Laraine Goddard

The Journey

One upon a time, in a land not so far distant in time or place, there lived a woman. This woman loved to weave tales that hung like magical webs in the early morning, heavy with sweet dew. She had lived well, seen much, done many things but for one. She had never seen the Old City. Yet still she yearned to travel to that place, full or riches, spices, cloth of many colours. And along the way, she longed to meet the roaming tribes that travelled over the desert sands.

One day, she decided to make that journey and set off as the sun was rising, casting its first rays of light upon the desert expanse. She walked along the banks Mother Tigris, giver of life, bringer of hope, carrier of dreams. As she looked into the clear waters, she saw stones along the river bed, like gems, holding the promise of all that was to come. The day grew hot and the night was cold. And in the night, she lit a fire, embers sweet that warmed her very soul. She took her rest beneath the stars, luminous flowers, as sweet as jasmine, set in ebony. The woman put her trust in the universe and gave herself up to slumber.

The next day, she came upon a tribe who asked her to stop a while and eat with them. She sat, and shared a meal of sour yoghurt and tough meat. After the meal, the elder of the tribe spoke.

'You may listen, but never speak,' he said.

And so the woman travelled on.

After a time, she came upon a second tribe and shared with them a meal of bitter berries and hard grains. One who sat with her said,

'You may speak all you wish, but we will never listen.'

As she continued her journey, the woman thought about the words she had heard. She grew tired, a heaviness within her, yet still she continued her journey, travelling in the cool of the morning and lighting her fire at night.

After some more days of travel, she was welcomed by a third tribe. They too invited her to tarry a while and eat with them. The woman hesitated, disheartened, eager to continue onwards to the Old City. Yet she stayed, for she was hungry and weary. And with this tribe, she shared a meal of wondrous fruit and delicious cheese that danced and sang in her mouth. She drank sweet wine, like nectar to her senses. The woman felt at ease, at one with the coolness of the desert breeze and the warming flames of the fire.

One of those she sat with smiled at her. His eyes sparkled with life in the light of the evening moon. He said,

'You are welcome in our midst. You have listened to our words and we are eager to hear your stories. Pray speak to us of wonder?'

And so it was that the woman stayed with the tribe and told them tales through the night until the sun rose once more and filled the world with light. When she had finished her stories, all were silent. Then the man spoke once more.

'Woman,' he said, 'you have filled the night with beauty and our souls with gladness. You have shown us places we have never been nor will ever see. This is your gift. We thank you for it. May you continue to fill the hearts of others with dreams. And may they understand that dreams are the bedrock of that which can come to pass. May you find that which you seek in the Old City.'

As she bid the tribe farewell and set off once more, she felt as if her journey was drawing to its close. She turned her eyes towards the horizon and saw, not so very far away, the glorious turrets of the Old City, gleaming in the new day, golden, clear. She felt as if she was coming home.

—Laraine Goddard

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