The Tree of Wonder
How one boy discovered the magic of happiness within
Arthur was standing on the outskirts of town, his gaze fixed on something out in the distance. The trees were greener and more lush because of all the recent rainfall. Arthur had never been this far before, so he wasn't sure what he was searching for.
The youngster proceeded ahead down a dirt road. There were no footprints on the ground, suggesting that no one had ever come this far. At least, human footprints.
Arthur glanced around. He did not know what he was looking for, but there appeared to be something waiting in the trees.
On his right, Arthur discovered a magnificent tree. It had brilliant green leaves that reminded him of swords wielded by knights in children's tales read to him at night. The tree was enormous, and it stood out from the rest. Arthur wondered how he could have overlooked such a stunning specimen on first sight.
The youngster approached the tree and brushed its leaves. He observed they were damp with dew, so, despite his mother's warning not to touch plants without permission, he felt this one was unique enough to risk it.
Back on the other side of the tree, he took a step back. He remained astonished by what he had discovered. He'd seen nothing like it before. Arthur drew near to investigate whatever made that strange noise when a flash of light caught his attention from behind the other side of the tree.
On the ground, amid a clearing, was a magnificent pear tree. The fruit on it gleamed as if they were tiny pearly stars that had fallen from heaven.
Arthur went slowly up to the tree and ran his hand over one fruit. The smoothness of the fruit, like warm glass, under his fingertips, surprised the boy. In a single movement, he plucked the glowing fruit from its branch.
"Hello," he heard a voice say. Startled, Arthur jumped back.
"Hello there!" the voice said again.
Arthur looked around for the source of the voice. He couldn't discover anyone in the tree or anywhere else, but he could hear it clearly, just as he remembered his mother's voice telling him that he may not have any more sweets before dinner.
"Who's there?" Arthur called out nervously, his eyes darting around to see if he could spot the owner of the voice.
"I'm right here!" the voice said again. This time, it sounded like it was coming from within Arthur's own head. "You can talk to me with your thoughts! Focus on what you want to say, and I will hear it."
Arthur stared at the pear in his hand, bewildered. He decided that this would be a good time to practice using his new gift.
"What are these?" he asked out loud. He felt silly speaking out loud when there was no one around.
"They're pears from the legendary magic tree!" he heard in his mind. It astonished Arthur at how distinct and loud the voice sounded, as though the speaker were standing next to him rather than inside him. "Their fruit never spoils! They may be kept for an eternity."
It felt as though he were touching a mirror instead of wood, but somehow it felt alive, just like how Arthur imagined trees talked to each other when they were all by themselves in a silent forest.
"Where did you come from?" Arthur asked.
The voice laughed in his head before responding. "I have always been here," it said, "just like the pear tree has been there, and so will both of us."
Arthur gazed about the grassy meadow that stretched as far as he could see. He glanced up at the sky, which was painted in a brilliant blue with white fleecy clouds.
"I don't understand," he thought out loud to the pear tree.
"Don't worry about it, Arthur," the voice replied in his head. "Just enjoy yourself! Be happy!"
"Wait," the young boy said. "How do you know my name?"
"All the trees know your name, Arthur," the voice replied. "What kind of magic would this be if I didn't know who I was talking to? We are friends from now on!" The pear tree said in his head with a chuckle.
Arthur rose to his feet and sauntered over to the magnificent pear tree where he sat in the grass beneath it. He took another pear from the tree and began munching on it. He loved how light it was in his palm, similar to a heavenly star plucked from above.
"This is incredible!" He said to himself in his mind, grateful for the voice's wonderful find. "You are my miracle," the voice added with a chuckle inside his head. The voice informed him, "Arthur, you're a wonder to everyone else."
The boy shut his eyes and listened to the sound of his heart. He sat in silence for what felt like hours before he heard anything even more beautiful than his own heart's beat. Inside the pear tree, the most magnificent music imaginable was playing.
"Who's playing the flute?" Arthur asked the pear tree.
The voice laughed in his head. "That is me, of course," the tree said. "I can play any instrument you like!"
"Can I hear another song, please?" Arthur asked. His mind was so full that he felt as though he could burst if he didn't get to listen to everything he wanted.
"Of course!" the tree replied. "Just ask and I will play anything for you."
Arthur sat in quiet meditation as the music of flutes and harps drifted around him. The youngster was sure his mother she would not believe it if he told her about his discovery, but she would accept it once she saw the marvelous tree.
"Will you show yourself to my mother?" Arthur asked.
"You can see me, so why should I need to show myself when I am visible?" The voice replied. "Can't you feel that I'm here when we talk? Isn't that enough for you?"
Arthur imagined the voice as a gleaming, golden ball of warmth that radiated throughout his being. He could hear it more clearly than ever before. It had a genuine, pleasant sound to it. "If you bring your mother, I'll let her know I'm here," the voice informed Arthur in his head with a chuckle.
Snow fell from the sky, almost mysteriously.
Arthur got up from where he was sitting and looked around him at the thick flakes that were falling all around him. The leaves of the trees glowed brightly, as though they were on fire, but they did not burn. With each flake that fell upon them, they appeared to glow more brightly.
"What is this?" Arthur asked.
"This is what happiness looks like," the tree replied. "Now go back to your mother and show her how happy you are today."
He ran as fast as he could, twirling in the snow. He giggled as he went, enjoying himself immensely. When he arrived at his home, he ran down into the dim cellar to see if his mother was getting all of their winter veggies ready.
"Mama!" Arthur shouted as he ran inside. "Come with me!"
His mother glanced up at him and smiled. Her eyes were red, bloodshot from a tiring day's work, but her expression was warm and inviting. She set down her knife carefully on a table beside her and approached Arthur, removing the child's hair from his eyes.
"What is it, dear?" She asked him in a soft voice. "Why are you so happy today?"
"Mama, I'll show you."
Arthur couldn't contain himself any longer. He took his mother by the hand and led her up the stairs and outside, but she cautioned him they couldn't go far.
The snow outside, to both their amazement, had fallen heavily around the brick house. It looked like a picture Arthur had seen once in an old book. The flakes were huge and beautiful as they continued to land on the ground with such softness and grace that it brought tears to his mother's eyes.
She was ecstatic, and she did not know why. This was something that didn't happen in her town. The sun never shone this brightly, and it hasn't snowed this early in the year since she can remember.
She beamed at her child with such delight that she felt overcome by an overwhelming sense of love. She lifted him up as high as she could, then placed him gently in Arthur's arms. Gripping onto him as tightly as she
They twirled around together, laughing so loudly that it drowned out the wonderful music playing inside the boy's head.
Dancing in the snow, Arthur became melancholy as he understood he would not have the chance to show his mother the tree of wonder. At least not today.
But the young boy vowed he would bring her the following day. And she would believe. He was certain of it.