Monday, 21 March 2016

Happiness (A retelling of Maurice Maeterlinck's “The Blue Bird”) - Chapter 8 and 9

Chapter 8 – Garden of Dreams, Bird of Dreams

“What are you doing?!” the queen cried out pushing Tristan away, but he already had the key in his hand.
“Give me the key!”
Tristan touched the diamond, immediately the queen backed off.
“Take us to the blue bird,” he ordered his voice low.
“I already told you I do not have it!”
“Then tell us where it is!” He glared at her and added, “Lucien warned us that you will make sure to keep the blue bird in the end. Even if you would not give it to us, you would at least tell us where to find one.”
Realizing that she cannot win, the queen sighed.
“All right,” she pointed down the corridor. “If you open the door at the end of this corridor you shall find what you seek.”
“Let’s go, Michelle,” Tristan said as he and Tylo took his sister down the corridor.
“Tristan.”
Tristan turned and looked back at the queen.
“What you truly seek maybe found much closer than you think.”
“What do you mean?”
“What I am saying is that you will not find it here.” With that, the queen left them.

Moments later, Tristan, Michelle and Tylo stood before door that the queen had directed them.
“I guess this is it,” Tristan inserted the key.
Placing a hand on his, Michelle asked him, “What if we’re wrong?”
“What do you mean?”
“What if there is no blue bird?”
“If she was so determined to tell us that there was no blue bird, I would say she was likely hiding one from us.” He turned the key. The lock clicked and the door swung open.
The door revealed a beautiful flower garden glowing in broad daylight. There were flowers of every shades of colour and sizes, sweet and rich fragrances from the blooms filled the air as above the garden flew birds – blue birds. All of them were the size of swallows singing, soaring and hopping amongst the flowers. Each bird had feathers that were made of various shades of blue: turquoise blue, aquamarine, royal blue, sapphire, baby blue, sky blue, electric blue – all flashing and changing as daylight hit their wings during flight.
They all stared at the wonder before them.
A smile broke across Tristan’s face. “Let’s get them!”
Immediately, Tylo and Michelle followed as they captured as many birds as they could. The birds were easy to catch for they did not fly too high or fly too far. By the time they were done, they caught enough to fill the cage full of those brilliant blue birds.
They closed and locked the door behind them and made their way back to the queen’s throne room.
“I see that your search had been fruitful.” The queen received her key back.
Tristan and Michelle graciously bowed.
“Thank you, your majesty,” they chorused.
The queen looked at the cage almost bursting of the birds. “Give my regards to Light,” said as she walked away.
“Your majesty,” Tylette approached the queen and whispered, “They didn’t catch the real one. It got away.” With that the cat sprinted after her companions telling them that she will lead them to the exit.
At the cat’s words, the Guardian of Secrets smiled.

“Lucien! Lucien!” Michelle called to their friend who stood waiting for them at the edge of the palace property.
“We found the blue birds, Lucien! It just as you said!” The moment those words were out of Tristan’s mouth, he heard a cry from Michelle.
“Tristan, look!” Michelle pointed at the bird cage. Inside were the blue birds – all dead.
In horror, Tristan dropped the cage. “Why? Why did this happen?”
“They were alive, Lucien,” she explained.
“I know they were, Michelle, but these birds are not real, they birds of dreams from the Garden of Dreams. They die the moment they are exposed to real light.” Lucien explained. He crouched down, opened the cage and carefully took out all the dead birds.
Large tears fell from Michelle’s eyes as she watched Lucien clean out the cage.
“The poor things, we shouldn’t have brought them out of their homes. They seemed so happy there,” she said sadly.
Tylo sniffed at the carcasses and muttered, “I guess we can’t eat these either.”
“Let’s bury them,” Tristan said, then with Lucien and Tylo they dug a hole in the ground and put the birds of dreams to rest.



Chapter 9 – Into the Woods

It was still night when Tristan and his companions left the Night Palace property and entered the woods.
“The blue bird is seen here in these woods,” Lucien explained as they journeyed further, “If you ask the trees they will tell you.”
“Will you come with us this time, Lucien?” Michelle asked.
“I will, but I will have to hide my presence. Because the trees fall silent during the day, my presence will do the same as well. It is better if you talk to them while it is still dark out.”
She sighed in disappointment. Tristan glanced at his sister, but did not say anything.
“Michelle.” She looked up at the light spirit. “I will watch over you and your brother, I promise you. Your brother has the diamond with him that contains my essence. You will be all right.”
Tristan turned away. “Let’s go, Michelle,” he said, grabbing her wrist.
“Wait, Tristan,” she protested, seeing the light gone she allowed her brother to lead her into the woods.
“Why are you so attached to that guy?” Tristan asked.
“Who? Lucien?”
“Yeah,” her brother grouched, “I mean, I’m your older brother. I can protect you, why do you have to be so…clingy to that guy.”
“I like him.”
He stopped and stared at her.
“What?”
“You like him? He’s a spirit, something like one of those sprites and fairies.”
“But he isn’t. How can I explain it? I feel safe and different around him.”
“Different?”
She raised a shoulder. “Well, he genuinely cares about us.”
“How do you know that?”
“I just do.” She stopped and studied her brother. “Tristan, are you jealous?”
Her brother looked away uncomfortably.
“You are, aren’t you?”
“So what if I was? I am your brother! I am the one you should ask for protection and you go all doe-eyed asking a total stranger to protect you.”
“Lucien’s a gentleman!”
Tristan snorted as he stomped further into the woods.
“Tristan, you are being childish!”
“Whatever! We have a bird to find!”

Meanwhile, Tylette sped ahead of them giving herself a good distance from her owners.
She came to a clearing and call up to the trees, “Good evening, everyone!”
As if in response the trees rustled their leaves. “Good evening, Daughter of the Night,” some of them greeted.
“I have come to warn you that there are two human people coming here in search of the blue bird the blue bird that represents your happiness.”
The trees murmured at the news.
“Humans in this forest!” said a poplar.
“Do they carry axes?” asked a pine.
“Or torches? Do they carry torches?” asked a spruce.
“Oh, dear! I hope they’re not here to cut us down like our extended families!” worried the weeping willow.
“One of them bears the diamond that carries the essence of light. They would use that to take away our blue bird and have their way with us.” Tylette said gravely.
The trees shook their leaves in fear as they murmured amongst themselves.
“What about us? Will the humans hurt us?” A squirrel poked his head out of a hole in a tall oak tree.
“Indeed there is no knowing what those humans will do to us,” the cat confirmed, “However, if we keep them from finding the bird and make sure that they would never set foot in these woods again.”
“We’ll need to warn the others!” an owl who was listening to the conversation hooted.
“Yes, we must!” a rabbit affirmed and leapt into the bushes to do just that.
“Gather everyone to this clearing,” said an ancient oak, “and let us meet these humans.”
“I think I hear them coming,” Tylette hid herself behind the ancient oak.
“All we have to do is ask where the blue bird is and we’ll be on our way, master,” Tylo said as he led Tristan and Michelle to a suddenly quiet clearing.
“I wonder where Tylette had gone.” Michelle said.
“You know how she is – always wonders off somewhere. She has nine lives; she can take care of herself.” Tristan told her.
“Oh!” Michelle stopped in the middle of a clearing. “Well, this is strange. All the trees and animals are gathered in a circle here.”
Tristan and his sister stopped.
Tylo’s hair at the back of his neck bristled as he said in a growl, “I don’t like this, master.”
“You are the humans searching for the blue bird?” the ancient oak inquired.
“I guess they knew we were coming,” Tristan told his sister and dog, and then he addressed to the trees and animals that gathered there, “Good evening! Yes, we are looking for the blue bird of happiness.”
“Tristan!” Michelle whispered to her brother, “That tree has one!”
They both looked at the oak and saw a blue bird perched on one of its branches.
“And pray, what do you wish to do with the blue bird of happiness?”
“We are just on a quest to help someone,” said the young man, “Sir, I see that you have a bird we seek on your branch there. If it is all right with you, would you let us have it?”
“My lord,” Tylette whispered to the great oak, “I would be careful with these humans, they may look young, but are already plotting how to claim your precious bird.”
“So, tell us, young travellers,” the oak said, “who are you and where do you come from?”
“I am Tristan and this is Michelle my sister and our dog Tylo.” Tristan introduced.
At the mention of his name, the trees and animals gave a gasp and murmured amongst them.
“Did he just say Tristan?” a fox asked.
“Isn’t that the name of the son of a woodcarver?” a rabbit asked another.
“Indeed,” Tylette crouched low behind some animals and said in a low voice, “they’re the very son and daughter of that evil tree-cutter Pierre!”
“Murderers!” cried a spruce. “He cut down my uncle to be used as a Christmas tree!”
“Butchers!” cried a rabbit, “he laid traps and caught my grandmother. She was later made into stew!”
“Monsters!” the animals and trees cried in unison.
“No! Wait!” Michelle protested, but no one was listening.
“Kill the humans!” roared the trees.
“Give them a trial first!” Tylette suggested in a deep false voice.

“Yes, trial first! Then the execution!” the animals screeched, barked, neighed, and made other noises in agreement.

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