Rouge Thoughts of Midnight Reflection

November 26, 2007
By Jacob Fox, Ballground, GA

I often wonder where the stories go in the dead of night, when the words won’t come. Is there some magical land where all the characters I have come to love vanish to when they aren’t hanging around with me? Is it the same land that all the other characters of all the other stories visit when they aren’t coming to life on paper, pouring out of their writer’s hands and hearts? If such a place truly exists, then it stretches the edges of my very imagination, and surpasses even my wildest dreams.

Sometimes, on particularly dark, lonesome nights, I imagine myself going there. I imagine standing at my window as the luminous numbers of my bedside clock read midnight, and gazing out into the night. As I peer dreamily up into the night sky, I find, much to my astonishment, that among the sparkling white stars, there glide the shimmering specters of forgotten legends and beloved fairy tails, sailing into the moonlight as if bound by some archaic curfew that must never be broken. Behind them, they trail sparkling tails of falling dust, and are pursued by the wistful wishes of countless slumbering children.

At the sight of these unearthly visions, the despairing frustration and hopeless emptiness depart from my hollow bosom, and my cold heart is filled with half-forgotten wonder. Along with the dispersion of all the mundane torments that plague me, there returns a truth I once knew, and a desire rises up inside of me with the fury of a lion. My soul aches to join the sojourning spirits in their quest, to rise above this world’s tiresome realities and heavy thoughts, and to ride their backs to whatever fantastic real awaits them. Such an endeavor might be thought impossible for someone who suffers from such a solid physic as myself, and who is shackled with the chains of realism and unfortunate enough to reside in this doomed existence of thoughtless conformity. However, I remember the enchantments of youth, and I remember the stories told to me in the shadowed halls of my childhood. I have not forgotten the secret directions hidden within those frolicking tales, messages meant only for the chosen true, to those faithful to the limitless power of the imagination.

So I climb out of my bedroom window, and stand on my roof, recalling the lesson of a gaily shadowless boy who once taught a band of children to fly. If you listen to this boy’s tale closely, then the directions to the far away land of misty mountain tops and daring adventures are quite clear; second star to the right, strait on till morning. So, with these coordinates in mind, I set out for that literary land of milk and honey, rising to the starry sky on wings of pure imagination, skirting the wake of those wandering dreams that had cast aside their tethers of paper and ink, and left this world behind to dance with the maidens of the cosmos. I fly off into the grand nothingness that lays beyond the sky, and make my way between spinning galaxies and giant suns, until far ahead of me, past all of the worlds and empty space, I see the last star shining in the distance, sputtering bright flames of rainbow fire, an eternal sun flare of molten colors. I grow closer and closer to this celestial oasis, and pretty soon, I’m falling, down through the misty, damp clouds like rain. Then I break through the initial cover of fluffy, nebulous clouds, and I am stricken with my first sight of the magical place I have ventured to. My eyes water and my heart races at the discovery I have made.

The sky is a midnight blue at first, dappled with the winking of far away stars, and then slowly fades to a softer, brighter shade of indigo as it curves down to hang above the land below, like a hammock of robin’s egg strung up between the stars. Off in the distance, dragons swoop and dive through the air, circling and rolling as if trapped in dire battle, or the wildest of joys. Beneath them, riding along the edge of the horizon like a surfer riding the crest of a tsunami, there is a floating castle, a medieval structure of fortified stonework sitting on a gigantic pink cloud. The air born fortress hangs lazily in the sky, suspended by ropes of fancy, and resting on a dream cloud of softest pink serendipity.

Beneath the high flying visions, there is sprawled a land of truest wonder, a breathtaking collage of spectacular sights. Dark grey mountains tower in the distance, the occasional flurry of white powder being blown from their snowcapped tops in long, silvery scarves by whatever cold wind blows across their chilly summits. At one corner of this compass-less place, a high and narrow cliff seems to materialize from the edge of nonexistence, along with a swift moving river that courses along it’s short top for a brief time, before tumbling off the side to fall churning into a sparkling lagoon far below. Partway along the water’s fall, the sunlight catches the suspended liquid at just the right place, and splits up all of the parts of the sunbeam to make a glorious rainbow that stretches across the waterfall, and stands alone above the blue lagoon beneath it, held in place by hands made of pure sunshine. As the water falls splashing into the pool below, it brings with it the hews of the rainbow, the many colors scattered all about, merging together in the deep basin of the lagoon to form a melting pot of bright shades and sparkling light. Mermaids inhabit the waters of the lagoon, their muscular scaly tails propelling them through the deep blue waters, and their bare tops glistening as they bask on the sun baked rocks bordering the lagoon. Their feminine laughter and squeals of enjoyment mingle with the thunderous splashing of the waterfall.

I soar down to perch precariously on the edge of the cliff, standing with my feet submerged in the cool flowing water of the river, looking down the shear at the long fall to the waters below. The current is strong, but does not interfere with my footing; only I can take myself over the edge and make the plunge. I draw in a deep breath of the moist air, and then leap from the edge, becoming one with the falling water. All around me the weightless water forms an enclosing wall, and I am filled with a rushing sensation as my hair and clothes flutter wetly against my cool skin. As I fall tumbling, I pass through the rainbow face first, and I feel a soft warmness against my face and my vision is filled momentarily with bright flashes of primary colors. Then I am through it, and quickly approaching the water below. I enter the lagoon, and the pounding sound of all the falling water colliding with pooled color below instantly vanishes, leaving an utter silence in its wake. The force of the avalanche of water pouring down on top of me forces me down into the cold waters at the bottom of the lagoon. I swim forward into the dark blue, and see the foggy figure of a mermaid passing through the blurry waters before me. I follow her, and angle upward at the clear, warm waters above, where the sun is shining through like a guiding star on a dark night. I break the surface of the water, and am instantly bathed in fresh light, and air filled with warmth. Startled gasps come from a gang of mermaids sunning on a rock outcropping at the edge of the water. I make my way towards it, swimming with long, easy strokes. The wet haired maidens shriek giddily, emitting girlish giggles and clutching each other as I pull myself out of the water and lie on the hot surface of the smooth rock. I stand up and turn to face the mermaids, who scoot backwards in a frenzy of shyness, still giggling and clutching each other. One whispers something to another behind her hand, and points at my face. I turn and kneel at the edge of the wet rock I had rolled onto, and peer into the reflective surface of the rippling water. Bright bands of color stripe diagonally across my face, painting my features with the shades of the rainbow. I gaze wonderingly at the tattooed face staring back at me, and remember the warmth and color of falling through the rainbow.

I turn away from my own color crossed reflection, walk towards the edge of the lagoon, passing the huddled and still giggling mermaids as I go. I jump from rock to rock until I come to the grassy bank, with it’s long stemmed flowers peeking out of the knee high grass, their blue heads swaying back and forth in the breeze. I wade through the grass and flowers, my hands extended to brush against the surrounding plants, and emerge into the thick forest that encloses the waterfall. I walk through the shadows cast by the immense trees, and smell the rich, natural fragrance they produce.

As I walk along this hidden footpath, through the hazy air beneath the branches, I catch fleeting glimpses of figures and creatures moving about between the trees. They are cloaked in shadows and born of secrecy, so instants of movement just out of sight are all I am ever afforded. High up in the leafy canopy, small houses sit perched on the branches, tiny treetop cabins with rope bridges linking them into a suspended village. As I go deeper and deeper into the cathedral-like wilderness, I hear voices up ahead. The soft words of women seep through the forest to reach my ears, like flower petals on the wind, followed by the jolly laughter of men.

Ahead of me, moving through the trees like a silver god riding on a snowstorm, I spy an armor clad knight riding a white steed. Sitting behind him is a maiden so fair that her visage might have been withdrawn from a chest of priceless treasure, arms wrapped around her knight as if afraid he will kick his horse into a sudden gallop, and leave her fallen behind. Her dress is the loveliest of violets, the same exact color of the ribbon tied to the end of the knight’s lance, like a miniature banner proclaiming to all his devotion to his love, and his willingness to defend her. They trot onward, heading in the direction of the phantom voices, as if drawn by them to go and join their own. I follow them, also subject to the intangible allure of the ethereal voices drifting through the trees.

Deeper still I go into the forest, until I reach what I am sure to be its heart, a large grove of coniferous evergreens. In the middle of the grove, there is a small clearing, in which there sits a round, stone table covered with plates of steaming food, and littered with pitchers and goblets of wine. Seated at this large banquet, are dozens of knights and their ladies, all attired in the finest party dress. The men are filled with worldly love and joyous camaraderie, as will good food and good drink so fill all men, and their rolls of hearty laughter ring throughout the forest.

I stand at the edge of the clearing, watching silently. They see me watching, but also see my face and do not worry. They know that they have nothing to fear from me, for I am one of them now; the rainbow kissed wanderer.

I leave their drunken feast and noble merry makings, and continue through the forest. I watch centaurs charge through trees on some gallivanting hunt, and pass through the hidden valley of the elves, which I stumble upon in a hole filled with moonlight.

In time, I emerge from the forest, and enter a land of sand and palm trees. It is an oceanless beach, a tropical dessert. I make my way among the dunes, shuffling along through the red sand as Arabic adventurers fly overhead on magic carpets, with veiled princesses clinging to their arms. I pass snake charmers sitting on blankets and playing some hypnotizing tune as their flutes bob and sway back and forth, and their serpentine listeners imitate them. I pass shimmering pool of water, often surrounded by a garden of lush plant life, along with herds of purple hippopotamuses. The beasts vary in size from those that look like round little dogs, to those with the appearance of purple boulders. Some are lying in the baby jungles surrounding the pools, while others are swimming, with their round eyes protruding from the water, along with their long snouts, which sometimes spout great sprays of water out of their large nostrils.

When I top the rise of the next dune, I find waiting for me at the bottom the tallest palm tree I have ever seen. It stretches upward in a never-ending defiance of all the laws of physics, a sunny footbridge linking the heavens above to the sandy in-between lands below. I descend towards it, amazed, my feet sinking into the sand with every step I take. Driven into the sand near the base of the tree, there is a worn wooden sign that leans sleepily over to one side. It bears the astonishing legend, ‘touch the sky’, and has an arrow carved into it pointing up. I lean back, peering up at the smooth tree which appears to rise ever upward into a blue infinity. I wonder what the sky feels like.

Someone has nailed flimsy looking wooden rungs up the tree, and I take hold of the first of these as I begin the climb that will carry me to the blue plane above. I climb up and up, higher than the other palm trees, higher than the tallest trees of the great forest behind me, then higher than the waterfall. I wonder if I can actually touch the sky, as if it were a tangible object, like a blue tarp spread over all of existence. My face is marked by the rainbow, and the rainbow touches the sky, does it not? I climb on, higher than the floating castle, higher than the dueling dragons, and then higher than the clouds. Finally, I come to the top of the towering tree, where there is a ramshackle platform constructed among the large green leaves. The tree sways dangerously up here, and I feel as if the slightest breeze might blow it down. I pull myself up into a sitting position on it, and gaze around at my bird’s eye view of this treasure trove of enchantments.

I see the waterfall back the way I came, with the multicolored arch of the rainbow still suspended along its falling path. I see the green forest surrounding it, which appears to be no more than an unruly patch of grass from this height. To my left, I see the high towers and great arches of some grand city, sprawled out on the horizon, only a blurry cluster of buildings from my viewpoint, but undoubtedly a collection of structural genius and architectural beauty up close. I turn to my right, and behold a rolling red sea, filled with giant cacti, and scattered with the crumbled remains of buildings and shrines, their edges sanded smooth by centuries of hot dessert winds. A great stone wall runs along the edge of this scarlet dessert, but disappears as I watch a strong wind pick up a wall of sand and dump it on top of the forgotten wall, covering it like a vast red blanket. The dessert slopes down to join the dune lands, spilling red sand around the bases of the palm trees. Past the deserted ruins of the crimson waste lands, are the great, snow capped mountains, rising like hug grey fists out of the distance. I imagine fur wrapped Eskimos huddled around a fire in caves at the bases of those monuments of cold stone. To the right of the desert, there is a sprawling meadowland of grassy hills and babbling brooks. Tiny, dwarf filled cottages dot the fields, their walls covered in creeping green vines, and thin clouds of smoke rising from their chimneys. Vibrant gardens of thriving flowers appear to explode from the ground surrounding these small slices of fairy tail delight. Zooming through the air over these spell cast hills are giant, fluttering butterflies, riding the winds like weightless flower petals scattered in the breeze. Onward still, the sandy dune lands turn into a wild jungle, filled with the roars of wild beasts, and the savage battle cries of warring tribes engaged in everlasting fights that send rivers of blood running through the forest, nourishing the Death Flowers and staining them a bright red. Stone pyramids rise out of the jungle, abandoned by whatever gang of fire worshipers had built it, and was now reclaimed by the silent mass of slinking plants, and whatever sharp toothed predators claimed them as their own. Beyond the untamed wilderness of the jungle, a maze of waterways, originating from some shadowed spring deep within the jungle, slides downward in an interweaving series of streams and small waterfalls, forming pools and then pouring out of them. The streamlets all run into the irrigated vineyards that sit nestled at the far edge of this magical island of attained impossibilities and stretched realities.

I am struck again by the beauty of this honey pot of imagination, and take a deep breath in the hopes of absorbing some of the wondrous creativity that hangs in the air like the pollen of some golden flower. The air is filled with a clean, sweet aroma that I can only attribute to the sky. I rise to my feet, and extend a hand above my head, searching for the elusive feel of the sky, and, much to my unsurprised amazement, finding it. The pure blueness stretching out endlessly above is softer and smoother that the most precious of silks, and seems infinitely thinner than the palest wisp of gossamer. I retract my searching hand in fear of breaking through the sky, and letting all of the blackness on the other side seep in and put out all of the color here.

I hear a raptor-like cry from far off, and look down to see a green dragon flying towards the jungle, perhaps tiring of some airborne acrobatics and heading home to it’s dark cave hideout. As it draws nearer to my treetop perch, I leap impulsively from the platform. Falling, I pass through the cold mist of a cloud, the wind blowing the hair back from my color coated face. I flare out my arms, aiming myself to ensure that our intersection will be perfect. We near each other, and then my face is only inches above his scaly rocket of a body, and I can see every scratch and scar in supernatural detail in the split second in which he is sliding along under me. Then, at the last moment, I wrap my arms around his flailing tail, and hold on for dear life as I am whipped back and forth.

During my ride on this smoggy beast, my face pressed against the rough scales, I smell the scent of this animal, as if it were a perfume applied before battle. It smells of smoke, blood and brimstone, but there is another aroma underlying the harsher ones on top. It is a cold, metallic one, as if this Goliath of lizards sleeps on a bed of stolen gold and priceless jewels, guarding it from secret passage sojourners, or expert treasure hunters desiring to burgle it, guarded by a stinging ring of invisibility.

We cross over from the dune lands into the hot air above the jungle, flying low and sending dozens of tropical birds flapping out of our way, leaving bright colored feathers seesawing back and forth onto the thick canopy below. Then, the flying dinosaur took a sudden, jerking dive into the tree tops, lashing out his tail in the process with such force that it threw me from my stowaway seat, and sent me sprawling through the air in a tumbling dive. I come down among the branches, breaking through the green ocean, bringing a parade of torn leaves and broken branches behind me. I land on a gigantic yellow flower, causing it to bounce and rock with the force of impact, before coming to a rest amid the rainfall of desecrated foliage.

It is a dark twilight in the jungle, the land beneath the tree tops filled to the brim with shadows and slinking secrets. Hanging plants drape from the branches above, forming curtains of darkness that shield from view the lost pillars and monuments that still stand in the forbidden sites of ritual sacrifice hidden deep within the jungle. A stray sunbeam enters into this black den of perpetual night through the newly formed hole my entry has made, and falls directly on my golden flower throne.

I rise to my feet on the soft bulb, and look down. The flower’s stem is as long and as thick as a tree trunk. There is a tangled mass of vines hanging on the tree beside the immense flower that so cushioned my fall, and I reach out and take hold of one. I tug it to test its strength, then latch on to it and shimmy down it to the ground.

I leave the oblique slide of sunlight behind, and go tramping off into the dense jungle. The ground is covered with fern-like plants with stalks snaking out to cover the earth like a green carpet, along with other stunted vegetation, which seek to trip and snag my feet at every step. I blunder on through the darkness, vines and branches softly caressing my stained face as I walk blindly through this shadowed dreamscape. After a while of floundering around in the dim confusion of the jungle, I spy a twinkling spark of light off in the distance. It shines like a light house, and I am a ship lost on a dark, wave tossed sea. So I redirect my groping stumbles towards that sparkling beacon. As I draw closer to my shining star, I see more sparkles peeking through the meshwork of branch and vine, as if the very night sky lay pooled in a basin of darkness up ahead. If it is, then I shall sail across it on a ship of dreams, pulled by sails of light hearted desire, and powered by winds of roaming romance.

I stagger out of the jungle, and into an alleyway of light, a brief hiatus in the wild darkness of tangled wilderness surrounding it. In the air, a river of giant fire flies stream through the trees, bobbing and weaving towards some overflowing ocean of luminescence, their glowing bodies dripping light into the inky world around them. I look up at the parade of floating fireballs above me, and marvel at the intricate beauty of this flowing procession of dismantled constellations.

Two of the glowing orbs separate from the rest of the shining track, and hang motionless in the air above me, as if considering the face that their lantern-like bodies revealed; a kaleidoscope of color filled with outspoken wonder. Then, one descends towards me, followed closely by the second one, and flutter down to land on my shoulders. Their soft, claw-like feet gently grip me, and with a shining, buzzing little engine on each side of my head, my feet slowly leave the ground. I rise up to join the fireflies in their hovering journey, becoming a piece of driftwood in a constant tide of candlelight.

I glide through the dark jungle, through the crumbled remains of tribal cities, over hidden lakes as black as midnight, and past the lairs of wild beasts whose red eyes pear out of the darkness like drops of burning blood. We march through the jungle like an army of rouge angles, keeping vigil over this labyrinth of dark enchantments.

After a while of rafting down our floating river of lights as it wound its way through the deepest, darkest tangles of night buried within this hazy place of shadows and clandestine deeds, we come to an actual river. It courses along like the very lifeblood of the jungle itself. Large, round Lilly pads the size of couches float lazily down the river, and the banks are covered with more gigantic flowers, which are pale blue, and are putting off a ghostly glow, as if the river’s nourishment gives them the ability to radiate the dark beauty of the entire jungle. The illuminated flowers seem to elicit the fireflies with a shining allure that matches their own, for the glowing bugs are swarming on them, sometimes multiple fireflies per flower. But the gleaming insects do not diminish the light emitting from the flowers, but rather seem to enhance their brightness and mystic appeal, creating blinding wells of light that grow to be tiny blue stars lining the river banks.

I am carried out above the river, where I depart from my winged escorts, as they drop me strait down towards the cool, rushing waters below. I land on one of the giant Lilly pads, causing it to rock and real dangerously in the water, before settling back down and continuing it’s easy pace down the river. I ride down this river on my round, Lilly pad raft with as much daring and marvel as any runaway ever sailed in a homemade skiff down the mighty Mississippi. The buzzing of the fireflies, as they draw whatever shining nectar they do from the moonbeam flowers, is a constant song patrolling the riverbank against silent sorrows. I float on, swishing and swashing along the twisting back of this slithering serpent of water as it snakes its way through the jungle. Up and down, it crawls over hills, and pours over sudden drop offs. It slips through underground passages that are like tunnels of midnight, where the churning laugher of the river echoes off the wet stone walls, and bizarre worms peek their misshapen heads out of holes, their large eyes glowing plutonium green, tinting sections of theses lightless halls with an unsettling green shade. The river emerges from theses hollow highways into the fringes of the jungle, were the walls of shadow have collapsed, and sunlight streams through the trees in broad strokes of golden paint. As the water flows into the sunlight, it’s incessant mumblings taking on a quite, reflecting tone, and it’s soothing sound accompanies me as I leave the last thinning areas of jungle land behind, and continue on the dancing sparkles the lowering sun sprinkles over the babbling water, as it divides along many smaller paths. I ride for a little ways more along the river, which is now bordered only by bare, flat grasslands where the wailing wind sends the knee high grass into waving dances, like the wind tossed hair of some forlorn maiden, standing on top of a barren and desolate hill, waiting on the return of her peril stricken lost love. Ahead, the waterway separates into several smaller streams and trickles, and plunges out of side in a sliding tumble towards the horizon.

Right before the river disassembles and begins its sloping ride down the mountain side, it transforms into a great, swirling eye that grasps at all of the waterlogged travelers floating along this gondolaless Riviera, and pulls them down into its dark depths, and to whatever flooded existence lays beyond. As I draw closer, I feel the tug of the whirlpool on my Lilly pad raft, and know that soon I will be following the rest of the green, floating plants down into the watery vortex ahead.

I stand up on the wobbling plant-raft, feeling the current growing stronger by the second as the Lilly pad speeds up and begins to spin. I somehow manage to keep my balance as the world around me turns into a rotating blur, which continues to accelerate in its gyrations as we draw ever closer to the giant, sucking maw waiting in the water up ahead. And then, sailing through the sky from behind me, hailing from some secret patch of sunshine and color buried deep within the jungle I just passed through, or perhaps grown atop one of the half-fallen ruins where the darkness doesn’t reach, there comes floating to my rescue a beautiful yellow flower. It is twice my size, and spinning slowly as it descends towards me and the whirlpool, which beckons me with its irresistible gravity. Just as I am about to be pulled down into the center of the whirlpool, and to the bottomless realms beyond, the long stem of the hovering flower finally reaches my grasping hands. I clutch blindly at it, for I can only see vague shapes and colors, as the Lilly pad is now spinning madly and everything is a frenzy of movement. As I latch on to the flower, brought to me on some fortuitous wind, the centrifugal force of the of the spinning Lilly pad causes the flower to spin faster, creating a helicopter effect with flower and its large, propeller-like petals, and shooting it up and away with me along with it. Powered by our sudden burst of speed, we fire strait up, then begin drifting, first over the thwarted whirlpool below, then off the edge of the stream covered mountainside beyond.

I glide downward, hovering above the countless cascading streams as they squeeze through cracks and crevices, and fall over boulders. I kick off of protruding rocks, and splash through pools of water that serve as way-stations for the water that enters them in small waterfalls and smooth stone slides before spilling out of them to resume their quest to the wonders below.

Finally, I slowly come to rest in the swampy wetlands on the outskirts of the vineyard. Just as my feet reach the damp earth, sinking into the soft ground a few inches, a sudden gust of wind snatches the oversized flower from my hands, and whisks it away, high into the sky and then beyond, until it is no more than a spinning spec in the distance, then gone all together. I stare ahead at the endless rows of fences covered in green vines spanning out for miles and miles, until they vanish out of sight over a small hill perched on the horizon. The water bleeding off of the mountainside now flows into irrigation ditches which stream throughout the vineyard, bringing nutrients from the thriving jungle above.

I set off towards the forest of neatly cropped fruit, making a wet sucking sound with every step as I pull my feet free of the mucky ground between the foot of the rocky hill and the measured pathways that the water runs into once in the vineyard. I enter the field of jade fences, and begin walking up one of the many aisles, towards a destination over the hills and far away. The grapes growing on the vines I walk beside are the size of baseballs, and a deep, rich purple, the very color of vintage delight. My mouth waters and my heart aches as I imagine the magnificent sweetness of their juices. If ever there were grapes glorious enough to craft wine for the gods, then surely I walk among them right here and now. The mumbling brooks flowing along each fence are bejeweled with dazzling crowns of sparkles by the setting sun, slung low on the horizon. I see the light slowly fading from the land as the sun withdraws to whatever shining realm gave it birth, and I know that I can not stay after nightfall. I do not know if this place will even still exist after nightfall, perhaps it will simply evaporate into a floating cloud of stardust when the beings that reside here return to their creators.

I begin to run through the vineyard, protruding vines reaching out and slapping at my arms and enchantment caressed face, while my hair is blown back by wind spiced with uplifting, fruity aroma of the ripe orbs covering the small green walls I charge through. The rate at which I stampede through the horizontal columns of fist sized grapes is astounding, and I marvel at how quickly I reach the slight hill at the far end of the vineyard. My dirty feet seemed to have gained the magical properties of seven-league boots. I slow to a walk when I reach the foot of the hill, not a bit out of breath, and begin to ascend it. Within a few steps, I have gained the crest, and gaze awe-stricken at the humble wonder below.

On the far side of the hill, standing on the edge of all bright existence, there is a silver tree. The last rays of the dieing sun bounce off of it in shimmering lances of blazing white light. I walk slowly down to it, lost in the spell cast by its gleaming brilliance, and a smile on my face bright enough to match the tropical colors painted upon it. My mind goes blank in its wake, and I approach it in a Zen-like state of amazement. The leaves, bark, and branches are all solid silver; all molded from the metallic elixir that bleeds from the dreaming heart, and floods the creative mind. This statue of sparkling hopes is the nesting place of the Moonlight Nightingale, that fluttering bird which spreads the seeds of inspiration, and rides the wind that blows through the stars. Its heartwood is made of daring leaps of questionless faith, and the story for the wind’s love for the sky is carved in ancient, faded letters in its silvery bark. This timeless tree of untouchable beauty is the all knowing center of fantastic creation.

I reach out a hand, and place it on the godly thing before me, my mind still to full of the tree’s grandeur to advise or even register my own actions. As soon as my hand comes into contact with the tree, I feel a connection constructed between us, and am filled with a small fraction of the tree’s power. The magnitude of the ocean of wonder and insight that pours into me from the tree is staggering, and I fall to my knees before it. A blue glow begins to seep off of the tree, and then the light spilling off of it grows stronger, becoming fuller, and loosing that secondhand quality since the light is no longer merely a reflection of the fading sunlight, but rather emerging from the tree itself. The light grows stronger, until it rivals the slipping light of the falling sun behind it, forming a dome of blinding light over the tree and I, and washing the entire land with a cascade of purest white.

When I can stand the world-toppling vastness of the magnificent light and wisdom of the tree no more, I pull my hand away from the monument of silver, and the immense dessert of white fringed with pale blue is instantaneously sucked back into the tree, returning in a brief hurricane of retracted luminosity. I rise, and walk past the tree to stand at the end of the world, looking down at the last bit of the sun; a small arch of softest ginger peeking over the horizon.

It makes me sad to leave this place, this grand hall of miraculous adventure. I wonder if I will ever come here again, to sit on a cloud and listen to the winds of time blow across the plains of forever. Will I ever ride a Luckdragon through fields of white high above the ground, or wield a sword of fire against evil dragons to rescue beautiful princesses? How am I supposed to return to the everyday world of gray numbness and endless sorrow after being kissed by a rainbow? Am I supposed to forsake the myriad of wondrous dreams I have seen here, and forget the deluge of reckless abandon that prompts the very sun to shine? It matters not; it would be impossible not to take a small piece of sunshine from this haven of the lost and the damned. The stripes of color might fade from my face, but not my heart, and I will never forget the time I washed up on the dazzling unknown shore O’Shaughnessy wrote of.

I reach down and grasp the thin wisp of sunlight shining along the skyline like a piece of radiant lace, and bid farewell to this land of gathered enchantments as I follow the sun home. The great burning sphere at last tumbles off the edge, and returns to the morning of a new day in a single, world hopping summersault. I let go of the sun, and freefall into the sky below, flipping and flaring through the clouds and gliding over rooftops until coming to rest on the roof outside my bedroom window, landing as light and careless as a feather. I stare up into the brightening sky, focusing on two desperado stars that have lingered longer than the rest, and shine like a compass in the sky. My thoughts turn to the nest time I will shirk the shackles of this sputtering pit of despair, and soar of to explore the core of creation hidden deep within the night sky. I smile as I consider the next chance I will get to abandon this world and its chains of realism, and join the masters of make-believe in their laughing sun worship and never-ending exploration of the enchanted worlds spinning and crashing in the deepest, brightest corners of our imaginations.

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