The Little Boy and the Golden Thread

After the horror of Halloween, here’s a slightly less gruesome story….

The Little Boy

The Little Boy and the Golden Thread  

The boy tossed and turned in his featherbed, the wind that blew outside scraping the branches of the tree against his window like brittle fingers. He was Five years old, and had never slept a night. Arriving at the breakfast table, bleary-eyed, the following morning, his Mother looked at him with despair.

“Son, you must learn to sleep, for a third of your live is given to sleep, and if you waste it, your life will end all too soon!” she exclaimed.

The boy looked up at her with large brown eyes, imploring.

“But mama, I don’t know how!” A tear began a slow journey down his cheek.      His mother turned away, stifling a sob.                                          

That night, as he climbed into bed, the boy resolved to seek an answer to his problem.When all the lights were out, he quickly dressed, unfastened his window, climbed down the tree and ran out into the night, taking a jam sandwich. He walked for many days, and then hid on a train to London, jumping off in the countryside before it reached the big city. He stuck his nose in the air, and smelled the sea, setting off in its direction. Nobody saw him, for he was only five years old, and very small. By this time he had very little left of his jam sandwich, and was very hungry.

He was beginning to feel a little upset when; all of a sudden he caught sight of a tall ship in the harbour. He was by the sea!  He climbed aboard, unseen, and hid in the bottom, with the rats, who were a friendly sort.One in particular was very talkative, and asked the boy the purpose of his journey.

“I want to know how to sleep, I have never slept one night of my short life, and I am losing precious time!” he said.The rat, offering the boy a tasty morsel of rotten cabbage, leaned a little closer and whispered, conspiratorially……

“Then you have a long journey indeed! You must take this ship to the end of the world, and then make your way to the Temple on the Sacred Mountain, where the answer to your problem lies.”

“How can you know this?” asked the boy, in wonder.

“Oh, I travel” sniffed the rat, disdainfully. So the boy stayed on the ship for many months and the months turned into years, and eventually, the ship made landfall at the end of the world. He slipped ashore unseen, having bade farewell to the rats, and began to walk to the Sacred Mountain.He walked.And he walked.And he walked some more.He walked for ten years, and curiously, even though he had journeyed many years at sea, and many years on foot, he was still a little five year old boy.And all at once he was at the foot of the most beautiful mountain he had ever seen. He knew this to be a certain fact, for it was the only mountain he had ever seen.

There was a seemingly endless flight of steps cut into the very rock, curving, up, up so far that he had to squint to see how high they went, and as his eyes followed this stone staircase, he lost sight of it in the clouds. With a sigh, he began his ascent.

Many days passed, and the little boy, one foot in front of the other, climbed higher and higher. Lush green grass gave way to scrub and rock, which in turn became wreathed in snow and ice. The little boy became quite chilly, as he was only wearing his pyjamas.Eventually, after some months, and just before breakfast, he arrived at a huge wooden doorway, with a big bronze knocker. He reached up…he could not reach high enough.He tried knocking with his tiny fists on the wood, but they hardly made a sound. Reluctantly, he turned around and headed back down the Sacred Mountain.

Some months later he reached the bottom and peered through the door of a small cottage by the side of the road.

“Can I help you?” said a voice from within

“Yes, if you please” said the boy, “Do you have a stool I could borrow?”

“Why certainly!” came the reply. All at once a man as big as an elephant appeared in the doorway. “You may take this one” he said, gesturing to a small red stool by the fireplace.“I’m afraid I have an over fondness for toasted marshmallows, and I have been sitting by the fire for twenty years eating them, which accounts for my unusual size, and the inadequacy of the stool I now give you.”The man handed him the stool.

“The marshmallows smell good!” said the boy “Can I have one?”

“Don’t be greedy!” exclaimed the man, and slammed the door. The boy set out upon the great stone staircase once again through grasslands, rock, and ice and snow, and the soft caress of the great white clouds, clutching the small red stool.Some months later, he reached the vast wooden doorway once more. Carefully, he placed the stool below the door knocker, and climbed upon it. He reached up on tiptoe…not..quite…there. He stretched his fingers as far as he could, which wasn’t very far, because if you have seen a little five year old boys fingers you will know that they are very short indeed…his fingers brushed against the metal.  The boy frowned. He jumped down from the stool, and made his way down into the clouds on the great stone staircase. 

Some months later, he arrived at the door of the cottage.

“Come in” mumbled the man, between marshmallow mouthfuls “I can’t get up, I’ve become wedged in my armchair due to my continuing over-fondness for these tasty toasted treats” he said, by way of explanation.

“Why don’t you eat less?” asked the little boy, innocently.

“Don’t be impertinent!” harrumphed the man.

“I wonder if you have a large book I could borrow?” continued the boy.

“Well, of course, I’ve given up reading, as I cannot reach my shelves anymore. Are you looking for anything in particular?” asked the man.

“Well, it’s got to be thick.” said the little boy.

“Oh! But this is no criteria for choosing a book, lad!” exclaimed the man, worrying a particularly troublesome piece of marshmallow from between his teeth.“You need something full of knowledge and wisdom, to improve your lot in the world, and by happy coincidence, my encyclopaedia is both informative and thick, so both your needs will be fulfilled, close the door on your way out.” said the man, his fat fingers manoeuvring another marshmallow onto the end of his toasting fork. 

The little boy considered taking a marshmallow with him, but didn’t like the idea of ending up wriggling on the end of a toasting fork, so tucking the encyclopaedia under his arm, he once again mounted the stone steps, through the lush pastures, the rock, and the clouds, emerging into the sunlight by the giant doors. He brushed a layer of snow and ice from the stool, for he had been gone many months. Carefully, he placed the encyclopaedia on top, and climbed up. On tiptoes…stretching his fingers…until they curled around the metal ring of the knocker, he pulled it out and let it fall, one, two, three times, the sound vibrated around the mountain top and deep within the temple. 

A tall, thin man answered the door. He welcomed the little boy inside. He was so thin, that as he turned away into the great hall, he almost disappeared completely. The little boy couldn’t help thinking that he should eat some toasted marshmallows.Wordlessly, he led the little boy through a succession of halls, with glittering ceilings rising high above them in silver and gold. The boy was enchanted.   

“How do you clean them?” he asked.  

“The ceilings come to us.” answered the thin man, mysteriously. 

All at once they entered a vast mirrored ballroom, which seemed full to overflowing with Golden thread, and in the midst of it sat an old, old woman at a Spinning wheel, working patiently, steadily. The boy let his gaze wander up the thread, and saw that it emerged from a magnificent golden spider, perched high in the roof space.

“Come here boy.” called the old woman.The boy approached, picking his way through the golden thread.

“Can you help me sleep?” said the little boy.

“That I can.” said the old woman. “Though the remedy is painful.”

The little boy took a deep breath and said;“Then please, tell me how.”

The old woman motioned for the boy to sit on her lap, and from her pinafore she took a wickedly sharp silver needle, which she threaded with expert ease. Gold thread shimmering in the light.“I will sew this golden thread into your eyelids, and, in time, with the gold in them weighing them down, they will become heavy and close, and sleep will beckon.” Then, quick as a flash, her fingers went to work, and the little boy’s screams echoed across the mountains. 

A world away, his mother woke to the sound, and she leapt from her bed, in the grip of fear. She ran into the little boy’s room.

“My son, are you all right?” she cried.

The little boy was sat up, in his bed, momentarily confused at his surroundings.

“Mama, my eyes are so heavy, I cannot keep them open.”

She looked down at his flickering eyelids and gasped as she caught a glimpse of gold running across each one.

“Mama, I shall not wake from this sleep, for they are too heavy to ever open again.”

His mother held her hands to her mouth in horror.

“But my son, you are but five years upon this earth!”

“Do not weep, Mama,” said the boy, “for I have seen such wonders, and have lived a life of four score years in the blink of an eye. It is not the destination, but the journey, and the journey is life.”

And with that, the little boy’s eyes that weighed so heavily closed for the last time, and the branches continued to scratch forlornly at the window.                                                         

                                                      THE END

 

Painting by MIKI

Story by KEV MOORE Copyright 2007 

 

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5 Responses to “The Little Boy and the Golden Thread”

  1. YOU HAD ME GLUED TO MY CHAIR with this one. Your stories are “different”, you dare have sour sweet & sour endings like this!

  2. Thanks! Yes, I suppose I’m not the guy to come to for a normal “Happy Ever After” ending…I’ll leave that to Disney!

  3. supersizeme Says:

    Been trawling this blog, this story just had me ‘glued to the screen’ as yolande said. Dont know where you get your imagination from. Genius. Have you had your work published ever? …Also at this moment in time, im using various means of getting online, and have restrictions on music and videos, cant check your songs out till my pc is fixed. I’ll definitely leave feedback.

  4. Thanks, Supe, very kind comments! I’ve never had my writings published, I’m currently struggling with a novel, and have about three in various stages! Miki and I would like to publish a book of stories/poems, illustrated by her paintings…eventually!

  5. supersizeme Says:

    Really hope that, that happens, It’ll be great to see this stuff in print.

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