Whenever the two boys, Etesian and Pehmea, played at recess, it was always their favourite game: pretend marriage.
A ring with a plastic diamond, a promise, and a sweet innocent kiss that left them both blushing every time.
Then one day three classmates came along. “How weird and strange,” they laughed and shoved until Etesian pushed them away.
To the teacher the bullies ran. “He hit us!” they whined, “we were trying to play!”
The teacher believed them, and Etesian was blamed.
His mother shook her head as she sent him off to bed, a scolding in his ears and no dinner in his tummy.
But in the dark Etesian thought of his friend, and smiled.
Then a mysterious light, a quiet pink, slowly spread its warming glow.
A tap from outside made him turn in surprise. A dragon was floating at his window!
“I am Mistral from the land of Tuuin,” She bowed. “Your soul is so bright, it’s overflowing. This jar will protect you and keep it safe.”
Etesian watched in wonder and awe, as his soul filled the firefly jar.
Then towards the stars Mistral waved her tail and winked. “Will you come with me on a journey?”
Etesian did not wait. He clutched the jar tightly, and climbed up behind her head.
Up past the clouds Mistral flew. To the sun they waved, to the moon they bowed.
They looped around stars and danced past planets, and Etesian’s laughter was their tune.
At last they landed in a garden pleasant and wild. Tall grass tickled hands, and bright flowers swayed.
A great beast greeted them kindly, and brought them to a grand celebration.
Races like Etesian had never before seen were dancing and laughing. So different they all looked, but for their smiles and bright eyes.
Then Mistral plucked a bright red apple, and gave it to Etesian. “These plants were raised with love and kindess. Their fruits are full of love and affection.”
Etesian held the apple in his hands. It was warm to the touch.
When finally it came time to leave, they waved and shouted goodbye. Then Mistral rose to the sky, carried gently by a warm, whispering breeze.
They followed the sound of the fine wind chimes that announced the mighty city in the sky.
They flew among all the winged creatures. Together they dove and whirled and danced, carried free by the wind.
Then Etesian looked back, and saw something sad. Flying slow and limp, a mother phoenix with crying chicks on her back.
“What’s wrong?” he asked with great concern.
“They’re sick from a darkness that has come from afar.” She chirped sadly.
Etesian hugged the babies tight, his jar glowing bright, until their eyes began to clear. Then to his surprise, they began to sing.
“Your soul can cure them, at least for a while.” Mistral smiled.
“But it’s not enough, it won’t last forever,” said Mother Phoenix worriedly.
“I will find a way to help them get better!” Etesian promised, his head held high.
“Oh thank you, sweet child,” said Mother Phoenix with joy. “Then I’ll give you this ring to keep you safe.”
Etesian and Mistral said thank you and goodbye, and Mother Phoenix sent them off with a trill.
They flew back to Etesian’s world, and saw the darkness reaching up. It rose like smoke, black and ugly, from the vicious thoughts in people’s minds.
It oozed and crawled, reaching with tentacles and mighty jaws. Everything it ate turned dead and dry.
Etesian hugged his jar close, his soul like fireflies glowing in the dark.
“I’m scared,” he whispered to Mistral. “I don’t know what to do. If only Pehmea were here.”
The darkness was reaching for them, cold and hateful.
“Shine your light,” urged Mistral, so Etesian lifted the jar up high.
The darkness slid away, barely enough for Etesian to see Pehmea staring up at the sky.
Down they dived, flying past the darkness, and retrieving Etesian’s little friend.
Etesian brought Pehmea up next to him, and tightly they hugged as Mistral began to fly.
They flew to the bullies’ houses and gave them each some apple. Their eyes lit up as they ate the fruit, suddenly clear and bright as the cowardly darkness fled.
It gathered in the sky, darker than thunder.
Etesian was scared and didn’t want to fight. He worried about Phemea who had no jar of light. Then he remembered the ring and brought it out.
As he slipped it onto Pehmea’s finger, a soft purple it began to glow.
They held up both the jar and the ring, and rose up towards the darkness.
They held hands and hugged Mistral, stronger as three, and glowing brightly.
The black fog slid forward, it tried swallow them, but their souls kept shining against the black.
The darkness jumped back, and tried to flee, but they flew even closer, until it began to fade.
Slowly it shrank under their determined glow, turning weak and grey, and full of holes.
Smaller and smaller, until it disappeared, and the air and sky around them cleared.
They laughed in relief and great joy. The darkness was gone, they were safe, and the bullies now saw with eyes that were free.
This is a kind of first draft of a children’s story that I had in mind. I’m working as a kindergarten teacher abroad. The country in which I live is not the most tolerant of homosexuality, and there is a lot of pressure to conform to gender norms. I have seen this pressed upon six year old students, and it hurts to watch. I try my best to promote open-mindedness, but I often wonder how effective I really am.
So here is a story that I wrote based on this theme of intolerance. The italicized parts are what I would imagine to be the drawings. Colourful and vivid.
This is, again, just a first draft. While the writing and the main plot are original, a couple of the ideas were brainstormed with a friend. As I reread my work, I worry about the flow, and I don’t feel that it’s quite right. So I have already started rewriting it, but I’m posting this one to get feedback, and to share my story with anyone who might enjoy it. My stories are for you.