“She discovered at a very young age that she could travel back and forth through time. She accepted her gift in the special way that special children do. She wasn't burdened by the fears that haunt people once they grow up: people who worry about bills that need paying or possums in their garden or the strange noise their car makes going uphill.
Every time she closed her eyes and nodded her head and counted to seven, she would wake up in a new and exciting land. There may have been a way to figure out where she would go (but where would the fun be in that?) And she may not have needed to count to seven (but that was her favourite number, so she was sticking with it). She was never gone for long - she simply needed enough time to find an ice-cream store, and then write her name on a nearby wall with a pink permanent marker that she never time-travelled without. I suppose when one is young, there is no thought of changing history or doing something grand: it's all about ice-cream and low-level vandalism. There was a catch to her gift: every time she closed her eyes, nodded her head and counted to seven, she would wake up with a single grey hair amidst her auburn mop. It wasn't an issue at first - children don't know that grey hairs are to be hidden; but as she grew older, and the whispers grew louder and the stares grew more obvious, she knew something was amiss.
For a while, she stopped travelling altogether. She was consumed by teenage things, and spent an awful lot of time looking in the mirror at her patch of grey (that no amount of pocket money spent on hair dye could change). As she grew older however, and those around her began to show grey hairs of their own, she found her self dreaming of her adventures, and wondering why she ever stopped.
So she sat down, closed her eyes, nodded her head and counted to seven... but nothing happened. She tried again, shifting her spot and counting backwards and forwards - anything she could think of, but nothing worked. No matter how hard she tried, her time of travelling was over. She sat on the floor and wept... over the wasted years and the missed ice-creams... all for the sake of a few grey hairs.”
where dunes meet mountains
// THE BLACKBIRD //
“A girl with very long dark hair lived in a little house surrounded by water. She loved her home and the way that the water reflected the mood of the sky, but the girl with very long dark hair was lonely… she couldn’t leave her island, and no one ever came to visit – they were too scared to traverse the crashing waves that hit the shoreline each day.
So she stayed in her little house alone.
She read, she wrote, she sang, she painted, she tidied the garden and trimmed the hedges. She spent a lot of time just sitting and looking out across the water at the people who seemed so happy living on the other side. And the girl with very long dark hair grew lonelier.
One day, a large blackbird visited her little house, carrying a piece of sunlight in its beak. Without prompting, the black bird dropped the sunlight at the girl’s feet, cocked his head to the side, and then flew away. At first, the girl was too scared to pick the sunlight up – fearing it would burn her hands. But she cautiously drew closer… shut her eyes… and reached out with just the tip of her finger. To her surprise and delight, she could pick the sunlight up – it was harder than a diamond, and glowed just as brightly.
Each day, the large blackbird would visit the girl with the very long dark hair. And each day he would drop a piece of sunshine at her feet, until the small island she called home was almost buried. Unsure of what to do, she picked up some of the pieces and threw them into the water, assuming they would sink to the bottom or be taken away by the crashing waves. To her surprise and delight, the pieces hovered just above the water. So she picked up more and threw them again… and again they hovered – now forming a little platform.
She grew excited, seeing - for the very first time – a possible escape from her loneliness. She ran back and forth and back and forth, grabbing piece after piece, until – finally – she had made a little bridge of glistening gold to carry her safely above the crashing waves.
The girl with very long dark hair looked to the sky to thank the large blackbird who had brought her such precious gifts... And she smiled, and walked along her bridge to freedom...”
where earth meets sky
// THE STRANGER //
“It was raining the first time she saw him. A flicker of movement caught her eye and distracted her as she took shelter under a tree, waiting for a break in the weather before capturing the fast-moving storm clouds.
She confronted him immediately: "Who are you? What do you want?" she asked, backing away from him just a little. "I'm Death," he replied in a voice just above a whisper. "I just wanted to see what you were doing," as he moved towards her just a little.
She should have been shocked. Most people would be, I suppose. But she simply replied: "I'm here to photograph the clouds. I'm a storm chaser." Death smiled at her... "I chase storms too. They are good business for me." And she slowly smiled right back, knowing that Death had just cracked a joke, and that was something not many people got to see.
The sun pushed through the clouds and so she turned away and moved her camera to the edge of the world. Death followed, moving closer... just a little. They spoke no more on that shoot, but he became a regular fixture as she chased angry clouds and grey landscapes. He always stood at a distance until she beckoned him closer. Sometimes they spoke... Sometimes they huddled together under a tree in silence as the rain bore down. "Why aren't you afraid of me?" he once asked.
She paused... searching her mind for the answer. "I'm not sure," she replied... her forehead crinkling in thought. "I suppose that I saw you coming... And it's hard to be afraid of what you can clearly see. Besides... You like storms. Where most people run away, you stand still and tall like me." And Death smiled at her... And moved towards her just a little. And despite feeling the cold descend upon her from his icy heart, she felt strangely safe with Death by her side... And she hoped they would chase storms together for a long time to come...”
where chaos meets calm
// THE KEEPER //
“She was always busy - sadly, it was the nature of her work. She was the one who calmed your heart when fear seemed to live in the very walls of your house. She was the sense of peace you felt when the pain finally started to ebb away. You never knew it was her, of course, who wrapped her arms around you and allowed you to rest in a deep slumber. And no one ever thanked her or acknowledged her or understood how hard it was for her to absorb all that pain and suffering so that you could get back to the daily grind of your life.
Just once, she thought, I'd like someone to be kind to my heart. Just once, she thought, I'd like someone to take care of me when it is all too much. But then her pager would go off, calling her to another job, and she felt selfish and self-indulgent for having her own desires. And so she would push them deep down inside of her and continue on her way.
There was no way to know that this job would be any different from any of the others. She arrived just as the young woman walked to the edge of the water, shoulders slumped, eyes downward. She moved towards the woman, preparing to wrap her arms around her heart and bring her peace. But she found that no matter how hard she tried, she could not move close to the young woman. There was a wall of some sort blocking her way.
She stood back and watched for a moment. The pain the young woman carried was palpable. Her tears were drowned by the salt of the waves, but there was no way to wash away the torment that had pierced her heart. She wondered what could break a human soul into so many tiny pieces - what could break a human soul beyond repair. She looked up to the sky for help... for inspiration... for courage. She saw the edge of the sun burst through the thick cover of cloud and reach out to touch all those on earth. The young woman stopped crying - distracted by the sun's rays on her face.
She moved in, now able to reach the young woman. She wrapped her arms tightly around her heart - pouring all her love into this broken being. It may not be enough... it may never be enough. But for this moment, at least, she knew the young woman was at peace.”