The Lost Butterfly-a story of aliens, love and humans (1j)

Chapter 1j.

Under the loving care of Janice and Yoshiasu, Fuyuki recovered much easily. Though he was still scarred physically and emotionally, he kept on focusing on the love he finally got. For the first time in his life, there was somebody in this world for whom he, Fuyuki was the MOST IMPORTANT PERSON and that somebody was Yoshiasu. During the whole ordeal he’d been put through again, Fuyuki  had closed his eyes and mind and he held on his love. Now Janice, with her kindness and love brought back the happy memories of the short childhood and helped Fuyuki bond after twenty years with his lost relatives. Janice was at peace with herself; she’s finally got back her baby-brother and justice has been done. Even Paul and Michael softened after à while and the family  reunited. As Fuyuki was getting better in hospital, new concerns aroused in Yoshiasu’s mind; he decided to ask him about before taking any action.

-Fuyuki, are you ready to come home? I mean, how you feel about coming back to the same place…you know…I can arrange so that we move to another location…

The young man stretched and looked at him, head slightly tilted.

-You’re wonderful but that’s the place where I had spent the happiest days of my life. I won’t run and let the past ruin what I cherish most.

Yoshiasu relaxed.

-I bet you miss my cooking-he said with a grin.

They both laughed. Two days later they left the hospital; Fuyuki put up a brave face and shook away any concern. But Yoshiasu wasn’t easily fooled; he could sense the tension building up inside his love the moment they closed the door. After unpacking, Yoshiasu turned to the kitchen to fix something to eat and left Fuyuki to adjust. The young artist  sat on the bed  looking around, while scraps of memory flashed through his mind. Half an hour later Yoshiasu found him sitting on the same spot, gazing into nothingness.

-You don’t have to pretend you’re OK when obviously you’re not-he said in a calm voice. We are together in this. The first night after you’ve disappeared, I had a panic attack. I even moved on your side of the bed and slept there until you were found…

Fuyuki shuddered, then he looked up and smiled to Yoshiasu:

-I’m so lucky to have you. I’ll be fine, I know; it’s just that I need some time to get over so many things…Now-he said, taking a deep breath- may I help you with the cooking?

-Sure-said Yoshiasu. It’s almost done. Let’s eat; I’m starving.

Later that day, Angela and George called and then came to visit. They were relieved to see Fuyuki back on track and Yoshiasu happy again. They looked great to; Angela was expecting her first child and the couple was filled with the excitement. They left for home late in the evening, after chatting happily all together. Yoshiasu took a shower and sat on top of the bed reading something, waiting for Fuyuki.

He became suddenly aware of the muffled sounds coming from the shower. He knocked at the door and called:

-Fuyuki!…Fuyuki, are you OK?

As the noises became more intense, he decided to take action. He dropped his bathrobe and entered the shower. Fuyuki was crouching on the floor, crying bitterly. Yoshiasu picked him up and cupped his face with both hands trying to understand what was torturing him. Fuyuki averted his gaze, hands gripping on Yoshiasu’s hands.

-I…I missed you so much but…I…I feel tainted and I…can’t…I’m so sorry…that I couldn’t-the rest of the words ended in sobs.

The understanding sank on Yoshiasu; Fuyuki was blaming himself for the ordeal he had been through, for not being able to fight back and he felt like he had betrayed the love the two of them was sharing. Yoshisu sighed; there were still so many wounds to heal and  so many loose ends to tie up until the fragile equilibrium of Fuyuki would mend. But Yoshiasu was more determined than ever to love and protect him and help him to heal. So he held Fuyuki close and let the shower wash them both.

-You can cry out everything now-he whispered in Fuyuki’s ear. This water will wash away all the misery. You are the purest human being I’ve ever seen and I won’t give up on you.

He held Fuyuki until the younger man cried out all the bitterness and hurt piled up inside. He moved his hand down his back and under his touch Fuyuki’s body felt more fragile as he’d lost some weight during captivity. Yoshiasu stopped the water and handed a towel to Fuyuki; they walked together to the bedroom and Fuyuki folded in his arms.

-Have you seen Father?- he asked in a small voice.

-Yes. He is a bully and a madman. I’m glad he’s locked up. You don’t need to worry about him.

Fuyuki shifted a little.

-I was so afraid that you might not want me anymore-his voice trailed.

Yoshiasu turned Fuyuki towards him and kissed him gently. As his lover moved closer, he slowly undressed him and kissed him again deeply. Fuyuki moaned and melted in his arms. Driven by the emotional turmoil, they made love like never before reaching unexpected peaks. They finally relaxed, panting from exhaustion and  they fell asleep holding each other closely.

But before their life could get back to normal, they had to pass another major challenge: the trial of Jack Roger. As police and prosecutors finished their work, the trial was due to begin. The trial caught up a big interest; not only that it was a shocking case but it involved one of the young emerging artists of the country.

Though he could’ve avoided it because of his emotional scars, Fuyuki bravely decided to attend the trial. Yoshiasu was deeply concerned about how he would cope with it, but he had to admit that Fuyuki needed to face his fears in order to get over them and to start a new life. Yet, Yoshiasu dreaded the first encounter with Jack Roger, whom he had not seen since the day Fuyuki was found. Tens of curious eyes turned to them when Roger was brought in. He had a confident smirk all over his face; when he spotted Fuyuki, he launched towards him with a sneer:

-You little bastard! Wait until I get my hands on you!

The guards held him back and Fuyuki’s eyes clouded with pain. He faced him and asked in a restraint voice:

-Why? Why do you hate me?

This painful question made the headlines of every journal. It was the question that troubled every decent person: why would anybody turn into such a monster? The first session of the trial presented the case as the police  had unraveled piece by piece, then the pile of evidence was brought to the Court’s attention.

 Listening to Janice’s testimony (while her father growled “Stupid bitch…just like your mother…”) proved to be the hardest of all. The long buried memories of the horrors endured by a small child shocked the audience. At that moment Fuyuki got sick and while Yoshiasu was helping him out, he fainted. Yoshiasu picked him up and left the Courtroom hurriedly; he took him out to a bench and laid him down, massaging his temples and his hands until Fuyuki got back to his senses. He then called a cab and took him home. Reliving that particular moment was like opening a dam. All the memories locked up inside came back accurately. The process was painful but unstoppable. Each and every night of the trial Fuyuki cried himself into sleep, held tightly in Yoshiasu’s arms. But with family and friends around him, he got over the pain step by step.

The evaluation made by the police psychiatrist gave sense to the image of Jack Roger. Jack Roger was an animal of prey. He watched the little boy growing up and noticed its unusual beauty. He soon realized that this child could become a good source of income and that he was totally defenseless. With a weak and frightened aunt as a surrogate mother, the little boy had no chance against Jack Roger’s will. What the perpetrator never suspected, was that the night of horror had a witness: the ten years old Janice. That night she took a narrow escape and remained unharmed, only to carry this traumatic memory till the final confrontation. Jack Roger took pride in his business so he kept detailed records /even videotapes. For years he trained and used the child as a prostitute; when he got into trouble, he simply sold him but kept his track just in case.        

    When Fuyuki ended up badly beaten and dumped, Roger thought that the young man died, so he was thrilled to see his photo later in a nationwide newspaper. Just like the spider, he carefully cornered his victim and took him away when he finished his  underground bunker. Fuyuki’s cell was connected to the house and as soon as the he regained consciousness, Jack Roger was back in business. He put Fuyuki on the market the first day they got home and never left a day out. In a short time, his bank account was growing steadily so he couldn’t be more pleased.

  Based on the huge amount of evidence, “Father” was quickly sentenced to life in prison. But the eternal bully  took hard the end of his reigning over Fuyuki, so after two months in prison, he’s  got an extensive stroke and died in the prison hospital. The story of the Monster and The Lost Butterfly came to an end. After 20 years Fuyuki was free at last.

Another year ended and the oncoming one was holding the promises of a new beginning. Yoshiasu and Fuyuki spent the Christmas with Janice and her family; on the second day, Peter and Michael joined them with their wives. Fuyuki’s beauty and kindness charmed everybody, especially Janice’s six year old twins, Robert and Molly. They also took a like on Yoshiasu and they were happy to find two young adults who never got tired of them and never complained about them being nagging and noisy.

  The New Year brought another happy event: Angela gave birth to her first child, a little boy named Thomas.

-I feel a little bit lost with so many men around-smiled Angela counting her well-wishing party. The three of you were already a handful; now Thomas is joining the gang…I have to put up some strength to face you all!

-I wouldn’t be concerned-said Fuyuki. You’ve already rendered us speechless with such a beautiful baby!

-Sweet Fuyuki! You’re as charming as ever-laughed Angela, glancing lovingly at the sleeping baby.

The warmth of love encompassed them all, leaving the shadows of the past locked up in the passing year.

Wishing to give a boost to their life together, Yoshiasu secretly booked two tickets for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan. When time came, he took Fuyuki by the hand and it was only in the airport that the young artist learned about their destination. He was deeply touched and amazed. The festival was a dream come true. It was a particularly mild, warm spring so when they arrived, every tree was in full blossom.

 The sight was simply magic. Every breeze carried on its warm wings endless flurries of white and pink petals. Yoshiasu and Fuyuki traveled from one place to another, from orchard to orchard, filling up with endless beauty. Finally, they stopped in an old orchard of a remote location. They asked for permission to visit and as they were granted, Yoshiasu took Fuyuki by the hand and walked down the narrow pathways that lead through the fresh light-green grass, under the heavily blooming branches. Yoshiasu spotted from the distance a large old cherry tree and took the amazed Fuyuki there. He let the young artist enjoy the enveloping shower of soft petals. Fuyuki’s amethyst eyes gleamed like gems in the mist of golden light pouring from above. He leaned against the tree, watching with withheld breath the magic of Nature. He turned to Yoshiasu with a look of rapture all over his face.

Yoshiasu approached and cupped his face with both hands,  looked deeply into the shimmering   violet-blue pools and asked in a slightly trembling voice:

-Fuyuki, would you marry me?

Fuyuki’s eyes widened in surprise, he blushed but whispered:

-Yes. I will…

Yoshiasu bent over him and kissed him until they ran out of breath. They married  two weeks later in Canada. Fuyuki took Yoshiasu’s family name, Tanaka. Yoshiasu took a new job that enabled him to travel a lot along with Fuyuki, who was now a successful artist with exhibitions all over the world. They were both young and on the height of their creative powers. Life was beautiful.

~~~~~

-Oh! -exclaimed one of the creatures of light. I never thought such things can happen! We almost lost our Child to that madman. I feel so….uneasy about our choice.

-You’re right-mumbled the other one. We’ve learned so much about these creatures since we are here and yet, after this episode, I feel like we really know nothing. Maybe we should retrieve the Child from the planet.

-No, no, not now! Not yet. He seems to be happy with his companion and perhaps the two of them might join us later, don’t you think?

-Agree!-said the taller creature. But we’ll keep a close eye on them from now on.

Walk a Dream-Chapter 10. Epilogue

Chapter 10.

  She was shivering, shaken by an inner fever. The memory of the night was still fresh in her mind and as she pushed herself slowly off the cold surface, conflicting emotions washed over her. For long minutes, she was penduling between an intoxicating elation and an unexplainable panic. She has fallen in love and that love lived in the no man’s land between dream and reality. How can anyone keep its sound mind in such circumstances?

   But this love wasn’t meant to last; Kai knew it well. The more she learned about Jordan, the clearer it became that she, the average girl in front of a mirror was meant only to be the dream-holder and rememberer. Something was abruptly changing in the life of her unexpected soul-twin and they were both running out of time.  “But what was that change?”-wondered Kai. There was no one to answer that question now… Kai took a deep breath and decided to join the reality of the morning.

   The night came under the auspices  of the Peach Moon. I saw it rising cautiously above the dark line of the hills. The sky was spotless and deep blue. The faintly glowing pink contour emerged gradually and soon we were facing each other, the Moon and I. It looked at me with its saddened face, with that silent cry frozen on its face for eons. Its eyes were crying invisible tears and my heart sank in despair.

I’ve ran to the gates breathlessly! The world behind them was dead silent and hollow. The forest was emptied of footprint memories, emptied of laughter echoes, emptied of innocence…The spells of the Wizard had been scattered by a chilling wind of forgetfulness. Gone were the mermaids and shores, gone the stellar abyss of swirling light and love….The leaves of poetry were growing only in my heart by now. The Blue trees retracted in the void and I couldn’t reach them anymore. I fell to my knees crying…Then I remembered the house. Maybe, just maybe Joren was still there! I jumped to my feet and sped towards the house in the mist.

 As soon as she reached the premises, Kai knew that hopes for finding anyone around were thin. The house felt just as empty as the space surrounding it. The girl cautiously opened the door and passed along the corridors until she reached that special door. Before she could touch it, the door flew open and Tyler’s angry face looked at Kai, shouting:

-You’re late! They’re all gone!!! No one is here anymore!! No one!!!

His breath was freezing cold and Kai stepped back for a moment. The pain inside, the sense of loss built up inside her pushed to the surface and she felt her entire being crack under the pressure. Her final armor shattered, liberating her true being. Tyler had already vanished into thin air and all she was left with was à dim glow in the distance and the sound of little ringing bell. Jordie’s bell. The girl launched herself towards that spot of light, flying with wings of flames like a Phoenix.

-Jordie! -she shouted. Wait for me!

Fueled by her heated emotions, she crossed the warping space and caught the globe of light before it reached the wormhole between the two connected worlds.

-Stop! -she yelled. Stay for a moment! Talk to me! Don’t leave all my questions unanswered!

Cling! Cling! The little bell echoed in her ears and for à moment, she felt  two small arms encircling her neck.

-Don’t be upset, nice Kai! I have to go now! They are waiting for me.

Kai held him till he dissipated, giggling and Joren’s face emerged in the light.

-We have to go, Kai. Jordan is about to wake up. Hisher healing journey is now complete, thanks to your help too. We were all bits and pieces painstakingly brought together in long time, to mend the spirit of Jordan. Himher will be whole again as heshe will regain consciousness. Remember us, Kai! When the dream will end, nothing and no one will be the same as before.

As the last words reverberated in the space, an invisible hand touched gently Kai’s tearful face. She recognised the touch and she recognised the kiss. It tasted like summer vine.

“ Goodbye, girl”-whispered the voice inside her mind. “Don’t forget me…”

The ball of light touched the boundary of worlds and exploded with a thunderous blast. The connection collapsed and Kai crash landed in her bed. On the other side of the world, a young woman woke up all of a sudden in her hospital bed.

  She gasped and shook her head, then relaxed. She recognised her family members and her doctor. She couldn’t remember the reason of being in hospital; she was feeling well and in one piece.

-Did I miss something?-asked Jordan, raising an eyebrow. I feel like I slept for a hundred years. It was fine but I would like to go home now. May I, doctor?

   Everyone burst into relieved laughter; Jordan was himherself again.

 

EPILOGUE

    I have walked a dream like no other and my heart was captured, my spirit released and liberated. I am myself more than I ever was. The love I encountered was brief but intense and it lives inside me, imprinted deeply in my soul along with all the magic it carried. I am a rememberer, a storyteller and a dreamer.

I’m not an ordinary girl anymore.

 Do I remember you? Of course I do! You’re the Magician who released the Wild Girl from my inner world. You found her, hiding in her Secret Garden and you opened the door, showing her the way. You’ve let her follow you, believe in you, trust you and in the end, fall in love with you. Was it something planned? I doubt….But you and I, we got caught up in our entangled wild dream. You and I, we found a love that could’ve been…if only we would’ve met in real life. So You have dreamt me and I continued that dream, finding you.

   Our love was swift, passionate, fiery, creative, all consuming….despite its illusory existence. You have broadened my horizon, deepened my inner world, enriched my emotional life. We have built a love like no other: both incredibly beautiful and maddeningly painful. This love cannot die. This love doesn’t want to die. This love is so much a part of me that denying it would mean to deny myself. I didn’t know how much of you has built itself inside me, until we both woke up and the wandering in our connected dream was over.

 After picking up all her shattered bits and pieces, the Wild Girl banged the gates of the Secret garden behind her and locked them. She lives there, wandering on the shores of the Ocean of Memories. I visit her sometimes and we talk through the bars of the gates. With you gone forever, she won’t come out anymore. But we both miss you sometimes; so we recall your face, the sound of your laughter, the  softness in your eyes….

   Dream over.

THE FALL

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Minutes, seconds, days,hours, years and millenia were falling scattered with the sound of a thousand wind-chimes. The last tick of the clock tore the fabric of the Universe, dismantling Time.

   Ground vanished under his feet and he fell backwards. Slowly. He was falling for an eternity when he finally reached the surface of the primeval ocean. He splashed into the deep blue surface, breaking the thin layers of water. Gloub, gloub….The Ocean opened its mouth, swallowing him. He continued to fall, sinking deeper and deeper inside a history larger than life.

   It was an endless, dense blue of nameless particles, the incipient plasma of atoms and eons. The silence  surrounded him like a cocoon and his limbs slowly relaxed, as he kept floating into the  blue abyss.

   Was he still existing? He couldn’t say for sure and right now, the answer itself seemed senseless and futile. His mind reached out to his extremities, somewhere far, far away and he called them back, curling up into fetal position.He closed his eyes.

    The child was peacefully sleeping in the warm, calm waters of the womb, suckling his thumb. It was all quiet and peaceful in the point of singularity.

    The Universe was not born yet.

 

(Photo credit: via Poullo Occone, artist/FB)

The Lost Butterfly -revised. (1)

Prologue: A confession.

 

“ We were here for almost a cycle studying you from a safe distance when I had a dream. Somebody touched me, trying to wake me up. I opened my eyes and saw him. He was beautiful but looked sad.

-Release me-he whispered. Please! I’m choking…

-Who are you?-I asked in amazement.

-I’m inside you…Let me go…I need to fly…Please!

As I watched his luminous eyes I felt something moving inside me. I woke up suddenly; he was the first Child who asked to be born. It never happened before; that’s why we decided to give him this special assignment: to be born human.”

 

CHAPTER 1.

It was a mid-October morning with long streaks of chilling fog crawling over the glossy layer of dead leaves piling up under the trees. The sun was just a sick, pale spot in the twirling grey atmosphere.

The alleys of the Central Park were almost deserted; only a few courageous ones were taking on their daily routine of jogging. There were also some sleepy dog owners on a short stroll with their pets and some early workers shortening their way through the crooked shapes of the trees in the park.

Despite the desolate air of the early hour, Yoshiasu Tanaka, a 28 years old computer analyst who lived in a flat nearby, enjoyed to take a short walk before starting work. It was a moment of silent reflection spent in the middle of this priceless natural spot trapped in the core of the huge city.

Yoshiasu left the alley and walked slowly through the dense cluster of trees and bushes. He liked the soft rustle of leaves under his feet, the way the smooth brown carpet gave in under his weight, the yellow leaves swirling graciously in the autumn wind and the bitter-sweet taste of the mist in the air…He emptied his mind and let his inner self float adrift into blissful nothingness. Only his peripheral vision saved him from tripping over the dark-brown mass of dead leaves right in front of him. His foot touched something compact inside the heap of leaves and that feeling made him stop and take a closer look. It wasn’t a tree-root ‘cause it felt softer. Yoshiasu bent and cautiously scattered the leaves from the surface and …he almost fell backwards. A human hand appeared. It was a slim hand with long, delicate fingers and it looked lively. Yoshiasu swallowed hard then touched the hand. It was cold but soft; he checked further and felt the wrist hidden into the leaves. There was a faint movement under the cold skin; the heart of someone hidden in was still beating. Yoshiasu frantically pushed away the leaves, trying to dig out the buried person.

After some frenzied moments he found a badly bruised young man lying unconscious on the ground. He was alive but it looked like his life was hanging on a thread. Yoshiasu took off his coat and covered the injured young man and quickly dialed 911. He then turned back to him and tried to warm up his hands and get him back to consciousness. The young man moaned and stirred under his touch. Yoshiasu bent closer and asked him:

-Hey! Can you hear me?

He repeated his question a few times before getting any answer. Finally, the young man opened his eyes and looked into Yoshiasu’s eyes, much to the latter’s surprise. Though those eyes were clouded by pain, they had the most unusual color: a deep, velvety violet just like the petals of the forest violet in early spring. Thick black eyelashes were underlying those intent, troubled eyes. A wide purple scratch was covering almost all of his left cheek and his black hair was matted and filled with leaf scraps. There was freshly dried blood on his bruised lower lip. His clothes were torn and ripped apart, uncovering older or more recent bruises all over his body.

Yoshiasu was shocked by the extent of the injuries and of the fact that this human being was deliberately buried and left to die. He took out his handkerchief and gingerly wiped away the blood from the young’s lips and the dirt from his face. He felt him shivering under the touch.

-The ambulance will be here in any minute, hang on; you’ll be fine- he said in a reassuring voice. He then took again the young man’s hands and rubbed them to warm him up. He felt the other one gripping his hands. He looked back into his face.

-Don’t be afraid-he said and smiled. I won’t leave you.

The injured man sighed and closed his eyes. Right then the paramedics arrived and took him into their care. In a few moments the police arrived to and questioned Yoshiasu about his finding. They took pictures of the place and of the victim and agreed with Yoshiasu about a further meeting at the police station. The ambulance departed in a hurry, the sirens ripping off the seemingly peaceful atmosphere of the park. Yoshiasu slowly turned back home, his mind trying to asses the recent events.

Fortunately for him, he was very busy at work so he had to adjust to something more peaceful and tangible throughout the day. He left his office, declined some invitations for a drink and headed home. He felt exhausted and he was still shaken. He undressed and took a shower and sat on the bed with a Coke in his hand. His mind wandered back to the morning’s events…He took out his cell phone and dialed the number of the Central Hospital. He asked about the injured young man brought in during the morning. He was slowly recovering-they said-but he wasn’t speaking yet so they weren’t able to contact any relatives. No, he had no papers to indicate his identity but the police was working on the case. Yes, he could visit him if he wanted; they hoped that a familiar face could bring a breakthrough in this case. Yoshiasu thanked for the information and hung up. He lay down in his bed, fixing the ceiling while his mind wandered.

After a while he sat up again and dialed the police station number and asked to talk with the officer in charge with the young man’s case. He asked for permission to visit the victim the next day. The detective agreed, expressing the same hopes that Yoshiasu’s sighting might bring up some positive development in the victim’s behavior. The young analyst slept badly all night. Those painful, violet-blue eyes were haunting him even in his dreams. He woke up troubled and restless; only after a shower and a full mug of steaming coffee was he finally ready to begin another day. He finalized his work earlier and asked for the next day off.  He then left for the hospital. He bought a few oranges at a store and hurried up the stairs. The receptionist was aware of his coming so she helped him quickly to the “John Doe’s” reserve.

Yoshiasu saw that the young man was sleeping so he did his best not to disturb him. He put the oranges on the table next to the bed and sat on a chair and looked close at him for the first time. The young man was in his early twenties, no more than 25.  Despite the scratches and the bruises on his face, he looked handsome. It was an almost feminine beauty; an oval face with large eyes, a straight, thin nose and nicely curved pink lips. His shoulder long black hair was thick and silky and his skin, wherever was not bruised into bluish tones, looked smooth. The hands resting on the blanket were long, with delicate, mobile fingers- the hands of an artist, a musician or a painter perhaps. Resting on the hospital bed among tubes and beeping instruments he looked fragile. Yoshiasu felt a pang in his heart. He stood up and turned when he heard the young man stir in the bed. Yoshiasu turned and found itself peering into the same mesmerizing violet-blue eyes.

-Hey. You’re awake. I came to see how you are – he said. Can you speak now?-asked Yoshiasu.

The answer was a muffled, pained mumbling but it was at last a small result. Yoshiasu patted the young man’s hands and followed:

-I’m Yoshiasu. Yoshiasu Tanaka. Do you have a name? We couldn’t find any paper indicating your identity…

The young man closed his eyes for a moment and it looked like he was searching his memory for an answer; he finally opened up his eyes and whispered:

-Fuyuki…

-Hm. It’s a beautiful name and it suits you-said Yoshiasu with a smile. Is that all you can remember about yourself?

The answer was a small nod. Fuyuki closed his eyes and he fell asleep in an instant. He was still very weak and the effort of remembering his identity exhausted him easily.

Walking a Dream-waking up in someone else’s dream (7)

Chapter 7.

 

She rushed out the door, not sure about what would be outside. After all, it wasn’t her in command in this dream. Or was she?

“ Use your imagination…:” was ringing in her head and she thought of a large, open meadow of poppies, gently sloping towards a patch of forest in the distance. In her mind, she opted for daylight, hoping that she would more easily trace Tyler running wild. Tyler was the one who embodied mindless fear and she was determined to slow him down and try to talk some sense with him.

Her feet delved into the carpet of grass and the blazing red flowers swayed aside gently, leaving her to run freely. The girl was following the hidden trail of footsteps left by the bulky man. Her mind’s eyes were constantly detecting the imprint of angry touch in the ground. Soon , she saw his dark frame with its glowing outline moving forward in short, heavy jumps. He noticed her presence after a while and stopped, turning back.

-What?!-he shouted at her. What do you want?! Why are you following me?!! You said you don’t want to remember me! Go back then and leave me alone! Aarrrgh!!!

His feral growl sent a shiver through Kai’s spine. Tyler raised his hands in despair and flames erupted from the tip of his fingers. He smashed his fist on the ground, setting the summer grass on fire, then he resumed his run. A wall of flames and choking smoke rose in the air, startling the girl. The wave of scorching heat pushed her back and she staggered and fell on her back. She summoned a rain cloud and the pouring rain extinguished the fire. Kai stood up, assessing the situation: a large , black, smoldering trail cut in the colorful meadow showed the way of Tyler. Swallowing her tears, the girl rushed to catch him from behind.

No, I don’t remember you…The one who echoes inside me has a light that I feel so close to me…But if Joren speaks the truth, I must embrace you too, Tyler because you are part of the whole of the same person!”

   I was running breathless, my heart threatening to break out of my chest and my own anger was gone. Tyler’s frightening violence wasn’t scaring anymore. I knew that I have to win his trust, no matter how crazy that might sound. That boiling rage was  in fact his vulnerability. I could see him a few steps ahead, banging and smashing trees and bushes, bringing havoc in this imaginary world. He knew I was there, close to him. If only I could read his mind….

-Tyler!-I’ve heard myself calling. Please, stop and talk to me! Help me to remember….-I pleaded, hoping to reach him.

   He turned abruptly, ready to fight me but I wouldn’t budge. I stared silently at him , holding his gaze. As the fire of madness was slowly subsiding, I recognized the dark brown eyes I knew already well. Tyler tilted his head incredulously.

-You want to remember….me?-he asked in a husky voice. His eyes narrowed in distrust. -Why would you do that?-he continued, watching me closely.

    I breathed out with a sigh. “ Don’t screw it, girl!” I thought. “ Listen to your heart!” I did.

-Because one cannot love the whole until it learns about the parts. It would be a lie and That would only lead to more pain and deception. Please, let’s stop for a moment and talk. I want to understand. I want to remember you.

      He scrutinized me for a while, fighting with his long worn mistrust, shadows running wild over his face. But his eyes were gradually clearing  and his gaze was softening, pushing back the flaming madness. His whole body was convulsing, torn apart by his inner conflict, his fist clenching, his chest heavily rising….then subsiding with painful sighs. Locked inside the fragile human frame, a wild ocean was rising with thundering noise, pummeling the shores of the tormented soul. It was an epic battle I was witnessing and all I could do was to embrace him in my mind, holding him close with all my might, hoping to make that tempest subside. It did, eventually. Tyler slumped on a heap of grass, muttering:

-The constant fights brought the marriage to an end and fragilized Jordan’s inner balance.Heshe was very much attached to her father but she was left with her mom. Over the years, the crack between child and mother deepened, growing into a dizzying depth. On the tip of that accusing finger, still haunting our host’s day and night, there’s evil determination for control, triggering each time the deep seated conflict between the two of them. I was born out of that: I am Jordan’s shield and revenge-he concluded, his voice now only faint whisper.  

 Kai watched as Tyler’s contours were fading with each word. In the end, as the echoes of the man’s voice were fading into the wind, all that was left on the heap of grass was a small, peacefully sleeping child. The girl picked him up gently and carefully moving through the sea of poppies spotted grass, she returned into the house. Joren was waiting for her in the door. She led Kai in  the hind room and they both tucked the little boy in bed. Kai placed à kiss on his forehead  before leaving.

-Sleep well, Jordie….-she murmured. You’re safe.

Early in the morning, she pensively ran her fingers through the strand of hair with burned tips.Ignited by Tyler’s anger, the flames have left a clear mark, reminding Kai that Jordan’s dream and  her reality were merging into a new one.

The Invisibles-Final Chapter

The approaching winter sped up the preparations inside and outside the walls of the Citadel. Some of the ex-Invisibles moved back with their families, while people of the city took a bold step outside the walls, moved into the forest camp and started a new and exciting life in the open. This mutual exchange between the city and the forest smoothed the healing process and helped build a new spirit among the nation of the Silver Tree. After her return from the hilltop where she had planted the seed of the new Tree, Cora joined the process of rebuilding and she became a full time mother for Avik.

With the support of the Elders, the former Invisibles raised a monument inside the Sanctuary in the memory of all who lost their lives foughting against the injustice imposed upon them by Asterius. It was there, that the life and the name of both Leanna, Avik’s mother and Satoru, leader of the Invisibles was inscripted for remembrance for the future generations. As for Commander Rolf Asterius, he was appointed Chief Guardian of the Citadel and, to his own surprise, he became close friend with Ogren, leader of the Foresters. Liberated under the shadow of his uncle, the young commander discovered the value of trust and true friendship.

Winter descended upon the land. Buried deep inside the hill, the Silver Seed was sleeping peacefully, dreaming about the moment of sprouting. On the other side of the world, the Tree of Arberia was watching upon it, guarding the balance of life on both sides of the line separating the two lands. For eons, the Trees had kept protecting life, communicating between each-other, supporting each-other. Under their benevolent surveillance, the colorful nations of humans struggled and thrived, built complex and creative cultures, pushed forward and expanded their horizons. Winter was a season of deep thinking and moments of melancholy. It was the season of storytelling and a time when new myths were born to be told and retold, over and over again, in friendly gatherings and families, near the fireplace, while chilling winds were swirling around the chimneys.

Cora and Avik were living in Satoru’s house, near Petunia and Ogren,the two families spending most of their time together. Even if they were not saying, they were all missing Satoru.

-I can’t be thankful enough for having you here, Ogren-murmured Petunia, leaning against her husband.

-Cora is a brave girl-he replied, kissing the top of her head. She keeps a brave face and I’m happy that she has found solace in Avik. But I saw her lost in thoughts, with shadows crossing her face and I know she’s badly missing Satoru.Their love was just starting to blossom…

-They were made for each other-said Petunia. It was unmistakable. I’ve never seen Satoru so happy and radiant…

-True- murmured Ogren. I wish he was here with us. Now, soon as winter ends, she’s due to fly back to Arberia. I wonder if she’ll ever come back….

A small knock on the door brought them back to reality. Cora was standing there, holding Avik’s hand. She was smiling.

-I apologize for intruding but I made a load of my well known cookies and it’s no fun to eat them alone! Besides, we have a lot to talk before winter ends. And of course, Avik was nagging me to bring him to play with his friends.

The evening brightened up in laughter and cookie-eating and Cora shared her plans for the future with her close friends.

-I’m not sure how my home coming will end up. When I left a year ago, I wasn’t giving much thought to the perspective of becoming Queen. My mind was filled with dreams of exploring the world beyond the horizon. But now….My heart is buried here but I feel responsible for my people at home to. I’m sure that Mom had already exhausted my dear Dad with her worries and I miss my little sister, Amita too.

-Are you travelling with Avik, Cora? He could live with us until you sort out your life at home…

Cora shook her head.

-No, my dear Petunia. I already told him that we would travel together. Thank you both for your kindness but I want him to meet his other family too. Satoru and I, we made him a promise and the untimely death of my beloved left me in charge. I won’t fail any of them. And we’ll be back, both of us, as soon as possible.

-So be it! -said Ogren with a nod. Now, there’s only one cookie left on the plate. Can I have it, or we’ll fight for it?

They all laughed and the evening went on in good mood.Outside, the nightwind swirled, scattering icy star-flakes upon the world….

Spring Flight.

Cora and Avik departed as soon as the snow melted and the the first signs of Nature’s renewal were showing on land and skies. The grey of the winter dome changed into bright azure and fluffy white clouds were chasing each other in the skies, pushed by the playful breeze of Spring.

Cora was flying by the side of her child who was riding his father’s faithful Shadowcat ,so she needed more time to reach the Arberian Tree. On their way, they stopped at the site where the Silver Seed was planted. To Cora’s great surprise, the crust of the land had cracked, making way to the graceful young Tree emerging from below. They both embraced the Tree, connecting with him. For a fraction of a moment, the young woman felt the echoes of a familiar heartbeat coming from the tree….They took farewell from the Silver Tree and soon, they crossed the line and took up the path leading to the Arberians.

Perched on the windowsill of Cora’s room Amita was scrutinizing the horizon, waiting for her sister’s return. Ever since the Queenies started to come back one by one, she hoped that Cora will be among them. She was missing her sister and she knew that her return will put an end to their parents’ distress.

Having no signs of Cora’s whereabouts proved to be too much for them. Though Galaor was trying to keep his wife calm and optimistic, lately, that has become almost impossible. Bella had asked some of the returning Queenies about their daughter and when she heard that they have lost her sight after a terrible storm, she broke down in tears.

-She won’t come back, you’ll see!-she cried, while her husband was trying to comfort her.

-She will come back, my dear, believe me! I know her and I know that she’s the best Queenie of all!

But when they reached the final day and Cora was still nowhere to see, his own confidence disappeared. They joined the homecoming of the rest of the Queenies with heavy heart. Galaor and Bella watched the girls; they have changed a lot during the year that has passed. The complexity and even the hardship of their task has helped each of them to develop in a unique, personal way. Right now, it was hard to say which of them would be the chosen one as future Queen. They both sighed, thinking of how their daughter might have looked if she was there….

Emerging from her chambers, the Queen greeted her people, eyeing the line of Queenies waiting before her.

-Is everyone here today, my children?-she asked.

-No, My Lady- said the leader of the Queenies. We seem to have lost Cora, daughter of Galaor and Bella.

At that moment, there was a small commotion at the doors of the Ceremony Hall.

-Everyone is here, My Lady!- said the newcomer loud and clear.

All eyes turned and a tall, slender young woman, with fiery hair cut short above her neck, entered the room, walking confidently to the center of the Ceremony Hall. She was holding a brown bunny rabbit in her arms. Making her way through the people gathered in the room, her strong aura brushed over them. A yelp and a relieved sigh followed her and Cora smiled, knowing that her parents were finally at ease. She joined the ranks of the Queenies and the Queen acknowledged her arrival with contentment.

-My children, it’s wonderful to see all of you coming home!-she said, stepping forward to greet them. It’s been a long year for all of us and looking at you, I can see it was a fruitful one. A year ago, ten teenage girls left our Tree and now ten beautifully matured young ladies returned to it.

Slowly passing by each of them, the Queen embraced every Queenie, touching foreheads,while Madam First Lady was collecting the Recommendation letters. When she finally stopped before Cora, she asked her, pointing at the small bunny:

– Who is he?

-He is my son, My Lady but he’s got a bit overwhelmed by so many strangers. Come, Avik-she said softly to the bunny- you’re safe now. Remember that I’ve told you about our Queen? She wants to meet you.

There was a rumor of amazement when, with a small tremor, the rabbit changed back to his shape of a little boy with hazelnut eyes and curly, black hair. He looked up to the woman smiling him and said:

-Hi! My name is Avik. Are you the Queen?

-Yes, I am the Queen- she said gently.

-You have beautiful wings!- said the little boy. Just like my Mommy.

-Thank you, Avik! That’s very nice of you to say- replied the Queen. Glad to meet you! Cora, I look forward to hear your story!

-Thank you, My Lady!-said Cora with a bow.

The Queen returned to her throne, followed by the First Lady.

-My dear people! I want you to greet and celebrate our Queenies while I will spend my time reading the Recommendation letters. We’ll meet here again when I’ve reached my conclusions!

She left the room while Bella and Galaor rushed to embrace their daughter. Cora picked up Avik and made her way through the swarm of jolly people. When they finally saw each other, she literally flew in their arms.

-Mom! Dad!

-I’ve told you she’s the best and that she won’t get lost!-said Galaor to his wife, swallowing the lump in his throat.

-Oh, shut up, Galaor. You’re an awful liar. Do you think I am blind? I have seen your face these latter days…-she teased him between tears. Oh, Cora, this was such a hard year!

Bella embraced her daughter while Galaor, waiting for his turn, tried to make friends with Avik. It proved easier than anyone would’ve expected but for Cora it didn’t came as a surprise. She knew her father was a gentle giant with a natural gift for tending children. But the most excited about Avik proved to be Amita. After covering her sister’s face with the sweetest kisses of all, she took the little boy by the hand and they quickly disappeared in her room. Hours later, when Cora and her parents peeked through the door, the two children were playing together happily.

-You have to tell us all that happened-pleaded Bella. We were so upset, hearing that you got lost in that heavy storm. Only the strong trust of your father kept us afloat these days.

-I’m sorry, Mom and Dad but I had to follow my guts. I know that I have promised not to get in trouble…-she said with a wink. But the dream I had the night before the flight and the words of encouragement from the Queen pushed me forward…and I did it! My quest was worth all the efforts…but I’ve missed your cooking, Mom!

They all laughed and Cora took a mouthful of her favorite dish.

-So, what’s beyond our boundaries, my dear?-asked Galaor. I assume you have reached that place. Avik doesn’t look like an Arberian child…

-You’re right, Dad. He’s not an Arberian. His land is that of the Silver Tree and the White Citadel. Let me finish this wonderful meal and tuck the children in bed and I will tell you the story of my journey.

That night, after rocking Amita and Avik to sleep with a funny story and lots of kisses, Cora sat with Bella and Galaor, opening the book of memories, telling the story of the love and fight for a new dawn in the land of the Silver Tree.

Coronation

The Queen was in her chambers, reading the letters brought back by the Queenies. They were extensive recounts of the deeds and decisions taken by each girl in the community they had joined during a year of time. Each story had its own value and flavor and on the whole, the Queen couldn’t be more satisfied. But of all stories, Cora’s journey stood out by far. The letter had been written by both the Council of Elders and the Leaders of the Foresters and they were speaking of her selflessness and bravery. The tragic story of Leanna and Avik was part of the recount and the Queen was deeply saddened, reading it. What Cora had achieved was very impressive. Still, the Queen needed a private talk with each outstanding Queenie, before making her choice.

She sent for them, one by one, listened to them, talked with them and carefully assessed her impressions. Most of them were determined to step up the throne and take the lead of Arberia. Cora was her final guest. She came on her own; Avik was in her parents care and he was enjoying Amita’s company. The two kids were getting along so well that you would’ve thought they were siblings. Life in Arberia was joyful and the Tree was an excellent playground for the inquisitive little ones.

When she entered the Queen’s chamber, Cora looked preoccupied. She had spent a lot on thinking what to do. She didn’t want to get stuck here and lose her personal freedom. She couldn’t bear the thought of being far from the Silver Tree. Her heart was there and she would’ve died missing her connection with it. She said nothing about this to Galor and Bella but she felt she owe the Queen the truth. So when the Queen asked her about the decision she made, she poured out her heart.

-My Lady, just like my little Avik, I belong to both lands. I cannot make a choice that would leave out any of these two nations and Trees. I don’t want to disappoint you or anyone of my fellow Arberians but I want to keep my freedom , I want to travel from one land to the other, to keep alive my connection with each Tree. If that means that I cannot be Queen of Arberia, I beg to step aside and I apologize for letting you down!

-You don’t have to apologize for anything, my child-said the Queen. I’m happy to see that you have used wisely my piece of advice and you have followed your fire. Go, join your family and say hello to your son from me. Soon, I will make public my choice!

Cora bowed respectfully and left the chamber. The Queen walked slowly to the window and leaned against the wall.

-I’m ready for a long vacation, my friend….-she whispered and the Tree understood.

~~~~~

Three more days passed and the excitement of the Arberians was on the rise. The day the Soul Bell rang, summoning them at the Ceremony Hall found them buzzing like a bee hive. Queenies, families, friends, Court people, adults and children, old and young, they all joined to witness the coronation of a new Queen.

The hind wall opened and the Queen stepped in. She looked radiant and this time she was wearing the crown of blue leaves and golden sticks that she would give to her successor. She sat on the throne, looked around, benevolently smiling and she spoke to her audience:

-My dear people! As all of you know, my time as Queen is over and today. A new Queen will step up the throne of Arberia.These days I have examined carefully each candidate and I must say that all of them could become a good Queen. This was not an easy choice. I have spent the last year thinking a lot about our world and the future it might hold for us. My choice reflects the conclusions I’ve reached during this lonely year.

Times are changing and we need a Queen that would be both thoughtful and bold, opened to new challenges, ready to face them and to make the most difficult choices. This year, the boundaries of our world have been extended and we’ve learned that we are not alone. There is more to come in the future, so from our wonderful winged daughters I have chosen the one that has already proven that she’s able to deal with such challenges.

Come forward, Cora and take this crown! It belongs to you, as new Queen of Arberia!.

In the deep silence that followed her words, the Queen stepped down the throne, took off her crown and held it out to the young woman.

-Mommy?! This means you are the Queen now?-asked Avik.

The clear voice of the child reverberated around the room and broke the tension. People burst into happy laughter, in cheering and applauses.

-See? -said one of the Queenies, kicking her neighbor with the elbow. I’ve told you that she could become the Queen. She was flying higher than any of us!

Cora bowed before the Queen and let her place the crown on her head. The old Queen took the new one by the hand and guided her to the throne, then she stepped aside, sitting in a chair placed next to it. For a moment, Cora was overwhelmed by emotions but then she spoke in a loud and clear voice:

-My dear Arberians! One year ago, we left our home as a group of girls caught between childhood and adult life. Little we knew about the world and our horizon was stretching to the limits of land encompassed by the roots of our Tree. From all the girls in the squadron, I was the one lucky enough to be pushed beyond that line. For me, it was a life changing experience. I have discovered another land, inhabited by beautiful people like us, caught in a sad,sad situation. It was their tragedy that opened my eyes upon the fragility of our peaceful, joyous life. It was their struggle that has shown me the power of goodness, courage and selflessness . I have returned home determined to protect the things we all value in our life. I have returned determined to connect our worlds and to restore the balance of the lands living under the benevolent protection of the Trees.

I’ve buried my heart at the feet of the new Silver Tree, so I belong to the people there. But my heart was born here so I came home to put myself in the service of my people as well. I am a person of my words and I will live my life to fulfil the promises I made in both lands. Your love, your kindness and support will help me become the Queen you all expect me to be!

The room filled with cheers as the echoes of Cora’s words faded. People rushed to greet her, while the new Queen walked through the hall and stepped out in the large balcony, to salute the Arberians who gathered outside. Bella and Galaor found themselves showered with attention, while Amita and Avik ran after Cora and joined her in the balcony.

So here comes to an end a chapter of history and a new one begins. Its story is still to be written. Right now, everyone is celebrating. Grab your cup of wine, my friends and cheers!

Epilogue

The new Queen was leaning against the trunk of the Silver Tree. Still a young tree , it was already soaring high and holding a magnificent crown of branches and leaves. Its bark was smooth and felt like skin under her touch. Cora embraced the Tree and closed her eyes, her thoughts drifting away. The light touch of two hands, lovingly holding hers, reached from the other side of the Tree and brought the young woman back from the reverie.

“I’m here…..-whispered the well-known voice. And I am here to stay….”

In the history of the Tree people, Cora remained under the name of Travelling Queen. She spent her entire life reviving the long forgotten connections of the Trees of outer lands and bringing together their nations. Under her loving protection, Avik and Amita grew into beautiful young people, becoming ambassadors of the Tree connections. They eventually became a couple, strengthening even more the connection of Arberians and Silverians.

When her time came and a new Queen took the reign of the lands, Cora said farewell to everyone and visited for the last time the Silver Tree. She stopped before it, placing her palms on the large, leathery trunk. The Silver Tree opened and Cora stepped into the arms of her beloved Satoru. The Tree closed behind her…..

If you’re passing by in a misty summer morning, turn your eyes to the hilltop. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Cora and Satoru, sitting in the grass, talking quietly about the times that had passed and those that are about to come…Or maybe it’s just the wind whispering in the meadow…..

~~~~~

PS. I dedicate this story to everyone who dares to dream and who has not lost the hope that goodness, courage, love, acquiescence, thoughtfulness prevail in Humanity.

I dedicate this story to those who dare to be themselves, to be different, to embrace their own beauty and uniqueness when odds are against them.

I dedicate this story to my wonderful LGBTQI+ friends around the world, the ones who constantly refuse to become Invisibles.