by Laury Hubrich
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Once upon a time, in a not-so-distant past, a girl was born. Her parents named her Aimee, which means loved. Her mother and Father were kind and gentle with this fair-haired maiden. She was not given to, in the sense that the world gives. Her parents gave her gifts of compassion, tenderness, and joy. She also experienced a love that surpassed anything anyone could imagine.
This land was only a small part of what her Father owned. The rest of His Kingdom was not mentioned, not ever, and she never asked. Everything this maiden would want was here, in the confines of this beautiful place, this place without war, sickness, and famine; this place called FearNot.
Aimee was loved by all. She taught children to read and sing funny songs. They ran up and down the streets, holding hands, squealing in delight. When not playing, she spent hours at her Father's feet, soaking in His Presence. He delighted in her company.
One day, as she skipped along a deserted path lined with trees bowed under with the weight of ripe fruit, she came across a troll standing at a bridge. Aimee had never seen such a thing before. In fact, she had never seen this bridge, not once in her many years she had walked this way.
The troll caught her eye. He used a sing-songy voice to catch her attention. "Come here, Litt-le Aim-ee."
She stopped and observed this creature. He had an over-sized head with eyes that blinked constantly, in rhythm to the rushing stream. His feet were large with three toes sticking out of holey socks. His clothes were rags that served only to cover his anatomy.
Aimee continued to walk.
The troll called out to her again, "Aim-ee. A child needs you."
Sitting beside the troll was a young girl; scraggly brown bangs covered her small face. Aimee could see hunger in her eyes and she ached for her. Being a compassionate maiden and since she was the daughter of the King, she bent down, without fear, and talked to this little one.
"What's wrong with you, My Sweets? Why are you hungry when there is fruit all around?"
The troll laughed in delight. "Oh, my Lady, we are not allowed to enter FearNot. In order for you to help My Pretty, you must cross over to our side."
"And what do you call your side, do tell?"
The little girl whispered, "ToadSuck, my Lady."
Aimee pulled an apple off the tree and looked beyond the bridge. The road was lined with young children, and all looked expectantly at the fruit in her hand. She gathered mounds of apples into her apron and, without thinking, crossed the bridge. Her heart broke. Little ones, covered with bruises and broken limbs sat and gawked at her with tears in their eyes.
She walked the pathway, handing out fruit, until she came upon a village. There, she cared for the sick and tended the peasant's wounds. She turned against her Father and wouldn't allow herself to go back home. "Why would He allow this to happen? Why are there needy ones in ToadSuck when we have much abundance in FearNot?"
In the quiet of the night, Aimee could be heard crying into her pillow. She felt a separation from her Father to her very core. The girl held her stomach, rolled into a ball, and wailed. She wouldn't allow her Father to carry this load. She wanted to do it alone. Day after day she cared for these people and she began to look and act more like the ones she cared for.
One day, she walked down the road; gray, wrinkled, and stooped. Aimee looked across the rickety bridge to FearNot and wished she had never left her Father's Kingdom. She ached to feel her Father's touch, see His smile.
On the other side of the bridge, Her Father caught her eye. He said, "Come here, Litt-le Aim-ee."
Aimee stopped. She hardly dared to believe that He spoke.
He called again, "Aim-ee."
Relief filling her body, she ran to her Father and leapt into His arms. They wept together, mourning their long separation. They wept with joy in their reunion.
She suddenly remembered what she had left behind and was saddened. "Father, the children, why are the children hungry? Won't you please help the people in ToadSuck?"
She heard giggling coming from the forest. Aimee watched in delight as children came running across the bridge. They climbed onto her Father's back, giggling. They mussed His hair and little ones grabbed hold of his legs. They were all well-fed and happy.
It was then she understood that she did have a job to do. Caring for these people was her life's work, but carrying burdens was up to her Father. As she let the little ones play, unhindered, she felt a weight lift off her body. Her wrinkles disappeared and she now stood straight and strong.
From that day and forever after, the people of ToadSuck were warmly welcomed in the land of FearNot.
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You managed to pack a lot of meaning into such a short story. Great job! You've given me a lot to think about =)
There is a lot of stuff in this story that made me think. I saw the troll as being a representation of the devil, keeping God's children in bondage, and making them think that they are not worthy to enter into his kingdom despite the path being wide open. It is true that we must care for others, but we cannot take all of their burdens upon ourselves. Our frail human bodies cannot handle all of our own burdens along with the burdens of everyone else around us. That is why he said to cast all of our cares onto him. I would love to see this turned into an illustrated children's book.
I'm so glad you learned Aimee's lesson. Caring is not carrying. Hugs, my sweet sister.
There are a number of subtle messages in here: some addressed to Aimee (who speaks of the believer?), and some to the children of Toadsuck (the world?). Who said they could not cross the bridge? Was it true that they were always allowed across? Interesting and very enjoyable.