The twinkling lights
of the city
stars outside my window
my dreams sent to
awaiting my future
outside these walls
instead of in
since when do fantasies prevail
of the city
mine shall be the first.
the gnome and the mist
There stood a snubby cottage, inside a tiny vale, where a wizened little gnome lived, and collected mist for sale.
At the bottom of the waterfall, which roared and roiled so loud, the mists glowed in the moonlight, a silver twinkling cloud
The miniature man in his pointed hat would catch them in a net, for the Witch that came on tuesdays to help pay down his debt
In her potions and in her brews the mists would go to use, the little man had sipped one once, it’s purpose to seduce
She would not look his way, but she would be his life! To the Witch he pledged his all, sweet Lynn would be his wife!
In his vale she danced for joy with flowers for her crown, but everything it has a price, she slipped in the falls and drown.
Inside the tiny vale, there was a wizened little gnome, who owed a Witch the mists forever, in payment for his soul.
Ground mist whispers past the trees as darkness, like my fear, is growing.
Moonlight sparkles in the air, while through the gloom a subtle glowing
springs to life among the shadows, outlining my path and showing
clearly on the trail before me, quite defying explanation,
bars of gold, wrought in designs which fertilize imagination.
From beyond, a sun-drenched clearing and the sound of celebration,
calling, begging, “Come and tarry,
past the portal of the Faerie.”
Standing in the starlit pathway, I fear I may yet be dreaming—
night has fallen left and right, yet through the gate the sun is streaming!
Music glides upon the breeze; it whispers secrets to me, seeming
far too good for truth, indeed some feral, primal intuition
puts my mind on full alert and rouses all of my suspicions.
Still my feet propel me forward almost of their own volition.
Ever onward I am carried,
toward the portal of the Faerie.
Helpless now, I am advancing steadily on legs unfeeling.
O’er the threshold I step softly and at once there comes a healing
of the heart and soul within me, driving me to my knees, kneeling.
All my hate and anger falls like browning leaves, and pure emotion
fills the void. The love I’m feeling prompts a pledge of my devotion
as the gate dissolves behind me in a silent light explosion.
Now my past is truly buried,
by the portal of the Faerie.
© 2019 dustygrein
The Maestro’s Boy
Don’t do it.
The boy froze in his tracks, both palms pancaked to the glass window. The realistic presence of the voice broke the hypnotic trance he’d held over the trinket in the shop’s display. Sneaking a quick glance over each shoulder, Doro dismissed the voice of his conscience and continued fawning over the golden pocket watch, whose insides were exposed. The pristine harmony among the network of microscopic gears made him wonder if God Himself shared a similar perspective when watching the universe of His creation tick. The brilliance of the timepiece’s exterior reminded the boy of the golden fleece so coveted by Jason and his Argonauts.
Thou shalt not covet.
Doro’s heart leapt and he turned in a circle like a dog chasing its own tail. Not one living soul was in close proximity, save for the occasional passerby clickety-clacking down the cobblestone thoroughfare. The voice had become incessant recently, regurgitating the boorish musings of Doro’s Sunday school teacher. At that moment, the boy caught a flashing glimmer out of the corner of his eye. He was convinced the pocket watch itself had winked at him. In the midst of his resolve to make that watch his, by hook or crook, how could Doro have known it had merely been the reflection of the sunlight that had penetrated the thick layer of metallic grey clouds?
Thou shalt not steal.
“Oh, what do you know!?” Doro cried out.
The Maestro may not have seen the crime if his last patient hadn’t cancelled his appointment. But old Signor Tartuccio had fallen victim to yet another bargain. Yesterday’s pastries for half the price. It was a financial steal, but it came at the cost of severe indigestion, and yet old Tartuccio resisted not. There were some mysteries of the mind that could not be explained, not even by therapy with the wisest man in the provincial Italian town. It was only by happenstance that the Maestro had been free during what would’ve been his last hour of administering therapy. From his office window on the third floor, the Maestro had watched his son play the thief yet again.
You mustn’t feel ashamed. You’re not the guilty one.
“If not I, who is? A father must mold his children.”
Doro isn’t a child, Maestro.
“He’s still a boy!”
You were younger than he when you came to wisdom.
The Maestro removed his small bifocals and gingerly rubbed the bridge of his nose, reflecting the accuracy of the last statement.
“Do you suppose nature can teach what nurture could not?”
The decision is his, Signore. Give him the opportunity to prove himself.
“And if he lies yet again?”
He’ll have the Angel to answer to.
A chill seized the Maestro’s heart in its icy grip. He remembered his own encounter with the Angel all those years ago. The Maestro shed one furtive tear, wishing he had more faith in his boy to tell the truth.
The boy whistled through the town at a full sprint, past the corps of fir sentinels and into the heart of the Forbidden Forest. The path once marked by compact wood chips soon became unkempt potpourri made of mud, roots, and pine needles. Then, Doro ran some more. When his lungs felt like sacks of burning coal, the boy fell to his knees and flung his hands above his head. The sun had gone down hours ago and without its guidance, Doro couldn’t find his grandfather’s cottage. The boy had loved his grandfather, a jolly old man that had never made Doro feel like a stupid child, the way Papa did. The so-called Maestro of Piombino.
You shouldn’t have lied. You shouldn’t have stolen.
The boy jumped to his feet, suddenly aware of every inch of distance he had put between himself and his home. Despite the attempt to pass the voice off as a figment of his imagination, Doro couldn’t ignore it any longer.
“Who are you?!” he yelled. “What do you want?!”
The towering trees bounced his voice between them until the reverberations boomeranged back to him.
To guide you.
“I don’t need guiding! I don’t need anyone’s help!”
Everyone needs help from time to time.
“Oh, what do you know? I don’t have to listen to you.”
Suddenly, a radiant white light illuminated the forest like a bolt of lightning from the hands of Jupiter. Doro clutched his eyes, temporarily blinded by the flash’s brilliance.
“Come, Ronzio,” said a pleasant female voice. “You’ve done well to try, but your work is done here.”
Doro felt a slight tickle from behind his right ear. When the boy finally opened his eyes, he saw a large bumblebee floating towards a blue aura. He touched the back of his ear, wondering how he hadn’t noticed an insect of that size crawling on him.
“Who are you?” Doro asked, trying not to let his voice tremble.
“Different things to different people,” the female voice replied. The source of the sound seemed to be coming from the center of the blue aura. “Some consider me a fairy, while others call me a witch. Still, others call me an angel.”
“What do you want?”
“I want to know what you want, Doro.”
The boy wondered what reply would secure his safe passage.
“I want what all little boys want.”
“Not to be treated like a little boy?” the aura offered.
He covets the possessions of others.
The bumblebee flitted around Doro’s head.
“What’s that?!” the boy cried out.
“Your conscience, Doro,” the aura replied. “It’s a voice you should’ve listened to a bit more frequently. Perhaps then, you’d behave in a manner fitting of a man. Good men don’t envy what others have. Good men don’t steal what doesn’t belong to them. Good men don’t lie about the wrongs they’ve committed.”
“It’s just a watch!” Doro yelled back, wondering how this mysterious entity could know the details of his recent whereabouts.
“There is a string that connects everything in existence, Doro. You didn’t only rob Signor Collodi of a prized antique, but of the good he’d do with the proceeds of its future sale. Do you understand? Everything is connected. And this isn't the first object you've stolen, is it?”
“Oh, what do you know?!” Doro screamed. “You’re just like Papa. I’m not bad because I take things! The world is for the people who take what they can get. That’s what everybody does. Take, take, take! It’s the only way to change your stars.”
“Your Papa is a wise man,” the blue aura told the boy. “But he wasn’t always the Maestro. He learned the ways of the world at his own expense and grew as a result. You could benefit from his experience, but you don’t respond to instruction, Doro. You upset the world’s balance when you act so rashly, and you’ve been given so many chances to mend your ways.”
“See this?” Doro said, raising both arms above his heads. “No strings on me. I can do what I want!”
“Perhaps that needs to change.”
You mustn’t feel ashamed. This isn’t your fault.
Through misty eyes, the Maestro looked at the insect on the windowsill and offered the cricket his palm. For years now, the Maestro began his day with a walk across the cobblestone street that led to Signor Collodi’s shop window. Despite the desperate pleas of his conscience, the old man felt he deserved the heartbroken pangs in his chest every day he cast his eyes to the lifeless marionette suspended by strings, frozen mid-dance.
A real-life fairy tale
Once upon a time, I say
not long ago nor yesterday
nor far away from this place
you and I came face-to-face.
From first sight to falling hard
rising trust and falling guard
so little time did pass
when for my hand you did ask.
Our love was young, as were we,
they thought, ’this can never be.
‘How will he take care of you?’
They said, ‘you’ll soon say adieu!’
I did not think ’fore I replied
(I possibly even sighed)
’There is no taking care of who
care for each other will we two.’
I held your hand tight in mine
you held my heart, called me thine
I got lost in your eyes
for us, there would be no goodbyes.
I whispered, ’my prince charming, thee
life-long my love for you will be
all the days of my life, it’s true
will my love endure for you.
’I had loved you before we met
and will continue, don’t forget
when your skin is wrinkled and gray
and youth is gone and far away
’even then will you still be
the most beautiful man to me.’
We shared a kiss or two that day
and thus we lived until today.
Time has passed as it is wont to do
happily ever after, we two
living what fairy tales never show
after the fairy a wish does bestow.
We have had many dramas to transcend
in life that follows the Kiss and The End.
Much evil to vanquish lest our love fall apart
and suffer and die and wither my heart.
We have slain dragons of society
that filled us with anxiety;
religion, ethnicity and race
were among the challenges we did face.
We have overcome trolls, whose ugly souls
sought to steal the beauty that made us whole
goblins who mischievously sought to steal
the magic that made our love real.
We withstood, every trial, every test we faced
with the only spell we knew, our ace:
Love. Together we have repaired each tear
in the tapestry of the life we share.
And now this.
An evil elf cast a spell upon you
the tremors of age it’s you they pursue
slowing your gait years too soon,
though of aging none is immune -
You have witnessed barely half a century.
But from this spell you can never be free.
Too soon you feel like you are losing you
the years you’ve lived feel like far too few.
But know this my love with whom I never
dared to dream happily ever after:
The body will change, will fail, as bodies do
but we are enchanted, our love is, too.
Our love is magic and only grows more dear,
deeper, more precious as forever draws near.
’I am here with you all of the days of my life
forever and a day, I am your wife.
'You are my happily ever after.’
Martha existed merely for that: to exist.
“Martha,” they’d say, they being him and her and he and she and all of them, but mostly her mother. “Maaaaartha, darling. What are you going to do with your life? Your existence is most depressing, Martha. Oh, Martha. Get out of that bed, will you child?”
And Martha would roll onto her side, making sure to face away from the doorway that framed her American mother with a fake British accent and hot rollers and musk ordered from Avon. Away from the clock that read noon. Away from the civilized household with forks and knives and spoons with all of their usage. Away from a father with the self-proclaimed title of ‘gentleman’ because he kisses the hand of every woman he meets before taking them to bed. Away from a hopeless sister with five different mirrors and a fear of carbs. Away from the maids and the butlers and the cooks and the falsehood of those who proclaim true love. She would face away from it all and look out her window.
Martha had never left the gates. They stood, an entryway to heaven. This analogy plagued Martha so that she feared the eternal afterlife, merely for that: the eternity of it all. With life comes sleep, and with sleep comes dreams. The forever sleep leaves a body, leaving behind sleep, keeping a soul. And her soul was quite unsatisfied.
“The eyes are the window to the soul,” a phrase Martha heard often while learning her Bible on sleepy Sunday mornings as a child. She once asked Miss Claudette what you would see if the soul were empty.
“Why, my child, you would be looking into the eyes of Satan.”
Martha didn’t sleep for a month, afraid she was the Devil in flesh. It was only when she asked her mother about it that she was reassured as to her human existence. “Ohhhh, Maaaaarthhha, darling,” she had said. “Maaaarthhhaaa. Your father and I are too high bred to have created a child that comes from so far below.”
Martha would lay in bed—especially early morning when the light was just right— staring out the window. In those moments, she’d feel something. Across the lawn, she could see nothing but green. Artificial, too-good-to-be-true green. Each blade of grass matched so perfectly in size, shape, and color. She hadn’t a clue why, but it hurt her eyes and that hurt her heart.
Then Martha would look beyond. The gold of the gates, majestic in their fifteen-foot stature, were bars to a barren land. A land of trees browning beyond their health. A land plagued by dying earth and unknown wildlife. Pebbles and rocks and boulders. Crumbling homes made of stone and wood. An apocolyptic scent wafting onto the Privileged Lands when the sun got too hot.
And people. People who were surrounded by death and managed to find a way to live. People who could not, under any circumstances, enter the manor of the wealthy. The ‘others,’ as her mother liked to call them, as if they were a small piece on a pie chart and not a group of living, breathing, suffering, yet surviving human beings.
It was in one of her staring fits—albeit the date or time or year of age—that she found her soul. It was not within Martha; she found it outside of that window. Beyond the gates, with people she’d never met. And in that unknown moment she understood: her eyes were not the window to her soul; it was, ironically, her bedroom window.
The dreams started when Martha was sleeping, but soon her mind would carry her away even in her waking hours. The dreams all began the same: she would be walking through the yard in a freshly bleached nightgown, toward the only entryway of the gate. Her steps contained no signs of hesitance. She was a young woman, determined. Fearless. Without boundaries. Martha gave herself permission to pass the threshold because in her dreams, she needn’t ask another soul.
It was at the gate that the dreams would always change. Sometimes, she’d be greeted by a barbaric man with a skirt made of leaves and a carved wooden spear. He was a cliche neanderthal in all respects. He’d grunt at her, trying to communicate. And the strangest part of it all was that somehow she understood. He wanted her to take his hand, and she did. From behind the bushes came more uncivilized men and women, covering their manhoods and womanhoods with dress made from nature. They would run to the gate and close it shut and join hands and make a circle around Martha. It didn’t make any sense, but somehow Martha knew for sure that these were her people.
The people changed each time she’d dream. Sometimes they were in flowered dresses and bandanas and smiles. Other times there’d be suits and a lingering smell of generic cleaner. There was even one time when the humans weren’t humans at all; they were simply colorful blobs without figure or sound, but she still woke feeling the same way: Martha was one of them, and she was welcomed.
One night, the dream ended as she woke. She opened her eyes, sure that she was awake for she had gone from dream to reality almost every night for as long as she could remember. The dream was done, but voices continued to echo through her skull. “Maaaaarthhaaa...” she heard. “Maaaarthhhaaa.” The voices sang as her mothers did, but not with the same tone of annoyance. It was as if they were calling to her to wake from her own reality and enter into theirs.
“Maaaarthhhaaa...” they continued to call. These voices contained all of the maternal tenderness she’d craved her entire life. All the familial intonations, the jovial vibrance of a voice belonging to a friend. To friends.
She lay in bed listening, first, letting the voices sooth her like a lullaby. But soon the tune morphed from Mozart to Bach, the beauty of the glorious tune overwhelming the ear, maddening its listener as the squeal of a broken record. Martha knew in her heart that she must follow the music and all of its warm insanity to the source. The way to stop it would be to join it.
Martha hadn’t used her feet much, but neither did she eat often. So her feet and frame of stature were delicate like glass, only in addition to her bleached white nightgown and Swedish nature, the analogy should stand as the stained glass of a church window. To simplify, Martha appeared utterly angelic.
She stumbled a bit as she stood, not quite sure when the last time she’d used her muscles were. It was as if she were gaining her sea legs, only there wasn’t an ocean for miles to blame. Soon enough, the infantile movements wore off, and she traveled through her childhood again with each step she gained. It took her approximately three minutes to walk to the stairs, although they were not more than thirty feet from the threshold of her bedroom. She looked down the steps with a new sense of determination, knowing that the threshold of the gates was strong and smooth, not a single inch higher than leveled ground.
Martha held tightly onto the banister, the garland that snaked the oak feeling awkward in her hands as it looked awkward for the month of July. She awkwardly squatted down, until the thin red carpet touched her bottom. Using both of her arms and all of her might, she inched herself forward with the combined forces of her pelvis and her legs. There weren’t more than twenty steps, but by the end of the voyage, Martha needed a break.
She regrouped for ten minutes, resting on the bottom step. She listened, but not a sound was heard. Everyone, everywhere, in every inch of the house, slept as if they were dead. Or carefree. There isn’t much of a difference between being dead and carefree, as both do not tend to exist for the living.
After catching her first breath, the second, and the seven-hundredth, Martha knew she could handle the rest. She walked to the front door, which seemed all too simple. But the Privileged were as simple as they were lazy, and the lock clicked open, and the door clicked open, and Martha’s feet went click, click, click on the stone path that led through the grass.
She closed her eyes and counted to ten.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
And she closed her eyes and counted to ten. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Martha repeated this process, calming her nerves all the way to the gate. It only took her fifteen sets of ten to reach the golden gate, and one extra ‘1. 2. 3.’ By this point, Martha’s nerves were exhausted, and in their place, adrenaline surged. She had made it. Nobody had stopped her. Nothing had happened. And most importantly, the voices were here.
She reached a shaking hand toward the metal rod that held closed the gate. When hand met element, the gold began to glow. Martha had been long-awaited. Martha was special. Martha had been chosen.
She lifted the rod, entrenched in her new, holy power. The minute it was released, and unearthly force sprung forward, pushing the gates away from Martha and into the Forbidden Land. She stepped forward, as a Messiah greeting her people for the first time.
Nobody appeared at first, but then came one. A girl. About Martha’s age, Martha’s height, and Martha’s small frame. She had eyes like Martha, those straight from a Margaret Keane painting. Blue and large and lovely and sad. And her hair was like Martha’s, wispy and light as if her child hairs had never grown. She could, in fact, be a sister of Martha’s if she had not known any better.
Then others joined, boys and girls, men and women. Some different in size and complexion, but all looking quite like Martha. It was the First Martha that was not Martha that said it first. “Maaaaarthhaa.” And then another. And another. Until each person joined in the harmony that became a symphony that soon sounded like one amplified voice.
They circled Martha, the chant soaking her veins with the power that comes with acceptance, one that brings on a vomit-worthy joy. The so-happy-I-could-die type of feeling. Martha felt like she could die.
The circle tightened until Martha was the pit of a giant plum. A big, giant, human plum. And she enjoyed the contact, the level of warmth different on each new set of skin. All she’d felt her whole life were cold hands, the ones you feel when the doctor checks your heart. She embraced the warmth, embraced the strangers, embraced her status as prodigal daughter.
She even embraced the warmth of her own blood when shock prevented her from feeling the wound.
It wasn’t until Martha sensed her feet were not touching the ground that she noticed it: a wooden spear had pierced her abdomen, and her sisters and brothers carried her toward the trees. Through them, she could see a blazing fire, a fire much warmer than the skin and her fresh blood.
Martha began to struggle, but it was a worthless fight. She did not have her window to look to for escape. This was her window, in front of her. And as they staked her body above the fire and began to rotate her flesh, she stared each and every one of them in the eye.
She did not scream. She did not cry. This was Martha’s fate.
And for the first time in, well...a very long time, her people would have a proper meal.
we are bright
the fair folk are born with silver tongues, his mother once said to him, and they spin golden stories. do not give them anything willingly.
he should be only minutes away from his hut, but he may have become lost somewhere under the cover of the stars. with a sigh he pushes through the brush before him.
‘are you weary, traveller?’ it is like a bell has rung, and he turns and sees a girl with flowers growing out of her skin. ‘may i have your name?’ she asks.
‘no,’ he says, remembering. ‘but you can call me icarus.’
she tries the name on her lips and her smile twists when she realizes it is a false one. still. ‘icarus,’ she says, ‘who was in love with the sun. i wonder if you will meet the same fate.’
‘and would you be the sun?’ he is almost enjoying the game, the thrill of knowing that any word misspoken could be his last.
‘i am not. but i would like you to be in love with me.’
you would like me to give myself to you, he thinks, but what he says is, ‘it is late.’
‘i was on my way home.’
‘will you permit me to leave?’ he asks finally.
her grin widens. ‘perhaps. what do you offer in return?’
his mother had said: make no promises with the fae, and especially none you cannot fulfill. they will twist every word that you speak.
so he takes her hand and brushes his lips against the back of it. ‘i offer you nothing.’ he tells her, ‘i give you this kiss freely and separately, without obligation.’
she takes back her hand but her eyes dance with light. ‘then i suppose i will let you leave. freely and separately, without obligation. come see me again. i shall be very upset otherwise.’
make no promises. ‘we will see.’
It was a rainy day that found me on the beach, facing the sea with eyes outstretched to the horizon. I was a wanderer of a girl, and Hawaii was the perfect place to foster my restless spirit.
Soon the rain came hard in sheets. Waves came and swirled around my ankles in the rhythm of tides. There was ocean before my feet; there was ocean in the sky. I knew the windward side of the island like I knew the plant medicine books I poured over each day.
I had seen so many things wash up on these beaches, I hadn’t thought anything could surprise or frighten me. That day I would learn never to underestimate the wonders which the earth could present.
I felt that day as if I could lose myself in the midst of water, until my attention was captured by something strange floating toward the shore. It was grayer than seaweed but greener than driftwood. I felt a sudden mix between fright and compelling curiosity. Suddenly it had a head, which it lifted, and eyes, with which it fixed on me a glowing gray stare.
I gasped. It could speak. It knew my name.
Greenish matted hair followed its face out of the water, and the grayish-green I had seen revealed itself as long flowing fabric that clung to the creature’s frame as it pulled itself into a standing position. It appeared to be a woman whose face and hands were a pale gray. What I could see of her arms and neck reminded me of a sea turtle-- leathery and textured.
“Kahea,” she spoke again. “Please, we need you. Will you follow me?”
“Who… who are you?” I was struck by her unearthly appearance. She was like something from a book or a child’s imagination.
“I am what the ocean made me.”
I looked at her quizzically.
“Haste, this is a small window of time. Air and water are close enough that you may follow me below. You swim well?”
Of course I could swim well, but she appeared to be part ocean creature, and I was certainly only human. Still, I nodded. She stepped nearer and took my hands in hers.
“You give me your word you are willing to follow me, though frightened you may be now, and frightened you may further become?”
My thoughts were conversing loudly in confusion and curiosity, but above their racket I heard a sound like a song and a feeling from somewhere around my solar plexus. It gave me assurance that I could trust this creature. At least for now.
“I give you my word.” I answered.
“Thank you,” she said. Then she turned to the sea. “Thank you for accepting this friend I bring into thee.” Then she looked into my eyes and said “Now be assured, and stay close to me.”
We dove into the water and swam deep, then deeper, until we came to an outcropping of volcanic rock. Somehow I felt no intense pressure from the depth, and when I needed to breath I found air bubbles circling me and finding their way into my lungs.
In another moment we swam straight down, the water getting darker and darker. Before I ceased entirely to see, the creature led me through an opening in the black rock, and I could see no more. I felt the woman grab my hand and lead me onward.
Intense anxiety flooded my chest, as the weight of what might happen filled my thoughts. What had I been thinking? I must have gone mad. Or perhaps this was one of those intriguing dreams that turned into a nightmare before waking you with a start. But if it was, I did not wake.
Suddenly there was a glow in the water around me. I had heard of heatless light in the ocean, and realised that was what I must have been witnessing. Neon sea life glowed around us and revealed that my companion and I were in a tunnel of dark rock and old coral. I swam alongside her until fatigued overwhelmed me and I began to be sleepy. The water was cradling, and, oddly enough, I felt warm in the marine glow. My eyelids drooped once, twice, then I remembered nothing until--
“Kahea. Kahea, you are here. We must speak to you now.”
I was wide awake then, and remembering my journey, I was driven by a desire for answers to the questions swirling in my mind.
I was no longer in the water, but on the floor of a cave lit by thousands of luminescent plants that looked like glowing cabbages which somehow grew on solid rock. I looked around and saw my strange companion in the company of another creature who looked like her, only taller, with the figure of a man.
“My name is Kai,” she said.
“And mine is Mana,” the man spoke. “We have a story to tell, and then we hope you will agree to help us.”
“Please, tell me. Tell me why I am am here, and… and what are you?”
They smiled quickly to each other and Kai began to speak.
“We are the spirits of the ocean that dwell near, and are assigned to protect this island. Kahea, how long how you lived here on Oahu?”
“Seventeen years; all my life,” I answered.
“How many hurricane warnings have you heard in that time?”
“More than I could count.”
“And yet, never has one been seriously destructive. At least, not in a long while... “ She drifted into thought for a few seconds before continuing.
“There is a windshear that protects the island and breaks down any storm before it arrives.”
“I have heard of this,” I said. She smiled and continued.
“It is my husband, myself, and our kindred who work in the elements-- we keep the islands safe. It is our greatest joy to provide prosperity and harmony in your home above the water. The Great Creator Mother and Father are our masters. We act through their provision of wisdom to influence the earth. In them is the power we, and our many friends use to smooth the elements for you and yours.”
Something in me absorbed and analyzed everything she said. I knew she spoke the truth.
“One of the great creeds provided by The Creators is that in order to influence human kind, we must have human representation in our Elemental Council. Otherwise their power is withdrawn, and we will cease to be able to influence the elements. The spirits of air, tree, earth, fire, and ocean participate in the council. For so long we have worked to protect you with little contention and great harmony. Our dear Council representative of humans, however, is fading. She may not grace this earth much longer. We have been seeking restlessly to find one who will replace her. We now approach our purpose in bringing you here. We have watched you; our friends have noticed you. You have inclinations to hear and respect the spirits of the elements. We know you, and we know of your believing soul.”
Then Mana spoke.
“Kahea, we now ask you: will you been a voice for the humans in the land of Hawaii, representing your people as you serve on the Elemental Council, which council was organized by the Great Creator Mother and Father?”
“I…” I needed to think about it. I needed more information. “Please, what responsibility will I hold in taking this position?”
“You will have the duty of attending Council meetings every new moon. We may ask you to explore the island and bring us word of how humans are interacting with the elements,” Mana said. “You will be given gifts from each elemental spirit on the council so you may interact more freely with nature. Ours will allow you to pass through the ocean as you did today, in order to attend Council meetings, some of which are held here.”
“You must also promise” Kai chimed in, “to serve with compassion and love, thinking never of yourself more than of the harmony we must together create.”
I listened to them for some time. They told me stories of past humans who served on the Elemental Council. They shared tales of their role as ocean spirits. My soul was filled as I perceived the great love which drove them to fulfill the greatest measure of their capacity to protect me and humankind. I couldn’t tell how long I sat with them, but when eventually they trailed off into silence I knew what answer I would give to them. I had heard of times in the lives of other people when they found a purpose in life they had no greater desire than to fulfill. I never imagined that such a time would come to me and so young an age. But I couldn’t deny the sense of purpose, and wouldn’t have made any other decision than when I told them I would accept their call to the Elemental Council.
“What do I need to do?” I asked them.
Kai’s eyes filled with tears. Mana slipped an arm around her, and he too grew sad.
“We would like for you to learn what you need to know to join us immediately” he said, “but the woman whom you will succeed is the one who much teach you. Only she knows the words. However, she is beginning to lose her memory. We have searched a long time for one like you, but we fear we have not been quick enough.” He closed his eyes for a moment and breathed out in sorrow.
“Friends,” I spoke, “I have been studying the healing herbs of our island for many years. Will you tell me where I can find this woman? I believe I could help her.”
They smiled up at me.
“You believe.” Kai said; a statement.
I nodded in eagerness.
“Well then, you shall be given to try.”
They led me out of the underwater cave, and left me at the surface with instructions of where to go, and how to reach them again.
I found the old woman. Her name was Uilani. She lived next to the mountain at the edge of my town. I introduced myself to her, but she was unresponsive. Her grandsons, Pika and Kaipo, who cared for her, became my friends. I began to bring herbs and fix remedies for her to take. She was old, and sometimes I felt a sense of despair. But I would listen, and sometimes almost heard the spirits guide me in what to do. Soon I and her boys began to see an improvement in her. Her memory and motor skills improved. She soon could remember my name! It helped that I came so often.
One day near the end of summer I brought her to the beach for a soul-searching stroll along the shore. In a moment a giant rain cloud swept in off the ocean, as they so often do, and we were caught.
Soon, through the pouring, we saw pale gray-green forms emerging from the waves. I could not contain my joy in seeing Kai and Mana, but it did not exceed the joy of the old woman whom I had come to know and love. She greeted her old friends with open arms.
Not long after, I listened closely as Uilani whispered to me the words of magic I desired to know. She taught me many things in order for me to take her place on the council with the other elemental spirits of Hawaii. I soon was introduced to all of the council. Though I first clasped their hands in a secret cave under the ocean, I felt as if I had known them for a long time, for I had sensed their hand in the elements throughout all my wanderings as a girl on the island.
Slowly, the light of day dimmed
The creatures were ready
Quite heavily armed.
They made their way
Into the dilapidated Mansion~
Parts of the floor had piles of hay.
O, these greedy monsters—
placed the stolen items down
-Ready to steal even mor’ goods!
Once upon a time there was a pebble. Just a pebble. A very normal pebble. It was round and smooth, greyish-whitish, with a few very pretty silver speckles that it would have been quite proud of, if it could have thought about such things. But it couldn’t. Because it was a pebble and pebbles don’t have brains. Everybody knows that. But for the purpose of this story let’s give the pebble a name. Let’s call it Pebble.
Pebble sat patiently on the bottom of a small stream for a long time. The stream was in a beautiful mountain valley, with a couple of lakes at the top, trees and bushes near the water, and a handful of overly luxurious, overly large, frequently uninhabited vacation homes at the bottom. Winding up the valley, from the houses to the lakes, was a small and very lovely trail. It was crafted just so. It wound up and it wound down and everyone who walked upon it remarked on its clever design and wonderful views.
Pebble was unaware of any of this. He (can I call him a he?) sat on the bottom of the stream and was rolled forward by the pressure of the water on him. During the winter he moved very little. The stream was frozen after all and the fish were all asleep and it was like he was asleep too. He would nestle in a little cranny, amongst the other pebbles, and they would all sleep together.
During the spring he would burst into activity, bouncing and dancing down the stream bed, moving along with all his friends, slowly becoming more round, more polished, and just a bit more like all the other round, polished pebbles that surrounded him. You could think of the stream like a giant rock tumbler. At the top, the rocks were sharp and large, having fallen freshly off of the surrounding cliffs. They had individuality and character. At the bottom the rocks had been turned into pebbles – round and smooth. They all looked alike, with only small differences in color and character. All of this change was accomplished by the power of the water in the stream. The rocks didn’t actually dance you see, they were pushed along by the water, bouncing and dancing because of the swirls and eddies and the unrelenting pressure of all that melting snow and ice. There is very little that water cannot do if it is given enough time to do it.
One day Pebble was pushed to the side of the stream during a very strong rush of melting snow and then he was left there to dry in the sun. He no longer moved. Well not much anyway. And if he had had any thoughts you might say that he was bored. His friends moved on without him but he had new friends. All around him were rocks that had also been pushed aside by the stream, exposed to the weather, no longer in the womb, expelled into the real world. But he had no thoughts, so he wasn’t bored and he didn't worry at all about his friends, either old or new. He just sat there and weathered.
Pablo the Fairy was tired. Very tired. He’d been up to no good for what seemed like hours now. A lot of hours. So many hours… His feet dragged on the ground and his little wings lay limp. He hated walking but his wings were done. Completely done. He’d been flying for … well hours. And they were just completely out of juice. The only way to get more juice was to let the sun charge them back up again. So he walked, his wings behind him, catching sunlight and sparkling faintly as they sucked up energy.
Pablo wished he could suck up some energy. He had none left. First he’d gone into a huge vacation home and tickled the feet of every person who lived there. While they were sleeping! He’d woken them up and then he’d giggled about it. There’d been only two people in that monstrous castle of a house and they’d both been monstrously old, but he’d take what he could get. Four whole feet tickled! Then he’d sprinkled a little pepper into the nose of a cat. That was pure fun. It had sneezed and yowled and run about the yard until someone had to let it in, where it had hid under the bed for the rest of the night.
He’d spent the entire night causing problems. That was a night well spent. But now he was so very tired. All he wanted to do was go home, curl up into a little fairy ball and go to sleep so he could do it all over again tomorrow. It was a good life, he had to admit it.
As he walked, his pouch of fairy dust bounced along at his hip. He hardly noticed it because it weighed almost nothing. The fairy dust, in fact, weighed less than nothing. That was the beauty of fairy dust, it didn’t obey any of the rules of physics that you are used to. Gravity means nothing to fairy dust. The Earth can’t pull on it, wind can’t move it, and water can’t make it wet. The only thing that fairy dust obeys is intention. When Pablo would pull fairy dust out of his pouch with his hand, he wasn’t actually touching the dust, because it ignores the electromagnetic force, and his hand would go right through it if he wasn’t concentrating on the right intention. So when Pablo picked up fairy dust, he concentrated on his intention to pick it up and the fairy dust obeyed his will and pretended like it was being picked up – nestling in his hand in a fair imitation of normal.
But it wasn’t normal. Not even close. Fairy dust is magic. Everyone knows that.
Sometimes fairy dust has its own intention. Did you know that? If so, good for you, because not many people do. You have to be pretty well steeped in fairy lore to know that fairy dust will sometimes, very rarely, but just often enough to be interesting, make a decision on its own.
This was one of those times.
While Pablo dragged his feet up the lovely trail in the beautiful valley, next to the lively stream, on his way home to his little nook in a tree, part-way up a large, grey cliff, the fairy dust decided on something. The fairy dust decided it wanted to make a little trouble of its own. It only seems fair, right? Pablo had been having so much fun, the fairy dust wanted to have a little fun too. So it drifted out of the pouch and a few small, sparkling, speckles floated behind Pablo for a moment before drifting lightly down onto Pebble.
Pebble woke up. Not all the way awake mind you. He’d been sleeping for a very long time. Millennia. Since the beginning of time, I suppose, if you count the fact that his atoms were built in the belly of a star. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d been awake. Maybe this was the first time? He couldn’t remember. All he knew was that he was a pebble and he was alive and he was laying on something hard and he couldn’t see anything or hear anything or really move at all, but he knew who he was. He was Pebble!
Wait he could move. A little bit. So he wiggled. If anyone had been watching and they had been watching very, very closely, they would have seen a small, grey pebble wiggle just a little bit in way that couldn’t be entirely explained.
He liked to wiggle. This was fun! So he kept doing it. And the more he wiggled the more he realized that he was changing. Something was happening on the bottom of him. Well it was the bottom of him now, because he was growing legs. Little tiny pebble legs were sprouting from one side of him. When it seemed like they had stopped growing, and after he had started to get bored of wiggling, he decided to try to use them, and so he stood up.
That might be too graceful of a term to use for what he did because when Pebble stood up for the first time it was more like a crazy lurch that ended with him upside down, with his legs sticking straight up into the sky. Now that his top was facing down and his bottom was facing up, it was much harder to stand up, so he wiggled some more. It had been a few minutes and he was starting to miss it - wiggling really is pretty fun if you stop and think about it.
After wiggling for a while, his legs were underneath him once more and he decided to try standing up again. This attempt was much more successful and so he stood upon his little legs and he swayed back and forth while he learned how to balance. It was at this point that he realized he had a mouth.
“Oh”, he said. “Wow.” It wasn’t the most amazing thing anyone has said, but I’m pretty sure it is the most amazing thing a pebble has ever said and Pebble was quite proud of himself.
“Oh! Wow!” He said again. He felt he was getting the hang of this. He could stand and he could say two words. That was some serious progress. Then he discovered that he could walk. From walk he discovered he could run, and at this point Pebble realized the world was an amazing and wondrous place.
He ran forward at a breakneck speed (for a pebble) screaming at the top of his lungs (pebble lungs), “Oh! Wow! Oh! Wow! Oh! Wow! Oh! Wow!”
If someone had been walking on the trail on this lovely summer day, and they had been at the right place at exactly the right time, they would have seen a tiny little pebble running as fast as it possibly could, yelling as loud as it possibly could in a squeaky little pebble voice. They would have heard it coming from the direction of the stream, over some grassy knobs, across the trail (where he kicked up just a little bit of dust) and across to the other side into the trees.
I should pause here and explain something. Pebble had legs and a mouth, as you probably remember, but he was missing some other very important equipment. He didn’t have any eyes for instance so he couldn’t see where he was going. He also didn’t have any arms, so he couldn’t feel in front of him. As far as Pebble knew, the world was a huge, black, open space that was made for him to run around in. And occasionally wiggle.
So imagine his surprise when he ran into a tree. Pebble quickly went from full speed to no speed at all when he hit the tree, and then he bounced off the tree and he was going negative speed for a little while and then he was on the ground, sitting on what would have been his butt if pebbles had butts. They don’t by the way. Just legs and mouths, and those only sometimes.
“Oh. Wow.” Pebble said. If you were to say that fast, you might notice it also sounds like “Oh. Ow.” But that’s not what he said because it’s actually very hard to hurt a rock. Physically that is. It is easy to hurt their feelings. You will find they are really pretty sensitive if you take the time to get to know one.
Pebble had just learned something new. His world had obstacles.
“Oh! Wow!” He said excitedly. His world had obstacles! What else was there in this world for him to discover? The possibilities seemed endless. But unfortunately for Pebble the half life of fairy dust is quite short and at this point the effects began to wear off. First his mouth and then his legs and then his awareness, and like a gentle dream that you can’t quite remember, he left our world behind and rejoined all the other rocks and pebbles in their world, which is quite separate from ours, and impossible for us to visit.
If you happened to have walked on the lovely trail anytime during the rest of that summer, you may have noticed a small pebble, far away from the stream where it belonged, laying in the dirt at the base of a tree, all by itself. The pebble was greyish-whitish with silver speckles that were quite pretty if you took the time to look at them and truly appreciate this pebble for what it was.
That’s what caught the young boy’s eye as he walked up the trail with his father, his little hand clasped tightly in his father’s much larger hand, looking around at the world with his wide eyes because there was so very much for him to see. He saw a little glint of silver as the sun reflected off the pebble just so, angling the light directly into his eyes, but missing his father’s eyes completely. You may wonder why little boys (and girls) see so many things that their fathers don’t? Well that’s just the way the world works, that’s all.
The little boy saw the pebble and he knew right away that he wanted it to be his. He wanted to take it home and stick it on his special shelf with all of his other special things, because he could tell right away that this was a special thing and that’s where it belonged. He stopped walking, pulled free from his father’s hand, walked over to the pebble, and squatted down next to it. He picked up Pebble and he looked at it carefully, felt how smooth and round and perfect it was, and then he put it in his pocket.
And this was a wondrous thing because Pebble was not what he seemed. He was a part of the basement of the world, formed in the fiery furnaces of a young Earth, pummeled by meteorites, covered in lava, not yet touched by water, or life or even an atmosphere. Formed in a sheet of continuous bedrock that had laid bare for eons before being covered with air and then dirt and then lay there for eons more before being forced upward by a cataclysmic collision of continents that had raised the mountains up nearly two miles straight into the air and then he had hung in the air for eons more, before he had broken off of the side of a cliff and fallen a thousand feet to land with a thunderous roar and a cloud of dirt and water that had scared the animals so completely that the forest had been empty of sound and life for nearly a full day. And there he lay while the water and the wind broke him down until he was finally small enough to wash into the stream and down the slope and … well you know the rest of the story. My point is that this little pebble, small enough to pick up and put into your pocket and place onto your shelf was a mighty, wondrous, fearsome object, that has been stamped by time and formed just-so by the most powerful forces on Earth.
Pebble was special. Just like every other rock you see while you are hiking in the mountains. So next time you are walking on a lovely trail by a lively stream, surrounded by huge and majestic mountains, take a moment to admire the little pebbles under your feet and think about where they have come from and the amazing journey that has brought them to where they are today.