Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

The Little Boy and the Golden Thread

Following the surge of creativity here in Cafe Crem, specifically in Cafe Literati, I have decided to present my short stories here. some of them have appeared elsewhere in the net, so apologies to anyone who might have read them already, but I want them recorded here in Cafe literati, which I consider their rightful home. Today, a story inspired by this beautiful illustration from Miki:

the_littleboy_and_the_golden_thread_pm

The Little Boy and the Golden Thread

The boy tossed and turned in his featherbed, the wind that blew outside scraping the branches of the tree against his window like brittle fingers.
He was Five years old, and had never slept a night. Arriving at the breakfast table, bleary-eyed, the following morning, his mother looked at him with despair.
“Son, you must learn to sleep, for a third of your live is given to sleep, and if you waste it, your life will end all too soon!” she exclaimed
The boy looked up at her with large brown eyes, imploring.
“But mama, I don’t know how!” A tear began a slow journey down his cheek.
His mother turned away, stifling a sob.

That night, as he climbed into bed, the boy resolved to seek an answer to his problem.
When all the lights were out, he quickly dressed, unfastened his window, climbed down the tree and ran out into the night, taking a jam sandwich.

He walked for many days, and then hid on a train to London, jumping off in the countryside before it reached the big city. He stuck his nose in the air, and smelled the sea, setting off in its direction. Nobody saw him, for he was only five years old, and very small. By this time he had very little left of his jam sandwich, and was very hungry. He was beginning to feel a little upset when; all of a sudden he caught sight of a tall ship in the harbour. He was by the sea!

He climbed aboard, unseen, and hid in the bottom, with the rats, who were a friendly sort.
One in particular was very talkative, and asked the boy the purpose of his journey.
“I want to know how to sleep, I have never slept one night of my short life, and I am losing precious time!” he said.
The rat, offering the boy a tasty morsel of rotten cabbage, leaned a little closer and whispered, conspiratorially, “Then you have a long journey indeed! You must take this ship to the end of the world, then make your way to the Temple on the Sacred Mountain, where the answer to your problem lies.”
“How can you know this?” asked the boy, in wonder.
“Oh, I travel” sniffed the rat, disdainfully.

So the boy stayed on the ship for many months and the months turned into years, and eventually, the ship made landfall at the end of the world. He slipped ashore unseen, having bade farewell to the rats, and began to walk to the Sacred Mountain.
He walked.
And he walked.
And he walked some more.
He walked for ten years, and curiously, even though he had journeyed many years at sea, and many years on foot, he was still a little five year old boy.
And all at once he was at the foot of the most beautiful mountain he had ever seen. He knew this to be a certain fact, for it was the only mountain he had ever seen.
There was a seemingly endless flight of steps cut into the very rock, curving, up, up so far that he had to squint to see how high they went, and as his eyes followed this stone staircase, he lost sight of it in the clouds. With a sigh, he began his ascent.
Many days passed, and the little boy, one foot in front of the other, climbed higher and higher. Lush green grass gave way to scrub and rock, which in turn became wreathed in snow and ice. The little boy became quite chilly, as he was only wearing his pyjamas.
Eventually, after some months, and just before breakfast, he arrived at a huge wooden doorway, with a big bronze knocker. He reached up…he could not reach high enough.
He tried knocking with his tiny fists on the wood, but they hardly made a sound. Reluctantly, he turned around and headed back down the Sacred Mountain.
Some months later he reached the bottom and peered through the door of a small cottage by the side of the road.
“Can I help you?” said a voice from within
“Yes, if you please” said the boy, “Do you have a stool I could borrow?”
“Why certainly!” came the reply. All at once a man as big as an elephant appeared in the doorway. “You may take this one” he said, gesturing to a small red stool by the fireplace.
“I’m afraid I have an over fondness for toasted marshmallows, and I have been sitting by the fire for twenty years eating them, which accounts for my unusual size, and the inadequacy of the stool I now give you.”
The man handed him the stool.
“The marshmallows smell good!” said the boy “Can I have one?”
“Don’t be greedy!” exclaimed the man, and slammed the door.
The boy set out upon the great stone staircase once again through grasslands, rock, and ice and snow, and the soft caress of the great white clouds, clutching the small red stool.
Some months later, he reached the vast wooden doorway once more. Carefully, he placed the stool below the door knocker, and climbed upon it. He reached up on tiptoe…not..quite…there. He stretched his fingers as far as he could, which wasn’t very far, because if you have seen a little five year old boys fingers you will know that they are very short indeed…his fingers brushed against the metal. The boy frowned. He jumped down from the stool, and made his way down into the clouds on the great stone staircase.

Some months later, he arrived at the door of the cottage.
“Come in” mumbled the man, between marshmallow mouthfuls “I can’t get up, I’ve become wedged in my armchair due to my continuing over fondness for these tasty toasted treats” he said, by way of explanation.
“Why don’t you eat less?” asked the little boy, innocently.
“Don’t be impertinent!” harrumphed the man.
“I wonder if you have a large book I could borrow?” continued the boy.
“Well, of course, as I cannot reach my shelves anymore, are you looking for anything in particular?” asked the man.
“Well, it’s got to be thick.” said the little boy.
“Oh! But this is no criteria for choosing a book, lad!” exclaimed the man, worrying a particularly troublesome piece of marshmallow from between his teeth.
“You need something full of knowledge and wisdom, to improve your lot in the world, and by happy coincidence, my encyclopaedia is both informative and thick, so both your needs will be fulfilled, close the door on your way out.” said the man, his fat fingers  maneuvering another marshmallow onto the end of his toasting fork.

The little boy considered taking a marshmallow with him, but didn’t like the idea of ending up wriggling on the end of a toasting fork, so tucking the encyclopaedia under his arm, he once again mounted the stone steps, through the lush pastures, the rock, and the clouds, emerging into the sunlight by the giant doors. He brushed a layer of snow and ice from the stool, for he had been gone many months. Carefully, he placed the encyclopaedia on top, and climbed up. On tiptoes…stretching his fingers…until they curled around the metal ring of the knocker, he pulled it out and let it fall, one, two, three times, the sound vibrated around the mountain top and deep within the temple.

A tall, thin man answered the door. He welcomed the little boy inside. He was so thin, that as he turned away into the great hall, he almost disappeared completely. The little boy couldn’t help thinking that he should eat some toasted marshmallows.
Wordlessly, he led the little boy through a succession of halls, with glittering ceilings rising high above them in silver and gold.
The boy was enchanted.
“How do you clean them?” he asked.
“The ceilings come to us.” answered the thin man, mysteriously.

All at once they entered a vast mirrored ballroom, which seemed full to overflowing with Golden thread, and in the midst of it sat an old, old woman at a Spinning wheel, working patiently, steadily. The boy let his gaze wander up the thread, and saw that it emerged from a magnificent golden spider, perched high in the roof space.
“Come here boy.” called the old woman.
The boy approached, picking his way through the golden thread.
“Can you help me sleep?” said the little boy.
“That I can.”said the old woman. “though the remedy is painful.”
The little boy took a deep breath and said;
“Then please, tell me how.”
The old woman motioned for the boy to sit on her lap, and from her pinafore she took a wickedly sharp silver needle, which she threaded with expert ease. Gold thread shimmering in the light.
“I will sew this golden thread into your eyelids, and, in time, with the gold in them weighing them down, they will become heavy and close, and sleep will beckon.”
Then, quick as a flash, her fingers went to work, and the little boy’s screams echoed across the mountains.

A world away, his mother woke to the sound, and she leapt from her bed, in the grip of fear. She ran into the little boy’s room.
“My son, are you all right?” she cried.
The little boy was sat up, in his bed.
“Mama, my eyes are so heavy, I cannot keep them open. She looked down at his flickering eyelids and gasped as she caught a glimpse of gold running across each one.
“Mama, I shall not wake from this sleep, for they are too heavy to ever open again.”
His mother held her hands to her mouth in horror.
“But my son, you are but five years upon this earth!”
“Do not weep, Mama,” said the boy, “for I have seen such wonders, and have lived a life of four score years in the blink of an eye. It is not the destination, but the journey, and the journey is life.”
And with that, the little boy’s eyes that weighed so heavy closed for the last time, and the branches scratched forlornly at the window.

THE END

Story Copyright Kev Moore 2007  – Illustration by Miki

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December 30, 2008 - Posted by | Art, Cafe L'Arte, Cafe Literati, Kev Moore's Short Stories, literature, Miki's Paintings, writing | , ,

12 Comments »

  1. I try and avoid using the buzz words of the young but the only word that currently springs to mind is just such a word. So at the risk of being another middleaged lady trying to be “cool” by using the language of the teens, can I just say a resounding, “AWESOME!” and leave it at that!!!

    Comment by viv66 | December 30, 2008

  2. Middle-aged or teenaged – your comment is deeply appreciated! …and if you want to hear a middle-aged man immersed in the buzz words of the young..well, that’s probably me! I have children, that’s my excuse anyway. 🙂

    Comment by kevmoore | December 30, 2008

  3. I work with teenagers and one thing they seem to hate is adults trying too hard to be cool or sound cool or hip or whatever. They’d far rather someone was just their real self. If that includes using in-words, that’s OK, but so many teachers try and use the lingo as a conscious means of ingratiating themselves with the kids and “getting alongside them”. I’m not precisely Miss Jean Brodie but I do expect a certain standard from my students and I believe that gives them the right to expect a certain standard from me. I’m planning a lesson for next summer that is based on imaginative alternatives to the expletives that so many of them learn here on the means streets of this little fishing port; after all, I’ve learned all their swearwords in about ten languages. When a kid mutters “PUta!” under his breath when I set a task, I glare. I have a very good glare…
    I have a daughter in her late teens and she told me once she would disown me if I ever used certain words in public…I think I am allowed to say Awesome and Cool though…
    Off to feed the Vampires!

    Comment by viv66 | December 30, 2008

  4. Bravo Kev for taking the first step. A wonderful fairytale type of story with a truth and candor great for adults and for children as well.

    Comment by Michael Pokocky | December 30, 2008

  5. Hi Michael, I have just seen that we have posted a comment at the same time. How are you, are you recovering well from the accident?

    Comment by Miki | December 30, 2008

  6. Hi Miki,

    I am recovering well. Still have to see the doctor and have an expert opinion on my injuries. This is needed for making a claim against the insurance company of the contractor.

    Glad that you met V and Kim and that they have exchanged with you. I met them when I was writing Mike on the Road.

    Glad too for seeing the energy happening here and elsewhere because it was all done for the right reason at the right time. It really is amazing to see the emergence of new sides of creative expression and I believed that Cafe Crem was the ideal place to connect people if only for a moment or a lifetime.

    How’s the translation going? Are you happy? Is there anything else I can do for you? Let me know. I am just next door in Canada.

    Comment by Michael Pokocky | December 30, 2008

  7. Hi Kev,

    I read the story again and its autobiographical in the sense it is a story of escape and a journey back home. Its a story of a young persons natural need to expand their world view and to try and make sense of it too. Its a reminder to all, like Picasso said to paraphrase him,”We must be like children if we are to create.” Its a story that is complete and yet incomplete in the sense that it makes me want to know more about the boy, who becomes the teen, the young adult, and then as an adult, to see the arc of the boy to old man life journey and the slices of wisdom gleamed. Its a fine story Kev and I encourage you to keep writing them.

    Comment by Michael Pokocky | December 30, 2008

  8. Happy New Year Canada!

    Kind to ask! The best thing you can do for me right now, Michael, is to stay with us in Cafe Crem and Cafe Literati, of course as long as YOU enjoy it…
    The translation is not an easy thing, considering that neither English nor German are my first languages, I have unfortunately lost a lot of my German since I am living in Spain, I am quite sad about it. But I will publish Bubble Boy in its German original version too, I have announced it already in a new German blog just dedicated to it, and if some German people get to read it, and comment it, I might then find my German words back.
    But of course Kevin is of great help. I make the translation and he corrects then. But of course it will never sound as if a native English had written the book… anyway perhaps it is not so important…

    Ad yes, I deeply enjoy the contact to Viv. thanks for that again, it was a great step, for Cafe Crem and for me.

    Comment by Miki | December 30, 2008

  9. Thanks Michael, I was just telling Miki this afternoon that this energy between us all on Cafe Crem “forces” me, in a good way, to get my stuff out there. It’s funny, with songs I find them much easier to let go whether complete or not. With my writing, its a harder road, but you, Viv and Miki doing the same helps give me the necessary boost to go that extra mile.

    Comment by kevmoore | December 30, 2008

  10. Hallo Miki!

    Einen schönen ersten Tag des Jahres (deiner st wohl fast zu Ende).
    Wenn Du Hilfe brauchst mit Deutsch oder korrigieren, kann ich vielleicht helfen? Also überzetzen von Französisch auf Deutsch kann ich nicht, aber Englisch auf Deutsch oder die Deutsche Übersetzung durchlesen und korrigieren, könnte ich. Frag nur 🙂

    Kev, I started reading your story a day or so ago but was interrupted. I finished it today and at first it left me feeling a bit sad for the little boy that had to leave his mother behind. That’s not the natural order of things and it’s hard when a mother loses a child. But there are so many interpretations you can read into this story, it’s fascinating!! Beautifully written and presented. I want to read more!

    Happy New Year to you and Miki!

    Comment by Bonny | January 1, 2009

  11. Thank you so much Bonny! yes – it has a bittersweet ending, but it felt right to close it in this way. More stories are coming!

    Comment by kevmoore | January 2, 2009

  12. Oh Bonny, I had not seen your comment! Very kind of you to propose your help, and I might come back to it at some point. In the case of bubble Boy, the original is in German, and has been corrected by my first husband (who was German, and a writer himself). As for German to English, Kevin is doing the correction.
    But I might need help for the German blog, if I do some other kind of entries at some point. For example, if you can, have a look in the German blog

    http://eswareinmal.wordpress.com

    the about page on the right side. I wrote it some days ago and I guess it is full of mistakes!!!

    This is the drama of my writer’s life: the only language in which i could write really in my own style and without needing a corrector would be French, but I have no French friends any more, I left France too early! So for whom should I write in French then?!!!

    Comment by Miki | January 2, 2009


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