A Christian fantastical story reflecting the journey of trust, truth and finding oneself through the help of someone greater
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I’d never been through the Forest of Lavender before. I wasn’t sure it was real, even if people constantly told me it was. And words certainly didn’t do it justice. The trees shot up to the sky with purple lavender flowers raining down them. They resembled the Muskogee Crape Myrtle tree, only they were four times the height. While their trunks rose heavy in strength, their tip tops rained down in shade of purple and pink: wind-jittered petals would dance through the air and run over to tickle our noses.
The landscape thrill pushed me into the Prince’s strong arms for he was standing right next to me. I felt so guarded and safe with him, regardless of the fact that we had just met.
I apologised and pulled back.
He smiled, then caught me by the hand to keep me there, close and sheltered.
I smiled back and leaned my head on his arm like a comfortable friend who found his home.
As we walked on—a journey I wasn’t even aware had started—the landscape continued to have nature disperse in a colour and elegance that somehow beautifully harmonised together. Even the sky would peer through the branches and flowered fields to have its own light paint the leaves and reflect itself in the eyes of the Prince.
As he locked eyes with mine, he kept them there. “You’re my bride,” he said with a reassuring twinkle.
I blushed and looked away in an attempt to hold myself together. I kept bringing his attention back to the forest. “Look at those roses, they’re singing to each other and those tulip fields up there are so calming as they dance to the wind. Oh, look, you can even see distant mountains through that gap over there.” My amazement would not subside. “The mountains are yawning as though reawakened.”
Everything was alive.
A large fallen tree trunk now stood before us on the pathway.
I never left his side but looked up at him, his height suddenly even larger somehow, waiting for a resolution.
He simply nodded.
I took it as a sign that it was safe and went ahead, away from the shelter of his arms. The minute my foot stepped onto the tree trunk, the wood began to subside: shrinking within itself, rotting by the second. An endless hole began to expose itself underneath, a hole of darkness, unceasing in depth.
Suddenly, I realised the Prince never let go of my hand even though I walked ahead. Quickly, I squeezed tight, my back to him but my faith calling out.
Immediately I found myself safely on the pathway, caught and clenched inside his sturdy arms.
He hugged me and such pure love poured out that I almost forgot what had just happened, or what could have.
He put me down and looked at my small, vulnerable self with a tender voice, “Always let me go first,” he said.
“I thought you said it was safe.”
“It was safe for us both to go ahead, but not for you alone.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked.
He let me hold his arm again as we began to walk on.
“Trust me,” he said. “I know these forests and while I have a lot to show you, a lot for us to explore in beauty, there are surprises.”
I felt like a little child in that moment, looking up at Daddy with a phew encompassing my voice.
“Are you ever surprised?” I asked.
He smiled with a gentle crinkle in his eyes, and lifting of his brows. “Never,” he chuckled.
The season suddenly changed from spring to winter. Snow welcomed us halfway through the walk, having already covered the distant mountains and fields, it was now a white sheet of fresh powder under our feet. It’s like we walked into winter without it coming to us.
We walked on like a couple: a true bride and groom.
It wasn’t cold or uncomfortable, and in the brilliance of the snow, I saw a vision of our destination and suddenly remembered.
“We’re going back to your palace,” I exclaimed. “I remember now.”
“Are we far?”
He didn’t answer for a house appeared ahead. It was a brick house with a large chimney shooting up from one side. Its snow-covered roof was large and reached down so low it almost touched the ground. A few windows lit up the cabin in fire-like orange.
Only trees and snow could be seen around the household. That, and a snowman quietly guarding the door.
We drew closer and tried to overtake the house but an invisible wall surrounded it. I even tried to climb the roof and jump to the other side of the house from the top, but the wall was there too.
The snowman had come alive when he saw me trying to climb to the other side.
“You can’t get past this house. No one can,” said the snowman. He seemed upset that we attempted to get past, even more so that we climbed the roof. “Get down from there, you can’t get past,” the snowman shouted again.
The Prince looked at me.
We glanced at each other back and forth when it hit me: “Well, if we can’t get past, then we’ll just have to go in.”
The Prince’s hand was still holding mine, so we jumped into the chimney, falling down a shoot that went down for miles, as though we were gliding on a children’s slide. We were so deep in I began feeling claustrophobic at the lack of space and darkness within. The Prince kept talking to me though to remind me he’s still there even if I couldn’t see anything.
Focusing on his voice rather than the darkness, light finally began to prick in and shortly after, we landed.
The inside was like a factory of some sort. One that built machinery and fixed them too. The host was an old man whose purpose was the factory: friendly and jolly although living in such deep darkness of the ground’s depth.
A few hours had then passed. The old man host even took time on my machinery: machinery I had been carrying without realising, all in desperate need of fixing, tightening, cleaning.
But when he was done, I felt as though I was new.
There was no window or light shining in, so once my need for the factory was served, the Prince implied it was time to go.
“Remember,” the host said, “Time in here and time out there are very different.”
“What do you mean?”
“How long do you think you’ve been here?” the host asked.
“Well,” I hesitated, peering at the Prince. “I think a few hours, maybe one night?”
The host went on, “You only stay here as long as it takes to fix the screws and tighten the rails on your machinery. It didn’t take long down here for you because you gave it to me freely. But out there,” he pointed up. “It’s been a little longer.”
I gasped. How could so much time had passed when only a handful of hours was what I saw. It was all as fleeting as the mere blink in a gaze.
The two of them started giggling, and at the infectious tone their laughter held, I burst out also and shook my shoulders at the absurdity of it all.
True intimacy had built up in my relationship with the Prince inside that house: a closeness that could not be compared to the one outside. Although I always remembered clinging to him in that comfortable familiarity, this was certainly different. We talked, we shared, we opened up to know each other like a painter knows his canvas. Deep down, I hoped it wouldn’t change.
“I just have one question,” the Prince said to me, as we prepared ourselves to climb out.
I turned to him in that windowless factory: at the light of my life, at his kindness and sweet, tender voice. His strength he still carried undoubtedly.
He then knelt down on one knee, took a breath and went to speak.
I quickly lifted both my hands and stopped him. “No, no, please don’t do it here. Wait until we get outside, let’s go back to the palace, you can do it there. You can plan far more than just to kneel in the middle of this dark tunnel. Plus you don’t have a ring, do you? It’s up there, with the rest of your things. Please, let’s not do it in here.”
He bowed his head.
A silent moment froze the picture.
I then realised I had forgotten: I forgot he knew this place far better than I. I forgot he had told me we needed to do it all together. I forgot that he was never surprised, that every move he made, every time he kept me close it was pre-thought, pre-planned and to my protection.
So there was a reason why he did it now. There must’ve been something he was trying to protect me from.
Oh no, what did I just do?