The following is based upon a truth.
Those who deny this truth
Are perhaps living a worser nightmare than us.
It was not by chance that a young boy named Marc found himself waking up alone on the great plains of Rhadelia’s highlands. The northern cliffs towered above the ocean and clouds of white and grey flickered across the sky as gale force winds battered the tall, lush grass. He lay there a few moments, the boy named Marc, blinking the weariness away from his eyes and letting them glance around inside their sockets. No thoughts immediately arose to him while the cool grass bent over top of him in the breeze, almost forming a blanket over him.
Marc took a deep breath through his nose before he at last pulled himself upward to a sitting position. He scanned the landscape around him, taking in the hills that rose and fell all around, and the rocky plateau that made up the edge of the land mass to the north and the west. Where the two cliff faces met to form a corner, a ravine was visible that cut through the elevated plains. It twisted a short distance in before narrowing to a point and allowing the grassy fields to dominate the location once more.
Marc raised one skinny arm in front of his face as he turned towards the wind that blew from the west, and squinted as his blond hair flew into his eyes. He leaned forward as if to see where the wind was coming from and gazed into the distance, only able to faintly make out the hazy mountains that were mostly covered in clouds and mist far beyond the horizon.
He turned and looked south east to see a small forest with a brook flowing through it. Tall hills bordered the creek and emphasized its depth, providing a steep decline into the gently flowing waters.
Marc sat there and blinked quickly as he took in the astounding scenery, and for the first time since he awoke a thought entered his mind, one that he did not expect. What should I do...? He confused himself with the question; it was a question someone with an idea of where they were would think of, and that certainly wasn’t the case for the teenager.
He tried to ask himself where he was, but a part of him already knew the answer. I must be dreaming…
In that instant, he felt as though everything around him shuddered. The grass jerked to the side, and his vision shifted without blurring. All of a sudden a lack of visual clarity he hadn’t been aware of before vanished, and in a surge of energy and with a shiver of excitement the entire world around him became alive. The grass sang a song of serenity and the music of the gales filled Marc’s ears. Birds twittered to life in the nearby trees and the scents of the sea flooded his nostrils.
This place... this is the home I’ve always wanted. I should make it mine… The ground shuddered violently and what sounded like a huge shard of glass striking the ground filled the air. No... not just my home... my world...! A bird screeched from the forest and Marc scrambled to his feet as his mouth slowly spread into a grin. He spread his arms wide away from him and stepped backwards before beginning to spin. His head twisted quickly around him as he looked at his world again.
A bright fiery light danced around his feet as he jumped backwards and began to prance. He looked down, his joy reflecting on his face, and watched the sparks leap up at his face harmlessly, and the tongues of flame swirl around his pant legs. The colours of heat bent to Marc’s will and changed from orange, to red, and to purple. It climbed his side and traveled along his arm onto the palm of his hand. He flicked his finger upwards and the flames burst into pink flower petals, sending a mass of flowers flying in every direction before they fell to the earth.
“Who are you?” A female voice echoed in Marc’s mind as he continued to live his dream. It didn’t faze him. In fact it made him more curious. “I am Marc, Marc Seamus!” he replied outloud with excitement as he took in the world around him.
“You know who you are. Where did you come from?” Then the voice echoed something that slowed Marc’s spinning. The purple flames vanished and he let thoughts swarm his head. “I came from...” he began to say to himself, beginning to feel a pang of sorrow and deep thought. “A place full of hatred... and pain.” A few harsh memories broke his mood and he ceased his spinning. “I was in danger... I was in great danger...” Marc looked up and said to the sky.
The joy he had felt quickly became a passing moment as he felt the air grow tense around him, and the temperature rising. “You know where you came from. Where are you now?” The voice sounded vaguely familiar to Marc, but the boy couldn’t place the owner. “I am... I’m dreaming...” Marc replied, but he knew immediately it was incorrect. “No... I’m not dreaming... but I can’t be dead... yet this place feels like heaven...” he said in an airy whisper.
“You have escaped...” The voice grew softer, rather than commanding, as though it was concerned. “You have experienced something earth-shattering, and this is how you’re dealing with it.”
Marc continued looking up as he let himself lean forward and take a step. As though he was in a trance, he dragged himself across the field towards the northern cliffs, where the ground fell away a hundred feet to the water. He looked out into the sea as ideas and memories polluted his head. “This escape should be a paradise... yet I’m alone here.” he sighed and closed his eyes, letting the breeze comfort him as he quickly began to feel overwhelmed with everything.
“N-no you’re not.” Another voice, not too different from the first, suddenly came from behind Marc. It was a much younger voice, belonging to a girl. Marc turned around slowly and opened his eyes to gaze upon a small girl who appeared to be not even ten years old standing in the field only a few yards off.
The two stared at each other for a time, Marc’s blue eyes matching hers. She had long orange hair that would have extended well past her shoulders if it wasn’t blowing in the wind. She looked nervous, maybe even afraid as Marc stared at her, and she took a few steps back and placed her hand on her other arm as she looked down. “S-sorry...! I just didn’t want you to feel alone is all...” she said a little louder, trying to show confidence, but her quivering voice giving her away.
Marc tilted his head and blinked. He looked to his left awkwardly and scratched his head before stepping towards her. “Hey, I appreciate that,” he started. “But... who might you be?”
The girl rather quickly met his gaze again and looked a little hurt. “You mean... you don’t know?” Her voice sounded higher.
Marc stopped his approach. “Should I?” he questioned.
The girl gulped before letting out a stuttering sigh. “No... I suppose not...” she responded before looking at her feet. “I don’t know how to explain this... or even begin to explain.”
Marc looked around and past her, before walking up to her and kneeling down to her height a little more. “Well... is your family somewhere around here?” Marc asked another question.
“N-no, of course not-! I don’t have-” she answered incredulously as though it offended her. Marc blinked again and sighed, but the girl suddenly flinched and backed up from him. “I’m sorry... it’s just, I don’t really... know who I am yet...”
“Don’t know who you are?” Marc repeated in uncertainty, his expression growing worried. “Do you at least have a name?”
She shook her head and looked him in the eye. “W-why don’t you give me one...?”
Marc frowned briefly, leaning back and raising an eyebrow, before cracking a smile and shaking his head with a chuckle. “I’ve never had to name anyone before... not beyond my own imagination at least...” he replied softly.
The girls eyes opened wide and her jaw dropped a little as she took a breath. “That’s perfect, then this shouldn’t be much different!” she said, the slightest trace of a grin forming on her face as she relaxed a lot and gripped her long white dress at the sides.
Marc pulled himself forward and sat down in the grass with his legs crossed. The girl copied him and pulled on her dress to cover her legs. Her bare feet swung back and forth on her ankles as she clenched and unclenched her toes repeatedly in anticipation.
“Wait... Marc, how old are you?” she suddenly raised her hand forward as she asked a question.
“Oh, I’m thirteen. How old are you?” Marc asked her in return, not even bothering to ask how she knew his name.
“I’m eleven! Eleven years old,” she said smiling.
Marc raised his eyebrows. “Really? Haha, you’re awfully small for eleven!” he said with a little more energy as the tension decreased.
The girls smile vanished and was replaced with a look of curiosity. “Oh... should I be taller?” she said tilting her head.
Marc also turned his head. “Hah, no. It doesn’t really matter-”
“Because I can make myself taller or older if you like,” she cut in quickly before blushing a little. “G-go on, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
Marc was left with his mouth open a moment after that bit of information. “I beg your pardon... make yourself taller?” he repeated in confusion.
“Well... yes, I’m just like you, I can do anything here in this world... I-in fact, I made this world here! You know, with a little help from your thoughts... so it wasn’t really mine to begin with…” she explained.
Marc shook his head violently and widened his eyes as if to see better. “You mean you created all this...-” Marc gestured all around him with his hands and arms, “on your own?” he confirmed.
The girl smiled awkwardly. “Haha... no, I uuh, made it to reflect your favorite place on earth... I think you called it the Scottish Highlands?”
It all dawned on Marc at once then. He slapped a hand to his forehead and let his jaw hang open. “Of course... now I recognize this place!” He almost stood up as he was hit with a barrage of memories. “This looks like the location I drew on a map once when I was younger! I had always dreamed of going there, or at least to the place it was based on, to the cliffs in Scotland!” Marc laughed loudly.
The girl’s expression immediately shifted from awkward fear to joy. “Y-you mean you like it? I mean, really like it?”
Marc leaned forward and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her in towards him. “I love it! Everything makes sense now... this place, the fantasy magic, my imagination...” Marc exclaimed as the girl let out a high pitched noise that sounded like a chirp. Marc loosened his grip and held her in front of him by the shoulders, smiling with glee.
Her face had blushed a scarlet red and her eyes were so wide they looked like they’d leap out of her head. She had tensed up and her mouth was shut tight. Marc let out a deep breath and held his smile, but his eyes were filled with care and sympathy. “Hey, there’s no need for you to be embarrassed! You seem to know me awfully well already, I just wish I knew you better...”
The girl gulped and cleared her throat. “Well uuh... w-we can start by giving me a name!” she said quietly, her face still red from the surprise hug.
“Ah, right. Hmm...” Marc put one hand to his chin and the other behind him as he leaned back. “You seem to be very shy, but are very excitable when you’re comfortable with someone or something...”
She seemed to perk up at this, and watched Marc curiously as he talked about her. He took this as a sign to continue. “You have a heart of gold, and when you grow to like someone you become very eager to please them, and fear hurting or offending them,” he went on. “Because of this, you are also very loyal, but also have trouble standing up for yourself... am I right in assuming that?” Marc asked her.
She jerked out of some sort of trance and shook her head, flinging her ginger hair around. “O-oh, yes! That’s all true! You’re very good at figuring people out,” she complemented.
Marc smiled. “Thank you. Hm, you also are quite concerned about how you appear to others, which could be the source of some of your shyness...” he slowed himself as he neared the end of his sentence. “You’re a very sensitive girl, aren’t you? I mean, emotionally.” Marc asked her.
“Hah... yes, that would be me...” she admitted. “I can never bring myself to get angry...” she sighed.
“Nothing wrong with that... where I come from anger tore millions of people’s lives apart...” Marc sighed. “Anyways, based on all this... what sort of name should we give you...”
There was a brief silence between them as the sound of waving grass and a few birds filled the air now, and Marc bit his lip as he tried to think of something.
“Erm... if I may...?” the girl spoke up. Marc gestured with his hand for her to go on. She took a deep breath before speaking again. “Does my name have to reflect who am? I mean... can’t we just pick a name that sounds... pretty?” she suggested.
Marc laughed a little and nodded. “Of course, maybe personality is a little too hard to use for naming anyway...”
Then a word crossed his mind. He wasn’t sure where it came from or how he thought of it as a name, but the young girl before him seemed to react to it before he even said it.
“Starlight?” she said aloud.
“Yeah... Starlight... that sounds like a nice name. But how did you hear my thoughts?” Marc questioned, his expression a little confused.
“Aah! I-I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to do that! I just can’t help it sometimes and I listen to your thoughts-!” she stuttered.
A dark blue bird landed right beside her in the tall grass and chirped loudly, repeating a note furiously before dropping to one long low note. She glanced at it with curiosity, letting her eyes dart back and forth between Marc and the bird.
“Wow...” Marc stated. “How are you able to do all this... how much do you know about me?” Marc wondered aloud.
The bird hopped across the ground towards the girl as she extended her hand to reveal a handful of seeds that she didn’t have before. “Well... I can’t really think of any way to, you know, put this gently...” She stared at the bird as it hopped onto her fingers and started pecking and eating the seeds. She giggled nervously before returning to the subject at hand. “I kind of know... everything about you,” she answered. “I know your favorite food... your favorite colour... I even know about what you were going through in your earthly life...”
Marc stared at her for a while, and she avoided his gaze. Her smile had vanished and she had a look of deep sorrow, as if she had just remembered something she wished she could forget.
“My goodness... my earthly life too…” Marc finally voiced. “Everything... you mean, absolutely everything?” he said, as his fear suddenly began to rise. He felt the quick friendship he thought he had made fading already as the girl before him admitted to knowing even the darkest things about him.
“Everything...” she repeated. The bird on her hand suddenly panicked and leaped from her hand before stumbling across the grass and launching into flight. Starlight took a deep breath and let it out with a shiver, closing her eyes. “Every single thing... I know about your family, your wishes and desires... your fears, even your memories...” her voice quivered and started out quiet. “Everything you have seen, I have seen and can see. Things you hope nobody will ever find out... and things that you would be hated for by others where you came from…” Her voice grew to a yell now, and she whirled around to face him, a couple tears drifting down her face. “And I need to know, because this is one thing about you I can’t be sure of!” she exclaimed. “How did you survive that long? How did you stay on earth... where your dreams were never safe... where love and care to others is so hard to find, and where hatred and anger rule everybody’s actions, for so long before finally coming here?” she cried out before finally pushing forward and embracing Marc.
It was Marc’s turn to be surprised by her sudden outburst, and he flinched as she practically tackled him and he leaned back, unsure how to respond to the mood swing. He decided all he could do was reluctantly return the hug and let her weep on his shoulder.
“What sort of reason made you stay... and what made you finally decide to come here?” she sobbed into Marc’s ear. She shook in his arms, clinging to him tightly in the middle of the open field where nobody else could hear or see them.
A very quiet crackling filled the sky, before the prelude broke into an ever so distant thunder clap. Marc looked out beyond the western sea to where the mountains had since faded from the horizon, and approaching storm clouds took their place. Starlight said nothing now and simply emptied her eyes, letting out little hiccups and whimpering every now and then.
The powerful emotions suddenly struck Marc, and struck him hard they did. Marc sniffed and felt his eyes beginning to water.
“Starlight...” he spoke.
Starlight chirped before letting out a very quiet ‘mhmm?’
Marc sighed an unstable breath. “I... don’t honestly know how I got here either...” he finally responded.
Stop your crying... Marc’s mind told him. You have better self control than that.
“No Marc...” Starlight suddenly said. “Sometimes people need to cry…”
“Starlight, I do know one thing...” he went on aloud. Starlight ever so slowly pulled herself off Marc’s shoulder and looked at him. Her eyes were still shimmering from tears and her face was red. Her expression almost made Marc forget what he was going to say. The mix of sadness, fear and shock in her face just about broke what was left of the young boys heart. “I stayed... because I had something to prove. To prove that I could give other people the joy I had. You know that I was an optimist... I refused to stop at anything to spread that.”
That did it. All hope of improving Starlight’s mood was erased as a few more tears escaped her eyes and she once again collapsed onto Marc’s shoulder in a crying mess. “AND LOOK WHERE IT GOT YOU!!” she wailed. “Look at the pain it caused you! Look at how you were treated for it! All you wanted to do was help everyone, and all it got you was hate! All it got you was anger, abuse, and suffering! Your mind couldn’t even take it anymore... it forced you to leave because everything was so terrible!”
This time Marc didn’t join her in her crying. This time he jerked his head up and felt his whole body tense as she described something terrifyingly familiar. He patted her on the back nonetheless before pulling her in front of him again. Horror filled his face now, and Starlight seemed to have noticed this as she reflected his expression quickly. “S-Starlight... whatever do you mean...? What are you talking about?”
She gasped and suddenly stood up, placing both hands over her mouth. She squinted as though trying to see through her tears and slowly began backing up. “You... y-you mean, you don’t... remember it?”
Marc stood up as well, only now standing about six inches taller than her. “I remember something bad... that’s all. Starlight, what happened...?”
Starlight shook her head quickly, her hands still covering her open mouth and her ginger hair flying behind her. There was another thunder clap as the clouds began to cross from sea to shore. “You can’t... I can’t tell you! This was... this was done on purpose!” she said pulling her hands away from her mouth. “You aren’t supposed to know! Your mind couldn’t take it... but I can still remember it... oh why can I still remember it?” she yelled to Marc and then looked down to speak to herself.
Without any build up or warning it suddenly began pouring with rain. The sky lit up numerous times in quick succession and an onslaught of thunder drowned out Starlight’s voice as she seemed to yell something, her hands covering her ears and her eyes shut tight.
Marc felt his own panic beginning to rise. “Starlight! Stop! Don’t think about it!” Marc tried to yell at her, but his voice was intercepted by the rumblings of the sky as he looked around frantically.
Then Marc heard a sound he was not familiar with from high above him. It sounded much like a glacier shifting, or ice cracking. A high pitched, hollow and reverberating sound. He looked upwards again and watched as the sky itself seemed to break apart, revealing a bright red and orange glow behind it. The ground shook and everything began to jitter as though it was getting intercepted by static.
Marc looked around the fields and ocean as the water in the sea began to heave and the earth formed cracks. Starlight opened her eyes and took her hands down from her head as she looked all around. Her face was riddled with confusion as everything she had made began to break. She locked eyes with Marc and tried to yell something to him, but the sounds of chaos around them deafened the ears. Marc began running towards her in a desperate attempt to calm her down.
I can’t do anything Marc...! Starlight’s voice suddenly became audible in his ears.
Marc glared and clenched his teeth as he skidded to a halt in front of Starlight and turned around to face the shore. “I just got here! I’m not letting this place fall apart now!" he exclaimed.
Starlight must have heard, because she suddenly grabbed his hand tightly. “You can fix this... can’t you?” she cried out.
Marc gripped her hand in his and clenched his eyes shut. “Close your eyes and tell yourself everything is fine!”
Starlight responded accordingly and Marc faintly heard her muttering over and over again ‘everything is fine, everything is fine!’
The shaking of the ground slowed, and there was a loud splash as a huge wave collided with the cliffs. Water sprayed like a mist all over and around the pair, and the rain began to fade away. Marc felt shallow water flow around and past his feet before vanishing. “Everything is fine, everything is fine...” Marc muttered before taking a deep breath and letting it out. The whistling wind relaxed, and warm light fell upon the two of them. With one last crack the thunder and lightning ceased, and the black clouds faded into the sky. The storm subsided, and the world around them returned to peace.
Marc gently opened his eyes, before squinting them shut again as they were met by bright sunlight. He let his eyes adjust before opening again and only then realized how hard his heart was thumping. He relaxed his shoulders and loosened his grip on Starlight’s hand before letting out a sigh. The openings in the sky had gone, the sea had let out its last gasp of violent breath, and the ravaged landscape had closed itself up again.
Marc gazed at the calm landscape for a moment before chuckling a nervous laugh. He looked down at Starlight to his right, who was still quietly whispering to herself and keeping her eyes shut, as she tried to keep out all other thoughts and fears. Marc shook her hand in his to get her attention. “Starlight, open your eyes...” he said to her. “It’s alright... everything’s fine now.” He took a breath between lines, and Starlight began to relax.
She slowly opened her eyes, and raised her head to look up and around. Her mouth hung open ever so slightly and she blinked quickly, taking in the sight. “H-how... how did you do that? How did you know that would fix it?” she whispered.
Marc tried to let go of Starlight’s hand, but she continued clinging to it. “I was learning about lucid dreaming before I came here... if you know you’re dreaming all you have to do is tell yourself something is true and it’ll become true in your dream. Or in this case, your mind I suppose,” he explained.
Starlight looked amazed and let go of Marc’s hand before flopping to the ground with a thump. “My goodness... that’s all it took to change the world...” she breathed an exasperated sigh.
Marc sat down beside her. “Yeah... if only it were that simple in the real world...” he gasped.
Starlight lay on her back and placed her hands on her stomach. “Imagine that though... how much worse the world would probably be...”
Marc twisted his head and stretched his arms. “I usually don’t like to dwell on that sort of thing,” he said.
Marc flung himself down beside her and grunted as the grass parted with a swish. He held his hands beside him and looked straight up, taking deep breaths as he calmed himself down. “So... you like the name Starlight?” he returned to the topic they had been on before.
Starlight, still sounding rather tired, giggled a little and shifted around in the grass to get comfortable. “Yes... I very much like that name.”
The two of them both sighed and remained quiet for a moment. Thoughts swarmed Marc’s head as he let himself drift. I’ve hardly been here thirty minutes and already so much has happened... he thought in his head.
“Well, there’s never a dull moment here as long as we’re around,” Starlight said.
Marc turned his head to look at her and gave her a funny look. She turned to meet his gaze with a smile at first, but then she realized what she had done and her smile vanished. “Ooh sorry!” She bit her lip and her eyes looked away from Marc. “You didn’t say that out loud did you... I didn’t mean to read your thoughts again!”
Marc chuckled and looked up at the sky again. “Eeh, it’s alright. But we should probably get you out of that habit, or things could get a little awkward.”
Starlight scratched her head anxiously. “Hahah... yeah, probably...” she paused a moment as if to think about something. “So... do you like it here? I mean, aside from the danger that bad thoughts seem to cause, is this place... alright?” she asked quietly.
Marc nodded slowly. “Starlight this place is wonderful,” he replied.
“Wonderful...” Starlight repeated.
“Man this all sounds cheesy, but I honestly think if we wanted to... we could make this place a perfect paradise,” Marc suggested.
“I do like that idea... but won’t it get awfully lonely and boring here with just the two of us...?” she asked.
“Yeah...” Marc agreed and sat up, looking over his shoulder towards the brook. “We could place people and houses along the stream over there,” he suggested. “Start a village... make some homes here and there.”
“Yes... we can do all that, can’t we?” Starlight also sat up and followed Marc’s gaze.
“And more,” Marc said. “This world is ours to change... and ours to build. Just think! History, civilizations, people and cultures, all ours to create!” he said waving one hand through the air as he listed things off.
“Oh my... that’s an awful lot, don’t you think? I mean, we can’t do all that at once,” Starlight replied apprehensively.
“Good point... well, I guess we’ll be here a while,” Marc said.
“Yes... I suppose so... here in our perfect world?” Starlight wondered.
Marc smiled and closed his eyes. “Yeah... here in our perfect world...”
Perfection is impossible.
You can review and revise over and over again,
but satisfaction can never be achieved.
Something bad will always be present,
whether you like it or not.
Sometimes that bad comes from others,
but most often, it comes from yourself.
You can place the blame on others,
but that never changes who’s at fault.
You can get the idea of perfection in your head,
but is your best ever ‘good enough?’
Can something ever be truly good enough
to satisfy every thought, and every preference?
No matter how much you deny it,
the human thought is imperfect.
And in the end,
Even perfection is relative.