The Thing

In their vintage, baby-blue cottage in the middle of the sunflower field, the young couple sang, twirled and laughed. Every morning the young man sang her awake, took hold of his wife’s hands and twirled her around singing, “here comes the sun little darling and it’s alright.” Whenever the young couple walked by, no matter where they were, strangers would marvel and stare and whisper to each other, “Are they really that happy. Can anyone be that happy?”

With their happiness, nature would follow. Firefly, Songbird, and Bunny Rabbit took up permanent residency at the cottage and every night the young man would tuck them all in, and then the young couple would laugh themselves to sleep.

One day, however, something else began to follow them along their walks through the sunflower field and into town. They didn’t even notice it at first, as it was good at fitting in. It blended in with the laughter and it cleverly disguised itself as a firefly, a songbird, or a bunny rabbit.

The longer The Thing followed them, however, the less the young couple laughed, the less they twirled, and the less they sang.  The more The Thing followed them, the less Firefly, Songbird, and Bunny Rabbit tagged along for evening walks through the sunflower field. The longer The Thing followed them, the harder it was for it to hide and the more apparent it was that it was not adding to the laughter and the twirling and the singing but in fact, taking it away.

The young couple stopped laughing, twirling and singing. They spent most of their time in silence and if either of them spoke, it was in angry hardened words and hushed darkened tones. He, in his overstuffed emerald green chair, glared over his tortoiseshell spectacles at his wife. She, in her grandmother’s wooden rocking chair, angrily clicked her crochet needles together as the blanket began to take shape. This was not how the young couple used to be, you see, at least, not before The Thing moved in.

Summer faded and winter took up residency. Firefly, Songbird, and Bunny Rabbit stood outside, looking through the young couple’s windows, and mourning the loss of their friends. They had no one to play with anymore and there was no room left for them in the house as The Thing had moved into their room, taken over their beds and hid their toys.

Bunny Rabbit was the saddest because The Thing had taken her most favorite friend. “I just wish it would give me back my kitty,” she said sadly, wiping away a tear with her frozen paw. “She’s so soft and I can’t sleep without her.”

They waited patiently every day for their friends to notice them shivering outside in the cold. “I wouldn’t ask to come in,” tweeted Songbird sadly. “I just keep hoping that the young couple might give us some mittens, hot chocolate or at least give us Bunny Rabbit’s kitty.”

But, The Thing was too big now. It was bigger than the young couple’s house and blocked every window with its darkness. Firefly, Songbird and Bunny Rabbit gave up and went on to start their own traditions together. They fondly remembered back to summers when they used to play with their old friends. Trying to settle into their new routine, they busied themselves with tree decorating and present wrapping. Firefly cheered when the snow started to fall gently outside of their window, remembering the bedtime story the young woman used to tell them about the magic of the first snow.

Back at the young couple’s house, the woman noticed it was snowing and stood by the window to watch in awe as it fell onto the proud-standing sunflowers. She sighed loudly and marveled at how stubborn they were, gripping tightly to the last remnants of summer as the snow tried to force them into hibernation.

Watching her staring out the window, the young man asked her with interest and sarcasm, “What is it about the first snow that you believe to be so magical?”

“It’s simple,” she said in a gentle tone. “Snow comes and takes with it all of the year’s failures and mistakes. It takes all of these things and tucks them in for a long winter’s nap. With Snow, comes forgiveness and a second chance. With Snow comes a chance to start over.”

Noticing the last bit of gold from the last remaining sunflower disappear under the snow, she sadly said goodnight to the sunflower and continued on, “Without fail, Snow falls as if it had not heard or seen a thing, for Snow does not keep a record of wrongs. Snow just forgives and keeps falling.”

Amused by her words, he gave her a half smile and put his newspaper down. Glancing up at the photo on the wall of the young couple with Firefly, Songbird and Bunny Rabbit, he thought to himself, where are those guys? I haven’t seen them in a while.

Still staring out window, she reached and touched the paint chipped panes and noticed the baby-blue paint chips under her nails. Maybe we need to do some sprucing up around here, she thought and then went on, “After Snow’s arrival, the sun always rises and brings with it a sparkle, a sparkle that Snow will hold in its eyes for the rest of winter’s stay. When Snow melts and Spring arrives, the failures and mistakes melt away and chances are, by Spring’s arrival, those failures and mistakes have been forgotten and have been replaced with the lessons Spring has to teach.”

The young man began to weep from the beauty of her words. His tears turned into a small smile and his smile turned into a grin as he began to laugh. He knew how much she hated winter and being cold, but always admired her positive attitude. He didn’t know why, but laughter and the joy came over him like a contagious bug. She began to laugh along with him. This joy was infectious, and the more they laughed the more The Thing shrank. He grabbed her hand and twirled her around the living room, sliding around like children on the maple hardwood floors to the music only they could hear. What they didn’t notice however was that the more they twirled, the more The Thing shrank.

Hearing the familiar melody of “here comes the sun” from outside their window, Firefly, Songbird, and Bunny Rabbit ran as fast as they could toward the house. They could see the light from the Christmas tree through the windows now as The Thing had shrunk, and they danced and sang in the snow outside the living room window in celebration.

Noticing the commotion outside, the young man came out to welcome his old friends, but detected this strange dark shadow in the driveway by the red shed. “Who are you?” he asked it as if he had never seen it before.

The Thing just looked at him with sad eyes, unable to speak. He bent down and wiped off its face with the sleeve of his argyle sweater to uncover someone the couple had met once before many years ago. Looking at his wife, he mouthed, “Is that who I think it is?”

“My name is Ms. Understanding,” she whimpered. “I never meant to cause any harm.  It…it… was just that no one ever took the time to talk to me. No one e,e,e,ever tried to understand me. I showed up one night while you guys were yelling. I didn’t mean anything… honest. Please forgive me?”

Underneath all the dirt was a beautiful girl in a sparkly dress wearing a tiara and red glittery slippers. She began to sing, “here comes the sun little darlin’ and I say it’s alright.” Everyone began to sing along, as she reminded them of the words to the familiar melody the young couple hummed so very long ago.

So my friends, our story ends here. Little Ms. Understanding, the young couple, Firefly, Songbird, Bunny Rabbit all went inside to sit underneath the Christmas tree and watch the snowfall.

“Hey Bunny Rabbit?” Ms. Understanding inquired. “I have something for you. I’ve been keeping her extra safe until you came back. She’s been helping me sleep at night because I’ve been so lonely. She’s the loveliest friend.” And with that, Ms. Understanding handed Bunny Rabbit her kitty companion

“Oh, Thank you!” she exclaimed, holding her soft friend close to her face. “I’ve missed you so much, kitty!”

Singing, twirling and laughing they let Snow do his job of healing and forgiving. The young couple tucked everyone in, showed Little Ms. Understanding to her new sparkly pink bedroom, and the young couple laughed themselves to sleep under the big cozy blanket she had finished crocheting. The next morning, without fail, the sun rose to show them all the new beginning Snow had left them.

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