Growing Up.


1. Growing up


Once upon a time, there was a pretty girl.  Not beautiful, not stunning, just pretty. With hair the colour of bark and eyes of hazelnut,  she concealed herself from the world and its judgements in the shadows, always hidden.  

  One day, she was lying in the shade of a magnificent oak tree and as the sun beat down jubilantly on the rolling fields, a boy appeared from behind the sturdy trunk and looked down on the girl, framed in the shafts of sunlight seeping through the dark green leaves.  Coming to stand beside her he said:

"Why don’t you climb to the top of this mighty tree and see all of the wonderful countryside?"  The girl looked thoughtfully at the sturdy oak before answering.

"Surely I would fall if I tried, and everyone would see me if I did."   Circling the tree, disappearing momentarily, the teenage boy reappeared, smiling warmly and saying:  "And why should they not see you?  Summer crooks its finger at you.  It beckons you in every stalk of grass moving in the green fields, in the scents of all the flowers singing in the breeze.  It longs to hear your laugh mingled in the symphony of young voices frolicking in the sun.  Why do you deny it?"

  A cloud obscured the sun as the adolescent girl pushed herself to her feet to face the boy and the leaves rustled in the sudden chill:  "All these things you talk of" She said, "are beautiful.  But I am not part of that scenery.  I have seen the flecks of white that are the children, shrieking with delight in the yellow fields.  I have heard their laughter and their joy.  Their perfection.  But I am not perfect.  I have no golden tresses or white dresses, in their world I don't fit in.  But underneath this tree, I do not have to think about the sly sniggers or secret words made behind my back.  I can lie at its base and it accepts me for who I am.  Why should I ever want to leave that?"  He looked deep into her eyes and stepped towards her, his own eyes china blue,shining with mirth and an older emotion.

  "You have been content to hide beneath this tree, a bud shying from the sunlight.  Yet that bud has bloomed into the most stunning white rose, pure and beautiful.  Golden tresses are but leaves on a stem compared to the soft petals that shine in your hair.  You have the beauty of Summer, yet from the lowest weed to the highest sunflower you see beauty in all.  And that is why you are ready to leave."  Taking both her hands the young man led her out of the shadows and into the radiant sun, down a path overpowered with the heady scent of a thousand blossoms.  Now the young woman rushed to touch and pick and smell every flower within her reach, smiling with carefree delight.  Coming to the end of the path, she saw the great expanse of the world in a rolling patchwork mass of fields, rivers, lakes and streams.  Shadows and sunlight spread in contrast over the unknown.   As she made to step out she reached for her guide's hand and found only air. The vibrant path was empty.  Looking back wistfully to the beginning of the winding path, back to the trunk of the leaning oak, all she saw was an old gardener strolling away, a white rose in is pocket.

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