The Road and the Riverbank

This is a short story that I wrote 2 years ago, it isn’t the best. I hope I could do better now but I think that its morals are true to this day.

The sun slithered up the trees like an orange-naped snake, silently and swiftly it rose, casting light upon the rich, thick moss and the leaf-laden branches. One by one each bud blossomed, slowly creeping towards a new world of spring. Each day one bud blossomed on one tree, the coming season slowly reclaiming the precious gems of nature. The tree branches swirled and twisted gracefully underneath the leaves like calligraphy, spelling out a pleasant spring ahead. I sat by the riverbank gently whistling a tune of a lullaby as I weaved daisies to make a crown for the Queen of spring. At that moment it felt like I was that Queen. I placed the wreath upon my head, I felt as regal as the Queen of England herself and danced around the riverbank and twirled through the trees. Although that was only a few months ago it feels like ten years, as now I have joined a world unknown and have left my youth behind me at the edge of that river. Sometimes I wish I could take those years back and stay young forever but I am quickly forced to leave that thought by the river too… As I walk along the road I come to a cold, dark cemetery filled with frost-covered gravestones and withered flowers frailly leaning against them. At that frosty, gloomy cemetery I see a young girl and her mother. The girl stands beside her mother clutching a droopy-eyed bear, a token from her father. Her eyes are swollen from crying and her dress is crumpled from the never-ending supply of hugs from her grieving mother. The girl is no older than 5 and wears a pink pinafore – her father’s favourite. Her long, blonde hair is tied into two pigtails (although she calls them “pinktails”). She wears a necklace with her name on the charm – Daisy. Daisy is heart-broken. Why is daddy gone? I miss him. Why did he have to leave? I can hear the worried thoughts and questions swirling through her mind. She loved her father. She was such a bold, fun-loving little girl who warmed the hearts of everyone she met, but now that her heart is broken, all the other hearts are left cold. Daisy still loves her father; he never meant to leave, she whispers to herself and her droopy-eyed bear Stanley. He will come back, ‘cause surely if I miss him he’ll miss me, she reassures herself. As she thinks more about her father tears begin to well up in her big, brown eyes and pour down her pale, freckled cheeks. Daisy’s mother (the image of her daughter) squeezes her and kisses her on her forehead, trying to fight back her own tears too. As they stand there, Daisy takes a handful of small, delicate, white flowers – her daddy’s favourite and lays them against a gravestone labelled: Jack Stanley Jones Husband and daddy Rest in Peace As I watch the grieving couple I realize that this is the winter of their life – the cold, dark time when all seems dull and grey. I wonder: What can get them through this heartbreak? I stand there wondering for a while until Jack Frost is so close that I can feel his icy breath creeping up my spine. I shiver and walk ahead. The what-was wintry road slowly turns into a mellow spring; the vibrant colours and sweet-smelling flowers give me a spring in my step. I wander on until I come to a crossroad – one leading to an untouched spring meadow and the other to a worn-out, dirt road. “Take the meadow – it’s so pretty!” an excited, little voice comes from behind me. I turn around and find two big, brown eyes gleaming at me. “Hello! I’m Daisy” It was the little girl from the cemetery. I was confused: how could a frail, forlorn girl clutching onto her mother from fright and grief turn into a bright and bold, ready-for-anything kind of girl? “How did you get here?” I ask, still slightly dumbfounded at this girl’s cheerfulness. “Well, aren’t you going to tell me your name first?” she teases me. I stand there, stubborn and frustrated, waiting for a response. Although, she too was stubborn. We stand there for what seems like a million years until I get fed up and start making my way. “Wait! Stop! I just followed you here!” a little worried cry comes from behind me. I turn around triumphantly feeling victorious and smile, “Okay, but why?” She shakes her head and says, “Nope, it’s your turn,” I sigh and answer her. Satisfied, Daisy declares “I came with you when I saw that you were going on an adventure! I’ve always wanted to go on an adventure! Are we going to a magical kingdom? Or are we going on some secret spy adventure? Oh, there are so many things we can do! What are we doing?” She rants, but she’s right – what are we doing? I never really thought about it. “We’re just wandering, I guess.” I reply. Her excitement calms down to a mild pleasure – even disappointment, but she doesn’t say a word. We start wading through an ocean of greens, pinks and purples; every flower we pass Daisy picks and clumps together into a bouquet with the rest of her collection. As she goes flower hunting I gaze out into the seemingly endless field of flowers and the cloudless, blue sky swallowing the meadow. The scene is so overwhelmingly huge that I can feel it wrapping its arms around me and lying me down in the bed of grass. I lie there and gaze at the naked sky. As I watch the blue heavens I am soothed by the stillness. It is ageless, its timeless beauty gently sends me into a soft sleep… A small nudge brings me back to reality. When I open my eyes I see two muddy, little hands grasping a handful of flowers. “They’re for you.” Daisy exclaims with delight. They are beautiful; the last time I held flowers was down by the riverbank when I had that wreath of daisies delicately placed on my head. I am transported back to the meadow and memories of the river escape to the back of my mind when I hear the excited giggles of a little baby girl as her father tosses her playfully in the air. I look in delight as the sweet pair play and laugh together. The baby girl looks into her father’s eyes with complete trust and joy and he holds her close to him as if she is the most precious gift in the world – which to him she is. The little girl nuzzles into the safety of his warm embrace and releases a tired but contented sigh. Her father’s eyes shine like stars as he gazes at his dear girl dozing off. I look at Daisy; her eyes are filled with tears. I can just see the memories of her and her father replaying in her mind. Her eyes start to overflow and tears stream down her rosy cheeks, I crouch down and wrap her in my arms. She sniffles and embraces my hug, “Thank you” she whispers. I squeeze her and look into her eyes; they are red and tear-stained and still glisten with the droplets of tears left over. Yet they also smile at me and with great joy, she hugs me once more as I whisper, “You’re welcome.” Daisy takes my hand and leads us onward through the meadow, to a barbed wire fence, on the other side of which is a road walled with trees, filled with fresh, new leaves and bright blossoms. The road is carpeted with red dirt and is worn out while its surroundings seem untouched and new. We walk hand-in-hand along the path kicking up the sand as we go creating a cloud of red dust hovering at our feet. This must have been the road we could have taken instead of the meadow. I’m glad we didn’t because that moment that Daisy and I shared was irreplaceable; it was a moment that I have shared with no one else before – a moment of wordless reassurance, silent comfort, unspoken affection. We walk along the summer road as I whistle a tune of a lullaby and Daisy accompanies me with uplifting lyrics about Easter bunnies and Christmas robins – her own words. Our walk turns into a wholehearted skip and our modest hums turn into passionate songs. As we prance and sing we gradually stop and carry on walking again. “Do you want to know the real reason why I wanted to come with you?” Daisy asks. Finally the mystery will be solved! I reply with an excited, “Yes!” “When I saw you I thought that you were gonna’ be my friend… and that I could share memories with you the way I did with daddy. I remembered the happy times with him and mummy before she was sad and thought that I could share new memories with you.” Her honest confession brings tears to my eyes. Behind that fun, crazy, bubbly exterior was a heart that had been broken but one that has gained wisdom from it. A heart of gold. The more I think about her confession I figure that I should tell her about one of my most precious memories – the riverbank. “Daisy, I have memories that are precious to me too. Some were at a riverbank. I would just lie beside the water and I’d be instantly at an enchanted kingdom, where anything was possible. It was beautiful!” Daisy looks at me wide-eyed, intrigued by this wonderful place that I speak of. “You would love it! It had all of the flowers imaginable and no matter what season it really was, it always seemed like spring! But sadly I can’t go back now. I have embarked on a journey, on a road that leads me to the unknown and the only thing that I do know is that I can’t find my dear riverbank again.” Daisy’s eyes look to the ground but have a mischievous sparkle to them – I know that she is up to something. I soon get tired and settle down at the base of a tree. I lean my head against the rough skin of nature’s grandfather and close my eyes while Daisy goes hunting for more flowers. As I dream I imagine Daisy and I by the river creating ripples in the crystal clear river crafting daisy chains of our own. That truly is my dream – showing Daisy the wonders of my memories and creating new ones that will last forever… “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!” excited cries drag me out of my dream and back to the road. Daisy is shaking with exhilaration, “Come! Come! I have something to show you! Get up… Now close your eyes!” I nervously put my trust in her and let Daisy guide me. I can hear her trying to keep her eager squeals in but failing. We walk for what feels like 100 miles until I can barely carry on with the anticipation. We go under branches and over ditches until Daisy finally says, “Okay, you can open your eyes now!” I open my eyes to find the most overwhelming, phenomenal place in the world – the riverbank! Daisy has found the riverbank! This is the most amazing surprise I have ever received! I try to thank her but all that comes out are squeals of pure joy! I look around me – there it is: the crystal river, the twisting trees and their jewels, the soft, bed-like grass and… the crown! I look at Daisy, gleaming at me waiting for a response. I wrap her in my arms and embrace her for as long as I can, saying, “Thank you” repeatedly into her ear. I look at Daisy, her blonde hair rippling in the breeze and her eyes shining brighter than the sun. I place the wreath of white flowers upon her head. She is the Queen of spring. I have now arrived at my destination and the whole time my destination was right where I began. However, I have discovered that life is not about the starting point or the end of the road; it’s about the journey and who you journey with.

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