The Book Of Dreams – part 2
Melvyn leaned into the room and a tremor ran through him as he saw all of Sally’s furniture and Sally herself had vanished. In their place the room was full of sand; some of it wet with the smell of brine. A little sand castle was formed in the middle of the room with a tiny shovel and bucket. Two deck chairs stood nearby accompanied by some lemonade bottles.
Melvyn picked up Sally’s birthday book and on the cover, the little girl on the beach turned around and waved. He went to speak but couldn’t. The girl was Sally.
Meanwhile, the little old man had just opened his shop and was attending his first customer.
‘Are you looking for anything in particular?’ The woman seemed in such a rush.
‘Yes please. I haven’t got time to browse. I just want a book for a young boy who loves anything to do with the jungle.’
The old man stared into her eyes for a moment, then beckoned her to the counter.
‘That is very remarkable. Such a book I’ve had delivered to me today. It’s not yet on the shelf.’
He reached under the counter and placed a book on it entitled, Children’s Jungle Stories. The woman didn’t even notice that the monkeys on the cover were actually swinging through the trees. She just opened her purse and handed over the money.
‘Do you want me to gift wrap it? Children just love teddy be—’
Before he could finish, she replied, in an agitated voice. ‘No, I haven’t time. Just give me the paper, I’ll wrap it later. You can keep the change.’
The woman gathered up the book and the gift wrap and put it in her carry bag, checked her watch and dashed out the door. The old man shook his head wearily and went back to his chores.
Later that night she arrived home from work, her bag full of office documents to be finalised that evening. Her husband glanced up from his computer, smiled, then returned his gaze to the screen.
‘Peter is in bed. I only had time to nuke some spag bol for our tea. I told him we’ll take him somewhere on the weekend, but I have to play golf on Saturday, and Sunday I have to go into the office.’ His wife slumped down into the sofa and let out a long breath.
‘Well I have so much on this weekend. I have to finish the Darnegie Report for the boss or my job will be on the line. And I have an essay for uni due on Monday. Any of that spag bol left?’
Her husband nodded. She remembered Peter’s birthday and hurriedly wrapped up the book in a scruffy manner, and went to his bedroom. Luckily he was still awake and reached for a hug.
‘Happy Birthday, Petey.’ She gave him a brief kiss and handed him the book. He held it up and examined the teddy bears on the wrapper.
‘These teddies are cute, aren’t they Mum?’
His mother shook her hands anxiously. ‘Don’t worry about the paper. Hurry up and open it up.’
Peter tore open the paper and his eyes opened wide. ‘A jungle book. Thanks Mum. Can you read it to me?’
His mother shook her head. ‘I’m sorry Peter, I’ve just got too much to do tonight.’
His eyes lit up. ‘What about Dad?’
She shook her head again. ‘Not tonight Petey. You know Daddy has so many emails to answer from work and he’s so tired. Maybe tomorrow night.’
Peter sulked for a moment, then leant up from the bed in anticipation of a kiss but his mother, already moving to the door, only smiled, gave a little wave, and walked out the door.
Peter picked up the book and looked at the cover to see a band of chimpanzees swinging happily through the trees. He must be tired as he thought for a moment that they really were swinging. He tried to read a little, but soon his eyes grew heavy. He wished he was in the trees with the chimps so they could tell him their story as Mum and Dad were always too busy to read to him. Soon, he dropped off to sleep. The book fell shut and the book cover was soon alive with chimps, scampering up and down the tree limbs and swinging on the vines.
The next morning Peter’s parents stood at his bedroom door in shock, just like Sally’s parents, for all of Peter’s furniture was gone. The room was filled with greenery and the sound of squawking parrots, and the buzzing of insects echoed off the walls. A lone chimpanzee sat on the earthy floor reading Peter’s jungle book. He let out a scream and threw the book at the stunned couple. Peter’s mother picked up the book and stared at the cover in disbelief. She let out a scream and fainted. Peter’s father picked up the book and looked at the cover to see a little boy swinging merrily through the trees with the chimps. The little boy was Peter.
The old man smiled as he usually did when all the parents who had bought his ‘special’ book that week all arrived at the same time with their purchases waved before them, demanding to know what sorcery the old man was up to. There were Sally and Peter’s parents, and also the parents of Jodie, the little girl who wanted a book about fairies.
Jodie’s parents were always too busy fighting and yelling to ever read to her. So she read the book her father bought from the old man alone, wishing she was in the land of fairies on the cover, and that one of the fairies would grant her a wish of stopping her mother and father screaming at each other.
Of course the next morning her parents found her room all covered in fairy dust and toadstools – but Jodie was missing. Wisps of sparkles flew around the room and stopped for a moment, then a small ‘ping’ would sound out, and they would swoop around the room again. Then they found the cover of the book where all the fairies and gnomes were gathered around Jodie, who was dressed as a fairy with pink wings.
‘Quiet, quiet please, ladies and gentlemen. I will give you the answer you seek.’
Jodie’s very large father leant over the counter and threatened him.
‘If you’ve taken them I’ll … we’ll …’
The old man held up his hands. ‘Your children can be back tomorrow morning. Do you at least have any idea why they disappeared? I told you all that the book can change lives. You … all of you … have to change your lives for your children’s sake … for all your sake. All of your children were unhappy – and indeed so were all of you.’
‘I don’t understand. Explain it a little more clearly.’ Sally’s mother settled everyone down to hear the old man’s explanation.
‘You two – Sally’s parents. The way you two waste your life in a haze of wine will one day, and not too soon, end your days. You do want to see Sally’s children one day, don’t you?’
‘Of … of course.’ Sally’s parents held each other. The old man smiled.
‘Then seek help. Stop the drinking. It will be hard, I know. But promise me this now and when you wake in the morning, you will again be a happy family.’ The couple smiled sheepishly and promised. The old man turned his attention to Peter’s parents.
‘And you two. Always busy, busy, too busy for Peter. One day when he grows up he will be too busy for you. Promise to give him more love and time and tomorrow morning you will all be happy.’ Peter’s parents nodded and kissed each other. Jodie’s parents then knew what was coming.
‘And how do you expect Jodie to grow up a happy confident girl if all she hears are you two snarling and fighting each other? Seek counselling and try to sort out why you fight so much. If need be and you part, but I indeed hope not, at least Jodie will have two happy parents.’
Jodie’s parents gave each other a hug. The old man grinned as all of the parents mingled and hugged each other. Jodie’s mother gave the old man a quizzical look.
‘But why can’t they be there when we get home? You understand we are frightened by the unreality of this magic. Who is behind it?’
The old man shook his head. ‘They are safe and happy in the land of dreams while you have time to question your future commitment to what I have told you. Never question the children about where they have been. This is no magic or a sorcerer’s game of charades. I warn you that if you abstain from your promise, the children will return to the book of dreams forever. Now please go as I have work to do.’
Regretfully, the parents left the shop, and as the little bell tinkled behind them, Sally’s mother turned to return for a question. She let out a small cry of alarm.
‘The shop’s gone … it … it’s just vanished.’
They all turned to see that indeed the little old man’s book shop was no more and in its place was a little cake shop.
A man and a woman got up from their deck chairs on the beach and walked to their daughter making a sand castle. They each took a hand and led her to the surf where the waves fizzed and tickled her feet. Sally looked up to her parents and they all smiled and laughed together as screeching sea gulls swooped over their heads. They walked back to the chairs and Sally’s mother lay out the luncheon. Sandwiches, cake and lemonade for everyone.
Chimpanzees swung through the trees and Peter laughed with them and his father took a photo of him with his mother as they stood outside the chimpanzee exhibit at the local zoo.
Elsewhere, Jodie smiled as she looked up at her father with his arm around her mother. He leant over and kissed her on the cheek and she laughed. Jodie’s father had bought tickets to see Peter Pan at the local movie theatre.
The little old man smiled as he observed his work and set about leaving for a new town. There were indeed many parents who needed to become aware of the life changing possibilities in the old man’s ever changing cover of The Book of Dreams.
Bio: David says that this is an attempt to write a story for older children that adults might enjoy. We certainly enjoyed it, and hope you do, too!