One Moonlit Night
Her little feet pattered softly as they carried her down the small, sandy path. The long grass on either side of the path, dotted with small flowers, was whispering peacefully in the gentle night breeze that was blowing in off the ocean. The night sky was perfectly clear, and studded with millions of jewel-like stars, glittering against the velvety blackness. The full moon shone down, illuminating her surroundings with a silvery light.
About halfway down the little path, the small girl stopped her flying feet and turned to look back the way she had come. At the top of the hill down which her path had led her, a cosy-looking wooden house spilled out warm, golden light from its windows to lie in pools on the ground. The comfortable sound of friendly chatter, laughing, singing and music floated down the path to greet her. She smiled happily, turned once more and continued along the path, towards the little beach below her.
Somewhere among the long grasses an insect was chirping sleepily. The warm night air smelled sweetly of flowers and the ocean. She continued running, delighting in the feel of the sand beneath her toes and the wind streaming through her long hair. She was drawing near to the beach now, and the sound of the waves upon the shore mingled pleasantly with the sounds from the house above her. She could see the glinting of starlight on the water through the trees.
She slowed her pace as she reached the small beach. It was a private, secluded little cove; she was one of the very few people who even knew it existed. But on this glorious night, its atmosphere perfectly suited her mood. It was a place of beauty, contentment and peace. The soft sand beneath her feet was almost pure white, and undisturbed by human footprints. The small waves were full of dancing, phosphorescent sparks of light, and her sigh of happiness mixed with the sleepy hissing sound they made as they slid up and down the shore. The bay was backed by a rainforest, a green gem that lay still and silent under the night sky. The moon left a trail of molten silver across the still surface of the ocean.
She knelt down and scooped up a handful of soft sand, smiling as it trickled slowly through her fingers. Standing once more, she walked down to the ocean's edge, shivering in delight when the cool water embraced her waiting feet. She turned and ran along through the water, parallel to the little beach. She kicked at the water playfully, and laughed out loud as the spray leapt up to caress her legs, her arms, her face.
She stopped as she heard the waters moving restlessly. She faced out to sea and stood, waiting. A few seconds later, the back of a huge humpback whale broke through the surface of the water. He snorted softly through his blowhole and a cloud of mist puffed up into the night air. Lazily, he rolled onto his side and waved a flipper at her. She giggled and waved back. The whale followed along behind her as she continued on her way, along the beach.
Her wanderings led her to the cluster of large, smooth rocks that marked the end of the beach. She clambered in among them, heading towards the very last of them all, a huge stone jutting out into the water. When she had climbed to the very top of it and settled herself down, the whale had disappeared without leaving so much as a ripple. He had returned to his home in the deep.
As she sat there looking at the amazing paradise all around her, the joy and passion inside her heart seemed to grow and grow. It grew until she thought that she wouldn't be able to contain any more happiness, that she would just explode. It was like a beautiful, intense pain inside of her, and it was fighting to get out. Then just when she felt that she could not contain any more, he appeared once again.
The whale surged upwards through the water, but to the girl watching, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Up he soared, up and up and up, with a veil made of delicate, shimmering drops of water wrapped around his immense body. The pure, glowing white of the moon was directly behind him. He hung there suspended in mid air.
The second seemed to last for eternity. For the rest of her life, the little girl never forgot that moment.
And then slowly, slowly, he twisted and sank downwards again. His huge body made a resounding crash as he hit the surface. The water leapt upwards to lightly kiss the stars, and then it too fell back to patter upon the heaving ocean. The whale had sunk once more without a trace.
For a long time after he had disappeared, the girl stood on the rock and simply stared at the water where he had gone below, her mouth slightly open and her eyes wide in awe. Now, she was beyond simple joy. Something deep inside of her had burst, and there were no words to describe how she felt. Gradually she sank downwards to sit on the smooth stone surface.
She raised her eyes to look at the brilliant sky above her. She gazed up at the glowing moon, and then she realised; she realised how precious this thing was to her. More precious than gold or jewels or anything else this world had to offer. It was the most valuable thing in the universe. This amazing, wonderful thing that people call 'life'.