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Selvan and the Golden Pear

Long ago in a far away kingdom a little boy sets out on an impossible journey to stop death.

By R.C. TaylorPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 10 min read
Selvan and the Golden Pear
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Selvan knew that he shouldn’t be here. He wasn’t allowed outside after dark without his parents but he was on a mission, a hero’s journey to save his mother.

During the summer, he had snuck out of the house to complete the Hero's Tasks in the Dark Forest. He had repaired the hag’s old barn, returned the chocolate cake to the forest pixies, delivered the brown package to the mystical maiden at the end of the lane, pulled the weeds around the fey’s marigolds, tamed the Bull of Light, and captured the green witchlight the White Witch needed to protect her house. Just like the Hero in the storybook his mother read to him all his life.

And tonight was the last task. His last chance.

“Selvan, my sweet boy,” his father’s head had been in between his hands. Not lifting his head he grasped Selvan’s shoulders tightly. “Mummy isn’t going to get better.”

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His father had said that nothing could help her. But Selvan knew better! A bite from the golden pear could cure anything—as was told by his favorite storybook his mum read him. And he had finished all the tasks for the tree spirit to finally give him one.

By The Matter of Food on Unsplash

With his mighty spear, his dashing, golden cape that could protect him from anything, and magic fire in his right hand, he was Selvan the Great. He was hundreds of years old and had slain giants and trolls. He had saved the world over and over again.

By Naman Sood on Unsplash

And his mother was his world, so he would save her. His father was wrong.

Selvan knew what death was. One of his cat’s, Marshmallow’s, kittens, which he had named Milkshake, had died when it was barely able to open its eyes. And, tearful, his mother sat him down and explained to him that Milkshake wasn’t coming back.

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He had cried, went looking for her for a few days under the sofa and chairs. But Milkshake was gone, and he never saw her again.

He knew what death was, but a world without his mother wasn’t like a world without Milkshake. A world without his mother was scarier than the Dark Forest he was marching into, fireflies lighting his path.

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Trees with distorted, mocking faces loomed over him, and he clenched his spear tighter, ready to slay any monsters.

“Selvan, Selvan, we can smell him!” giggling, childish voices sang, the sound of their voices and their tiny feet crunching leaves echoed around him.

For a second he was nervous and wanted to go home but then he remembered his mother and her coughing fits and the idea of a house without her, and he kept moving forward.

“Give me your feet! Just a little taste,” a small pixie with razor sharp teeth and a pink flower hat laughed, grabbing a hold of his shoe with prickly limbs.

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He yelped and kicked it off, brandishing his spear. In the struggle another orange pixie ran up and tugged on his shoelace with spiky claws, causing him to trip over himself.

His knees stung as he hit the rough ground. More, giggling pixies began to creep closer.

“Cut it out, guys!” Selvan roared, kicking his feet out, sending a few pixies flying away before he regained his footing and wrapped himself in his cloak.

“There are no golden pears in the world anymore, Selvan the Great,” a voice growled. From the darkness, a larger pixie emerged and the crowd went still. A giant, neon pink flower was on his head and a golden band with a diamond was around his green forearm. He easily came up to Selvan’s knees.

“You’re wrong,” Selvan the Great stated firmly, curling up his lip. He slammed his spear onto the ground, sending some of the pixies scattering. “Where’s the Tree Spirit? She protects the last tree! I finished the Hero’s Tasks and the Book said she would give me the golden pear.”

“There are no golden pears,” the Pixie King rumbled again, “Not in this forest. Not in any forest.”

The quiet pixies turned their large eyes to him. Gone was the mischievous playfulness from the summer. Their wings quivered and drooped.

Selvan felt a small pressure on his finger and saw a tiny pixie grasping the tip of his thumb, flower wilted with concern. “You’ll only find sadness, Selvan the Great."

He pulled his finger away, frowning. “I’m Selvan the Great! I’ve saved the world, and I’ll save it again!”

“We’ve all made the journey at some point in our lives—” a pixie, hiding behind the leg of the Pixie King, chimed.

—only to be disappointed,” another pixie finished, fluttering up close to him, a petal falling from their head, swaying to the ground.

“You’re wrong,” Selvan insisted, pushing his flame closer to them. They scurried into the dark—all but the Pixie King.

“Are you going to stop me too?” Selvan said, puffing out his chest.

The Pixie King only looked at him with sad, tired eyes. “Go,” he said, holding back a branch of leaves.

Selvan quickly ran through, immediately finding himself in a beautiful land. Fireflies danced around him, showing him the way to the largest tree he had ever seen. When he got closer, however, it sprang to life, giving a loud yawn as it stretched.

By Vasily Kozorez on Unsplash

“Oh! What have we here?”

The tree spirit looked like his mother, her vine-like hair sprouting pink flowers like the kind his mother always had tucked behind her ear. Her eyes were warm and kind, like fireflies in a jar. With a tree’s creaking grace, she bent down and he stepped in her palm. She raised him to her face.

“Please,” he pleaded, “I need the golden pear to save my mother. Where’s the tree?” His voice wavered.

Her expression dropped. “I can’t give you what you seek, little one.”

Wind ruffled his hair as leaves pirouetted around him. Her voice seemed like it was coming from everywhere and nowhere all at once.

“Who’s left to help? Who’s left to fight?” Selvan cried out, his flame getting brighter with his hurt. “I’m running out of time!”

“It’s a rumor, nothing more, child,” the tree spirit told him, her eyes sad, “Nothing can stop death.”

“No, that can’t be true. I can’t go home and she not be there ever again. Where will I find her?” he cried.

“She belongs to the breeze now,

to the flowers she loved,

And to the earth that will wrap

Her lovingly in its embrace

As sundown kisses her goodnight.

You will find her in me everywhere you look.”

“That’s not fair! That’s not fair!!” he screamed, so angry that he stabbed her fingers with his spear. “Where’s the pear? Give it to me! The storybook said! It said! I did everything right!”


Suddenly, he was no longer Selvan the Great. He was just Selvan and he was seven and he didn’t want his mum to die.

He dropped the twig and clutched his mother’s threadbare yellow sweater around him. It was no longer a cape and the night was cold.

“Please,” he whispered, “please.”

Tears were pouring down his cheeks.

“All things end, little one,” the tree spirit whispered softly before she set him back down on the ground and settled back into herself with a loud groan of wood.

Before him now stood a normal tree.

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“All things end,” the breeze whispered.

And then he was alone and scared, the magic of the forest drained. His knees stung from where he had scuffed them and he realized he didn’t know his way home. The flashlight in his right hand flickered until it gave out.

Sinking to his bottom, Selvan just stared at the ground he couldn’t see. Then he screamed, “Mum,” as loud as he could into the darkness. His scream, he was sure, scared off the birds and any planes in the sky. He was sure it scared the stars themselves and the moon, too.

He wanted to keep screaming forever.

He didn’t know what to do anymore. Selvan the Great had been defeated. He couldn’t save the world this time.

“Selvan,” his father’s voice was suddenly above him.

When Selvan looked up, there was now bright sun from a flashlight, and he saw his father holding a hand out to him while looking away. He helped Selvan stand up.

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Selvan realized he was looking away because he was crying and was amazed. He had never seen his father cry.

"How did you find me?” Selvan sniffed tearfully.

At first his father tried to hide his crying but then looked at him, letting the tears stream down his face.

“I’ve been looking after you every night to make sure you’re safe. I’m here,’s okay to cry, son,” he sobbed, bringing Selvan to his chest, “I’m going to miss Mummy too.”

Selvan started crying, loud and hard, as he hugged him back as tight as he could.

“I tried, I tried!” Selvan sniffled.

“I know,” his father said, placing a warm hand on the back of his head, “I saw, I saw. Sometimes...sometimes we do everything right, and we still lose and what we lose are good people.”

He clenched his father’s hand hard.

"But we still have to smile for Mummy, though. We haven’t lost her yet. Let’s make the most of the time we have left with her. We’ll give her the time of her life and make wonderful memories for her and for us. Can you help me do that, champ?”

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Selvan nodded and, hand in hand with his father, they found their way home. And when they got through the door, they both peered in his mother’s room only to find her still awake.

“Oh! What have we here! Selvan, Frederick,” Selvan’s mother coughed, her voice as rough as sandpaper against Selvan’s ears. “What on earth are you both up to this late?”

Her once full face had been swallowed by the cancer, her cheeks sunken in so far that sometimes looking at her scared him, but he refused to show it. Gone was her black hair and now a scarf covered her bald head. A pink flower was tucked behind her ear.

By Caique Silva on Unsplash

"Mummy!” Selvan cried, rushing to her, burying his face in her side. She smelled like lavender and honey and, always, like home. She placed a hand on his head, stroking his hair.

“We just went for a walk, Nerine,” his father said, leaving out Selvan’s failed hero’s journey and their tears.

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“How brave! Out in the spooky dark,” she joked, tickling Selvan, making him laugh. If he laughed a little too hard, no one said anything.

Her eyes seemed to savor the way Selvan laughed.

”I love you both, more than words can say,” she said, then his father kissed her as she caressed Selvan’s cheek. “My handsome boys.”

"I love you too, Mummy," Selvan whispered into her hand.

She patted the bed next to her, “Come read me a story, Selvan.”

Rushing to his room he grabbed The Golden Pear. She hadn’t read it to him in a long time but that was okay. Now it was his turn to read it to her.

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While he was gone his father had gone to the kitchen and grabbed a handful of yellow pears, his Mum’s favorite. And the smile that she gave Selvan when she saw the pears and the book brought warmed him from head to toe.

By Aaron Burden on Unsplash

On his journey in the Dark Forest, with his imagination as company, Selvan learned lessons that he would carry with him for the rest of his life:

Fairy tales were stories and not all wishes could come true. Sometimes, the good guys didn’t win. And the worst villains were those you couldn’t fight—like time and disease.

But memories, memories lasted forever. Memories like a golden pear tying his and his mother’s hearts together across life and death, love enduring for all time.

After all, what is grief but love persisting?


About the Creator

R.C. Taylor

Part-time daydreamer. Full-time dork.

Follow along for stories about a little bit of everything (i.e. adventure and other affairs of the heart).

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