Once upon a time… many, many years ago in a world long since forgotten, there was a country called Anywhere. And in the land of Anywhere there was a fine and prosperous city called Anyplace and within the city of Anyplace was a hospital for children. In a particular room in this hospital lay a particular child, a boy of just nine years of age. The Boy had been struck down by one of the cruelest threads that the Blind Old Weaver Of Fate, in all her capricious randomness, can weave. The Boy was dying of an Incurable Cancer.
Sitting with The Boy was his Mother, She sat, still, determined, watchful for The Boy’s doctors had told him that the ravages of the Incurable Cancer were now such that this day would Most Likely be The Boy’s Last Day and The Mother was determined not to miss a moment for she loved The Boy absolutely, this child was her life, she had seen him into this world and held him in his first few seconds of his life; she would see him out of this world, too, and hold him in his last few seconds of life.
As The Mother sat in her Patient Vigil over her dying son, she thought briefly of The Boy’s father. It was sad he was not here; he had been a handsome but Selfish and Self-Obsessed man and had abandoned his wife and son in the second year of The Boy’s life to Take Up With another woman, a Younger Model. Not once had he ever contacted wife and son again and The Mother knew not where he was. Ever since his departure it had been her and The Boy. Everything she did for The Boy, her horrible, poorly paid job, the long hours, the worries about rents and bills, the sheer bloody struggle of everyday life for an Ordinary Person in this land where once again The Greedy One Percent were in Rapacious Ascendancy…that, all of that, it was all for The Boy and it was all made worthwhile by The Boy. Everything for The Boy because The Boy is Everything. Such is the Nature Of Love.
The Mother reaches out a hand, across The Boy’s bed, and lays it on her son’s forehead. The Boy moves slightly and, to The Mother’s delight, a smile blossoms on his pale face. A feeling of warmth travels up The Mother’s arm and she feels blessed relief from the Howling Horror of her and The Boy’s sorry circumstances. And suddenly a picture forms in her mind, of an expanse of fields and woodland, an isolated rural area many miles outside Anyplace that she and The Boy had visited many times; The Boy had loved it there and as he ran through the grass and flowers, dodging in and out of trees, radiant and healthy under a Broad, Bright Blue Sky he would excitedly ask Mum, Will We See a Troll, Will We See A Troll?
And in The Mother’s head, as real as you are sitting there reading this, The Boy speaks and says, Please Mum, Not Here Mum, Not In This Cold, White Room.
Suddenly all is clear. The Mother knows that this is not the place her son should die. Not here, not here in this bureaucratically nondescript cell, surrounded by the Professional Indifference of doctors and nurses and by the Tragedy of Too Many Other young lives fading far too soon into The Dense Fog Of Forgotten Stories. Her son shall die in that place of grass and flowers that he loves so much, that place so open to the Possibilities of the Broad, Bright Blue Sky.
So it was that The Mother gathered up The Boy to herself and took him from that cold, white place. It should have been a difficult thing to steal away a dying child from a hospital but God, in one of his rare moments of actually Paying Attention to what was going on in one of The Many Worlds He Had Created, was moved by this Tale of a boy and a mother and intervened with the Blind Old Weaver Of Fate to ensure that some Rare Lucky Threads Of Gold were spun into the story of both The Mother and The Boy. On the way out of the hospital, nobody challenged the woman who was clutching to herself a sick child. Two nurses and an orderly thought briefly of saying something but had a sense of intruding on Something They Did Not Understand and Should Leave Well Alone.
And so The Mother and The Boy passed by nurses, doctors, orderlies unmolested and left the hospital. Outside, a passing clarb driver noticed the pair; a weary and distraught mother holding to her body and heart a pale and obviously very sick child. Moved at a level he at once Understood But Did Not Understand, the clarb driver pulled over and asked The Mother if she would like a lift and where too and There’ll Be No Fair To Pay, Darlin’.
Soon they arrived in the hills outside of Anyplace, where resided the Gross And Tasteless Mansions of the vile and destructive Greedy One Percent. The Mother and The Boy took leave of the kind clarb driver and began to walk. They walked past the mansions of the Rapaciously Rapist Rich, over the hills that surrounded Anyplace and out, far, far out into the wild and beautiful countryside that constitutes most of the land of Anywhere. For two hours The Mother walked, carrying The Boy with Love and Care, as if he where The Most Precious Thing In The World. At no time did she stop or lay The Boy down to rest her arms; for her The Boy never became heavy, never became a burden, never made her weary. Whether that be because of the Magick that still lives on in the land of Anywhere or the Simple Power Of Love you must decide for yourself.
At last The Mother and The Boy were deep within the wild, rural landscape which the boy loved so much, a place where few people came and where Magick and Trolls can still be found. Coming to grassy hillock, spotted with beautiful purple and yellow flowers, near a small stand of trees, The Mother sat. She lifted her son, pale and barely breathing, upwards in her arms and held her face to that of the child, pressing cheek to cheek and silently she wept Tears Of Utter Desolation. But as she cried she felt that feeling of warmth she had felt earlier in the hospital and once again her son’s voice was in her head. Mum, Thanks For Bringing Me Here, This Is Where I Wanted To Be. Of Course, My Son, Anything For You. It’s Beautiful Here, Isn’t It, Mum? And Mum, Mum, Guess What…We’re Going To Meet A Troll!!
And no sooner had The Boy Uttered these words in The Mother’s head then who should emerge from out of the nearby trees? A Troll, that’s who. A huge Troll. And one of great age, for this Troll’s fur was entirely grey. In no time at all (for even very old Trolls move at great speed) the Troll was standing before The Mother and The Boy. Calmly the Troll sat down in front of the pair. At this point The Mother as was somewhat perturbed, for humans see Trolls as dangerous and violent. In reality, Trolls are gentle, peaceful creatures, charged by The Universe with protecting Love and all that is Good and Decent, but they have been demonised by The Greedy And Murderous Rich and the Bankers and their tame and controlled Means Of Communication to justify killing them and stealing their lands for Development Purposes.
The Troll, aware what most humans think of his kind, quickly explained all this to The Mother to forestall her fear. He explained that he’d been called to be In This Place At This Time by The Boy and so he had come, for it is a Universal Law that no Troll can ignore the Wishes Of A Dying Child of any species, and The Boy had two wishes for the short time he had left in this world: to meet a Troll and to depart on his Final Journey across a Broad, Bright Blue Sky from the arms of his mother, in a place he had loved so much when he had been well.
The Troll instructed The Mother, now made peaceful and at ease by the Troll’s gentle demeanour and calm voice, to look down at The Boy’s face. And she did so, and she saw that The Boy was smiling in a way you in your world would call “from ear to ear” and that, more, the pain of illness seemed to have left his face: he looked like a Happy And Healthy Little Boy who was Simply Asleep, an impression added to by the fact The Mother could see that, under The Boy’s eyelids, his eyes were darting back and forth mischievously, as though he were having a Happy Dream.
The Mother looked back at the Troll and smiled at him in gratitude. Somehow, she knew not how but she knew, her son’s happier state was due to the Troll. The Troll smiled back at the woman and suddenly tilted his huge head to the left, cocking a big Troll ear upwards, as though catching a Whisper On The Breeze.
The Troll looked thoughtful and said to The Mother:
“I hear another Wish flying through the Universe. It is your Wish. It says to me you no longer have a use for this world, that this world without The Boy is an empty place for you, one in which you do not wish to remain. Think carefully, human, if this is what you want, I can make it so for this is still a land of Magick, humans have destroyed much of it for you are its antithesis as the Devil walks amongst you, but it is still there and can still be reached. There are Words, ancient Words, that if uttered will free the Souls of you and your son to make a journey across the Broad, Bright Blue Sky to That Which Lies Beyond together. Tell me, shall I speak those words?”
The Mother clutched her son even tighter and huge tears welled up in her eyes and there was no need to answer the question.
The Troll began to speak Words. Words from a language that is older than the very genetic code of Humanity. The Words were Deep and Rolling and Rhythmic and Hypnotic. The Mother felt herself slipping away to Another Place, felt as if herself and her son were becoming one and suddenly The Boy’s eyes opened and met the Mother’s and The Boy laughed and said in a voice that sounded like the Sweetest Music:
“Hey, Mum, it’s time for us to go now!”
Together, the Boy and The Mother were cloaked in a bright, white light which grew in intensity and suddenly exploded outwards. And their Souls, Woman and Boy, were simultaneously freed from their Earthly Bodies.
The Souls shot upwards, burning an Incandescent Path across the Broad, Bright Blue Sky, together performing a dance of burning light, of a complexity as intense and beautiful as the irresistible, flawless logic of a Mathematical Equation or the eye catching wonder of a Murmuration Of Starlings. And occasionally, in the course of their dance across the sky, the two souls would glance off each other and from each meeting would radiate out a huge, circular rainbow of awe-inspiring radiance and such size as to be visible as far away as the city of Anyplace where those that saw it would be moved in a way that they at once Understood But Did Not Understand.
And the motto of this tale is…why, you already know it!…love is all. The rest ain’t worth a damn.
This tale is taken from my book of short stories ‘Floating Away’ (Tales of Endings, Change and Beginnings – everything starts the day you Float Away: