for the rabbit. In my painting, the oranges would be vibrant, as copper and colourful as Taref himself, the earth would be as rich a red as the currant wine my master drinks. The Tree’s would blend almost together, but still distinctly themselves. Hopeful, the sky would bleed through the leaves, and the light would not touch the ground.
But I do not paint. It is for masters, not apprentices. Taref often told me how he wished he’d be able to see me paint, how the colours were made to be crafted by me. Wishful thinking. There were many apprentices more skillful than me.
As I finished my sketch - small details of scratch marks around the rabbit hole - Taref began to unravel himself from the tree and brush across the forest carpet. In a voice one doesn’t hear, Taref told me to go home. Content with his unfiltered manners, I gathered my things. No longer in need of keeping them in the hollow of a tree, I slipped them into a pack.
Curved over and unaware of my surroundings save the soft crumple of leaves as Taref purred away from me, I almost didn’t hear the hunter. A dry crumpled leaf underfoot gave him away. His bow was aimed for Taref. Breath didn’t fill my lungs. I moved. My foot slipped but did not falter me. Dirt caught under my nails as I scraped off the ground towards Taref. The arrow loosed. Taref paused to look back. All he saw was me. All I saw was the arrow, planted like a sapling in my chest.
Darkness did not come. But loss did. A loss of time. A loss of memory. A loss of life.
When I focused or awoke or came too - Taref waited. His eyes, before, a molten gold, was now liquid silver. He stared at me with loss. So much loss.
He asked me to stay, in a voice I could not hear. I answered in a voice I could not make, that I would never leave.