Journey of Fascination
As a child, I sat spell-bound, listening while Cassandra told tales. Fantastical stories of long ago times in lands that lay far beyond the horizon. Cassandra was of royal lineage, her family betrayed and slain for their power, their land, their people. She was only a child when those loyal to her family smuggled her from the place of her birth. They switched her with another child, passed her off as Cassandra, a willing sacrifice to hide Cassandra’s escape.
Cassandra didn’t tell that story often, there was too much pain knowing she lived only because another died. She could not imagine the cost to the parents and the daily reminder when they looked at her. Still they loved her, protected her and brought her to this kingdom. Neither did she tell the story of the journey that brought her here. Those memories she locked away.
The tales she told were often of her childhood, her family, her beautiful land and her people. I fell in love with those stories. I fell in love with the possibility it might still exist. Cassandra’s stories became my stories, my legacy. On my fifteenth birthday, she presented me with her most precious story and my most treasured gift.
She came to my room before my birthday celebrations began. She held a small golden casket which she placed in my hands. The top of the casket was intricately engraved with the image of a great tree. Each leaf of the glittering tree was depicted with a glowing green emerald. They shimmered as if blown by a gentle breeze. Transfixed, I watched the tree. It seemed real, alive. The wind whispering through the leaves, uttered words I couldn’t quite hear. I leaned in to listen; it was important that I understand the words it spoke.
For a long time, I listened to the tree and the story it told me. When I looked back at Cassandra, I wiped the tears from my eyes and smiled as she embraced me. After the celebrations, I left the palace. The moon was full, and it was an easy walk to my destination. Next to the creek was a small clearing where the moonlight marked the spot. I knelt, placing the casket on the ground in front of me. The song I sang opened the casket, and what lay within, I buried.
The years passed with each birthday marked by a journey to the clearing. At first it had been just a small twig, but it grew taller and stronger with each passing year. As the tree grew, Cassandra’s vigor ebbed. I began to tell her the stories she had once told me.
This year was to be the last. Cassandra patted my hand and blessed me before she closed her eyes, still as death. Once more moonlit lit my path to the clearing and the tree. As I expected, one perfect fruit dangled from a low branch. I reached out caressing it as I bid Cassandra farewell, knowing one day we would meet again. Plucking the fruit from the limb I placed it within the golden casket, locking it away.
I tucked my most treasured gift safely in my pack. The responsibility was now mine. My stories must be told in my land, a land that lay far beyond the horizon.
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer