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    Home Stuff Short stories Reach for the stars

    Reach for the stars

    Not feeling joyful? Recapture the feeling with Mia Valodia Wessels van Zijl’s special witch in an upside down land.

    Mia’s avatar, Chess the cat.

    On grassy plains, green as moss, is a faraway land of upside down. Clouds of water and streams of healthy fields. Great creatures of terrifying size and small ones, smaller than an atom.

    A witch resided in this upside down. Not a miss-scripted hag with warts and a green nose, but a girl, fresh into woman-hood.

    A heart of gold, this witch, with dreams too big for her eyes. She had dreams of stars and galaxies, of worm holes and the glorious cacophony of sound in the orchestra of the sky. Her dreams were concerned with great battles fought across light years between the suns and the moons and the planets. Her dreams were of vast voids, freckled with crystals.

    These were her dreams. And how sad they made her.
    This little witch, so desperate for a world beyond reach, could not fly.
    Try as she might: making all sorts of styled brooms, practising weeks without rest, brewing potions and wearing different cloaks, none to prove successful.
    Her frustration was reserved, however. Rages breathed out into spells, tantrums drowned in storm-shepherding, tears buried beneath special mushrooms.
    During extreme motions of desperation she swam through the clouds to simulate the feeling of flight. But, there is a limit…
    The limit came with a crash landing after attempting to dive from a giant tower. Injuries and failure crushed her heart of gold and made her silent and bitter.

    Decades after decades passed till an old witch frowned at her suddenly aged appearance: a mouth fixed in a scowl, eyebrows sewn together in disappointment, eyes, once so sincere, now suspicious and uninviting.
    When had her soul warped so? How long has she glared at life like this?
    “Where have all the stars gone?” she asks herself.
    Old legs, rusted from years of sitting still, creak their way outside. Two pale, warm suns meet their arrival. A fresh breeze gently combs her hair. So beautiful and bright and warm. But where were her moons and her galaxies and her great battles? When did they leave her behind?
    When did she turn their back on them?

    “Where has the universe gone?” she cried out to the imposing orbs. “What have my dreams become, but ash?”
    An old longing sprang to life within her. Anger and years of regret fueled the feeling as she sprung into action.
    Water: check
    Cauldron: check
    Moss ground with insects: check
    One seed: check

    She started working. Day in and day out potions and books exploded around her and the earth shook below her feet. The watery clouds began to pour down and the moss grew so green it appeared luminescent.

    Then it was done, a month later, with the rise of three full moons. She made a generous incision in the soil and planted the seed that contained every magic spell she knew and a few singed eyebrow hairs.
    As the clock struck midnight she watered it and a peach tree began to grow. And did not stop.

    It grew fast and large, running through each season in a continuous cycle; leaves turning yellow, the orange, then brown, then green, petals blooming and falling, fruit falling down to feed the earth. It continued to grow till it reached the heavens. Thus, she began to climb.

    Up she went and never rested. A fortnight she climbed and climbed and then-
    There it was, the universe in all its magnitudes and wonders. Explosions of song assailed her ears and the stars seemed to be dancing. Moons and planets circled each other in eternal stand-offs. There was existence before her eyes that exploded with colour.
    She sighed, exhausted, and collapsed onto a branch.
    Her eyebrows were blown up with awe and her heart seemed to give an audible cry of happiness. Her scowl, so bitter and hurt, split into a smile so pure, it could have scorched the suns.

    In her dream-like writings 18-year-old Mia Valodia Wessels van Zijl transports readers to a more poetic reality. As a child Mia had dreams of becoming a milkman. She now plans to become a professor of English.

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