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Thread: The Changer

  1. #1
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    Oct 2014

    The Changer

    Chapter 1

    The wind howled through the old window panes of Percy’s bedroom. Here he sat on his bed, bored with the day, looking longingly through the window as it rattled ever so slightly with the voices on the wind. He wondered if it might rain. The clouds had come up swiftly to grey out the sun and make the early spring day a dreary one.

    On days like these he always played outside with his best friend Janie, but she was home with a fever, so today he had no one to run in the yard with, and he quickly became bored. He had asked to go into the forest, and to the stream, to hunt for frogs, and crickets to feed to them, but his father had said no. Percy’s mother and father never wanted him going into the forest alone. They always said it was a bad idea this early in the spring because the water was still cold and with the snow melting the current was too swift. Percy didn’t understand it, and he didn’t like it.

    The idea of going to the stream was even more tempting now that he realized it might rain. There was really nothing quite like splashing around in the mud and jumping at frogs. And the worms always came out wriggling in the rain. The big drops of water hitting the leaves of the trees and the blades of the grass made a pitter-pattering that always made Percy feel safe and happy.

    He jumped quickly from his bed and ran downstairs. He needed to ask his mom and dad if he could go outside to play before it began to rain or they were likely to make him stay inside all day, afraid he would catch a cold like Janie. His mom was distracted on the telephone. "Be sure to wear your coat; it's not summer yet, Percy," she said, not even glancing up at him. He grabbed his coat and hurried out the door.

    Chapter 2

    Percy did not initially intend to disobey his father, but once outside, the forest seemed to be calling to him to come and play in it. The thought of playing by the stream was too strong for him. He looked back at the house for a moment, but quickly disappeared into the trees.

    He loved the feeling of being in the woods. Everything seemed quieter here. But as soon as he entered the rain started. The soft pattering of the drops on the leaves above was just as he imagined it. He felt safe and protected beneath the tall trees, but the rainclouds brought heavier darkness with them.

    Percy soon found himself confused. The forest seemed like a maze now and when he thought he was about to reach the stream the trees seemed to stretch on farther and farther. He heard whispers behind him. And cracking twigs to his sides. He suddenly just wanted to be back home in his warm room. He wandered for a long time in the forest and began to feel very frightened that he might never find his way home. He started to cry, but just then the trees opened up to a small clearing in the middle of the woods and the rain stopped.

    Chapter 3

    There was a small cabin that Percy had never seen before. He looked through the windows and saw hundreds of masks that looked like the faces of happy children. But no one was inside. Around the cabin was a huge garden with all manner of fruits and vegetables. As he walked through several rows of growing things, among them large, red raspberries, he came upon a man sitting on the ground, his back to Percy. “Um, hi, Mister,” Percy called. But the man did not move. Percy then came around in front of him and saw that he was not quite a man, but a strange creature.

    It wore a funny hat and tattered clothing. Its eyes were solid blue like the sky on a cloudless day. Its face was long, with a long nose, and long fingers and toes. “Did you like my raspberries? Did you not eat of them just now?” the creature asked. “No, sir, I did not eat a raspberry,” Percy replied hesitantly. He felt afraid of this odd creature in the middle of the wood, with the clouds continuing to darken the sky.

    “Try them then,” and it opened its hand to reveal three plump, red berries in its palm. Sensing Percy’s hesitation, the creature smiled and laughed, “Ho he he, it’s quite all right, Percy. They are tasty, these berries of mine.”

    Percy inched forward and took the berries from the creature’s hand and quickly backed away. He ate the first berry. The creature stood up. “It’s a strange and wonderful thing that such a simple and small seed might grow to be a beautiful, red, juicy, tasty morsel of a berry with just time and dirt and water. Do you not think so, Percy?”

    Having tasted the first berry and how sweet and juicy it was Percy’s fear began to melt from him and he smiled at how silly the creature looked with its funny hat. The berry was good. He popped the second into his mouth. The creature moved closer to Percy.

    “I have lived in these woods for thousands of years, child, and I have watched many things change. A small acorn becomes a magnificent and towering oak, tallest of the trees in the forest. And I have seen the slinking caterpillar transform into a beautiful butterfly, flitting to and fro. And I have seen a brown egg, dull and plain, become a bird with radiant plumage, soaring high in the sky. What splendor it is, change such as this. Isn’t it so, Percy?” And the creature chuckled, “Ho hee hee.”

    Percy laughed with it. The creature was right; Percy had seen the changes with the caterpillar in his own bedroom, in plastic containers. But, his caterpillar became a moth, which he thought was sort of ugly and boring. He tossed the third berry into his mouth. The creature placed its hands on Percy’s shoulders. Its long fingers were cold, but Percy barely noticed.

    “I know you have seen the tadpoles, Percy, for I have watched you play in their stream, you with your Janie. They become silly little frogs, do they not? Swimming one moment, leaping and croaking the next.” The creature pulled Percy nearer to it. “And, oh Percy, the cicada. It starts as a small nymph, and digs and burrows deep in the thick and heavy dirt. For years it does this. And one day, in the heat of the summer it will emerge with wings, and strong body. It sings and sings in its magnificence. The cicada, Percy. This is my favorite.” Percy laughed, remembering the cicadas in the summer, with their buzzing and buzzing.

    “But, long have I waited to see a boy transformed by time and dirt and water. And now I wait no more…” It smiled a long smile and suddenly snatched up Percy into its arms and carried him deep into the middle of the garden and there it buried Percy under the dark soil. On the spot where Percy was buried the creature placed three heavy stones from the forest, and a small stream it diverted to bring water to the dirt.

    The creature went into its cabin and there it waited. For a long time it waited.

    Chapter 4

    Spring changed to summer, summer to autumn, and autumn to winter. Like this the seasons came and went for many years. Percy’s parents searched for him, calling in the woods, “Percy! Percy!” but he did not hear them, and could not answer. After such a long time of looking for him they eventually gave up and moved away.

    Janie got better from her fever and grew up to be a beautiful woman. She married and had twin boys. Janie loved her husband and their boys, but there was a sadness that never left her when Percy disappeared. She always thought she would marry him and they would have a family together. They were the best of friends.

    One day Janie’s children were playing in the forest and wandered far and deep into the trees. They came into the clearing, to the cabin and the garden. The creature with the funny hat and long features came out from the cabin. Seeing that a new generation had come to pass it went to the middle of the garden and dug up the earth where it had buried Percy so many years before.

    Percy climbed out of the deep hole and opened large and beautiful wings. He flapped them and floated above the ground as he stretched out his arms and legs. His body had become strong and powerful. It shimmered with different colors as he moved in the soft sunlight, and roots and vines wound around his legs and arms.

    “Ahhh” he said, “I have slept long in the earth, but now I wake and feel strong of mind and body. Much have I seen in my dreams, and wise have I become with age. And now I will be prince of this forest forever.”

    The boys cheered for him and were amazed by his beauty, strength, and wisdom. They turned to the creature. “Mister, can you make us princes too? Please!” they cried. The creature looked at them with its eyes like blue skies, and smiled.

    Percy looked upon the young boys and recognized their features. “Who is your sister, young children? Is she Janie?”
    “We have no sister, sir, but Janie is our mother,” the boys replied, staring with wonder at the prince floating above them.

    Percy dropped to the ground and his face sank with sadness, for suddenly he understood how much time had passed and he too had thought he and Janie would marry someday. He knew that his parents were gone. He knew that his friends had grown old without him, and that he had missed his childhood. He would no longer play with the freedom of a child in the streams in the forest. He would never swing on the tire in the tree in his yard. He would never marry his best friend, or have young boys of his own.

    “No, children. You do not want this princehood. Yes, I am strong, and powerful, and wise, and I can fly, but these roots and vines on my arms and legs will never let me leave this forest. And I have been robbed of my childhood. Never again will I play as you do, or laugh with such joy. Go now and make yourselves princes in your own time, but obey and love your parents. Take pleasure in the leaping and laughing of childhood. And stay close to your best friends; they will never lead you astray, and through them you will come to rule your own lives as princes, strong and wise. Do not eat of this creature’s berries. The juices are sweet, but they are thieves and changers.”

    The boys understood Percy well and wished to go home to play with their friends, and hug their mother. They turned and ran through the forest without stopping and they never looked back. When they got home they told their mother about all they had seen in the forest and Janie laughed at the strange imaginations of her young boys. But deep inside she wondered if the prince in the forest was her long lost childhood friend, Percy. She liked to think it was, and that someday she would go to visit him there.

    Percy flew into the darkness of the forest. The creature crawled into the hole in the middle of the garden and emerged holding a mask that looked like a young and smiling Percy. It went then into its cabin and waited. There it waited for a long time.

    The End.

  2. #2
    TheFairyDogMother kiz_paws's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    The Prairies, Canada
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    Excellent story, MF!
    Brothers Grimm couldn't have done better!
    Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty
    ~Albert Einstein

  3. #3
    Phil Captain Pike's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    Down East Maine
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    Yes, yeah, a good story. The first one I read all the way through to the end. I like how you kind of, cliffhanger'd the end of each chapter like a real pro. It was a little bit of a stretch when the creature buried his newly captured pupae in the dirt. I kept expecting Percy to object to his new dark and cold earthy sepulcher, but that's just me. Welcome to this forum.

    Ничего нет лучше для исправления, как прежнее с раскаянием вспомнить.

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