The tranquil, warm morning left no sounds but the tweeting of the birds and the tune of the wind chimes. Their garden was relatively small; the large tree occupied most of that space. Attached to a branch of the tree was a swing, which looked old and worn, and next to it was a small wooden table. An old washing line had sheets swaying from it near the table. Their house was punctuated a long line of neighbouring, uniform buildings but adjacent to their house was a vast, golden wheat field, feeling rather out of place. It wasn’t much, but they made it home.
Suddenly, the latch on their back door was opened and a small boy, perhaps the age of seven, wandered out, disturbing the wind chimes as he shut the door behind him. His hair was blond and of a standard length for a boy of his age yet his height wasn’t so average. The child seemed very small for his age and rather skinny. He took a sip from the juice he’d been carrying then set the Mason jar down on the table beside the tree. The substance was a golden colour, perhaps an orange smoothie of some description, and a blue and white striped straw poked out of it.
His expression as he stared up at the tree was dismayed, not matching the brightness of his large blue eyes. Any other child would be happy to sit on a swing in their garden but he only sighed as he sat down. The swing bored him, as if he hadn’t varied his activity all summer, and he took the occasional sip of his juice, not really seeming phased by that either. It was actually hard to tell if he looked sad or expressionless. But then he glanced over to the wheat field with longing in his shining eyes. He set down his Mason jar again and stood up, creeping over to the gate leading to the field.
First, he checked through the window that his mother wasn’t watching then he opened the latch on the gate. He felt free and he ran. He held his arms in the air like wings, feeling the wind glide past his body as he ran through the golden wheat. Unexpectedly, an explosion of magic erupted from his heart and pink elephants, blue tigers and purple cheetahs all ran alongside him. Each one was connected by a thin glittered ribbon to the boy’s heart as they all charged through the field. It was an incredible sight to watch, the different coloured animals following their young master. The grin on his face was so wide that you’d wonder if he was still the same child that stared up at the tree only an hour or so before. He felt as if he could conquer the world. As if nothing could stop him. It was like he’d escaped to his own little world. Soon, they stopped running and he lay down in the wheat, hidden from everything. The animals around him sat or slowly wandered around, never straying far from his side. He lay there in silence at first, the smile never evading his face. Then he sat up, playing with the growing wheat and talking to the animals. They didn’t talk back, but he pretended they were listening anyway. They stayed like that for hours, basking in the glorious August sun, until the sky covered itself in red, orange and pink blankets, preparing itself for nightfall. The boy stood, ready to return home, and ran the same way he did before. Despite the fact that he was going home, he didn’t feel any less free. He felt unstoppable, fuelled by the power of his imagination and dreams which ran beside him. No one could put him down or tell him he was a freak. He would always win.
The animals glided back into his chest, disappearing from view, and the boy opened the gate again before taking his juice and heading back inside the house. His mother fed him dinner and, although the boy couldn’t tell, his mother was fully aware of what he did every day. She never stopped him. She felt he deserved to dream.
It was about half past ten when his mother took him upstairs to bed. He wasn’t a child to go to bed early. He had trouble sleeping usually so he would stay up for as long as he could before he got tired. His mother tucked him into bed, planting a kiss on his forehead before turning out the light and closing the door. The darkness of his room seemed to make everything more silent and he curled up under his blanket, his eyes shut tight as if he was shutting out his fear as he listened out for the wind chimes as something to concentrate on. Just as he fell asleep, clowns and men with balaclavas burst out of his head to stand by his bed. The boy squealed as he saw them and they all revealed their faces, taking their balaclavas off. They all held knives as they approached him, making him scream and bring his knees up to his chest for protection. He recognised one of the men as his father, whom he hadn’t seen for years. The look of hatred on his father’s face made the boy cry although he recognised the expression too well. The clowns and the men held their knives closer to his face until the door was opened by his mother and they all flew back into his head. His mother stared down at his teary face, feeling just as saddened as he was by her son’s fear. She held him as he cried and he asked why his father hated them. She didn’t have an answer for him.
In the morning, he wandered slowly downstairs and was met by a hug from his mother followed by a bowl of cornflakes for him. His day started the same way as it always did. He returned to the swing and sat there, imagining running further than ever. Imagining all the animals running with him to a new land where no one killed and no one hated and no one hurt. A land of joy and freedom and protection. A land of love.