The children all hauled a lumbering beast behind them, a hundred feet tall, its arms and legs the size of tree trunks. On top of the beasts a small forest grew, with lush pines and green meadows, a safe haven to retreat at night, to eat and rest for another day’s march along the barren plains.
I had often asked them why they journeyed the globe this way. How they had tamed the beasts and why they were only led by children, not by adults – the sight of whom I had yet to experience in this strange land. But they never spoke a word. All they did was walk into the big nowhere.
Not until my fifth week did I notice a change in the pattern. I saw one of the older girls of the troupe climbing from her beast, kissing it goodbye and then wandering off into the night. I tried running after her but the beast blocked my path until the darkness had swallowed her.
The following day the beast that had lost it’s child, decided to stay behind, broken-hearted, yet somehow contented. As if it had fulfilled its destiny and was now able to lead a life alone.
We never encountered the runaway girl again, though a few days later a new beast joined the troupe. It was led by a child so young it could barely walk. But she kept up with us and when night fell, like the other children, she climbed up her animal, ate some berries and fell sound asleep.
She had her mother’s eyes, this child.
And when she was old enough, she too would be allowed to stand on her own feet, find her own path and burst from her fragile cocoon to blossom into a magnificent, caring beast.
Did you enjoy this story? Then why not try the 101 stories in 300 words or less in YOU’RE GETTING SLEEPY, THE HYPNOTIST’S APPRENTICE YAWNED.