Once there was a girl. She did neat and tidy things like sewing, reading and drawing all day. She wore neat and tidy clothes and wore her hair in neat and tidy braids. She wore pink ribbons to keep them from unraveling.
On her way to the market with her neat basket and dainty steps, she always passed the pond first and then the mud pits. They were always filled with boys and girls swimming and wrestling and getting dirty in the mud and water.
To the girl it seemed like such fun. How she longed to get dirty! But she did not dare to get her lace petticoats wet and muddy.
One day she dreamed of mud and water and dirt.
Her mother asked what she was thinking about and she replied, “I am thinking of dirt and mud, mother dear.’’
And her mother frowned and went to talk to her father, saying she must be ill or something.
And while she was gone, the girl slipped out of the house and ran as fast as she could down to the pond, her braids streaming in the wind.
When she got there, she pulled off her pretty petticoats and jumped in with joyful screams. She did not care what happened to her.
She covered herself in mud and water and then she climbed out.
She found her clothes gone and then the next thing she knew was that she could hear the chirping of birds, not one or two, but many. It seemed they were singing to her, “come here, pretty girl, come oh come, see what we have for you, see what we have for youuuuuu, for you, oh come see what we have for you” that’s what they sounded like, so she followed their song and there they were, beautiful colorful birds, in all the colors of the rainbow.
They seemed to be dancing and singing around a pile of colors where the girl meets a big giant the size of her house. She was happy to see him. He said, “My name is Lock. Let’s be friends.”
Okay we can be friends, do you live here lock, asked the girl?
Yes, said lock, I live Down the rode
about a mile,
were are you going to take me?
Home of course
which home yours or mine asked the girl,
mine of course
where am I? Y she asked
you are in the land sithongth
The land sithongth is a mystical magical place that sits atop a turquoise and brown slab of stone. At night in the moonlight the turquoise part of the stone turns to river water that has stars twinkling inside of it and you can ride in a moonboat to go to all kinds of places.
There is a man whose name used to be Grutch and he was a foul tempered old man who was always grumpy. We’d hear him shouting in the trees and throwing rocks about the place. He’d looked everywhere he could think of for joy . … he ate cherries and spat the seeds out, held his breath underwater and made bubbles, chased after butterflies and looked at clouds, climbed trees and swung from branches, he looked under rocks and stones, and in his pockets too, he searched in books and drew pictures, he sang and danced with other people, he cleaned garbage from the streets and cooked for the hungry, he sat in the river, swam, planted flowers, fished, lay in hammocks, he’d even looked for joy in his neighbours shed! he couldn’t find anything that made him smile or laugh and he’d tried all the things he saw other people doing but he just got grumpier . . . until he went for a ride in the moonboat and saw a staircase on the banks, glowing in the moonlight.
He thought he’d like to go up and eat his peaches on a step, so he parked the boat and climbed up and ate his peaches. Then he noticed a door and opening it he stepped into a land where the sky was green and the grass was pink and this was so unexpected and surprising that he burst out laughing. He couldn’t stop laughing, he laughed so hard he fell backward and laughed all the way back down the staircase! Then he got in the moonboat and came back, and said his name had changed to Zhoys.
Other people took the moonboat to find the staircase but one woman went up and said Zhoys was a trickster for she ended up in a land that was burning red hot with dragons and lava and coals and another fellow went up and said there was nothing but chickens in aprons dusting trees together while their rooster king sat on the top branches of a tree and drank tea and ate cornbread all day long.
Have you ever taken the stairs up Lock? Asked the girl.
We must leave her poised at the bottom of those stairs for a moment while we return to the girl’s beloved (if overprotective) mother and father.
Mother had gone to see father, as noted before, but he was too busy to attend to such a thing as a mere thinking of dirt and mud. Surely their neat and tidy little girl would not do anything rash! Mother agreed and said she would cook a neat and tidy pot pie for dinner, and they could discuss the matter then.
On the way home, however, she had to pass that very pond, and a very curious thing happened to her as she did.
First, there was a mere thinking: “Oh how cool and lovely the pond looks. Oh how much fun those children are having wrestling in the mud!” And then, “I remember when Father and I did the same as children.”
Mother was surprised by this thought: how had she forgotten such a thing? She stood there in the cool breeze of a memory for just a moment, and then decided she had better get home and start that pot pie she promised to Father. Making pie crusts was one of her favorite things to do with her neat and tidy little daughter, and it would keep her busy and out of trouble until Father got home.
As mother walked away, though, she heard the faintest voice upon the wind behind her, as if birds could speak, and they said, ““Come here, pretty girl, come oh come, see what we have for you, see what we have for youuuuuu, for you, oh come see what we have for you…”
She thought she must be imagining things and, determined to come back to her senses, carried on home.