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Rose Ink (Part 2)
The air was stale with humidity. Vicious heat hung close over the marshland. The brown lake bubbled quietly. All felt calm yet eerie.
The aged boat feebly puttered along and transported Ronan and the others to the N'Mer village.
Broken faded huts lined the soggy shore. Planks of wood loosely fastened together floated outside the dim hut entrances. Sweaty sweet faces peered over the window sills with intrigue. A few naked boys splashing in tattered plastic buckets gazed up at Ronan as he floated along the shoreline. One boy with a stub for an arm attempted to paddle towards Ronan with his other arm. A stern voice snapped behind the youngster. The boy cowered and retreated back to the floating buckets of innocence. Every eye gazed with wonder and weakness. Each body gazed with wear and mild jealousy.
Ronan peered around the village timidly. He froze, as if he was an exhibition being displayed. When he looked into the eyes of that same war-bruised child, Ronan saw something more than just intrusive childhood curiosity: he saw a broken solider and lost hope. It was then Ronan's pouch of rose powdered ink glowed vibrantly. A sudden thought popped into his head.
"Sir!" A teenage girl shrieked from a creaking hut deck. "Speak English? Me too! Let us have conversation!"
Ronan perked up. He whipped around to the boat driver.
"She knows English! Can we stop?" He pleaded.
"Maya!" The boat driver yelled to the girl in a gruff tone. A mild argument across the water followed. Ronan stared at Maya, who was now running along the shoreline to catch up with the boat. Her eyes shone a twinkle of ambition. She suddenly grinned madly. Maya must have gotten some sort of approval.
As the boat reached the shore, a few small children waded into the water with coloured drink cans.
"One dollar! One dollar!" The children yelled randomly as they waved the cans at Ronan. Ronan uneasily made his way through the crowd of children and trudged up onto the muddy shoreline.
"Hello," the teenage girl said warmly. Ronan rolled up his soaked leggings.
"Hi. I...um--how do you know English?" he asked.
"I am study English in free time. In school yes we learn, but I want to know more than that. I am Maya, and you?"
"Ronan. You wouldn't happen to know where I am, would you?"
"You are in--"
The leather pouch glowed again.
"Oh, yes! I forgot," exclaimed Ronan as he searched through his messy knapsack. He slowly untied the pouch and sprinkled a smidgen of the purple powder onto his skin. The powder glistened and melted into a liquid ink. The ink oozed over Ronan's coarse palm and morphed into a small rose with purple petals. All, including Ronan, gazed at the miniature rose in awe and delight. Ronan closed his eyes.
"I think I know what to do," he murmured. He knelt down and took out a piece of worn discoloured parchment and began to write. Poetry helps people, he remembered. I know what these people need.
He wrote holding the bottom tip of the rose's stem. Purple ink dripped out of the magical plant. With it, he wrote a poem:
A glimmer of hope
Is buried in your eyes
Dust off your vision,
Rejoice in your family,
Believe that your faith is
There for you
And your future will shine
As he wrote, each letter curled and flourished around the page, dancing with other letters and eventually forming beautiful calligraphic letterforms.
The crowd of enthralled people gasped when Ronan took the rose off the parchment and handed the poem to the girl. He looked at her with shining eyes.
"Take it. Translate it into your own language. It will help," he uttered softly.
Ronan then took out another piece of parchment.
"For you," he said to Maya. And he began to write:
Breathe in the fresh air you create
Express your substance
Speak and write from your heart
Sing and play your melody
Maya smiled at Ronan tenderly.
"I wish I was given something like this when I was your age," he said, giving her the poem.
"I not know what all these words are, but I will turn into my language soon. Thank you," she nodded.
Ronan, face wet with sweat but heart soft as cotton, smiled back at Maya. He then took out a small vial from his knapsack and sprinkled some purple powder into it.
"For you, again. Use it carefully," Ronan added, giving Maya the vial.
The village people gave each other questioning looks. The children were alight with surprise and excitement, yet the elders pondered what this man was giving to the village.
Ronan stood up majestically.
"The power of poetry," he announced, "is found in those who experience and create it. It is infinite."
The tanned thin villagers nodded awkwardly, pretending to know what Ronan was saying.
Maya shouted something in her language and held up the Teen Spirit poem. She had scribbled a few English words on the back of it with a smidgen of the ink. Ronan smiled at the thought that someone wrote down the words he said.
"I wish you all the best," he announced. He waved to the villagers as he waded back into the murky water and boarded the boat. A few villagers, including Maya, waved back.
Suddenly the same black oval swirled at the bottom of the fragile boat. The portal howled as it sucked Ronan into a travelling warp across the universe. The villagers were left in utter awe.
Ronan slammed against the rough earth. He turned over and wiped the grass dew off his eyelids. Turquoise petals from the overhanging blossom tree enrobed his leggings. Grumbling, Ronan stood up and brushed the foliage off his clothes. I must be back in Aken, he thought.
A flurry of black hair swept before his eyes. Edina had popped out of the undergrowth and swirled around him. Ronan took a step back.
"So, did you learn your lesson?" She asked, stopping in front of him.
"What lesson? What did I do wrong? I learned something else--" Ronan quickly responded.
"About poetry? I read your mind, didn't I?"
"Was I right?"
The same tree embossed with the message Ronan wrote earlier rustled its leaves. Its purple ink swirled around and created a new message:
You found out for yourself, it read.
Ronan nodded. "You know what Edina, figuring that out was part of my adventure."
And he walked down into the forest valley.