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It's almost dawn and a new day is promised by a bracing wind. Raindrops drift from the overarching clouds to land like tiny ballerinas, gracefully slipping onto the soft green grass.
A child sits in a perfectly protected pool of dryness beneath the promise of a willow tree. Her small fingers clasp the withered hand of an old man whose final breath is drawing near; as his soul prepares to be carried away on the gentle breeze that underscores the image with a constant reminder that life and death are an equal distance apart.
The old man’s silk suit crumples, as his body slumps, carelessly crushing in on itself. He stares at the curving landscape and scoffs at its imperfections. The mud that would dirty his polished boots, the small rabbit hole down which his precious Rolex watch could fall, and the freezing pond capable of drenching all of those precious bits of paper earned by years of blood, sweat, and tears.
“This world has been unkind to me.” He announces with a voice raspy with cruelty yet ambient with pride. “It has not treated me well and I shall be glad to leave it.”
The child says nothing, only stares at the delicate green of the trees, the vibrant beauty of the sloping landscape and the invitation of cool bliss from the pond. She closes her eyes and remembers the world beyond the trees.
She remembers the greyscale colours of the street where she used to beg for food every day. The unnatural sound of her drunken father lashing his belt at her mother downstairs. The ash-cloud of fear that reminded her she was next with every thud that echoed on the badly made staircase.
A shaft of sunlight escapes the hovering clouds and illuminates a small circle of tulips, purple ballerinas dancing among the intricate blades of grass. She imagines they are humbly worshipping the joy surrounding them and that in their petals they clasp the peace that withstands all storms.
The specs of unadulterated colour remind her of the smile, given by a teacher who held out her hand one winter's day and carried her into the warm classroom. A bird indulgently dives into the pond, relishing in the water, as if it was the hot chocolate made by a loving friend who tells you that there is so much you are going to accomplish, and that so many people will smile as a result of your calming presence. The trees stand tall and strong, like they are fighting for their entitlement to live and love in the world that has been given as a gift.
“The world is not harsh.” The child’s voice is soft and warm like a thousand glowing candles. “The world is beautiful.”
The old man’s eyes, clouded by greed and gold, turn to stare at the arching leaves hanging above his vulnerable frame.
“You see this willow tree?” His voice is sad, mourning a terrible grievance that wallows in his battered heart. “It is weeping, for all of the sorrow in this world.”
The child’s soul shivers, and a lonely tear runs down her pale cheek.
“It is not weeping.” She whispers. “It is bowing. Bowing to the beauty that shimmers all around it.”
With her words, the man’s eyes close. His face turns away from the elegant dance of nature, and his palm, still gripped tightly in the child’s, goes cold.
She sits solemnly, stiller than the branched arms of the trees, breathing silently in time with the wind.
“Perhaps someday they will understand.” She murmurs into the breeze. “That it is not the pain and heartache which defines the life we live. But the peace and serenity that is always surrounding us in this beautiful world.”