Image for the poem Little Jenny and Pale Lily

Little Jenny and Pale Lily

- Little Jenny and Pale Lily -

  A little girl ran out to play, one day, in a field behind her house, the house she lived in with her father and her mother, and her grandmother and grandfather. A house in the country, pleasant and quaint, with white paint upon its' wooden and stucco walls, and a gray roof that was a tad bit on the cheerless side to look upon, the slates of it sometimes coming off when it stormed. The house was rented, rather than in fact owned, from one of the neighbors. An old man, who was the landlord of the property. There was a beautiful stretch of hills and fields and beyond them woodlands, all of which bordered the house's big back yard, though given there were fields all around the house it was difficult to tell just where it was the borders of the property began and ended, in relation to the nature all about and around. On this odd occasion, the little girl, whose name was Jennifer (though everyone just simply called her Jenny) had a mind to run about in a certain field that formerly had been a farmland back in another time... but these days it had become filled only with tall grass, wildflowers, and the sort of environment that makes very certain types of children delighted with the prospect of unleashing their imagination. And Jenny had a very vivid imagination for a girl of eight years of age. Her dreams, in particular, were unusual... they all had a sense of surreal reality to them, a term that might sound strange and perhaps contradictory and yet which made perfect sense. You see, her dreams... though wild and strange... felt as real and solid and as perfectly sound when she was experiencing them, as did a day at the park. Sometimes, she had a rather difficult time being certain whether what she experienced occasionally in life, in terms of the weird and the hard to explain, was actually happening in the real world... or if somehow her dreams were coming into her waking life in some way. Night terrors could bleed over like that, they say, and for some people like little Jenny, regular dreams could do likewise. But whether her dreams were just dreams... or facets of another reality experienced through a slumbering state... she could not know. She was too young to in any regard consider the notion as might an adult with a philosophical mindset. And so, today, she did run out into the field to play, to allow her imagination to run wild. She wore her prettiest dress... a long white and blue one with long puffy sleeves... and her dark auburn hair was long and wild about her face since she had taken her hair ribbons out in order to feel freer as she played. Her mother watched her at the house, from the living room windows that overlooked the back yard and the field beyond, whilst her grandmother cooked supper and her father went off to work. Her grandfather worked nights at a factory, and sometimes slept a great deal during the day because of that... so she saw him far less frequently in comparison, save for when he and her mother took her places. They all were a close family, once, and if there had been problems... grown-up problems... they were kept from the child, as such things always should be unless it cannot be helped. The sky was a bit overcast today, the sun barely peeking out from behind gray clouds, and the smell of autumn was in the air... that crisp fall air, and the scent of all those fallen leaves. Childhood memories, good ones! The stuff of dreams. Jenny had no friends... she was too often considered the weird girl, the one people could not seem willing to accept. Her cousins were the ones who came to all her birthday parties, and who played with her when they came over to visit. It may be due to that loneliness, that Jenny found herself so firmly in the grasp of her imagination. On this day she was pretending to be a lady knight upon a quest. She never fancied being the typical princess, never the damsel in distress... she wanted to be the valiant knight, to be the heroines of the story. Yet, one day her mother had told her: “Jenny, not everyone always gets to be the hero. Sometimes, they can even end up becoming the villain of their story! So always be careful with where your adventures take you.” And she always was, because she never wanted to displease her mother or become the villain of her story in life. Jenny had a basket filled with many-colored fall leaves, the perfect ones... not the stiff ones that all crunched under her sneakers as she walked across the ground. It was a normal day, a pleasant day, and that is why Jenny found it strange when she heard a peculiar, almost goofy sounding voice coming from the other side of the field. “Jenny! Is that you, Jenny?” the voice called, and so she decided to answer it.

   “Yeah? Who's there!” she called, and the voice replied: “Right over here, Jenny!” and she ran on over to where the voice seemed to be coming from. There was an old pumpkin patch in the field, grown a bit wild over the years since anyone tended it properly... yet, if no one tended it, then what happened to the pumpkins that died during the winter frost, and who was planting new ones! This was something that at Jenny's age she did not think to consider. One of the pumpkins was the source of the voice, a large one about the size of a big beach ball, carved like a Halloween jack o' lantern with a grinning face that did not frighten Jenny but rather which she found delightful... for this was her favorite time of the year, and Halloween was her favorite holiday. The face on the pumpkin moved just like a person's and it spoke to her once more, saying: “Hello there, Jenny! My name is Jack, and this is my field. What brings you out to it, today?” To which the little girl asked, wondering: “Hi, Jack! Hey, how do you know my name? I don't think we've met, before today.” to which the pumpkin answered: “Oh, we have! Trust me. But the only thing is, I looked different is all.” And Jenny being how she was, she simply figured this was one of her dream friends coming to play, which was actually in a way quite correct. “Those are some rather nice leaves you found, Jenny!” commented Jack, to which the child said: “Thanks! I love leaves. I am going to be gluing these to some construction paper later and making a pretty project with them. Mom always helps me do that every fall.” to which the pumpkin remarked: “That is nice! Very nice. Hey, if you do not mind... a friend of mine wants to talk to you. He is just down the slope over behind here... and he said it was really, really important so you should hurry along and see him.” Jenny looked over at the slope behind the field, a grassy slope with a line of woodland behind it, as colorful as you please on this autumn day. There was nobody there, at least no one she could see. “Okay, but if you're tricking me I'll come back here and give you a good kick!” the girl said, hurrying off toward the slope just as Jack had directed her to. When she got there, there was a tall woman dressed all in black... with pale skin as white as chalk. The woman had long straight black hair with a single white streak through it, eyes that were totally black with no normal white in them whatsoever, and she was wearing a long black dress that looked more than a bit old fashioned, like something from the Victorian era. Rather than from the modern age in which Jenny had been born into. Jenny was a 1974 child, and had only seen dresses like that one in movies or shows that she watched on the television with her mother. The tall, pale woman smiled at Jenny and said: “Hello there, little girl! Jenny, is it? I have been expecting you. Though from what I have heard, you are never one to be late for anything. A good trait, I would say! So, what did you think of my friend Jack?” to which the child answered, feeling a bit nervous around the strange woman: “I liked Jack, he was silly! But you... why are you so pale, are you sick or something?” to which the tall and pale lady answered: “No, I am feeling just fine thank you for asking. I just... look like this... to very certain people. To others, I look different... less pretty!” and Jenny felt a strangely familiar sense about this person. She asked: “Lady, have we met before? You seem familiar to me.” but the woman shook her head side to side and explained: “No, Jenny, we have not... at least not in this world, in this time.” And Jenny was okay with that, because she was how she was. She asked the lady: “Okay then! So why do you want to see me, are you a friend of Mom or Dad?” to which the lady replied: “No, little girl, I am not... I am nobody's friend to be honest with you. The only people who are ever happy to see me, are people who are in a lot of pain and who need me to free them from it. I... help.... some people. I tend to be there when very bad things happen though, so normally people never want me around. I accept that, and realize it is all just part of my job. Nothing to do about it, really!” This scared Jenny a lot, who then said to the woman: “Oh no! Does that mean something bad is going to happen to me?” to which the tall and pale lady explained: “No, it does not. I am not here for anything like that... I just want to get away from my job for a little while, so I thought I would pay you a visit, since you can see me and a there are a lot of people who cannot. Everyone needs a friend, Jenny! Even me.” to which Jenny said cheerfully: “Okay lady, we can be friends if you like! I don't have any friends, myself, none outside of my family.”

   And this made the pale woman very sad. “Oh, I see!” she said, and put her hand on Jenny's shoulder to reassure her, sensing the child was feeling very sad when she told her what she had. “It is alright, just for today... we can both be best friends and try to forget about our troubles. But as soon as the day ends, just when nighttime is about to start, I will have to go. Is that okay, Jenny?” and Jenny said: “Sure! We can play all we want, just until it's time for both of us to go home.” And both of them smiled, trying to brighten each other's dark mood. The pale woman picked up a pine cone and tossed it back towards the field. “Go fetch it for me, would you dear?” she asked the child, who saw it as a game and ran off after the pine cone, scrambling back up the slope and off upon her way as fast as a rabbit. She picked it up, and brought it back to the slope. This time, the pale woman was not there... but instead there stood on the top of the slope a little girl who had looked identical to the woman, though she was dressed in one of those Victorian style children's dresses with lacy bloomers peeking out from under the skirts. All as black as the woman's own dress had been. She wore a pair of fancy dress shoes, also black, and some black stockings. A black hairband kept her long hair out of her face. “Oh, um, did you see a really tall women who looks kind of like you! Hey, was she your mommy?” asked Jenny, to which the pale girl replied: “No, dear, that was me! I thought I would look like this for today, I figured it would make you feel more comfortable when we play together.” And Jenny nodded her head in approval, remarking: “Sure, why not! Hey, you can do magic... can you teach me how to do tricks like that?” The pale child then answered Jenny's question, explaining: “No, Jenny, I cannot... it was not magic anyway, it is just something I can do. Nothing that can be taught to anyone.” And Jenny being how she was, she was just okay with that answer and accepted it. “So, what do you want to do?” Jenny asked. “Oh, hey... what's your name!” she added, to which the pale little girl answered: “Just call me Lily.” and both were okay with that, and got about playing a whole mess of games ranging from tag to hide and seek. They both passed many pleasant hours that way, just playing and being kids. Neither thought the other was weird or strange, and it was like they had been friends their whole lives, or perhaps even sisters. “Hey, Lily... where do you live! Can you come over to play with me again tomorrow?” asked Jenny, and Lily looked very sad and told Jenny: “I am sorry, Jenny, but tomorrow I will be very far away.” to which Jenny then curiously wondered, asking aloud: “So, you'll be moving then?” and Lily said: “Yes, Jenny, I will have to be moving tonight, and will be far away tomorrow because of that.” Jenny wondered how it was even possible for anyone to move so quickly, so she inquired: “Do your parents have a plane or helicopter? I mean, I figure you'll be flying. Only thing that makes any sense!” to which Lily said cryptically: “Yes, Jenny, when I go to move I will be flying.” and they got back to the business of playing, in which time little Jenny put any worries she had out of her mind. Worries are for adults, she kept reminding herself, and she was just so little still. It was still a ways off, until nightfall... and there was lots of time to play.

   While playing a very silly but fun game involving skipping pebbles across the surface of a stream out in the woods, Jenny noticed something very peculiar about Lily. Unlike herself, Lily did not seem to be breathing. Not at all. It was very much like she was dead, but she acted alive. Jenny figured it was just her imagination playing tricks on her though, so she never mentioned it. That would have honestly been a rude thing to do anyway, she told herself in her mind... so she focused on other things and did not try to stress herself out over something that was probably, like everything else, perfectly normal. Lily told Jenny that it was okay to be playing in the woods, and that her family lived in the woods and would be sure to look out for the two children. “Hey, Lily! Could you show me your house?” asked Jenny, but the pale little girl named Lily said only: “Sorry, Jenny, but I cannot... my siblings would get angry if we had a mind to disturb them. Better just to let them be!” but Jenny being how she was, she was curious... and had to know the truth. “Lily, it's okay... just show me your house from a distance! We won't have to bug your brothers or sisters even a bit.” and so Lily appeared very deeply concerned indeed over something.

   She took Jenny by the hand and led her deeper and deeper  into the shadowy woods. “Alright, come on then!” she had said, agreeing at last to show little Jenny her house. The pine trees were tall and very mighty, with the scent of pine heavy in the air. All about, the leaves of the other trees which were not of the evergreen persuasion, were dying the slow death that they do every year around autumn. There was so much beauty in this season! Yet, it was a beauty that was created through the ending of one season and the beginning of another... a passage from life into death, and what lay beyond. And come spring, a new life would begin for the natural world all over again! Lily talked about all of this to her playmate... and Jenny felt like she could understand, even though she should not have been able to. “But Lily, why are we talking about death?” and Lily smiled, stating: “Because it is a part of nature, and we are going through nature's domain right now. We need to remember this, and so not be frightened because of it!” For dark became those woods, dark and terrible to Jenny's imagination. Like woods she always saw in her blackest and most awful of nightmares, the ones she used to think were real. Those ones that when she was only two years old, she always feared she would never wake up from! Her mother always had told her that they were only bad dreams... but to her, they were something far more terrible. Experiences in which she was helpless, and beset by a large black and terrible beast that stalked those woods. The beast would try to catch her, and she would always fly or jump or escape in some other fashion so that the horrible creature would never get her. Every shadow in these woods, to her was a place where that monster might be hiding, because the monster was made of shadows and could be in any of them. “Lily I am scared!” she complained, to which her new friend stopped, gave her a big hug, and said in a highly reassuring tone of voice: “It is okay to be scared, Jenny. But with me at your side, nothing can hurt you. Alright? Come on, now! We are running out of time.” And Lily tightened her grip on Jenny's hand that she was holding as they walked ever on and on. The woods grew larger, more wild, more like a jungle and less like a pine forest... the scent of pine was gone, replaced by other, more exotic scents. Animals and birds of all descriptions could be seen here and there, and the air was growing warmer and far less chilly than it had been. The autumn was replaced by a warmer season, a more tropical climate had then replaced the New England countryside in which Jenny lived. “Where are we, Lily!” she exclaimed, and Lily told her: “We are going to see my house, Jenny, just like I said.” and soon there was no sky to be seen above, only a vast subterranean cavernous realm in which there existed this jungle they now were walking through. No clouds, no hint of the sun, no autumn weather. Some of the animals were talking, saying things to one another, and Jenny could not hope to follow their conversations though she found the idea of the talking animals amusing and delightful. Less delightful were the larger trees in which there were doors set into the trunks, for from out of those doors came terrible screams, crying, and all manner of sorrowful sounds that were heartbreaking to listen to. The trees were large and tall enough to contain small cottages, and that is what Jenny imagined lay behind those doors. Small dwellings, yet she could not fathom what sort of people could call such places home. “Who lives there, Lily?” she so asked, pointing to one of the doors, to which her playmate and guide replied: “People who came here after doing something awful to themselves, Jenny... and they cannot leave until they can get past those pains that made them do what they had done. They are not prisoners, they can come and go anytime... but their painful memories keep them from doing so, trapping them all in those dwellings in the trees.” And Jenny felt sorry for them, though from what she was able to understand of what Lily said... there was no helping those people, who now had to learn ways to help themselves. There were other sights, as the two children made their way to wherever it was that Lily called home... darker ones by far, and things that perhaps no child should see. Lily told Jenny to close her eyes at various points, and to put the screams she heard out of her mind. “Why are they screaming like that?” she asked, and always did Lily tell her: “Because they have lost all joy, happiness, and love. Those are the lost, who in the giving of their hearts over to anger and hatred have lost even knowing how to experience the brighter things.”

   Jenny never saw the lost themselves, except only in terrifying glimpses of them in their torments and in their tortures when her eyes were of a want to snap open despite Lily's warnings. The flashes of those sorts of things that could be glimpsed at those times made Jenny feel very sick to her stomach and very frightened in her heart. Which in turn, made her close her eyes even tighter. She could hear fire crackle, and it felt very, unbearably hot sometimes wherever it was Lily was leading her next... as many places, domains, and lands of all sorts seemed to be coming and going like slices of reality being swapped out, as the two journeyed along. Screams and all manner of horrible sounds, some inhuman and monstrous, came from the fire and the darkness in which the fire existed. Once Lily had led the other girl past that place, reality seemed to shift and shuffle once again, and it was finally deemed safe enough for Jenny to open her eyes, which Lily instructed her to do at long last. This place was both all places and no places, it was every reality and no reality. They walked on floating platforms in what resembled outer space... and yet there was no sense of a black void between the stars. Instead, were phantasmal images that all appeared to be peoples' dreams and nightmares, all playing out between the stars. Stars of many colors, and countless degrees of brightness or dullness. “Oh my God, Lily! Where are we?” cried out Jenny, to which the pale girl named Lily replied: “Would you believe me, even if I could tell you? I doubt it... so, we will just say that we are in a land of dreams. Between realities, and a part of all realities at the exact same time! Beyond them, also. My home lies past this place, yet there is something here of everyone's homes. Of everyone themselves, too.” And Jenny could see her own house, her own home, through one of her own dreams that was playing out in the skies above. An old dream, a pleasant one. Lily led her on across the platforms of rock and earth that were floating through this kind of ethereal expanse, and they had to jump from platform to platform because to fall into that... whatever it was that surrounded them... would leave Jenny lost in that sea of dreams for all eternity. “Lily, does this place exist because people dream?” the little girl asked, to which her new friend said: “Partly, yes... though it also existed long before the first human dreams were ever imagined, way back when only the universe so dreamed. And other universes dreamed, beyond it! For all that possesses life, dreams. And before human life, a great deal of other forms of life existed and dreamed. Some claim that all existence first came into its' being when a great dream indeed was imagined... and from that dream came forces that brought all into being. Or perhaps simply a primordial inspiration, from which some great and powerful force above all others created everything that exists as we know it today! It was a long time, since I was there for that. So my memory of it is... unclear, sometimes.” Jenny looked shocked, amazed, and unable to process all of this fully. “So Lily, you must be really old then actually! Sounds like you know God, too.” And Lily smiled, a cynical and ironic looking smile, before saying: “Yes, Lily... you could say that I know God.” to which Jenny asked what God is like, and Lily explained: “God is like you and me, and also just like your family, because it exists in all of us... as well as apart from us at the same time. It predates all that exists, yet is a part of all that is... the part that continues from one cycle of time into the next. Even long after one cycle has ended, and the next begins! So long as there is life, there is God. Just as so long as there is life, there is also life's opposite... and God's shadow exists because God does.” Which changed forever how Jenny saw God. “Thanks, Lily! I think I get it now.” she said, and they continued on their way through this place that was all places and yet none of them. Eventually, they came to a kind of odd and glowing pool of softly shimmering light, which swirled with countless colors, even ones no human eye has seen the likes of. Only, the pool stood like a doorway in the air itself, rising up from the ground of one of the floating, rocky platforms. Lily pointed to it, proclaiming: “That... is how we will reach the place that I call home! Through that doorway.” to which Jenny said that it looked like water. “Won't we drown if we try to go through that?” she asked, but Lily insisted: “No, because it is not made of water... but of something else. It is like a tunnel that leads from one place to another. On stepping through it, we will automatically be where we are trying to get to.” which made Jenny feel a lot more relaxed about it.

   Just as they were about to enter the portal, though, a deep yet soothing voice reverberated from out of the air all around and all about the two children. It said: “Lily... dear Lily... what brings you to my realm and why did you bring your little friend along with you? This is no place for children, after all!” which made Lily reply as follows: “Hello there, Somnus! We will not be long, worry not... we are just passing through, and were about to go through this doorway when you decided to speak to us.” and the voice in all of its' power and grandeur spoke in response to Lily's words, saying: “Very well then, but be on your way quickly! There are certain darker dreams and more terrible nightmares that roam this place, and I would not wish our guest to be carried off by one of them unawares. You know the ones that I speak of, the ones that sometimes come to possess a will of their own, and which are not content to remain where it is that they are meant and intended by both fate and destiny to be placed.” to which Lily in a calm and steady tone reassured Somnus, insisting: “Oh, I have this! You need not fret over it, the girl is my guest after all. Even dreams and nightmares meet their endings when I am of a mind to see them cease.” And then they hurried through the portal, the doorway, into the domain that Lily was guiding Jenny to next. Behind them, a storm of restless dreams and nightmares shook with frustration, anger, wrath, and a bit of irritation over having lost yet another victim. Some invisible, mighty hand swept them away, and for a time there would be calm in that realm. Lily would never realize how close they had been to this peril, although when they had some free time to spend together Somnus would chastise her to no end about it. She never heard the end of it, when she brought guests from the physical world into these sorts of lands.

   The next place in which little Jenny found herself... quite instantaneously, just as Lily had promised it would be... was a beautiful lush green meadow beneath a sky that was perpetually blue. Various trees of all sorts could be seen here and there all across the meadow lands that spread out as far as the eye could see, and there were no clouds of any kind to be seen in the skies above. Every once in a while, there had been a streak of something shooting through the sky, similar to a comet or a meteor, but with a rainbow colored tail that left rainbow colored sparkles in its' wake as it passed across the horizon. There was the sound of singing to be heard sometimes... children singing... but it was impossible to tell where it came from. There were toys scattered about in the meadow, all looking new for the most part, and yet still all bearing signs of being played with a great deal. Jenny saw quite a few toys that she liked, but decided to leave them be even so, since just because she did not see their owners that did not mean she could just take them without angering someone. Lily remarked: “This is a place of joy, where what a person truly longs for the most will manifest itself for them. What do you truly long for, Jenny?” and Jenny thought about it long and hard, and then before you know it there was the sound of other children approaching. All around her age, all from her era, all of them smiling and cheerful. Not mocking, bullying, or cruel... unlike many children outside of her relatives that she had known. All of them recognized Jenny, even though she did not know them... and all of them regarded her as their very best of friends. For a time, they played upon that meadow with the toys that lay thereabouts... yet, after a while Jenny became sad and longed for someone to care for her like a mother or father, to take care of her, to reassure her that things were going to be alright in life. Her mother appeared just then, and told her that everything was going to be okay... though her father was absent. Not surprising, since her parents were in the process of getting divorced as it was. So many times, she heard her mother and father fighting... tried to hide from the sound of it in her little fantasy worlds in her mind. Her grandmother was the voice of reason and did her best to keep Jenny from spending too much time in her fantasies... whilst, sadly, her grandfather all too increasingly seemed to be becoming more selfish as he got older. Less caring than when Jenny was much younger. The older Jenny got, the less he even pretended to care about her. Sure, they all tried to keep the grown-up problems far from her mind, tried to keep her from knowing about them! But Jenny was a bright, smart little girl and not easily fooled by adults and their white lies and kindly deceptions.

   Lily asked Jenny a question: “Why just your mother? I mean, why not wish for a father who she can love, who can stay with her... and with you! One whose voice you need never hear raised in anger.” to which the little girl replied to her pale guide: “Lily, I know you mean well, but after Dad squeezed my face in the crib when I was a baby, and after I saw him hit Mom a few times and saw how awfully she cried over it, I don't want a daddy anymore. I worry that if Mom gets me a new daddy he'll just end up hurting me like the one I have now did.” Lily then remarked: “Did, Lily? He still hurts you, and so does your grandfather! They hit you, and make you think it is your fault, that you did something wrong. And sometimes you were bad, but not always! And never did you deserve to be hit like that. Not ever! There is no child who should be abused, as you have been.” and she remembered the things that she could not bring herself to speak of at all... the subtler abuses, the ones that hurt more than physical ones. “You are a stupid child! What, did your mother give birth to a retard or something?” her grandmother once said to her when Jenny once complained sadly that she could not seem to make friends like other kids could. Then came the screaming her grandmother did after that, and the memory of how her mother had to go and bring her to her room, shut the door, and cover her ears so that she could not hear the horrible, evil things that came out of her grandmother's mouth after that. Her mother would sing to her, try to drown out the sound of her grandmother's shrieking voice... try to pretend they were someplace else and not in that house, not going through all of that. How many times did her grandmother call her a failure? How many times did she call her bigoted names because of Jenny's mixed race due to her father having been Puerto Rican! As if being of mixed race were a sin in her grandmother's eyes. Her mother had ever been a victim of these angry tirades too... her grandmother had often made fun of her mother's nose and face, called her ugly and said her nose was big. Once, her wicked grandmother even said to little Jenny: “We were all such a happy family before you were born! Your mother should have closed her legs when you were being born and snapped your neck before you could take your first miserable, rotten breath. Why don't you go kill yourself... drown yourself or jump out a window or something... then we can sing and be a happy family again without you being around to ruin it.” But what had Jenny ever done to ruin joy for anyone? She tried to sing, sometimes, and her grandmother would make fun of her when she did... so, if it had been anyone who was robbing this family of its' joy then surely it was the grandmother. So many times, Jenny wished it was just her mother and her... far away from that house, from those people who could all be so cruel sometimes. A fresh start, somewhere that she could meet real friends and be accepted at last. That was all her little heart truly desired at her age! And so, that is why her mother. No, not her mother but a convincing double of her, of sorts, appeared in this place now. Jenny thought that they had been a happy family once, her family, but that is only because when she was still a baby they all tried to hide the rot in their souls from her, the evil in their hearts. Except for her father, who was a nasty piece of work always... even then. But they had been a happy family once, little Jenny believed! And for the first time in her young life, she realized that this belief had always been a lie. The child so turned to her “mother” and said with tears streaming down her face, her voice quivering with sorrow: “Mom, I am so sorry but... I know you aren't really my mommy. I know my real mommy always tried her best for me, but why didn't she just take me and move away with me! Start over someplace nice... far, far away, where I won't ever have to cry again.” and, this woman who looked like her mother then suddenly changed form, appearing as a person who was every ideal of perfection, joy, happiness, and beauty that anyone could ever imagine or want. Some would want to be this person, some would want to be with this person... and their form changed constantly before Jenny's eyes because new ideals of what people want the most are born every time someone longs for something or someone. There was a true form at the heart of this maelstrom of visages, shapes, and appearances... but the little girl's eyes, they simply could not pierce through all of that enough to behold it clearly. “You are a smart little girl, I see...” said this being in a voice that sounded like several voices all blending together into a single one.

   The being went on, saying: “Too smart, for this place to keep you long! Go with your pale guide, and let her lead you to her home... there is nothing here that is permanent. For what I represent, it is only the most temporary of all states. All that we could ever hope to be, or want, or wish for the most... because it exists in a universe bound by time, it is not permanent. But love can be! Why do so few people wish for love with as much longing as they do for beauty, power, and wealth? The lack of love leaves this... my realm... so empty sometimes. But you do long for love, little girl! And for such a brief moment, you brought love to my domain. Thank you for that!” to which Jenny smiled, bowed politely, and said in the most sad of tones: “I'm glad I could help! But nothing here is real I think, so I need to go.” and Lily led Jenny out of that place by way of another shimmering portal-like doorway... this one set into the side of a large weeping willow tree. As they made ready to cross its' threshold, Lily remarked in an astounded tone of voice: “I am really impressed with you, Jenny! A lot of people have ended up trapped in these meadows... simply, because they could not tell the difference between their fantasies and reality. It is a horrible fate to end up trapped in the illusion of what you long for the most, all the time never actually obtaining it at all. You are a smart girl indeed! Just like the one who presides over this realm has said.” But Jenny never cared about being smart, she just wanted to be happy. Perhaps that made her smartest of all, however, since in her quest for happiness in life... she had come to be wary of false happiness of every kind. Just like false promises, they could never truly content her heart or bring peace to her soul.

   Beyond that threshold, little Jenny and pale Lily entered into an expanse of great valleys and rugged lands, a place where various houses, homes and small towns could be seen amid various thick forests, babbling streams, and pleasant meadows. There were pale flowers in the fields, and it was as if all the land were kept in a perpetual afternoon, an eternal dusk where day had begun to pass into night, but in truth night was not upon the land, nor ever would be. There was no sun in the sky, yet the golden light of the afternoon was there to be seen nonetheless. A glow that came not from the heavens, but from no discernible source that Jenny could perceive. There was a sense of profound peace in this place, but at the same time there was a certain somberness just beneath the surface that one could sense rather than see physically. “Once upon a time, Jenny, this land was all a beautiful garden... because no one had yet come to dwell here. But that was also long before people started to live limited lifespans! In those days, way before time had truly begun as you understand it... people lived forever and ever. No one ever died, no one ever got sick, no one ever knew pain or suffered! But over time, various things happened and it came to pass that war, strife, sickness and at last death all came into being. Oh, to be certain Death had always been there... she had ever been a part of existence after all, inseparable from it and apart form it at the same time. But people had not met her yet! Once people met her, however, the ones who passed into her care needed a place to live in between, before their next destination could be decided. Some it would be decided, would go on to live a new life with new parents... being born as children again. That is called reincarnation, Jenny! Something you have experienced many times, though you maybe do not remember it. Or perhaps you do, and just do not realize that is what it is! Some who died, would in the end be taken by angels or demons to places beyond my desire to enter... yet even so, I have been to both of the realms those beings inhabit. I simply do not desire to go hence, because I have no place in either a realm of pure endless delight or in a realm of absolute endless torment. My place is here, between all other realms and yet apart from them likewise... like many of the places we have passed through on our way to this one. I would not be welcome elsewhere, save in the material realms of physical existence, which is where I met you Jenny. Do you now realize who I truly am? After all I have told you, and all I have shown you! Do you know my true name?” and Jenny said sadly: “I think I do, Lily. But... if you're Death like it seems you are... does that mean I am dead?” to which Death in the guise of Lily replied, in the most loving and compassionate tone imaginable: “No, little Jenny, it does not! I am just so lonely.”

   Lily continued: “Nobody, ever wants to come and visit me here... or, even see this place. And all who do, are not in any condition to cheer me up! But you, Jenny, you cheered me up by allowing me to be a child, to experience the joys of childhood in ways I am normally not able to. To play for a while, to try and forget that people die, that people hurt, that people suffer and are in need of the mercy only I might grant them. Many are, and have been, my lovers... but few have been my friends. You, I count among my truest of all friends! That is why I am giving you a choice... you can stay here with me, alive, and be away from all those who hurt you in life, and here you will never age and never die. You can be a child forever, never have to grow up even! I will be your mother, and one day when I grow tired of doing my job... you can replace me as Death, if you want to. One day Jenny, even your mother will hurt you... it is something I have foreseen in the tapestries of the fates. You have longed to start a new life elsewhere, a new life with a family that loves you! I love you, Jenny... like only a true mother ever could. And all of my siblings love you too! You have met some of them already on the way here. A life of abuse is not a life for a little girl like you... but here, you can be a princess in my domain. Here, where I am the queen. What do you say, child?” and then Lily changed her form, appearing as an adult once again. Looking as she had when Jenny had first met her while outside playing. “What about all my stuffed animal friends? They'll miss me so much, Lily! Mom will miss me too... and maybe Mom will change with time, maybe I can try to change her.” but Death knew the truth, and explained it to Jenny as best she could: “There is no way to change another person, unless they themselves are willing to make that change. Your mother will one day come to love you and understand you fully... more than ever before. But before that, she in time will indeed cause you much grief and heartache! And when she finally does repent of it, and try to be the mother you deserve to have... it will be just before she dies. When it is far too late to matter! At the moment, yes, she loves you, worries about, misses you... like any mother would... but you will grow up in body one day, though not in mind or spirit. You will remain childlike, even as an adult! That too I have foreseen. You are... different... Jenny. Not like many other children, who will embrace maturity in the fullness of time! Your grandmother will hate you for this, and your mother will not understand why it is so. I do understand you, child! And here, your body can match your mind and spirit forever.” Thus it was, that Jenny thought long and hard about all that Death had told her... all that her friend Lily made her aware of. “And Jenny... we can always get you new stuffed animals!” Lily explained to her... at the same time producing a brown teddy bear seemingly out of thin air, and giving it to Jenny to hug tightly. “Lily... you said you saw my future, right! Am I meant to fall in love when I grow up, to have a prince of my own who will call me his princess? Like in the fairy tales...” to which Death told her in a totally matter of fact tone of voice: “Yes, and that will be the greatest light in all your life! Shining brightly in the face of all the darkness that comes before it. But, you will age, as all who dwell in mortal forms do with time's passing... and even so, remain a child in your mind, and in your heart, and soul. The one you are destined to be with, that same will fully understand and appreciate you, and love you, and be like a mother and father to you, all in one. They will kiss you, hold you, and buy you all the stuffed animals as a little girl could wish for! You will be happy, at last. But first comes growing up in body, suffering all that will come before you find this love... and, remaining strong and steadfast in the face of all that, so as to live long enough to find what you truly seek in life. To know the happiness you dream of having!” And Jenny made her decision, a wise one for one so young to make: “I want to go back home, Lily. To have the chance to grow up and meet my prince, and be happy! Someday, when I die, I will just end up here anyway. We can play more then... and you can give me new stuffed animals then. Okay?” and thus it was, that Lily... Death... knew this child was wise indeed. She smiled knowingly, and sent little Jenny home, where she lived the life that Lily told her she would... and all transpired just as Lily had foretold.
--- This is a fictionalized story, based upon actual childhood memories of mine and events from my life. No matter how much time has passed over the years... I have remained, and always will be, little Jenny.
Written by Kou_Indigo (Karam L. Parveen-Ashton)
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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