Alex Martin sat in his usual place by the window. He liked sitting there, because he could see out and watch the people, animals, butterflies and birds going by. As he watched, he made up stories about where they were going, what magical things would happen to them, and how they would cope. Only today, he couldn’t see anything. Jack Frost had been busy during the night and had painted a truly magical scene on the window.
The day was cloudy and very cold, so the magic picture stayed, intriguing Alex. He was in his special chair, propped up and supported by pillows and dressed in warm woolen garments. There wasn’t much wood or coal, so the fire was low and the room was chilly, and he had been bundled in warm blankets, too. A bed table on his right held an easel with a canvas, a wide array of oil paints and brushes, and all the rest of the requirements of an artist. There was also a notebook and pen to write out the story idea before painting. He usually painted pictures of the people and animals he saw, putting them into his stories. Today the paint tubes were closed and the canvas was empty.
At first, he had been feeling depressed because he couldn’t see anything and had no inspiration for painting or storytelling. He sighed, and looked at the window again, and his gaze was caught. Suddenly he saw slender willow trees with trailing boughs, frosty white flowers and crystal butterflies. He stared for some time, and then reached for his pen and notebook.
‘One very cold day a fairy princess went out to look at the garden. She was dressed in caterpillar furs, with warm mitts and hat of dandelion and thistle down, so she thought she would be safe from the monster Jack Frost.’…. he paused for a while, looking at the window again.
As he stared at the window, it seemed to grow and take on some colour. Soon the trees were swaying gently in the light breeze, and he could smell the slightly minty odor of the flower. The leaves o the trees tinkled as they moved, and so did the butterflies and the flowers. |Each had a different sound, so it almost sounded like harp music, coming from far away. Alex looked around, and found that he was standing in the middle of the field of flowers, surrounded by the willow trees, the butterflies flitting here and there. As their wings moved they shed prismatic lights on everything.
Alex was transfixed. He was standing? How could that be? His legs were withered and useless since the accident. He hadn’t been able to use them for ten years. He looked around again, and saw a lovely young lady coming toward him, dressed in furs. She was so graceful he just stared. As she came near she smiled; “Hello, Alex,” she said. “It is so good to see you here at last. I have watched you many times, looking out the window, and wished you would come to walk and talk with me.”
“You have seen me?” Alex asked, bewildered. “I have never seen you, where were you? I cannot walk; I do not know how I can be on my feet now. My spine was damaged in an accident when I was five years old that is why I sit at the window. I watch the people and animals, and I make up stories about them, and paint pictures to go with the stories. This must be a dream; I can only walk in dreams.”
They walked on, her hand lightly clasped in his, while the trees butterflies flowers and birds chimed and the colours from the butterfly wings flashed and danced around them. It was all so beautiful, so strange, that Alex could only drink it in and enjoy it, pushing away all questions.
“My name is Crystal,” the fairy told him. “I live in the flowers in your garden, though in your world I am invisible. Your body is in a state of waking sleep in your world, it is awake, but your spirit has flown to my world. You have traveled through space and time and have created a whole body for yourself here. If you do not return to your body it will die, and you will live on here. I would be happy to have your company forever, but I know there are those who love you in your world who would be heartbroken to lose you.”
Alex walked in silence for some time, pondering. It felt so good to walk, to not be tied down to that chair. But how could he leave them? His Mother and Father, brother and sisters were all so good to him. They made it so much easier for him to accept his condition because they encouraged him to do the things he could. He didn’t really spend all day every day sitting at the window. He went to school, went shopping with his Mother, to the park with his brothers and sisters. They went on holidays and saw many other places and interesting and exciting things. Though he had never seen any place as beautiful, as astonishing, as this place. He stopped walking and just stood and looked around. Could he leave this magic place to go back to the mundane world? The smiling faces of his family passed by his mind’s eye, and he knew.
“Crystal, I would love to stay here with you in this awesome, magical place. But it is not where I belong. My life is waiting for me back in my duller, mundane world. I will carry some of the magic of you and your world with me always, and I know it will come out in my stories and paintings. When I look at the garden, I will remember you. When, in the summer, I sit out there among the flowers, I will know you are near. I will feel your kiss in the breeze, and my heart will be lighter.” He turned to her, taking both her hands in his. “Stay near me, please. I will always love you.”
Smiling, Crystal stood on tiptoe and kissed him. “I will, Alex. I will always be there in your garden. And when you are sitting out there, I will come near and sit with you, and whisper to you about the beauty that surrounds you. Now, my dear, they are getting anxious, and crying; you must return. Go with my undying love. You will always have fairyland in your heart.”
Alex took a deep breath and opened his eyes. Mother was bending over him, tears running down her cheeks, stroking his forehead and whispering “Alex, my love, come back, please come back.” He smiled at her and touched her hand. “I am here, Mother. I just went away for a little while. I saw a magic land, and walked and talked with a fairy. It was so very beautiful, but it was not for me. My home is here with all of you. But it has given me an inspiration for many tales and pictures.”
Mother gathered him in her arms and the family gathered ‘round, touching him and cheering, welcoming him home. “I want to hear all about it,” his little sister Mary said. “And I want to see the pictures you will paint.” The others agreed, and they did. Alex wrote many fairy tales and illustrated them himself, and became a famous author and artist. And every day when the weather allowed, he sat in his chair in the garden, and communed with Crystal.