I didn’t really know what had gotten into me, but, I decided to stay a little while longer in the town that Lily lived in, at least, until I saw the spring-time festival for myself. I think it happens quite often for me, and, I don’t really have the words to explain it other than curiosity. Though, to say I was merely curious at that point would have been underselling Lily. I had come to understand where exactly her dream to fly came from. And, I could come to understand how it shattered, even if she didn’t know that she did have that dream or that it had dissipated. My job should have been done then and there when I picked up her dream to put in my jar. But as it stood, my jar still only had one shattered dream. I spent the day roaming the early festivities. Surely I was standing on thin ice as the day grew to night. I was quite surprised that my room hadn’t sent anything after me, unlike the other time. Perhaps it didn’t notice, but, I doubted it. It made me tense thinking just how angry my room should have been that I had spent the day messing about, but, I didn’t let that affect me. I had skirted on my job, was that so wrong of me?
“What do you usually do, Summer?” Lily asked as the day began to die. She told her sister that she would be exploring the festival with me this year, and so I met her at the other end of town where the streets were filled with life. It was such a jarring disposition to the morning we had that I wondered if I really was in another town, in another world. Thankfully for me, my perception to those of the World of the Living changed in conjunction to the occasion. And so, to my understanding, the modest dress I wore, the way my hair was tied, and the complexion of my face wouldn’t come off as completely foreign. After all, I wouldn’t ever consider myself human. Though, I do share in some of the complexities of being one. I mentioned this before. I reckon myself a child all the time.
“I guess, I usually just meet people,” I answered Lily with as much honest swindling as I could think of.
“You just meet people?” Lily’s hair was tied behind her, and she wore a loose fitting dress that fluttered in her every energetic step. Her voice bled into the noise of the town, and, eventually, we melded into the atmosphere of the festivities.
“It’s hard to explain, but, that’s the gist of it. I know it’s nothing special, but that’s what I usually do. What about you, Lily?” Her smile beamed in the dark of the night. The town was filled with artificial lights and the stampeding of feet. No one seemed to bat an eye towards me or Lily. I wouldn’t have pegged it strange if it was just me alone, but, with someone else with me, my ability to blend in surely would have been deduced.
“In the mornings I go to school! But not today, today is a special day, the day of the spring-time festival!”
“And what about on days that aren’t today?” She scrounged her mouth and made a big notion to think. That struck me as odd.
“I still go to school!” I smiled.
“And,” she continued, “after school, I go home and wait for my sister! We play together until I get sleepy!”
“Just you two?”
“Uh huh!” She smiled and skipped her way forward, then, she waved me over, entranced by candy apples.
“I’m going to buy two of them!”
“One for me, and one for you!” I didn’t know why, but I felt her energy was somehow more so than in the morning. It felt as if she was having too much fun. Does that make sense? My job wasn’t to mediate but, I felt like I wanted to know. I wonder what that’s called. Was it just curiosity? My jar of shattered dreams was still bare, with only her shattered dream waiting to be picked up. Or perhaps, I could now guess that it would never come back to her. I wondered to give it back to her, as a physical object, as a plane. I wondered if she would have been happy if I did so.
“It’s here!” The crowd dispersed into two lines on either side of the road. Then, coming from the slope, was a parade of platform bearers holding a statue of a women leaning down with her hands clasped in prayer. The detail on the statue beget me to think that it wasn’t all that old. Her hair was intricately laced together, her dress seemed to be flowing with life despite being carved, and her face was in solemn focus. The streets boomed for the arrival of the Valley Maiden. Lily was no exception. The air of the town was incredibly full. How had it been so quiet in the morning? Despite the festivities, I just couldn’t hold back. It was always like that with me. How could I ever get my job done if all I did was stick around and learn about people?
But. Was that so wrong of me? I don’t know.
“Isn’t it amazing?” Lily said as she began tugging at the hem of my dress.
“It sure is. Must have taken them quite a bit to make the Maiden.”
“My sister said they just polish it every year.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, every year we always have the spring-time festival! So, she said, that if they made a new one every year, it’d be wasteful, so, they gather all the children one day before the festival to help clean the statue!”
“Uh huh!” She took a bite into her candle apple, the last bite, and smiled from one end of her face to the other. It wasn’t that I had no appetite or taste, but, I took a bite reluctantly to humor the idea. I wished I could taste. The texture in my mouth told me it would have been amazing.
As the statue bearers came by us, Lily couldn’t help but to wave and jump up and down. If I had to say, she was making quite a scene by herself, and yet, not a single person laid eyes on her. When the Valley Maiden walked all the way, she was to be stored in the school, and, from then on, the festival would continue till the dead of night. I didn’t know how long Lily could stay up, but from what I gleaned, the festival would get intense, at least, that’s how these things always went.
When I leaned over to look, I could sense a certain sort of exhaustion blow over Lily. Even a child has to sleep.
“Say, Lily, it’s been a fun day here, playing with you, but, I think we should call it a day.” And, no matter how much I would get attached to those I met on my duty to collect shattered dreams, it was still just that.
“You have to go?” Lily’s voice lowered in tone, and, the expression on her face was of utter sadness.
“I said, right? That I meet people? Well, that also means that I have to leave to do that.”
“Do you have to go so soon?” I could stay away from my room for as long as I wanted, but, that wouldn’t bode well for anyone. My room would seek me out, and, eventually, swallow me back. I’ve tried many times to escape, but, it was always the same result. I found just opening a door and going back to be the most reasonable thing I could ever do.
“I do. I’m sorry Lily. You should also go back too, back to your home. It’s getting late out, I’ll walk you.”
“Where are you going?” I wished I could tell her.
“I don’t know.”
“Will you come back to tell me about it?” If I had a heart to break, I wondered if at that moment, it broke. But, honestly, I did feel upset, sad? Yeah, I felt sad having to tell her, “I don’t know.” The energy from her drained. She then turned and began to walk, back to her home, no less. I followed suit, holding her hand, making sure that she didn’t wander off.
“Say, Lily, what do you think you want to do when you grow up?” She didn’t answer. As we got closer to her home, the crowd thinned. Still, not a single eye batted our way. Cacophony or not, the town was practically ours, day and night. I wasn’t bestowed an ability to deduce, and, I could only glean so much from touching a shattered dream, but, I could guess why Lily was so lonely. She was lonely, right?
“For me?” I continued by myself, “If I could grow up,” it was true, if only I could, “I’d think I’d just want to sit around and watch the world around me move. ” I don’t know what it meant, but it was what I had thought, genuinely. At this point, I was just rambling.
“I don’t know. It just feels like something I’d want to do. Sounds relaxing, and, I guess it’s a nice change of pace since all I do is meet people. You know, doesn’t sound that bad if you think about it.”
“Summer?” Lily suddenly chirped, “I don’t get it!” She was beaming again, but, only for a second. That was enough to make me smile.
“Yeah, I don’t get it either.” I ruffled her hair and laughed, “I don’t get it at all.”
“You’re so complicated, Summer. Are all adults like that?” She began skipping as she held onto my hand. Her energy was restoring. Such was the magic of youth. Right?
“Most adults are like that, but, that doesn’t mean that kids can’t be too.” I ruffled her hair again, much to her dismay as she shook around in protest.
“Summer,” she suddenly said under her breath as we continued walking.
“Summer,” she repeated.
“Summer, summer… Summer!” She was awfully giddy now.
“What is it?” I said with a laugh.
“My list, of all my favorite things!” Oh, so she did remember that. I wondered how that worked.
“Oh, you mean the season?”
“I mean, Summer!” Her toothy grin made the darkness trill.
“Well, thank you, Lily.”
“And then, after Summer, would be summer!” She laughed, all into the night of the town, prancing about around me, and then, we made it to her home. She began pointing and jumping around, breaking free from my hold and then running her way to her front door. This part of town was all darkness. At one point I would have worried about the noise we were making but, the town didn’t seem to mind, and, it didn’t seem to want to sleep that day.
“Summer, summer, my sister, my mommy, my daddy, and,” she paused. I couldn’t help but notice the hairclip that formed on her golden hair. After all, it was a precious dream that Lily had formed. Dreams could be precious, right? Weren’t they always?
“I don’t know!” She suddenly exclaimed.
“I think that’s a wonderful list as it is.”
“Well, Lily, it’s been fun. Thank you for showing me around and teaching me about the spring-time festival. Make sure you be a good girl, okay?”
“I will!” And then, she ruffled around in her dress for the key to her home, and opened the door. Upon stepping inside, she turned, and looked me in the eye for one last time.
“When I grow up,” she suddenly said, “I’ll go and meet my parents, with my sister! And, if you can, you can come too! We’ll all go there and we’ll all have fun together, okay?” I couldn’t do anything but nod and smile. When she closed her door, I could even hear her feet tap off in unbound energy. That day, truly was an odd day, though, it wouldn’t be the last. I proceeded to make sure that no one was watching, and then, opened the door to Lily’s home, and stepped into my room. In my space, there was always light, but it wasn’t that my world only existed in day. It was just that night was never born. It wasn’t a light that bothered me though. I was used to it. I stepped over to my desk, where I emptied the jar I had into the big jar containing all the current shattered dreams I had. A single marble spilled from one to the other, and, upon touching all the other dreams, began to twinkle for a brief moment. Then, I placed my jar onto the desk, and went over to stuff my face into my bed. It smelled like roses. I closed my eyes, and, waited for a new day.