Monday, December 10

A Fairytale for Grown Ups (as well as for children)

Jack and Jill went out to forest. They collected berries for their mother, flowers for their grandmother and colorful feathers for their own play. They spent all day in forest and crammed their bags with feathers, flowers and berries until there was no space left for anything, not for even a single straw.

When they wanted to go home, it dawned upon them that they are lost in forest. This dawning was a dreadful one, as it happened in late evening. Trembling with fear and shivering with cold, they ran desperately in every direction to find the way back home but failed and night fell upon them. Well, it didn’t hit, night doesn’t hit when it falls but often brings trouble so great and dreadful that you wish it had hit you instead. They wandered in the darkness, wept and wondered where to go now. Night grew colder and colder, their little feet froze, tiny noses went red and fingers felt like made of snow.

At last they saw a small light far away, penetrating through leaves and shrubs. They hastened towards it, hoping it might be erupting from some fire that could warm them.

When they arrived at the light, they found it coming from a big window, of a very big house made of very big stones. They knocked on the front door of house; hoping owner of house will be kind enough to let them stay for a night.

First they heard a grumble “Who is disturbing me at this important night?” Then a dreadful person, with a long nose and typical face of magicians in fairy tales, opened the door and peeped out. “Hey, kids! What are you doing here this late in night?” He shouted.

“We have lost our way in forest; please let us stay at your house for the night. It’s too cold out there.” Jack begged.

“What? Let you stay at my house? No, no, no, no way!” Magician grumbled. “Don’t you know, in fairy tales, house of magicians are a dangerous place for kids. Besides, I’m preparing for a very important feast tonight and it’s already too late to finish all my work. I have waited my whole life to become the host of year, tonight is a night of honor for me and I can’t let anyone spoil it no matter how lost they are and how cold is it out there. Oh, oh, what this unpleasant smell is about? Something is burning in kitchen.” He slammed the door shut.

“Please, please! We are freezing here” Both children screamed and went on knocking the door with their little hands.

“I say, be off!” Magician roared from inside.

“If you let us in, we’ll help you in arranging your feast and we’ll not ask for anything from your dinner to eat. We promise” Jill implored.

This might have made magician think, for he opened the door after a while and bade them in.

He took them to a large room where chairs were arranged around a very very big table and table was full with many dishes and bowels, all hot and smoking. Between them, many vases with withered flowers were arranged. Those flowers might be red, pink, yellow, purple and white when they were plucked but now they all were lifeless, a pale brown, looking more dismal in light of candles hanging above the table without anything to hold them. Children saw that all and wondered but they didn’t ask anything. It was house of a magician and obviously it was supposed to host such oddities, besides, magicians get angry when asked about their magic and no one can afford to annoy their host when it’s too cold out there.

“Cooking has never been a problem for me!” Magician said. “My quick-cook-easy-eat spell can make a hundred pies out of one apple and one hundred glasses of juice from one orange but decorating the room is always a problem. I wish I could use instant-adorn-pretty-party spell but my magical powers are exhausted already. I don’t let other magicians know about it, they’ll laugh at my weakness therefore it’s necessary to perform every ritual of tonight exactly as it should be performed. Girl, you take these garlands to opposite wall and spread on those shelves. This is a special occasion and I want everything to be exactly where it should be.”

“What special occasion it is?” Jack inquired.

“Ho ho, this is the feast of heartbreak!” When he laughed, his laughter was like one thousand utensils in one hundred kitchens rattling together. “The holiest festival of melancholy magic, we the practitioners of mighty melancholic magic eat and party tonight, a party like no other.”

“What special dishes did you make for this party?” Jill asked.

“There are many” Magician said proudly. “There is the hurt-heart-paincake, bitter-betrayal-pie and torn-trust-porridge, to be served with special lost-life-hard-drink, everything is made with most malign elements of evil possible in the world, collected from around the world in many days, even with help of gather-great-everything-easy spell it takes days to gather all those substances.”

“Wow” Both kids exclaimed, without understanding what he meant by malign and evil “What do you do at party?”

“We eat and drink, until the hurt and the bitterness comes over us, the torn-apartness and the hardness stabs our hearts to deepest depths, then we cry out so loudly that no human ears can endure listening to us. When party reaches the climax, each withered flower on the table becomes a ghost and flies out of the window into human world. This is the time of year when melancholy magic is at heights of its strength. With the power of melancholy magic, our ghosts break people’s hearts, they make them forgetful of their promises and angry and weary and bored. They remind people of things not worth remembering and make them forget things worth remembering. They steal from post boxes letters written to end a quarrel, to start anew, to convey love, only letters meant to provoke the rage and tear people apart are allowed to reach their destinations tonight. Our ghosts whisper doubts in ears of people and block their ears by sitting in between when trust is whispered. Then, next year, on the night of heartbreak festival, in the home of magician who will be the host of year, we’ll welcome new guests, new magicians of melancholy magic, so do we grow in number year by year. Hey, we’re already late and you have got me in telling you stories? Hurry up, complete decorating the walls then we have to set up the table. Boy, hold on to this stool and let me I hang this painting on the wall.”

But jack couldn’t hold on to stool. When magician rose on his toes to hang the picture, stool got out of balance and magician fell backwards, right on the table. His head went straight into the cake, one hand threw the bowl of porridge on floor, the other hand turned the dish with pie upside down with a thud, jug of hard-drink fell down and soaked the whole table cloth.

“You little devils, you spoiled my feast.” Magician shouted when he realized what has happened. “I had spent all my magical powers for this feast and I’m exhausted already, from where should I make all these meals again, and, oh, oh, oh I have so little of time remained. Give me mine food back or I’ll kill you” Magician shouted and began crying.

At first kids were afraid and puzzled as well, magicians in their fairytales never wept but what else can you expect from a magician on the night of heartbreak festival. Then they did what kids do, Jack put his tiny hand on the shoulder of magician and Jill held a finger of his big rough hand. “Magician Uncle! Please don’t cry. Granny says hearts of children are full of magic, may be you can borrow some magic from our hearts.”

This was for sure good news because magician jumped up “Oh, I was taught this in my primer or magic, how forgetful I am. Though primer said this magic is a different kind of magic but I’m so desperate to keep my honor, any magic would do tonight.”

He took children to another room and stood with them before a big mirror. “This is the mirror of truth; it tells us how much magic a heart holds.”

Jack and Jill saw with surprise, their hearts were flaming with magic, they both had got big bonfires of magic there, while in magician’s heart it was a tiny spark, so small and dim that kids couldn’t see it until magician put his finger on mirror to tell them.”

“Now, boy you should stand on my left and girl you should stand on right. I’ll put my hands on your hearts, chant great-gift-melodious-magic spell and say “Give me your magic” while you’d say “We give you our magic, take these flames from our hearts and kindle yours own”

Children obeyed and they saw with awe fire in heart of magician rising up again. Magician was pretty happy to watch this as well. “Now, you can stay in the room but remember, don’t come to dining hall, not at any cost, I’ll arrange that all at my own. Don’t forget to put your fingers in ears when party started”

There was a big clumsy sofa in room where they both sat and tried to sleep. But it’s not easy to sleep in house of a magician, especially when you know a party is going on in the room next door. First, they listened to the sound of magician cleaning up the mess, then sounds of his chanting spells. Then they listened to door bell ringing again and again, one, two, three, four …. ten, eleven, twelve, they counted total thirty seven guests. Magicians greeted each other with strange greetings like “I hope this is going to be last year of your life”, “Hope to not see you next year”, “How are you?” “Oh I have been healthy for too long, happy I got a little sickness now” “Wow, how beautifully pale you are, your face was dreadfully red last years when we met”

Then party began, at first a few rituals were carried, a few spells were chanted and some big magician made a speech, wishing whole world to be brokenhearted and flowers of all world to wither, friends of all world to become enemies and lovers of all world to stay apart forever. When they started eating, kids shriveled at their places and waited for the cries and screams to begin anytime, they kept their fingers close to ears so they could poke them in the moment noise becomes unendurable.

But to their surprise and for sure to the surprise of everybody else, nothing such happened. Party went on and no cry reached their ears.

An anxious magician said. “What’s matter, I’m not feeling inclined to cry.”

Then another voice came. “There is something wrong with this food; it’s not cooked with right magic.”

Then they listened to their host stammering, he was trying to explain how he lost the food he had prepared for the feast and how he needed to borrow magic from some children in order to prepare it again. He sounded so funny that all magicians started laughing. Jack and Jill tried to stop their laughter but it was beyond control.

begun laughing at their own places while

“You fool” Someone cackled. “Don’t you know rules no 3456 of preparation for heartbreak festival? Never prepared the meal for this special night with magic borrowed from children”

Magician nervously said he was too tired to read after first 2370 rules therefore couldn’t read further. Everybody started laughing again, loud ha-has echoed everywhere in the house. Children are naturally attracted to happiness and happiness is naturally attracted to them, after listening to continuous laughter, they decided to join the party and went to the part hall.

There was a strange scene, room was totally different. Magicians were laughing, shaking hands and hugging each other, with each handshake, laughter or hug another flower on the table was reincarnated, brought back to life with original pink, red, purple or whatever color it was. Paintings on walls were also becoming alive and people in them were shaking hands, exchanging greetings and hugging each other. Jack and Jill were a little afraid but they were welcomed so warmly that all their fear vanished into thin air within moments.

“I want to thank these children for the precious lesson they taught us tonight!” Most senior magician said. “They have taught us that no matter how strong the magic of melancholy becomes, no matter how bitter the bitter-betrayal-pie is and how sour the torn-trust-porridge is, no matter how poisonous the lost-life-hard-drink is, the magic from heart of children can change it all overnight. It’s a lesson worth remembering forever. Claps for our little guests” and the whole room went mad with clapping.

“We’ll express our gratitude with a special gift, anything that our guests want, we’ll bring them. Speak, little ones, what special gift do you want?”

“We want to go back home” Both said innocently and room went mad with clapping again.

“This is another precious lesson, worth remembering forever, there is no gift on Earth more special than your home. Thanks little ones” This time applaud was so loud that they really put fingers in their ears.

Most senior magician chanted a spell and lo, Jack and Jill were both in blanket with their granny who was awake, waiting for them. She smiled when Jack and Jill told her their story and though children couldn’t see, the magicians in far away forest saw the heart of granny also flaming with the same magic, the magic that never fails and the fire those never goes out.