Disclaimer: This is quite long, please bear with me 🙂
Andrew had been walking the busy streets of New York City when he decided to stop by Central park before going home to his cluttered apartment. While sitting on one of the benches he heard a familiar whistling. It was like one of those moments when one recognizes something close to heart. It was that same sound which awoke him from his sleep one night when he was 6. It was like a call of some sort and somehow he knew it was calling to him specifically. His mind vividly remembered…
It was the night he turned 6. They held a birthday party on that day. He had his closest friends over and his mom baked the coolest cake which was the envy of his friends. Man, he was tired after all the games they’d played and after consuming so much food. His mom tucked him in and kissed him goodnight. He’d decided to use his flannel spider man blanket that night, a gift from his best friend, Jamie. Not long after, he heard a whistling sound outside his window. It didn’t scare him at all. It was like his heart recognized the tune. After pondering for a while, he’d finally decided to take a look. He put on his robe and slippers and came downstairs, passing the kitchen and towards the back, holding a flashlight on one hand and his toy sword tucked in his bathrobe belt. He’d been thinking to himself.
“I’m sure mom and dad would be proud of me. They’d think me a big boy now, not getting scared easily.” And with that he continued his slow steps towards the back, smiling to himself proudly.
He opened the back door and pointed his flashlight randomly to check where the whistling sound had come from but could not find anything. There was no one astir, except for his dog Buckley who had been awakened by his flashlight. Slowly he went to pat his dog and urged the mutt to go back to sleep.
He was about to turn back towards the house when out of the corner of his eye he noticed something shining by the garden shed. Light from a nearby lamp post was being reflected by its surface. Curious he stepped closer. It was a metal of some sort, half of it buried in the ground. He stared at the object while shining light on it. It reflected a landscape, but not their backyard. There was a lush forest and there were pixies flying. In his astonishment he reached out to touch the image, and like all the movies he’d seen regarding time travel he found himself being sucked into the image. Everything happened in an instant. And like all curious 6-year olds, he was exhilarated. He found himself standing by a lake, surrounded by the lush forest he had seen previously. He was filled with an excitement he could not fathom, immediately he thought “An adventure!” He was not scared at all. His heart felt that it was a friendly atmosphere despite the strangeness.
That was until he saw what was beyond the lake. Strange creatures were looking at him, they reminded him of Gollum from Lord of the Rings, but there wasn’t just one, there were three of them and some others not far behind. A crocodile was also getting ready to swim into the lake and some others loitering about. And a tiger seemed to have escaped his cage just by the cliff. It took him a while to realize that it wasn’t as friendly as he had initially thought. And fear slowly crept in, manifested by the watering of his eyes and a pounding of his young heart. But his sense of adventure overpowered his fears. It was like courage had suddenly spread in his being and he felt he was bigger than his 6-year old frame. Bravely he took out the toy sword tucked in his belt, shaking, he shouted with his 6-year old voice “I’m not afraid of you!” and stood his ground like only a brave 6-year old could.
Not far beyond he had not noticed an old wizard standing by. He had a gray cloak and a crooked staff. The wizard slowly hovered near the lake and held up his staff and commanded the strange creatures and the animals to stop frightening the little boy. With a smile he approached Andrew and said
“My dear boy, do not be frightened. My friends are merely curious with your presence. Please, put down your sword, we mean you no harm. We welcome all who visit our humble home. I must say, I admire your courage my dear boy! Wielding that sword like only a brave soldier could.”
Mystified and relieved, Andrew lowered his sword, tucked it in his belt and wiped his teary eyes with the back of his arm and sniffed. The Wizard let out a light chuckle and patted his head. Mustering all the courage that remained, Andrew addressed his new found acquaintance. Holding out his hand like a gentleman, he said
“I’m Andrew Sir, nice to make your acquaintance!”
And again, the old wizard let out that same light chuckle and admired the little boy more. Shaking the small hand extended to him. And the old wizard responded saying
“Why, the pleasure is all mine. I am Seren, Wizard of the land of Springbren” and spanning his surroundings he continued “and these are my friends.”
And with that Andrew felt at ease. The surrounding seemed a bit brighter and the creatures and the animals seemed gentler. Then, Seren the wizard said
“You must pardon the surroundings. It’s that time of the year when the sun hides itself and the moon stays in place longer. Come, let’s partake in a humble meal. You must be hungry.”
Seren made a wave of his staff and a table with platters of scrumptious food was laid before him. And only then did Andrew realize that he was indeed hungry. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been there, but boy he was hungry. He ate heartily. Several nymphs, fairies and wood elves came by and played with Andrew. Seren sat sipping his tea, contented, he watched Andrew and the creatures pass the time. It was pleasing to him to watch Andrew interact with the creatures of Springbren, they have not had this much fun in a while. And just then, he felt a pang of sadness, knowing that Andrew had to leave in a while. He was not a creature of their world and he could not stay for long. Then Seren got up from his seat and approached Andrew. Immediately the nymphs, fairies and wood elves knew why, they moved away from Andrew to let Seren speak with him. Andrew noticed them hovering and standing some distance from him and wondered. Seren approached him and placed a hand on his small shoulder.
“My dear Andrew, you have graced us with your wonderful presence and have delighted us with your bravery. But I’m afraid you mustn’t tarry any longer. It’s time for you to return to your world my dear boy.”
And Andrew understood that he had to go. He wasn’t from that world and he somehow knew what would happen if he did not obey. He felt that he was losing a part of himself, a part of his memories of the real world all the while he was spending time with the nymphs and the fairies and the wood elves. And all he could do in response was to nod. Seren slowly waved his staff and whispered a short spell, and a ball of light appeared and enveloped Andrew slowly. He could see the sadness in Seren’s eyes, but there was nothing he could do. And immediately he found himself in his own backyard, beside the garden shed, but the metal object was gone. A wave of sadness swept over him and tears started to stream down his face. It seemed he was only gone for a while as it was not yet dawn. Recalling the bravery he showed Seren in Springbren, he got up and took a deep breath, but he could not contain his sadness and it overwhelmed his brave young heart, and with shoulders hunched and head low, he walked back into the house, up the stairs and into his room, laid on his bed still crying and fell asleep.
That was 20 years ago. Time had passed but the images were etched so deeply into his memory that he had no difficulty recalling the events. He treasured those childhood memories and made sure he kept it in his heart. He hadn’t told anyone about that night, not even his best friend. He wanted to honor the memory and didn’t want anyone to make fun of it. The whistling continued. He turned around to where the sound was coming from and saw an old man with long white hair all covered up for the winter, holding a cane. He addressed Andrew and said
“Good Evening. Sure is cold this time of the year.”
And with that the old man continued on his way. Andrew was reminded of Seren and he smiled.