The Boy Who Learned to See
In the north of Kyr, in a little village called Rysa, a baby boy was born. His parents were delighted to have a son and named him Jason. His five older sisters took turns rocking, feeding and burping their baby brother. Their large house was happy and frequently filled with laughter.
When Jason was three, he began to awaken in the middle of the night, crying out fearfully for his mother or father. "Whatís wrong, sweetie?" his mother would ask.
"I had a scary dream," Jason would whimper as they held him close.
"What was the dream about?" his father asked.
"I donít know. It was just scary!" Jason would cry.
At first, the dreams came every now and then. When Jason would wake up, his parents would come to comfort him. He was rocked gently and a lullaby was sung. He would fall back asleep, not waking again until morning.
"Why does he have all these bad dreams?" his mother would whisper to her husband as they returned to their bedroom.
"I donít know. Perhaps they will stop when he grows older," he would answer.
One night, just before Jasonís fourth birthday, his mother was awakened by a strange sound. She lay in bed quietly, listening. She seemed to hear footsteps down the hall, near Jasonís bedroom.
Pulling a shawl over her nightdress, she crept down the hall, checking on each sleeping child as she went. All five daughters were sound asleep, peaceful smiles on their faces.
But, when she reached Jasonís room, her heart began to beat wildly. Through the open door she could see that, although Jasonís bed was rumpled, he was no longer there!
Moments later, the whole family was up, searching the house, the yard and the nearby streets for any sign of Jason. Concerned neighbors joined in the search for the missing boy.
They searched all night, even venturing into the forest that surrounded Rysa. As dawn began to light the sky, the village elders sent Jasonís parents home to rest for a few hours. "We will continue the search," they said. "We will find your son."
Jasonís parents and his five sisters sadly returned to their house. They gathered in the kitchen although no one really felt much like eating breakfast. The youngest daughter, Kari, began to sniffle.
A knock at the door startled them to attention. Jasonís father moved to the door, opening it slowly. He gave a cry of delight at the sight of his son, still sleeping, being carried in a neighborís arms.
"Where did you find him?" Jasonís mother cried, eagerly taking her sleeping child in her arms.
"In the forest," the neighbor replied. "He must have wandered there in his sleep."
"Thank you," Jasonís father said, embracing his friend. "I will never forget this."
His friend smiled. "You would do the same for me. Iím just glad your son is safe."
Jasonís mother cradled her son, crying joyful tears. "Everything will be all right now. Our Jason is home."
But, everything was not all right.
After his night in the forest, Jason was different somehow. Everyone in the family felt the change, even on the first day, but no one could figure out exactly what was different.
It was Kari, the youngest daughter, who first began to notice. "Jasonís eyes are different, Mama," she said after breakfast one day. "Theyíve changed color."
Sure enough, when his mother took a good look, she could see that her sonís eyes were not the same as they had been. When he was born, Jasonís eyes were a brilliant blue. As he grew older, the color had softened a bit, becoming more blue-grey. But now, his eyes seemed darker, as if a fog covered them.
Jasonís eyes were not the only thing to change, however. While he never walked in his sleep again, his dreams were far from peaceful. He would toss and turn, muttering as he slept. Sometimes he would shout or cry in pain. Once he pushed away from something in a dream, only to find himself awake on the floor of his room, buried under his sheets and blankets.
The images in his dreams seemed to follow him during the day as well. Where he had once been cheerful and eager to meet people, he was now shy and fearful. He worried about things that might happen to him or his family. "What if I hurt myself playing catch? What if we all get sick with the fever? What if we run out of money?"
Jasonís parents tried to calm his fears, but sometimes they seemed to overpower him. Then he would hide in his bedroom, under a tent he had made with his sheets. He would stay there for hours until the scary thoughts left him. Soon he began spending more and more time in his safe place Ė reading, playing solitary games and even doing his lessons. His parents did not know what to do and their hearts ached for their son.
One day, while Jason was playing under his tower of sheets, he heard strange music. His sisters were at a birthday party, his mother was working in the garden and his father was in town. "Who could be playing that music?" Jason wondered.
At first, he ignored it. After all, if he peeked out of his safe place, the person playing the beautiful music could turn into a monster who would try to catch him. Jason had many dreams like that, where something beautiful became horrible and terrifying.
But the music continued, gentle and sweet. Jason found himself humming the catchy little tune. He wiggled his foot to the beat.
As the song ended, Jason heard happy laughter. The voices sounded so strange, as if they came from very small musicians. Then, as he was wondering about this, a second song began.
This time, Jason listened more carefully to the tune. It seemed to be coming from his bedroom window. Were the musicians outside? Perhaps he should take a look. But, what if a dark shadow-creature was waiting to grab him? Maybe he had better stay hidden.
By the time the third song began, Jasonís curiosity was strong enough for him to peek out from under his sheets. What he saw made him gasp in delighted surprise. There, sitting on his windowsill, was a band of musicians! Each one had wings and antennae. Their small, furry bodies were various shades of brown- one was even a cream color. And they played their music on tiny instruments that filled the air with lovely sounds.
"Who Ė who are you?" Jason asked, half curious, half afraid.
One of the musicians set down his flute and fluttered up into the air until he hovered right in front of Jasonís eyes. "My name is Tym," he said, bowing. "We are Ursa fairies and I am their leader. King Arnon sent us to visit you."
"He did?" Jason asked. "But I thought King Arnon was just a story. He isnít real."
"He is very real," Tym answered. "We have seen him and know him. He once rescued us from an evil wizard who made us his slaves. He is a kind king and a loving friend."
"Why did he send you to me?" Jason asked, letting more of his face peer out.
"He knows you are afraid of many things," Tym answered. "He wants you to learn how to defeat fear."
Jason frowned. "My fears are very strong," he said sadly. "I try to think of nice things instead, and that works for a while, but then I have nightmares where the nice things turn into monsters and that makes me afraid all over again."
"King Arnon can give you the power you will need to fight your fears," Tym answered. "He has two special gifts for you."
"Special gifts?" Jason liked gifts. He let the sheet slide down until it wrapped around his shoulders. "Where are they?"
"Right here," Tym said. He pointed to an Ursa fairy who carried a small silver bottle. "This bottle contains haima ointment to heal your eyes."
"Whatís wrong with my eyes?" Jason asked.
"Many years ago, the evil wizard, Kazab, sent nightmares to disturb your sleep," Tym explained. "Kazab hated the joy your family shared and wanted to make all of you unhappy. As time went by, the dreams drew worse. Then, when you were almost four, Kazab used the dreams to lure you into the forest so he could make you his slave. He wanted to steal you from your family then, but King Arnon stopped him. Kazab put an enchanted fog over your eyes to make you see shadows and nightmares even during the day. But now it is time for you to be healed."
"What do you have to do to me?" Jason asked fearfully. He hated healers and medicines Ė they were often in his worst dreams.
"I will put one drop of the haima ointment on each of your eyes," Tym said gently. "Then the fog will go away and you will not see frightening things anymore."
"Will it hurt?"
"No," Tym answered.
Jason sat thoughtfully for several moments. It would be so nice not to be afraid of everything. But what if the ointment stung or burned his eyes? Could it really help him? What if King Arnon was only a story? Then these Ursa fairies were just trying to trick him.
"I donít want to be afraid all the time," Jason said, "but Ė Iím afraid to try the ointment. What if it hurts me?"
"Trust King Arnon," Tym said quietly. "He wonít hurt you."
"Are you sure?" Jason asked.
Tym nodded. He fluttered to the boyís lap. "Iím sure. I was very afraid once, just like you."
Jasonís eyes grew wide at this. "You were? What happened?"
"When Kazab tricked us and made us his slaves, some of the Ursa fairies asked King Arnon to help them. I didnít believe he could even hear us, let alone help us." Tym was quiet for a moment, remembering. "When King Arnon came to rescue us, he gave his life to set us free. After banishing Kazab, King Arnon asked each one of us to pledge our loyalty to him. But I was afraid."
"Why were you afraid?" Jason asked.
"I was afraid King Arnon would be angry with me because I didnít believe he could rescue us," Tym answered softly. "I was afraid he would be angry with me and send me away when he banished Kazab."
"What happened then?" Jason asked, his eyes wide.
"King Arnon told me I was forgiven. He told me he loved me and wanted me in his kingdom," Tym said. "He wanted me Ė even though I doubted him. He wanted me so much that he gave up his life for me!"
Jason sat in silence, thinking over Tymís words. He let the bedsheet slip down until it rested on his lap. "King Arnon loves me too, right?" he asked quietly.
"He gave his life for you," Tym said.
Jason nodded, then closed his eyes. "Put the haima ointment on my eyes. I donít want to be afraid anymore."
Tym took the silver bottle and pulled out the stopper. A sweet smell, like thousands of roses, filled the room. He tipped the bottle and carefully placed a single drop on each of Jasonís eyes.
The drops glowed for several seconds before fading away. When Jason opened his eyes, the fog was gone. His eyes were a brilliant blue once again.
"The shadow creatures are gone!" Jason gasped. He clapped his hands as he stared around the room. "Everything seems so much brighter now."
"King Arnon has set you free from Kazabís spell," Tym said. "But, the nightmares have taught you to see fearful things where they donít exist. You must now learn to see differently. King Arnon has another gift to help you."
Jason smiled, his blue eyes sparkling. "What is it?" he asked eagerly.
Two Ursa fairies flew toward him, carrying a strange golden object. They placed it in Jasonís hands. He studied it curiously, then laughed. "Glasses!" he cried as he put them on.
"These are the glasses of aman," Tym explained. "They will help you learn to see what is true instead of the lies Kazab put in your mind. They will also help you learn more about King Arnon and all he does for you each day."
When Jasonís family came home for dinner that evening, they were delighted to see that the fog no longer covered his eyes. Although fearful thoughts did sometimes try to trouble him, Jason learned to see the Truth through his special glasses. He learned he could chase away shadow creatures using the powerful name of King Arnon. And, as he grew older, he learned to know and love King Arnon, and taught many people, including his family, to follow the King.
And so, the Ursa fairies learned that fear can be defeated by trusting in Kind Arnonís great love. Shadows flee when confronted with his powerful name and his love, which is perfect, can drive away all fear.