far away, in a land beyond the sky,
in the shadow of shining stars,
you shall find a world with peace.
where chocolate rivers shall flow,
twisting through candy cane hills,
and valleys of choco-chip cookies.
you can lie on cotton candy clouds,
and sing gaily to the smiling sun,
hear lullabies from the old moon,
close your eyes, my darling Rose,
step into that magical new world,
my darling, now fall asleep soon.
I look down at my darling daughter, and see her twinkling eyes stare back at me. There is innocence in those eyes, unhurt and unknowing of our sorrows. There is love, which she shares generously without asking anything in return. She looks into my eyes, and raised her hands toward me.
“Sleep tight, my darling,” I tell, giving her a hug.
“Daddy, please tell me a bedtime story. Pretty please, with a cherry on top. I’ll bring you back some cookies from that magical land,” she says.
I look at her, and then to her bedside table. I slide onto the bed, and she snuggles up under my arms.
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a farmer called David. He lived on the hillside, in a big house with three bedrooms, a horse that was deaf in one ear, a coop full of hens and one proud cockerel, some rabbits and even a dashing Dachshund. He had a cute little daughter, Mary who followed him around wherever he went, talking without a stop. But David didn’t mind. He liked that. His daughter was his world.
“Daddy, that’s so sweet. David and Mary are just like us,” she pipes up, smiling.
In his fields, David used to work hard each day. It was his dream to grow cabbages. Ever since he was little, and he saw his father grow cabbages on their land, he had wanted to grow cabbages on his. But his father sent him away. When he was young, his father had sent him to the city, to stay with his aunt and uncle, to study in a big school with other kids and become smart. But even from far away, David always dreamed of his farm, of the hills and the cabbages. He couldn’t wait to get back.
“Just like Heidi”, she says, and I smile. She remembered stories well.
In the city, David fell in love with a girl as pretty as any princess. When David returned to his farm many years later, he brought her with him.
He told his father, “Dad, this is the girl I want to marry.”
They were happy together, David and Dina. His father approved, but wanted him to go back to the city.
“The city is much better for your future, son. Dreams happen there. My dreams for you are there, not here. So you must go back, start a life with Dina there,” he said, not wanting to hear of David’s dreams of a cabbage farm.
“Daddy, are my dreams in the city too?”
I can hear the doubt in her voice.
“Your dreams are wherever you want them to be, darling,” I tell her, kissing the top of her head.
David and Dina went back to the city. They started a life there, and soon, their life was blessed with a daughter.
“Was that Mary?” she asks, and I laugh as I nod yes.
They called her Mary. She became their world. They did all they could to make her happy. The city became their life. But the dream was always with David in his heart. The dream meant a lot to David. So when they heard of another farm a kind man was selling, they decided to buy it.
Mary liked the hillside. She used to run like the wind through the grassy valleys, her anklets singing with the breeze. David watched her happily as he worked on the farm. Soon, he’d get his first cabbage. He was waiting eagerly. He wanted to take that to his father, show him even his dreams could come true.
But the cabbages never came. He cared for them like he cared for Mary, but they didn’t grow right. David bought more seeds, spent money, but his dream wasn’t happening. People began to talk ill of him; they called him a fool for giving up the city life to become a failure in the farm. Mary’s friends began to tease her, and she came home crying. Even Dina began to doubt him. He asked for help, but no one did. David went to the city, but his dream there was over when he chose to go away from there. No one helped him there too. He returned home sadly.
When Mary asked him, he told her all would be fine, that when she woke up, they would be in a land far away, where no one would hurt them. As she drank her milk, he told her the cabbages would come soon, and kissed her as she went to sleep. Mary slept soundly. When she woke up, the hills were greener, the river clearer than she remembered.
Her father and mother were near her, sitting on a cloud, looking at their cabbage patch.
“No one is here but us, darling. They’ll remember us, and talk of us, but they can’t hurt us now,” David said, and she smiled. The three of them looked at their cabbage patch sitting on clouds, and holding each other close, and in that world where no one saw them, they lived happily after.
“Daddy, why did David and Mary have to go away?” she looks up at me.
“David wanted a world where they’d be happy, honey; where no one could take away his dream, or make Mary cry,” I say to her.
“That’s sad, Daddy. Couldn’t David and Dina grow roses instead?” she asks me, jumping off the bed and running downstairs.
When she returns, she has a small pot in her hand. The pot has a beautiful rose in it.
“Did Mummy and you grow that, pumpkin?” I ask her, smiling.
“No Daddy, I did. Uncle Benny gave me the seed, and told me to take good care of it. Now I am a farmer too,” she tells me. Her eyes are smiling.
“Yes you are, pumpkin. I’m proud of you,” I tell her, taking the pot from her and putting it near her bed.
“Bedtime, darling… it’s quite late already. Sleep well. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Yes daddy, let me just drink my milk,” she says.
“It’s okay, honey. The milk has gone cold. It won’t taste nice. Drink some water instead,” I tell her, as I take the glass of milk from her bedside table.
“Okay daddy, goodnight.”
I give her a kiss and tuck her in. I see Grace at the door, looking at me with tear-stained eyes.
“Have you given her the milk?” she asks, stifling a sob.
I look at the roses and smile.
“No, I didn’t. Everything is fine now, Grace. I know what I have to do. I’m thankful for the day a Rose was born.”
I close the door, and head down. I pour the milk into the fire, and laugh. Grace hugs me from behind.
My dreams were singing once more, and the world was silent… again.
(January 6th, 2013)