Updated: Apr 26
By: Lawrence Crown
Posted on: April 22, 2022
Cover Image Artwork by: Win Crystal Maung
There was once a young boy. The boy lived in a world of darkness. He was all alone, because no one dared to venture in the land. Who would, when without light they wouldn’t be able to see?
Many were aware of the place, and parents thus warned their children, “Don’t go to that place, there is a monster who eats little children. Stay away from there.”
And so the children stayed away. The bravest ones crept close, only to run away scared when the darkness approached.
No one saw the tiny child huddled in a corner, watching them play with curiosity, sadness and longing. He didn’t call out to them, afraid of being seen.
So he stayed where he was, drowning in his own shadow.
Time passed quickly, and most forgot about the legend. Instead, people said: “Stay within the land that the light touches, and don’t go where we can’t see you.”
Some still remembered, and those who did pass down the story of the child-eating monster to spook their kids. It worked, for most of them. However, there was a group of five children who heard the story, and were curious about the monster.
“Maybe it’s a friendly monster,” one of them said.
“Maybe it eats grown-ups too,” another thought.
“Do you think it prefers girls?” one asked.
“But maybe it likes boys more,” another replied.
They turned to the last child, a boy, who just smiled at them.
“Only one way to find out, right?”
And off they went.
The trip was very long. As they didn’t know the way, they travelled everywhere to find the land of darkness. The further they went, the more their curiosity grew.
They crossed forests.
They crossed rivers.
They climbed up mountains… then they went back down.
They travelled swamps.
They went into a cave… then back out.
They continued walking, until they finally made it to the land of darkness.
The land of darkness wasn’t what they thought it would be. There was a clear line separating the light and the dark, and beyond was nothing. The children were scared. They hesitated to come close.
The young boy, who had stayed young, watched them from where he was, then turned back and delved deeper into his land.
The boy from the group noticed something move. He looked at his friends, who had walked back instead of forward. He looked at the darkness in front of him.
Then he walked in.
The boy from the light wandered around for what seemed like ages. Time, a concept as obscure as the shadows. He didn’t know where he was walking, and he didn’t know where the exit was. There was only an abyss, and it seemed to stare at him.
But the boy wanted to satisfy his adventurous spirit. So he continued to walk.
The boy of darkness watched him from the shadows, making sure to erase his presence to avoid detection. He watched the boy of light trip, then stand back up. He saw the determined look in his eyes and ran away.
The boy of light didn’t notice.
He walked, and walked, and walked. It was a very flat surface, which seemed to go on forever. The boy of light stopped and sighed, seeming to go in circles.
Suddenly, there was a flash of light. It was very faint, but he saw it. The boy paused, then decided to walk in the direction of the light.
As he walked, he noticed a shadow taking shape into a figure. It retreated further as he approached it. So he walked faster. And the shadow ran away.
The boy was confused, and curious. So he continued his path, in the hopes of finding the figure.
After an eternity of wandering around, searching for the shadow, he saw a boy. The boy was on the ground, hugging his knees, his back turned to him. He came closer.
The boy touched the other on the shoulder. He jumped away, his frame curling up on itself to make himself as small as possible. When nothing happened, he peeked through his fingers and saw the other boy watching him, a curious look on his face.
“What are you doing?” the boy of light asked.
“... Waiting for my family,” the boy of darkness replied.
“Where are they?”
“... I don’t know.”
“Why don’t you come with me?”
“To see the light.”
“Maybe we’ll find your family.”
So the boy took his hand, and they walked away from his home of darkness. And for the first time, the boy of darkness stepped into the light.