Deep pinks and stark whites, and rivers like the summer sky – you could fly through them if only you had wings. The sun is always setting in Magicant.
My people have everything they could ever want, and what they dream of becomes a magnificent reality. Everyone is happy. Except me.
As the world sleeps, the palace floor shines like jade in the moonlight. My heels click and clack down the hallway. Images clutter my mind. A teddy bear… what was her name? A father’s watchful eye. Snails and candy in the woods. I try to whisk them away, beyond everyone’s reach. I can almost hear them skulking into the depths of Magicant.
Then I can smile again for my people. But those old feelings always come back.
It’s daybreak now, and the guards tell me the boy has returned to the castle.
“Hello, Ninten,” I say cheerfully. I know that he can see through my desperate smile.
Solemnly, he replies, “I know the song now, Queen Mary.”
“Then, please sing me the melodies you have learned.”
“My father says he misses you, misses this place.”
A cloudy memory of a boy like Ninten. Then, nothing.
“Have… I met your father?
“My father… He’s your grandson.”
Tears well, and slide down my cheeks.
“You know what’s going to happen, don’t you? If I sing?”
I nod. “Please, Ninten.”
His voice is the only thing I can hear. It floats through the palace, through the doors, and envelops all of Magicant. It’s warm.
“Yes, that’s right, that’s the song!”
We sing together, my great-grandson and I:
Take a melody,
Simple as can be
Give it some words and
Raise your voices,
All day long now,
Love grows strong now
Sing a melody of love
The memories flood back.
Oh, Giegue! I loved him… I loved him as if he was my own child. He was always wagging his tail, just like a pup. Except for when I tried to sing him lullabies. He just wasn’t equipped to grasp earthbound love.
Maybe that’s why I forgot the lullaby. Maybe that’s why I forgot Giegue and my dear George, and created this world to shield myself from the pain of being separated from the only son I’ve ever known.
A child’s love is all I ever wanted. I’m not sorry that we raised him, my love, but I wish I hadn’t picked him over you.
With every restored memory, a part of Magicant fades away. And slowly, so do I. And I feel happy again.
After singing with our great-grandson, in a rush of wind, Queen Mary vanished. Magicant was a mirage – a mirage born of Maria’s consciousness.
Just as I had designed it to do, the Onyx Hook returned Ninten and his friends to the peak of Mt. Itoi. With Magicant gone, the rocks blocking the final cave shattered.
Ana knelt near some brushes.
She prayed to the Almighty Father, for her mother, for Maria, and for the safety of her friends.
Ninten and Loid did too, in their own ways.
Loid gazed over the edge of the mountain at Lake Itoi, and noticed for the first time just how far he had traveled. I could tell he was proud of himself: The weakling, not strong boy, had made it to the end with his friends.
Ninten thought of home, and about how proud his father was of him.
It was up to Ninten now, and he was not going to let his family down.
Wordlessly, the children headed towards the cave. The gargoyles that had plagued them on the way up the mountain simply moved aside.
With a deep breath, Ninten and his friends disappeared into the darkness.
As they vanished, Maria’s spirit joined mine on top of Mt. Itoi. Finally, we're together again!
Weightlessness, into the clouds. The lights got brighter and brighter. We felt at peace.
Perhaps somehow little Giegue will return to us here, and our family will be complete once more.
Good luck, great-grandson.
All photography by Matt, except “Queen Mary 2” from family archives.