26. Stella-2. Harold
My days, busily "up to my neck" in everyday bustle, turned out to be weeks, and I still could not
find free time to visit my darling little friend. I thought about her almost every day and swore to myself that tomorrow I would find
time to "unburden my heart" with this wonderful light creature, if only for a couple of hours... There was also another, very strange,
idea which gave me no rest – I wanted very much to introduce Stella’s grandmother to mine, no less interesting and unusual... For
some inexplicable reason I was sure that these extraordinary women would certainly find something to talk about.
So, one fine day I suddenly decided that "That’s enough!" and it was high time to stop putting aside everything "for tomorrow".
Although I was not sure that Stella’s grandmother would be there that day, I thought that it would be wonderful if I finally visited my
new friend at least and if I were lucky, introduce our dear grandmothers to each other.
Some strange force literally pushed me out of home, as if someone very softly and at the same time very insistently called me,
mentally, from far away.
I quietly came to my grandmother and, as usual, began to hang around her, trying to think up the best way of telling her about
– Well, shall we go or what? – Gran asked calmly.
I stared at her in disbelief, trying to understand how she could know that I was going to go somewhere at all.
But she gave me a sly smile and asked, as if nothing happened:
– What? Don’t you want to walk with me?
From the bottom of my heart I was indignant at such unceremonious intruding in my "private mental world" and I decided
to "test" her.
– Of course, I want! – I exclaimed joyfully, and without telling where we would go, headed for the door.
– Take a pullover, when we’re coming back, it’ll be chilly! – My grandmother called after me.
That’s it! I could not stand it anymore! I ruffled up like a frozen sparrow and mumbled, being offended:
– How do you know where we are going?
– It’s written all over your face. – Gran was smiling.
Of course, nothing was written on my face, but I would give anything to know how she always knew everything so confidently
when the matter concerned me.
In a couple of minutes we were strolling toward the forest, enthusiastically chatting about different and unbelievable stories, of
which she, naturally, knew much more than me and this was one of the reasons why I liked to go for a walk with her so much.
There were only two of us and therefore, there was no need to fear that someone would be eavesdropping on us and not like what
we were talking about.
My grandmother easily accepted all my oddities and was never afraid of anything; and sometimes, if she saw that I totally "got lost"
in something, she gave me advice, helping me to get out of that or another unpleasant situation; but most of all she simply observed
how I would react to complications, which had become permanent on my "thorny" life-path. Lately it seemed to me that my
grandmother waited impatiently for something new to happen in order to see whether I had grown up even a little bit, or still "stewed"
in my "happy childhood", unwilling to get out of my child's short shirt. But I loved her very much even for such "cruel" behaviour and
tried to use every single opportunity to spend time with her as often as possible.
The forest met us with friendly rustle of gold autumn foliage. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and I hoped that I would find
my new friends there too.
I picked a small bouquet of still remaining modest autumn flowers, several minutes more and we came to the cemetery and I saw
the same fragile sweet old lady sitting at the same place, the cemetery gates...
– Oh, I thought I could not wait until you came! – She joyfully greeted us.
Extremely surprised, I looked at her with my mouth wide open and most likely I looked foolish enough, because the old lady
broke into merry laughter, came to us and tenderly patted my cheek.
– Go dear, Stella is probably getting tired of waiting for you. And we’ll be sitting here for a while...
I did not have time to ask how I would get to Stella, as everything disappeared and I found myself in the already familiar, shining
with all colours of the rainbow, world of Stella’s luxuriant fantasy and before I had time to see how the land lies I heard the enthusiastic
– Ah, how swell that you came! I waited and waited for you!
The girl flew up to me like a whirlwind and dumped a... little red "dragon" right in my hands. I jumped back in surprise, but then
broke into laughter, because it was the most charming and funny creature in the world.
The "dragon", if I may call it that, puffed up his tender pink belly and threateningly began to hiss at me, obviously hoping to frighten
me. But when he saw that nobody was going to be frightened here, calmly settled down on my knees and began to snuffle peacefully,
showing what a "good boy" he was and how strongly he should be loved.
I asked Stella what his name was and how long ago she had created him.
– Dear me! I have not thought of what to call him yet! He appeared right now! You like him, don’t you? – The girl twittered merrily
and I felt that she was glad to see me again.
– He is yours! – She suddenly said. – He will live with you.
The dragon funnily pushed out his thorny little mug, hoping to find out whether I had something interesting for him... And
unexpectedly licked my nose! Stella squealed in delight and was obviously extremely pleased with her work.
– All right, – I agreed, – he can be with me while I am here.
– Don’t you want to take him with you? – Stella was surprised.
And I understood here that probably she did not know that we are "different", and live in different worlds. Most likely, the
grandmother did not tell the whole truth to the little girl, feeling sorry for her, and she sincerely thought that it was exactly the same
world where she had lived before with only one difference – she could create her world.
I was absolutely sure that I did not want to be the person who would tell this small trustful girl what her today's life truly
was. She was happy in her imaginary reality and I swore in my heart that I would never be the one to destroy her fairy-tale world.
I could not understand one thing – the way the grandmother explained the sudden disappearance of her family and the whole world where
she had lived to her.
– You see, – I began with a small hitch, smiling, – dragons are not very popular where I live....
– But nobody will see him! – The girl twittered merrily.
A load off my mind! I hated lying or slipping out of direct answers, especially before such a pure little human being like Stella. It
appeared that she perfectly understood everything and succeeded somehow in combining the joy of creation and the sadness of her loss.
– I have found a friend here at last! – The little one declared victoriously.
– Really? – I was surprised. – Will you introduce me to him some day?
She amusingly nodded with her fluffy red head and squinted slyly.
– Do you want to do it right now? – I felt that she was "fidgety" and unable to restrain her impatience.
– Are you sure that he would want to come? – I asked cautiously.
Not because I was afraid of somebody or felt shy, simply I was not in the habit of disturbing people having no special or important
cause. I was not sure that right now this was really such a cause, but Stella was obviously absolutely sure, because in a fraction of a second
a man appeared next to us.
It was a very sad knight. Oh, yes, it was exactly a knight! The fact that, even in this "other" world where he could "put on" any energy
"clothes" he still did not give up his severe knight's look, in which he probably remembered himself very well, surprised me very much...
I thought that he must have very serious reasons for being unwilling to change his look after so many years.
Usually, when people die, for some time their spirits always look just like they looked in the moment of their physical death.
Most likely, the shock and wild fear before the unknown is great enough to add additional stress to it. When the time comes (usually in a
year), the spirits of old people gradually begin to look younger till they look as they did in the best years of their youth. Prematurely dead
children sharply "mature", as if "catching up" with their unlived life and come to look like the spirits they were before they entered the
bodies of the poor children; the only difference is though, some of them "added" a bit in their development, if they were lucky enough
during the short years they spent in their physical bodies. Much later, every spirit changes, depending on how it lives in the "new"
Unlike others, highly developed spirits that live at the mental level of Earth, can create their "look" and "clothes",
because, on living for a very long time (the higher the development of the spirit, the more rarely it incarnates into a physical body)
and getting accustomed enough in "another" world, unknown for them in the beginning, they can already create a lot of things.
I am still at a loss, why a little girl, Stella, chose exactly this grown up and deeply hurt man as her friend. But because she looked
absolutely happy with such an "acquisition", I had no choice but to trust fully in the little and playful enchantress’s faultless intuition.
As it appeared, his name was Harold. Last time he lived in a physical body was more than a thousand years ago and he obviously
possessed a very highly developed spirit, but I felt with my heart that the recollections about his life in the last embodiment were very
painful, because exactly from there Harold brought this deep and mournful sorrow, which had accompanied him for so many years.
– There! He is very good, and you will be his friend too! – Stella pronounced happily, paying no attention to the fact that her new
friend was here too and could perfectly hear us.
It obviously does not occur to her that to talk about him in his presence cannot be quite proper. She simply was very happy that at
last she had a friend and shared this happiness with me openly and with great pleasure.
She was an unbelievably happy child! We call it "happy in nature". Neither before nor after did I meet anybody who
would look like,
even a little, this "sunny" and charming girl. It seemed that no trouble or misfortune could knock her out of her extraordinary "happy
track". Not because she was unable to understand or feel human pain or misery; on the contrary, I was sure that she felt it much deeper
than others. She produced the impression of being created from cells of joy and light and protected by a strange and very
"positive" protection which allowed neither grief nor distress to get to the depth of her little and very kind heart in order to destroy it by
the everyday avalanche of negative emotions and feelings injured by pain, so usual for all of us. Stella WAS HAPPINESS
herself and generously, like the sun, gave it to all around.
– When I found him, he was so sad! Now he is much better. Right, Harold? – Addressing both of us simultaneously, Stella happily
– I am very pleased to meet you, – I said, still feeling a little constrained. – It probably is very difficult to be between worlds for so
– This world differs little from others, – Shrugging, the knight answered calmly. – Only it is almost empty...
– What do you mean empty? – I was surprised.
Stella interfered immediately. It was obvious that she wanted to tell me everything as quickly as possible and jumped with burning impatience.
– He could not find his family here, but I helped him! – She gladly fired.
Harold affectionately smiled at this marvellous, "sparkling" with happiness, little human being and nodded in confirmation of her words:
– It is true. I have been looking for them for an eternity, but what I really had to do was to open the right "door". She helped me
to do that.
I stared at Stella, expecting explanation. This girl continued to surprise me more and more.
– Well, yes, – Stella pronounced, being a bit abashed. – He told me his story and I saw that they are not here. So, I looked for
them and found...
Naturally, I understood very little from such explanation, but I was ashamed to ask for more and decided to wait what she would say
further. But unfortunately or fortunately, nothing could be easily concealed from the clever girl... Cunningly glancing at me with her enormous
eyes, she offered immediately:
– Do you want me to show you?
I only nodded affirmatively, being afraid of frightening her off and expecting something "shockingly-unbelievable".
Her "variegated" reality vanished and the unusual landscape appeared...
It appeared to be a very hot, maybe eastern, country, because everything around dazzled with bright and white-orange light which usually
can be found in an area with burning hot, dry air. The earth was scorched and colourless to the very horizon and nothing diversified this
stingily-monotonous, flat and "naked" landscape except for distant mountains far away in the blue haze. Far off I saw a small, ancient
white-rock city which was walled in by a tumbledown stone wall. It was obvious that nobody had attacked the city for a very long time,
and the locals did not care about defence or at least renovation of the municipal wall.
Narrow ophidian streets hurried inside the city and then united in one, a bit wider with unusual little "castles" on it which rather looked
like miniature white fortresses surrounded by miniature gardens which bashfully hid from stranger’s eyes behind their high stone walls. There
was almost no greenery in the city; therefore the incinerating heat mercilessly "melted" the white stones lit by the wicked midday sun which
furiously brought down all the power of its scalding rays on unprotected, dusty streets which, choking lamentably waited for the slightest puff
of fresh breeze which never came. The burning hot air "swayed" with hot waves, converting this unusual town into a real stuffy oven. It seemed
this was the hottest day of the hottest summer on earth.
The picture was very real, just like my favourite fairy-tales into which I "fell", hearing and seeing nothing around...
Suddenly a small but very "domestic" fortress came forward from the "general picture", which would have looked more like a large and
comfortable house, if it had not been for two funny square turrets.
A little blond boy of four or five years old played on the steps under a big olive tree. Behind him a plump pleasant looking woman, who
looked like a nice good-natured nanny, picked apples under an old apple-tree.
A very beautiful fair young lady appeared in the courtyard and behind her I saw ... my new acquaintance – the knight Harold.
The woman was dressed in an unusual but, obviously, very expensive, long silk dress the folds of which softly swayed, repeating every
motion of her light, elegant body. A funny little beaded blue silk cap peacefully reposed on beautiful lady’s fair hair, splendidly emphasizing
the colour of her large blue eyes.
Despite the incinerating infernal heat, Harold "honestly suffered" in his red-hot knight's panoply, almost suffocating and damning the
heat in his thoughts (after which he immediately begged pardon of the "gracious" Lord which he had sincerely and devotedly served for
so many years). Hot sweat was pouring off him, strongly irritating his skin and blurring his eyes, heartlessly spoiling the quickly escaping
minutes of their next "last" farewell. Probably the knight was going to go very far away, because his fair lady’s face was very sad, despite
the fact that she honestly tried to conceal it as much as she could.
– This is the last time, my angel... I promise you, it’s true – the last time. – The knight hardly articulated, tenderly touching
her soft cheek.
I heard the conversation mentally; nevertheless, there was a strange feeling of foreign speech. I perfectly understood the words,
but knew that they spoke another language.
– I shall never see you again... – the woman whispered through tears. – Never again...
The boy, for some reason, showed no reaction either to his father’s forthcoming departure or his mother’s farewell. He calmly continued
to play, paying no attention to grown-ups, as if it had nothing to do with him. It surprised me a little, but I decided to ask nothing and continue
to watch to see what would happen next.
– Don’t you want to say "good-bye" to me? – The knight addressed his son.
The boy shook his head, without even lifting it.
– Leave him. He is just angry at you. – The woman said sadly. – He too believed that you would not leave him alone anymore.
The knight nodded, mounted his enormous horse, galloped along the narrow street, without turning around and very soon disappeared
from sight behind the first turn. The beautiful lady sadly followed him with her eyes, and her soul was ready to creep ... to run... to fly after
him, no matter where, if only she could see or hear him once again, even for a moment! But she knew that it would not happen and she
would remain where she was, and due the capricious whim of fate she would never again see and hug her Harold… never... Large, heavy tears
rolled down her pale cheeks, which became haggard in a flash; the dusty soil swallowed crystal bitter drops.
– My God, save him... – The lady whispered bitterly. – I shall never see him again... never... help him, My God...
She stood motionless, like a mournful Madonna, seeing and hearing nothing around. The blond boy nestled up to her, now revealing his
sorrow and sadly looking at the empty street, where instead of his beloved father, only white dust swirled…
– How could I not to say goodbye to you, my angel? – Suddenly the quiet and bitter voice sounded nearby.
Harold looked at his charming and so sad wife, without taking his eyes off her, and mortal sorrow, which could not be washed off even
by the waterfall of tears hid in his blue eyes... But he looked a very strong and brave man who would not and could not shed tears easily.
– Please, don’t! Don’t be sad! – Stella’s fragile fingers stroked his enormous hand. – Don’t you see how much they loved you? Let’s not
look at it anymore; you’ve seen it already so many times!
The picture disappeared... I looked at Stella with surprise, but did not have time to say anything, as found myself in another "episode"
of the strange life which so deeply affected my soul.
An unusually bright, merry and pink dawn, spangled with diamond drops of dew, was gradually waking up. The sky blazed up for an
instant, painting the edges of lacy, tow-haired clouds with a scarlet glow, and at once it became very light. An early, extraordinarily fresh
morning came into its own. The knight Harold and his united little family sat on the terrace of the house, which we’ve seen before, in the
cool shade of a big tree. The woman looked amazingly beautiful and very happy, like the newly-born dawn... Affectionately smiling, she
talked to her husband, sometimes gently touching his hand. And he, being absolutely relaxed, gently rocked his sleepy, dishevelled little
son, sipped a pink cooling drink and from time to time idly answered his wife’s questions which he had probably heard many times.
The morning air was charmingly "tinkling" and strikingly pure. A small tidy garden breathed freshness, moisture and lemon fragrance;
the plenitude of the stunningly pure air, which streamed right into the lungs, took one’s breath away. Harold wanted to "fly" because of the
quiet happiness which filled his tired, worn out suffering heart! He listened to the thin voices of just waking birdsong, saw his smiling wife’s
beautiful face and it seemed that nothing in the world could break or take away this wonderful moment of light, joy and peace with his little
happy family from him...
To my surprise, the idyllic picture was suddenly separated from us by a luminous blue "wall", leaving the knight Harold alone to enjoy
his happiness. Indeed, he did – forgetting about everything in the world, he "absorbed" these wonderful and so dear to him, moments with
all his soul, not even noticing that he was left alone.
– There. Let him watch it, – Stella whispered. – And I will show you what happened next...
The wonderful picture of quiet happiness disappeared... and another one – cruel and frightening, which promised nothing good, let alone
a happy end, appeared instead...
It was still the same white-rock city and the same house we had seen before. Only this time everything was seized by fire. The fire was
everywhere. Roaring, all-devouring flame broke forth from broken windows and doors and attacked people who rushed about in horror,
converting them into screaming human torches, this turned them into easy living targets for the pursuers. Screaming women grabbed their
children and tried to hide in the basements, but their salvation did not last long – the monsters, laughing loudly, pulled them, half-naked
and desperately yelling, outside to rape them right in the street, next to still warm dead bodies of their children. One could not see anything
because of the soot which spread everywhere. The air was stuffily filled with the smell of blood and ash; there was nothing to breathe with.
The old people, crazy with fear and heat, ran out of basements and fell dead under the swords of the beast-like wild people, which rushed
about the city on their horses with terrible whooping. I heard the loud cacophony of rattling hoofs, clanking iron and wild cries which
made my blood freeze.
Terrifying scenes of violence and atrocious murders flashed before my eyes, like in the cinema... I could not calmly look at all that; my
heart literally "jumped" out of my chest, my forehead was covered with cold sweat (as if I was in my physical body!) and the irresistable
wish to escape from this horrific and monstrously-pitiless world haunted me. But when I looked at the serious and concentrated Stella’s
face, I became ashamed of my weakness and forced myself to look further.
We found ourselves in Harold’s house. Now everything was broken; nanny’s dead body lay in the middle of a room, right on the floor.
We clearly heard heart-breaking female screaming in the street through the broken windows; everything mixed into a terrible nightmare of
despair and fear. It seemed that the whole world had suddenly gone mad for some reason. Then we saw another room where three men
were trying to tie Knight Harold’s tow-headed wife to the back of the bed, bringing their whole weight to bear on the woman who tried
to break loose from their grip with her last bit of strength. And his little son sat right under the bed, squeezing his dad’s dagger
in his tiny hands, too huge for him, and whispered something with his eyes closed. Nobody paid any attention to him in the middle of this
mad bustle. He was so strangely and "motionlessly" quiet, that I thought in the beginning that the boy just got an emotional shock witnessing
all that horror, but soon understood that I was mistaken. As it appeared, the child simply was gathering all his strength and preparing himself
to make an important and decisive step.
He could easily reach any of the rapists, and at first I thought that the poor thing, still thinking like a child, wanted to try to protect
somehow his unfortunate mother. But, as appeared, this tiny boy, frightened to death, was the real son of a knight in his still child's soul,
and managed to find the most correct and the only possible way out of the terrible situation. He decided to take the heaviest
step in his short life. He finally managed to pull himself together and, quietly whispering "mummy!", jumped out to the side and with
all his child's might... slashed his poor mother’s tender neck with the heavy dagger… he loved her tenderly and selflessly and could no
find another way to save her...
At first nobody noticed anything in the "rapist" ardour... The boy quietly crawled away to the corner and, having no strength for anything
else, sat there motionless, indifferent to anything, observing with his eyes, wide with horror, how, right in front of him, his kind and tender
mother, the best in the whole world, departed this world by his hand.
Suddenly the frightful scene disappeared and everything around shone again with all colours of the rainbow; we found ourselves in
Stella’s world, light and merry. I was unable to come to my senses from the nightmare I had just seen. I tried to keep the pure image of this
wonderful and brave little boy in my memory and did not even notice that I was crying. I felt the tears rolling down my cheeks, but for some
reason I was not ashamed about it at all...
– I won’t show you what happened next, because it is even sadder... – Stella said cheerlessly. – But we found them. Everything is all
right with them! Oh, don’t be so sad! – She twittered, shaking off the sorrow.
And poor Harold sat on the sparkling stone which she had created for him, stroked the purring red dragon with one finger and was very
far from us, in his cherished world, where they were still together and where his might-have-been dream lived very really...
I was so sorry for him! Regrettably, I could not help him in anything and, honestly, I was eager to know how this unusual little girl
– We found them! – Stella repeated again. – I did not know how to do it but Gran helped me!
It appeared that Harold did not even get to know in his life time what a terrible fate befell his family. He was a knight-warrior and
had died before his city appeared in the hands of the "butchers", just as his wife had predicted.
But, as soon as he got into this unknown, marvellous world of the "gone" people, he at once could see how pitilessly and cruelly
wicked fate had treated his nearest and dearest. After that he had been obsessed with trying to find them for the whole of eternity.
He looked for them for a very long time, more than a thousand years, until one day an unknown charming girl Stella offered him "to
make him happy" and opened another, the "right" door to finally find them for him...
– Do you want me to show it to you? – The girl offered again.
But I already was not so sure whether I wanted to see something more. Because the pictures she had just showed wounded my heart
and I was unable to get rid of them so quickly to wish to see a continuation.
– But you do want to see what happened to them! – Little Stella confidently established the "fact".
I looked at Harold and saw in his eyes the complete understanding of what I unexpectedly went through right now.
– I know what you’ve seen. I watched it so many times. But they are happy now, we come to look at them very often... And at them,
"former" ones, too... – The "sad knight" pronounced in hushed voice.
And only here I understood that Stella simply transferred him into his past, when he wanted, like she did right now!!! And
she did it, as if it were child's play! I did not even notice how this marvellous light girl began to "attach" me to her stronger and stronger,
becoming a real miracle for me which I endlessly wanted to observe and never leave. Back then I knew or could do almost nothing, except
for what I could understand and learn by myself, and I wanted so much to learn from her, while I still had a chance.
– Please, come back to me! –Stella whispered, suddenly getting joyless. – You know that you cannot remain here for a long time.
Gran said that you would not be here for very long... that you must not die yet. But you come...
Suddenly all around became dark and cold, as if black clouds covered Stella’s colourful and bright world.
– Hey! Don’t think about such frightful things! – The girl became a bit indignant and quickly "painted" out everything again in light
and merry colours like a painter would paint on a canvas with his brush.
– There. That’s much better. Right? – She asked contentedly.
– Was it really my thoughts? – I did not believe it again.
– Well, of course! – Stella laughed. – You are strong, and therefore create everything in your own way
– How am I to think then? – I still could not understand.
– You simply "close" yourself and show only what you want to show. – My unusual friend said, as if it was the most
matter-of-fact thing in the world. – My Gran taught me.
I thought that, obviously, the time came for me too to slightly "shake" my "classified" grandmother who certainly knew something
(I was almost sure about it!), but for some reason did not wish to teach me anything yet.
– So, do you want to see what happened to Harold’s family next? – Stella asked impatiently.
To tell the truth I did not feel a burning desire, because I was not sure what I would see during this "show". But I did not want to
offend the generous Stella and agreed.
– I won’t show you long. I promise! But you must know about them, right? – The girl declared in a happy voice. – Here, look…
the first will be the son…