In 2004 I had a book published containing some of my short stories. Tales from a Small Blue Planet, still available on Amazon if you search really hard, is a re-imagining of the parables of Jesus set in a fantastical world. I rediscovered it recently and set myself the task of recolouring the illustrations. This is the first of nine stories. I hope you enjoy it.
Once on a small blue planet, a long way from here, there lived people just like you and me. They may have lived in different houses and played different games, they may have eaten different food and spoken in different languages but inside they were just the same.
Now this small blue planet was closer than normal to the stars, so close in fact that on occasion, dust from those stars would fall through the sky and land twinkling on the ground. Sometimes, if you were lucky, you might be walking through the jumble bushes and see, on a flower petal, a shining speck of stardust.
The people of this small blue planet spent lots of time searching high and low, far and wide, hoping all the time to find even the tiniest speck of stardust. It wasn’t the fact that it shone even in the day or that the colours were so beautiful – the real reason was that when you held the stardust in your hand something very special happened.
As you closed your hand around it a warm feeling started to grow somewhere deep inside you. The feeling grew and grew until you were warm all over and then it happened. Suddenly you remembered all the best bits of your life, all the happiness, goodness, fun and laughter, and not only that, the stardust reminded you how special you really were. Special, not because of what you had done or how much you had, but because you were you. So you can see why so much time was spent looking amongst the twizzleberries, just in case a small speck of stardust had fallen there.
One day, one of the people of the small blue planet (she was called Halbonbaltiddlyaljofal but her friends called her Hal for short) was out in search of stardust. Like all of her people she was loaded up with all her possessions. That’s the way her people liked to do things – they carried everything. When i say everything, I mean everything: all their clothes, all their bedding, all their shoes, all their special things. Hal kept all her special things in a beautiful red leather bag. People even took their not so special things everywhere, like the pink bunny suit a distant aunt had sent them for their birthday. Some people believed that the more things you had, the more important you were.
Hal dreamed of finding even a tiny piece stardust but no one had found any in such a long time and Hal had never even seen any.
Now Hal was very clever and instead of looking under the snoring stones or among the dillydaffs like the others she stopped and thought for a while.
Where can I find some stardust? Where does it come from? Where would it land? she asked herself.
She looked up to the sky and then looked all around and when she had finished thinking she knew just what to do.
Across the river was a high hill and on the high hill was a findle tree which grew higher still, higher than anything around.
That’s the place, thought Hal.
With all her possessions still strapped to her back, she crossed the river and climbed the hill until she came to the base of the findle tree. It was enormous.
Even though she was already tired from scaling the hill, Hal started to climb the findle tree branch by branch, rising higher than any of her people had ever been before. Finally she reached the top of the tree. The branches were narrower here and could barely hold Hal’s weight but she would not give up. Very carefully she pushed her head through the last of the findle leaves and looked around. There, not far from her, she saw a piece of stardust, not small at all, but as big as a pebble. Hall just stared. She had never seen anything so beautiful, so bright, so alive with colour. Just looking at it made her want to cry with happiness, to sing and dance and shout. Not that she did, you understand, for dancing and thin branches are not a good combination.
Eventually Hal reached out, stretching as far as she could, but she couldn’t get the stardust. She climbed a little further up the ever-narrowing twigs but her weight made the branch bend further away. No matter how she tried she couldn’t reach the stardust. Tears of frustration filled her eyes but she wasn’t about to give in.
As we already know, Hal was very clever and she stopped for a while and thought.
How can I reach the stardust? What can I do? she said to herself.
She looked up to the stardust and then looked all around and when she had finished thinking she knew just what to do.
Hall undid a buckle and removed a strap, and a sack of not very important things, including a ghastly pink bunny suit, fell from sight and crashed through the leaves never to be seen again. The branch moved a little closer but nowhere near enough.
Though it was hard, Hal undid some more buckles and straps and three bags of important things fell away, never to be seen again. The branch moved a little closer to the stardust, and Hal reached out, stretching her fingers as far as she could, but it was still not enough.
Though it was harder still, and not many others had ever done it, Hal undid even more straps and buckles, and two bags and a box of very important things fell through the tree never to be seen again. The branch moved a lot closer to the stardust but still Hal could not reach it.
Hal had one bag left, her beautiful red leather bag containing her most precious things. After a moment she even dropped that too, never to be seen again. The branch moved, Hal reached out as far as she could and plucked the stardust from its resting place.
Carefully Hal climbed down the findle tree and sat with her back against the trunk, exhausted. She could not take her eyes from the shining beauty of the stardust. Carefully she closed her hand around it and felt, deep inside, a warmth that grew and grew until it filled every part of her. She started to remember all the best bits of her life, all the happiness, goodness, fun and laughter. Then she remembered how special she was, not because of what she had done or what she had, but because she was Hal, Halbonbaltiddlyaljofal.