Our lives are made up of moments, moments which define us, make us who we are. If a writer gives himself to his story, gives every instant, every flaw, trial and tribulation, every joy, ray of sunshine, then he does right by his story.
‘Twas a cold, bleak day in the month of December, in an island not known to the other inhabitants of an absurdly ignorant planet called Earth, where a little girl of twelve decided to go for a stroll. A tiny dot under the A of the Adriatic Sea, lost to its rustic tunes, far removed from the generation thriving with technological advances. Yes, they lived in a world that did not bank on cell phones, the television, computers, electric toasters even! They were a land of words and song, of love and hope, of compassion and romanticism. Their songs were of an ancient notion, all that governed them was love and hope. The Magic, they called it.
This particular story is one of Elpis, the third daughter in a family of five. The middle child she was, wedged between an obnoxious elder sister and timid younger brother. She was wild like the garden in her backyard- her parents had no time to tame the garden, ‘we have not the green thumb’, their everlasting excuse, and they let it grow, not trimming a branch, a tree, not plucking a leaf for fear of destroying its revered wild beauty. She lived on the edge, was compassionate to a fault, lived life on her own terms; she believed not in regret or pain. She loved and hoped with all her soul, much like the other inhabitants of this tiny island, the island of Acacia.
Have you heard of her? They say she defied legend.
This particular night she ventured out of the safety of her home on a whim, like she did so many other times in her twelve short years of life. She pranced about, humming to herself, uncaring of the stone which lay before her. She stepped on it, tripped, exclaimed “Oh, my!” and spared it not another thought. The stone went on to trouble many a stranger, none of them concerned about its beginning or end. With time, the stone became an insignificant particle, you know, the ones that stick in your skin that you press and press till you breathe a sigh of relief at its exit? Overcome by the presence of the wind, friction and water, it withered away. But this story is for another day, on another page. We must return to the adventures of little Elpis, our adventurer.
She reached the fences of the graveyard, the place where the inhabitants buried their dead as ritual demanded. She snuck in ever so quietly, stealing to her grandparents graves, unheeding to the sudden rustle of the leaves. They whispered to each other “A visitor! A visitor! At last, a visitor!” the trees swayed, humming their tunes, till one particular leaf, known to all as the Cynic, bit into their joy “You know the legend, I hope. The Boy will kill her.”
Alarm bells rang, several of the Aged Ones were enraged, “How dare you!” they said. Some whispered in hollow pain, the trees swayed wildly, the wind blew frantically, “Leave, dear child! Leave now, please!”
Yet, she carried on. Leaps away from her grandparents graves she saw a little blot of grey. Curiosity beckoned and she responded. He was a little furball, a coat which would have been a snowy white if not for the dirt and grime of days past. She scurried to the roots among which he warmed himself; he let out a happy yelp on sensing her approach. She sat beside him and smiled a gleeful smile. She brought the sun with her, this one.
“Why, hello there, little one. What do they call you? Are you lost, where’s your home? Or are you out on an adventure too?” he seemed to smile, he really did, and she pick him up to cuddle him. She pat his head and tickled his tummy, kissed his snout and cuddled him aplenty. She turned around, ever so uncertainly, as a chill crept up her body and caused the tiny hairs to stand on her neck. The little pup yelped, in that wonderful tone of his, she let him down and watched him as he ran to a boy she did not see.
His hair was unkempt, his face besmirched with dirt. His eyes were distant, but all she saw was the blood dripping from his forehead. She walked to him, the leaves were not thrilled. They screamed their warnings, they were frantic, “Stop, little girl! Stop, right now! He will hurt you, you must go home! Do not step, do not take another step! No, dear one! Oh, woe, are we!”
He stood there, paying not the least obeisance to her. He scratched the snowy one and turned to leave. She screamed.
“WHAT do you think you’re doing, mister? Are you not aware of the wound that marks you so? Are you not in pain, are you not concerned? I can think of a few many things to tell you but my mother would be ever so disappointed with me!” he gawked.
She hurried toward him and examined his wound. He stood there, motionless, the pup whimpered. “Now, stand still, don’t you move. I’ll be right back!” she ran to the river, but a few feet away, she cupped her hands and made her way back, watching every step for fear she’d lose a drop. She ordered him to sit and he obeyed. He spake not a word, took not a breath. He just watched her with eyes now brimming with sorrow.
“Hold still, hold still. You must not move now. I have not any cloth, oh wait!” she ripped her sleeve out and ran back to the river to dampen it. Her innocence exuberated and so did her love. The Boy was overwhelmed but his silence he refused to part with.
She wiped his wound with the care a mother would bestow upon an infant. She tended to him with all the love her heart held. He stood up to go.
“Wait, now! Where are you going? Come home with me, mama would be glad for a guest for supper! She loves them much, she really does! Our family just loves company! Won’t you join us, would you please?” he said not a word, and walked away. The pup stood there, whimpering and alone. He shivered a little as the girl scooped him into her arms and sang to him. He calmed down.
She turned to leave, hesitating ever so slightly. Questions brimmed in her head, but she would not succumb. Perhaps he had to be home in time, oh, how mad his mother would be to see he got hurt so badly! Her cheeks were flushed with the slight anger she felt; she calmed when she realized the snowy one had slept.
The graveyard was silent now. The leaves were perturbed, the cynical one was laughed at, yet, the pregnant silence screamed of a slight fear, the possibility of her death right there, before them. She hopped and skipped and jumped her way home. She reached the fence, turned around one last time, and was welcomed not by the grace of the Boy. He had gone.
She ventured to go home, doubts growing in her mind. She brushed them aside and hummed her way home, wondering how to convince her Maman to let the snowy one stay.
She rapped on the door, her mom was aghast. “Oh, what have you gone and done now! Who’s is he, is he safe? Are you bitten, are you hurt? Where did you go, my dear child?”
“No, no, Maman! I’m well and good! I’d met a little boy though, he was hurt and bleeding. I did not know what to do, and i know i ruined this dress, but i promise to stitch it up! I couldn’t just leave him there!” the pallor in her Maman’s face faded ever so slowly. Every motion she made was calculated, speculative.
“Who was this boy and where were you, my child?”
“I’d gone to that place where we buried grandmamma and grandpapa. I thought to pay them a visit- it’s been two whole days! Then, i saw this boy standing beside their grave, and he was bleeding from his head! I asked and asked to no avail, he would not tell me what happened!”
Her maman’s fingers combed her daughters hair, the fear edging away from the brinks of her being. “my child,” she whispered just enough for the girl to hear “that was the boy who died a fortnight before your birth. Remember him? I told you not to stray too far beyond where your grandparents graves.”
“i know, but still! I couldn’t just leave him there. And this little snowy one just whimpered and yelped. I simply couldn’t move away.”
“this dog is blind,” her mother blurted out. She regained her self-composure and put her hand in front of him, she drew patterns in the air, and the little pup licked, but his eyes never followed. The girl held him ever so protectively that her mothers heart broke. Her mother gave in- the magic was too strong in her little one, she could not bring herself to destroy it.
“Go up, get fresh. Clean him up as well. Supper is ready and Papa will be here soon!”
The girl was perplexed, that was easy, she thought to herself. She grinned from ear to ear, cuddled the pup some more and made her way up the stairs and to her room!
Her mother smiled a knowing smile, and peeped out the door and into the darkness. She said her thanks, closed the door, and went about to set the table for the impending dinner.
Happiness reigned, and hope impregnated this little island of Acacia once again. Nothing goes wrong and nobody complains- for everything happens and happens for a reason- and the reason is always for the better.
No task is daunting, no hurdle unsurpassable, no love is undeserving. We are every fragment of the words we say, and every story is a part of us.