The crystalline snowflakes fell ever so gently, gently, as the cool winter breeze blew them to and fro across the long stretch of frozen grassland. The small flakes of pure white cold littered the once soft ground and sprinkled each individual blade of grass. Clouds covered the sky in a constant depression. Animals no longer ran around the used to be warm haven, but instead hid away, as if threatened by the consistent darkness that took away all life of promise and hope. It was all gone. The glistening streams were but frozen over and encased anything that resided within the cold water.
Some said it was disastrous, ugly, and pernicious. Others said it was beautiful, and purifying. The snow swept away all the bad things from the world and instead kept things at a standstill. It truly was a sight. The glistening snow swept over a small cottage style house and encased it in its comforting hold.
Inside the house was a believer that the cold wasn't so bad- that it was indeed the purest thing in this world. Of course he would think this, however, as his innocent eyes were shielded of the harsh setting of reality. The cold was fierce. The cold was harmful. The cold could kill. But all the little boy could see through his small oak window with blue curtains strewn across, was that the cold could heal.
This boy, of no noteworthy name, was invested in this frozen wasteland they lived in. The boy would watch, day in, day out, as the land around him was taken more and more by the icy wind and sleet. No one could possibly walk through it, as they would instantly freeze. He would think that no matter how much this weather was looked down on, that it must have some benefit on the world. Nothing was placed on this earth without a reason.
This boy, so hidden and ignorant of the cruel outside world, would sit and watch the world change. Right at his little wooden desk with drawings and sketches thrown around on it, he sat. Sometimes so long his legs went numb.
He would watch for so long that he became too tired to hold his own head up, as it would sway up and down in an effort to stay and watch the nightly beauty. But alas, he would always be put to bed by the young woman, his aunt. Off he would drift, as sleep overtook his mind and put into a world of dreams, where evil never exists.
Then, as if by clockwork, so early would he arise from the soft cotton bedding he would so stubbornly fall asleep on, and would once again sit at the window and watch. No one really knew what he would watch, but he did. The deep charcoal eyes that seemed to never end with emotion, yet never feel at all, would see hints that no other person ever could. His dark, almost black hair would fall onto his face and curtain his pale, fragile cheeks. The boy was young, but had the beauty of no other.
The outside was a dangerous place, they would tell him. Sometimes, he would think that there was more to it all than what he was told. Just out there, out of his small abode of warmth and flavor of Rosemary and cinnamon, was there actually more life? Could other people live, just like he; alone? The boy hated the thought, however, so he pushed it to the back of his mind and just kept watching.
His aunt would tell him to never open the window, as the cold would come in and surely take him away. When he asked where it would take him, she just smiled and brushed her graying brown hair back into its loose bun, and said it was where his parents were.
Who were his parents? So full of joy and warmth, was he told, that everyone loved them as much as they loved their world. It would keep him up at night, the bare thought of his mother’s arms wrapped around him. Did she know the cold that he was so protected from? Did his father see hate and anguish that he never felt his whole life? Did they see the world as it was meant to be?
Of course, his questions were never voiced, as to not worry his dear aunt, who raised the small boy since he was a toddler. She always had a far look in her eyes, a deep, deep, sorrow that remained glued to her soul and never let go. Someday, he wanted to know what that sorrow was.
One day, the boy was curious. He wanted to feel the cold that was so unfairly hid from him. Did it 'bite' like she said? Would it make his toes and fingers go numb? So, the little raven-haired boy looked once again out the window, but much closer than before. Far away, in the deep blankets of snow, he saw a small shadow.
What could it be? Was it life? He looked even closer, and watched as it moved, slowly but surely, right to his window. Could this small being see him? Surely not, his window was on the second floor!
But watched he did, as the figure got closer, revealing black, feathery wings and dark midnight eyes. He could almost hear it, a voice so delicate and so soft, telling him, tempting him to at last open the window. He briefly wondered if he could hear the thoughts of the grim bird. Is this what he should do? Let the poor fellow in? One more look and he knew.
Slowly, taking a breath, his small stubby fingers gripped the windowsill. Closing his eyes, he shoved the glass window up and breathed deeply as a harsh gust of wind knocked into him and blew his hair back a bit. His heartbeat quickened as the instantaneous feeling of regret surged through his gut.
Was this cold? Was this what his aunt always warned him so much about? It bit, and it made his nose go numb, but as he saw the small bird flap its wings desperately, his heart swelled with a warmth that overwhelmed the cold. No matter how much his eyes watered and how much his young mind screamed for him to close the glass shield, he still watched. He saw how it struggled, how it so craved the warmth that he was so accustomed to. He wanted to help it, he wanted to bring it from the cold, dark place it was in and lighten up that world past his window.
So, the small boy outstretched his hands. The bird flapped its wings eagerly as it took flight and barely managed to land on the windowsill. Quickly, he grabbed the raven and pulled it closer inside.
Taking a last breath of the cool air, he closed the window to the outside and looked at the helpless being before him. It lay on his desk crowing pitifully and looked at him. The boy stopped and stared. The eyes weren't black at all, like his own. No, they weren't dark and cold like he so believed that all were like. The bird's eyes were astonishing. Gold was what he saw. Rich gold eyes pierced through him, as if reading his very soul and past. He put his small palm out and stroked the bird’s wing, and it slightly nuzzled back to the stretched out appendage.
How could this bird live out there, when he himself had been told that nothing survived past his small home?
The only reasonable answer: it was strong.
At that, the boy decided that this bird would show him the world. He would raise it, and make it show him the things it had seen and tell him all of the lost stories he would never tell himself.
His aunt had found out, not long after, and had hugged him so hard it hurt, and said something he would never forget:
'Your life is the most precious thing on this world. I want you to be able to find this world you crave and shape it to your liking. Treasure this bond you have, and never let it go.'
The beautiful raven would bond with the boy to no end. He would watch the boy draw, watch him read, write, and watch him as he watched the sky. Even the bird was confused as to why the boy would do it, but would never bother him.
And since then, the boy would sit by his window as usual, but this time with his new companion. The bird was so named Rider, as it would ride the wind to their new future.
Another morning came forth, just as cold as the others. This time, his aunt had slowly and quietly opened the oak door to the boy’s room. She would look inside, and see him slouched at his desk, drawing. She would walk over to him and pat his head and ask what he was drawing. And every time, he replied with the same answer.
He was drawing the sky.
He would say that the sky was truly beautiful, and that it could go on forever without a care. The stars would light it up in the most magnificent way at night, and the sun would fill the whole sky with light and hope during the day.
How could something so complex and pure exist? It would always change, yet it was always the same. How was this? The boy wanted to know more about the sky. He wanted to be the one to see his own future in the sky, away from the misfortune and cold and fear and hate that he was grounded upon. That pure world.
So, every night, he would take out the old, slightly rusted telescope, and aim just right at the night sky. It was hard to properly view the bright night sky with the window in the way, so on some occasions, he would finally open the window just enough for him to use the scope.
The telescope was one of his favorite 'toys'. Long ago, his dear aunt had told him that a lovely young woman, a girl of the same eyes would use it just as he would. She dreamed of the stars as well and would constantly speak of their beauty. The boy decided he wanted to meet her one day, but his aunt would only take on a melancholy expression and tell him he never would any time soon. Or so she hoped.
The boy wondered about her reaction, but never asked. The thought of the girl still intrigued him, however. Maybe one day they could go and watch the stars, or learn to fly together, like Rider!
He wanted to see the stars even closer. He was entranced by the delicacy of the shining masses and the way they would sometimes form shapes and pictures. To the boy, they told stories to him. He wanted to reach that world up in the sky and hear those stories.
On one cool, snow filled night, the boy's aunt joined him for a glass of hot tea. The boy decided to ask her about the stars.
'Auntie, why do I love the stars so much?'
She looked at him with a funny face and chuckled at the question. She said that she didn't know the answer to that.
'The stars are very beautiful indeed, and you have every right to love them. They were made for that love.' And then, suddenly, her expression had grown solemn.
The boy's mother had loved the sky. At every chance she had, she was studying the stars and so very wanted to go into the sky and see them up close. When the young boy had asked her if she ever achieved that dream, his aunt simply smiled. She said that anyone can achieve their dream, as long as they dream hard enough. With that, the woman left him to his own devices.
Many times, the raven had watched the boy as he once again drew sketches of the stars he so greatly adored. Every so often, the bird would peck him in the shoulder to get his attention, but he would just simply smile at the bird and pat its head.
'I will go there someday. I will go there because it is my dream. My mother's dreams have passed onto me, and I'll do whatever it takes to get there.'
And so the boy drew.
After a while, he gained the interest in tinkering with things. He would roam around his little home and gather any materials he could and try and make something. The more he made, the more the old dream of meeting the stars was forgotten. His drawings of the small balls of light were put away into a small case if he ever felt the need to see them. New drawings replaced them. These designs were of inventions, however.
He would draw simple things like a square box-like object that could project pictures, and another box that would produce music and events around the world. Of course, none of these things would actually come to exist; not by his hands at least. But still, the boy continued to dream. He wanted to create something great, something that would take away all the cold and dark outside and fill it with warmth and life instead.
Unfortunately, the boy could never think of anything. No matter what he wanted, it seemed as if he was just too young and too small to do it. He dreamed of being someone people would look up to, but the world was just too big, too great, for him to be anything truly inspirational. He would look at his small chubby hands and wonder how they could get bigger. Maybe then, he could draw even more and build even more. His aunt would laugh and pat his head while saying that he would get bigger as he grew older. She told him not to worry so much, as he had a long way to go.
He wanted to grow up now, though!
Rider was always by the window sill and would watch the boy hunched over the old desk as he would scribble down ideas and notes, but he just got frustrated further.
He was nothing special, nothing great, and was certainly nothing that would change the world. How could he even survive the large world out there if it was too cold to even walk in?
The boys hope had slowly died as time passed. Innocent memories of those dreams seemed so far away, they no longer were relevant to him.
Time passed and the boy grew older. He would continue to watch the sky as the winter cold continued to ravage the outdoor world. He lost interest in the wishes of others and grew more involved in his own desires.
He would constantly read any book he could get his hands on and ignored the drawings pinned up on his wall. The only things he truly cherished was the sweet smell of the cinnamon in the kitchen and the sight of his aunt smiling over the stove with flour caked over her soft, gentle hands. Lately, the woman had seemed stressed. About what, he had yet to know.
She said that the world was changing. Changing to something that hasn't been seen in a long, long time. He asked if that was good and she replied that she didn't have the slightest clue. In truth, the sweet woman was afraid of how things would change for them.
Day after day, he noticed small things on the outside. Things like more sunlight starting to shine through the dark clouds, and a couple of animals, even birds, running about outside. It was only for a moment. He wondered the reasons for this and looked to Rider, the one being he had truly started to trust other than his aunt. The bird had grown larger and it's wings more prominent and eyes more staggering. It would just look at him and just nuzzle its head against his sleeve before resting by the window. That was the only silent comfort he would receive.
Perhaps, the boy was meant to just wait for the inevitable and see how this world would change. The cold was leaving, slowly but surely, but he could sense it's ever present depart from their home. What does the world look like now? Had it really changed since he was but a small child? He still was young, not even a decade old yet, but his mind was far more enhanced than that of other children his age from what his aunt told him.
He would dare fate some days and open the window, and longer and longer would it stay open. The cold breeze would come into his room and was welcomed. It felt too hot some days. Was it just him, who thought that it was getting warmer, or was it really just his newfound liking for this cold winter land? He felt so close to it, but too far.
One early morning, he asked his aunt if he could go outside.
He never asked this. Ever.
She stared at him, her face unreadable. For a moment, the boy thought that she would actually say yes, but she just shook her head and forced a smile.
'No, my child, we cannot yet meet the world outside.'
And again, he asked another question.
'Why does it snow like this? Why does the cold so choose to assault us like this? Is this what the rest of the world is like?'
She said that the snow was there to keep the bad things away. It kept the pure things frozen, like a time capsule. He asked what that was, and she replied that it was something you bury into the ground for others to find someday. It held all of your hopes and dreams and memories in it.
The thought sounded appealing, so the boy said he wanted to do that. She asked what memories he so wanted others to see and he stopped.
He was much too young to really show anyone what he desired since there was nothing he really saw to want. What were his dreams?
The boy had stayed in his room that day and watched the sky again. He almost had to squint his eyes from the brightness of the sun this time. Was it always that bright? What does this mean?
The feeling of fear and worry overtook his senses as he thought about this future. Would the sun invade their small and cold world? Could this be a signal to their end? But he hadn't truly lived yet!
Rider had watched from the sill once again as the boy's shoulders started to shake. The raven haired boy was experiencing something he never felt before. What was it? What was coming forth from his eyes down his cheeks? Why did this feeling feel so undeniably horrible but refreshing at the same time?
He brought his knees to his small chest that quavered so much from the rough shaking of his shoulders and whole form. The warm tears fell down his face as his dark eyes were tightly shut. The fears that he faced were such a worry of coming to life and he had no idea if he would be able to take it.
The thought that he had nothing that anyone would remember him by frightened him. His existence would mean nothing. Not a single person would remember him by the end of his life. Would it count if Rider did? No, he was just a bird that couldn't even communicate with other humans. He wanted to be special, and wanted someone, anyone to reach his dreams and see how much he tried.
Then again, did he ever really try at all? Every time he wanted something, that dream was always forgotten by the sands of time. Was his interest in his own life so small and short that he no longer cared about those old wishes? He remembered how pure everything seemed, but was it really? Surely, these tears that assaulted him so suddenly were there for a reason. Was sadness an everyday part of life? Was he supposed to feel fear?
There was no way that the world could be so pure if there were horrors such as fear existing.
And then he realized- things were only as pure as the person. Everyone has faced sadness and regret, right? So how then could a child be so ignorant to the idea of false happiness and dreams? The boy once more looked at the snow, and watched as the small snowflakes fell across his vision through his window. Snow truly was the only pure thing in the world. No matter how the world changed, snow would always exist, never changing, as it would encase the land and stop the 'bad' things from reaching it. What were the bad things? Could they very well be humans themselves? Once in a book, he had read that humans could kill the Earth with the trash they threw onto it.
It clicked. If a human could not survive long in the snow and cold that raged over the Earth, then no one could hurt it. What if that snow disappeared? Could the humans really make it worse? The young boy wanted to help this world heal then. He wanted to help keep it safe and protect it. Then, would people remember him? For being the one who would forever keep their world safe, even in death?
The tears had long since dried on his flushed cheeks and he sniffled a bit. Maybe, just maybe, he could create the capsule with his dreams. With that thought in mind, the boy had once again slipped into the realm of dreams where the pure things could be kept safe.
Months had passed. The boy had finally decided to send his dreams into the small box. He noticed over time that the cold breeze began to cease and instead felt a strange warm sensation from the large star above, hanging so brightly in the sky. And so he looked everywhere. His old drawings should be somewhere, shouldn't they?
His aunt had watched the boy fuss over the box and she couldn't help her small smile that graced her chapped lips. The young spirited boy was finally starting to return from its deep depths. He bounced around his room like a rocket and pulled out every drawer and every storage box he could find, but the drawings were nowhere. The consistent squawking in his ears grew as an annoyance, so he looked over to Rider as it hopped up and down in its bony thin legs. The raven clamped its beak on the old worn blanket covering his bed and pulled it. The boy simply sighed and got on his knees and patted the raven. He couldn't understand why he was acting this way, so he pulled the blanket up and shrugged. What did the bird want?
The feathered animal kept squawking until the boy finally decided to look under the bed. His ears met the cool hardwood floors as he tried to make his eyes adjust to the dark as he saw the outline of something. Stretching his thin, pale arm, he grabbed the deep brown, hard case and brought it out to better see. He raised a fine eyebrow and got up and set it on his desk to further inspect. He opened the gold latches and peered inside. Breath had escaped his lips as he stared at the paper.
There the drawings were, so perfectly neat inside the case. The sketches looked as if they had just been drawn yesterday. He looked at each one individually as memories swelled inside his fragile mind. He pictured a young raven haired boy furiously drawing pictures upon pictures of stars and designs. He remembered it all so vividly that he had to sit down from his knees buckling.
He could feel his dreams practically emanating from the worn pieces of paper. The dream to meet the stars up close, the wish to bring pride to his mother and father, the dream of doing something and creating something everyone will love. The wish to be remembered. A few tears had managed to escape his beautiful eyes that swirled with emotion. He wiped them away and smiled.
He looked out the window and saw a sight that he never would have dreamed of. Quickly turning and throwing on his shoes, the boy grabbed his drawings and put them back in the case, and with a last look, he closed it and closed the latches with a final click.
Running down the stairs with barely contained excitement, the boy along with his feathered companion practically flew to the warm kitchen.
His aunt was waiting for them with a strained smile on her face. She brushed a stray strand of hair back into her bun and walked over to him.
He held the case out and smiled. She smiled back for real and patted his head.
'You truly are your mother’s child.'
He looked at the door with curiosity. She took a deep breath.
'Are you sure you're ready? The world may not be.'
'I'll join the world and be the first one to cherish and protect it.' She nodded as she walked to the door, and grabbed the shovel by it. She placed her other hand on the doorknob. Turning it, she looked at the child and then gave a final push and the old wooden door creaked.
Cold air rushed at them, but was then replaced by a steady warmth. The boy changed his mind and took off his shoes and stood at the edge of the door. He breathed deeply and took a slow and small step passed it. He looked at the faint white that was now being overtaken by the color of green. He softly placed his foot onto the grass and wiggled his toes a bit. It was a bit cold, but nothing that seemed too bad. He placed the other foot by its partner and turned to his aunt. She smiled and nodded to him.
He giggled. The sound was sudden, but welcomed. More giggles erupted from his throat and he walked, the blades of grass tickling his feet and ankles. He laughed a bit as he walked faster, and faster, and faster until he was running. The feeling was weird, but he adored the land around him. Long expanses of green surrounded him as he ran as fast as he could. He spun and whooped and hollered as loud as he could. Rider flew above him and crowed loudly, just as excited as he.
Slowing, he stopped to take a breath and he breathed in the cool, clean air. He felt warmth. Not from the fire or heater; this warmth was truly natural. He looked at the large and bright sun as he covered his eyes to look at it through the pure light. He laughed some more, a great joy filling his whole being.
He looked to his aunt and waved. She walked out of the house and seemed shocked as well. After taking a good look around her, she walked over, albeit unsteadily, to him and smiled as she ruffled his soft hair.
And together, they dug a hole. It wasn't too deep, as they didn't want to disturb the newly cleansed Earth. Carefully, the two people placed the case into the moist soil. There was a label on the case- My Memories.
The boy had truly hoped those wishes and memories would have the power to reach someone. If his dreams were pure enough, would someone find enough courage to care? Would this world remember him? He hoped it would.
All people had a dream, and he wanted to realize as many as he could. If he met enough people in this newly lit world, then could he hear all of their wishes as well?
The feeling of the soft grass, the cool but warm breeze over his shoulders, the sounds of birds chirping, and the river flowing was all so much. It something he had always wanted to hear, yet never knew existed. And as soon as they covered the case back up with the earth, it acted as a seal. A seal that would forever protect those memories of a young child in a cold and dark world.
All of his senses were going crazy from all of the new sights, smells, and tastes. He wanted to stay in touch with all of it. He would protect this world and he will create something that will let him see the stars. That was the boy's dream. A wish that he would never forget.
His mother truly would be proud of him.
'Haru, it's time to go back inside!'
Not forever, no. He will always go back to this outside world. It was a beautiful and pure place that will remain as his true sanctuary.
And so, new drawings would lay on his desk as the sun's beams ghosted over the room.
Drawings of a new future.