I also know of a story of a friendship that many will discard as fiction or just imagination, it may be after all however the moral of this ''story'' remains the same. I heard it from an old man in a small village in central France while I was travelling during a vacation. Name of village or the old man, irrelevant, time when all is being happened irrelevant also because as far as I know it may still go on.
I was seating in the small café in the centre of the village occupying the only table under the shade. He come and politely asked if he can join me, as he could not seat under the sun. I do not know, it must have been something in his face or his voice that although I wanted to be alone I did not mind at all for him to be there with me. His face was so calm and his voice full of kindness.
After seating a little in complete silence we started talking, I really do not know who started the conversation now I think about it. He kept looking at me and I could feel his eyes not on mine but inside my soul looking but not prying. Then at one point he smiled and asked me if I wanted to hear a story. A real story he added but you must have your heart open to understand what it means otherwise it will be lost in the wind.
I nodded and I realised that after a long time my heart was open and ready to listen to this old man. He sipped some water and he started.
It was an early summer evening and as the bright sun was giving its place to the full moon that was just rising, so was the legend of the castle, as every night. The castle with his legendary, by now, resident, which nobody has ever seen but they all, had the same thoughts about him.
I though of the castle which I have seen earlier that day and I remembered it because it struck me that it was not a tourist attraction like all the others. It took me some time to find a path to drive close, a path that was obviously not have been used by a car for a long time.
The castle was medieval build and the walls that still stood up were covered with plants that were embracing the walls from every side. Where there were small openings you could hear the soft cries of birds that had their nests there secure from the outside word as not many ventured were I was standing. Were the rubbles of the collapsed walls were holes appeared in many places obviously giving refuge to foxes or other animals.
There was a strange calmness in the whole area. Even the wind seemed to slow down, it was like it wanted to caress the standing walls only afraid not to disturb them and cause any further damage.
Inside the main building seemed to have withstood the passing of time much better. Although many windows were wide open and plants were every were most of the doors were in place, most probably just standing there and if anyone pushed them even a little they would come tumbling down. I felt the urge to test one but I dismissed the urge, as I did not want to disturb such peacefulness.
I just sat in the inside part looking at the main building. As I was looking around I realised that there was not a cigarette butt around, not a can of any soft drink, nothing signifying the passage or a modern time person. Or the ones that passed respected the place like me and made sure that they did not disturb anything.
The thoughts, he continued, were that whatever it was living inside, it had its roots in hell and during the night it was coming out for search of food whatever food was for it. A felt a chill passing my spine as I realised that I was there but how such a place that brought peace in my mind could be so much surrounded by such a myth.
The legend was so old that even the elders could not remember when the legend started. What they could remember was that nobody had ever dared to go inside the castle at night.
Some have ventured close at the outside walls but that was, as far they would go. I wonder if I would venture close to it again after of what I have heard.
That night a small boy, he did not say it was he but I could see it in his eyes, in order to prove that he was not a coward was determined to go inside and bring out proof that he has been there. The older boys at school challenged him when he tried to play with them. They did not allow him to do so and he wanted to prove himself to them, they said that is too young and a small boy with no courage in him. For this reason he went home early and waited impatiently for the rest to fall at the arms of Morpheus in order to sneak out and go to the castle.
When darkness had its kingdom established and only the nightingales could be heard he sneaked out of the house and stated walking towards the castle using the back roads until he reached the fields. His footsteps light because he did not wanted to disturb anything or alert anybody. As he was moving nearer to the castle his fear was growing from the one side but on the other the fear of the stigma of being the coward of the school was pushing him further.
Finally he reached the castle, his heart was beating fast. He took a deep breath and passed through the outer walls moving slowly to the interior. There he noticed an open door so he moved towards it and went inside the room that he found empty to his disappointment. He was hoping to grab something and run away.
He had to move deeper into the rooms of the castle until he found himself in a room, which looked like a study room with an office in one side. At the room floor there were old toys scattered around and the strange thing about the room was that there was no dust any were, I was like time respected this place for some strange reason.
At this sight the fear subsided and the child curiosity took charge until the other door opened slowly and an ugly but sweet at the same time creature entered the room.
When their eyes met they both froze were they were standing. The boy felt like his legs grew roots and his voice was choked on his throat before it even reached his mouth.
The creature moved slowly towards the boy and offered him 2 marbles that the boy mechanically accepted. After it moved to the other side of the room and sat on the floor. The boy threw slowly the marbles towards the creature and it returned them to him the same way.
Then the boy understood what was the legend about, that he was seeing the legend that kept people away. The legend was only a child, if you could call a legend that old a child and it only wanted to play without being disturbed and obviously was afraid of the village people. That's why it never comes out during the day.
As the time passed they both become more accustomed to each other and they played together until the time come for the boy to depart. The creature was sad as he moved away and the boy promised to be back. On the way out he took a little something with him as proof that he was there. On the way back he realised that he had not only faced its fears but it had discovered something special, a friend that did not care if he was young, small, brave or not. He had found somebody that accepted him the way he was.
After that night the boy use to go regularly to the castle and played with the creature. He even took some toys that left them there, as all the toys were very old. The time has passed; the boy grew and left the village. During his vacations he was always coming back and he was always bringing his son with him and at nights they were sneaking out in order to go and play with creature so not to be lonely ever again.
My facial expression must have said it all as I was debating inside me if I can believe his story or not because he looked at me and said ''your heart wants to believe, listen to her''. I looked at him and I asked him how he knew the story because it was obviously a personal story that somebody would not confide so easily to a stranger. He stood up slowly, looked at me and said ''I am sure that you will not repeat it and should you do you will never reveal any name and finally to answer your question I was the boy. May your path be always to your hearts content'' he said and walked slowly away.
I watched him mesmerised as he walked off, it was truly an extraordinary experience and yes he was right. The story was never repeated, until now and yes I have never revealed the name of the place.
© 2004 Andreas, No reproduction, publishing without authors written permission. Any violation will be persecuted to the full extend of the law as all the work is fully copyrighted and protected.