This is based on a story by Rabbi Nachman, “The treasure under the bridge.”
Written and illustrated by Daniel and Tunni Kraus.
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There was once a young boy, Curt, who lived in Feather Tree Village. Unlike his neighbours, he had no trees, flowers or animals in his yard, only dirt. The shed stood all alone in the bare and lifeless back yard.
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One night Curt awoke suddenly. He had dreamt a vivid dream. It was as if an invisible force, like a giant vacuum, was sucking him into a faraway place. There, a rusty iron bridge lead to a giant factory which had the King’s gold emblem painted on its front doors. In the dream he found himself digging deep into the ground at the entrance of the factory until he found small, round, colourful, and very special daffodil seeds.
Night after night the daffodil seeds would find their way into Curt’s dreams.
During the day, he would imagine travelling through the howling wind towards the factory.
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Curt felt he must search for the seeds because he wished his garden would be more colourful.
Leaving his family and friends behind he set off on his donkey.
He loved feeling the wind rushing through his hair and exploring the forests he passed. Curt rode further and further, without really knowing where he was going.
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As time passed the rocky hills over which he was riding appeared endless and Curt began to wonder whether this was a silly idea after all. Eventually a strange looking girl emerged from the woods and came towards him. She had no legs and was walking on her hands.
“Do you know where the King’s factory is?” asked Curt. The girl directed Curt to a large dead tree. “Climb as high as you can,” she said, “and when you get to the top of the tree look for the dark clouds.”
Curt asked the friendly girl to mind his donkey as he climbed towards the higher branches. When he reached the top of the tree, he found himself looking out directly at the factory from his dream, with its rising smoke in the distance.
Curt climbed with excitement down from the tree and swung himself into the saddle of the donkey. He thanked the young girl he rode, with his donkey, off into the distance as she watched them ride off into the distance.
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As Curt rode further away from Feather Tree Village the trees began to look shrivelled and the colours of the forest became less vibrant.
Even the scarecrows appeared sad and were weltering.
Soon Curt reached a thick dirty swamp known as Sharoshpotok. The donkey kept getting stuck in the mud so Curt would pull the donkey Osborne by the bridle and lead him out of the sludge.
Curt rode by day and by night, in the sun and in the rain, and allowed himself only the most necessary stops for food and sleep. When Curt slept he would dream of the daffodil seeds.
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The ground was becoming only pebbles and dust and no living animals or insects could be seen or heard. The only noise that Curt could hear was the echoes of marching armoured guards in the distance.
Following the sounds of the marching, Curt finally caught glimpse of the rusty iron bridge; which was much longer and more majestic than in his dream. However, it was heavily guarded and surrounded by barbed wire. The watchful eyes of the factory guards allowed little opportunity to set foot near the bridge.
Curt decided to camp close to the bridge. He was exhausted from having travelled for so long but he could not fall asleep because of the toxic smell in the air from the factories fumes. Every day Curt spent hours pacing back and forth near the barbed wire which surrounded the entrance to the bridge, waiting for the opportune moment to cross it.
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One of the guards grabbed Curt by his coat and screamed, “Why have you camped here for so long? Everyone is suspicious.”
Petrified, Curt blurted out the story of his dream. When he finished, the guard, who had been containing his amusement, broke into uncontrollable laughter. Curt looked on in bewilderment.
“What a foolish child you are believing in dreams. If I let my life be guided by dreams, I would be well on my way to Feather Tree Village. For just last night I dreamt that a poor boy in that city has no garden but buried beneath his shed is something magical.”
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On the journey home Curt was disappointed in himself. He was unsure as to why he had given up on his dream so easily.
Returning to Feather tree village exhausted, his curiosity about the words of the factory guard led him to dig a hole in his shed. Curt dug deeper and deeper until eventually his shovel hit a small wooden box.
He opened the box….
Lying inside were three small, round colourful daffodil seeds.
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With nothing more to lose Curt decided to plant the seeds in his muddy yard. He wondered about the seeds every day, watered them, but was frustrated that nothing grew.
One morning something changed. He noticed a tiny orange sprout poking through the soil. The stem began to emerge from under the soil and grow in front of his eyes.
Bizarre little fruits were sprouting all along the stem and they ripened quickly and exploded, scattering new seeds everywhere. From the new seeds grew other herbs and shrubs.
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Within minutes a new world surrounded Curt. Giant trees filled the garden, their sap tasted like chocolate mousse. The fruits all had strange but sweet tastes.
Curt was overjoyed with his garden. Some of the plants looked like peacock tails – so colourful and exotic; others were so transparent that he could see straight through them.
The spiders weaved sweet smelling clothes and the thick glistening ivy which grew around him made for the perfect necklace and bracelets.
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Balloons that were shaped like daffodils were growing on some of the trees and Curt picked one of the balloons and felt himself rising to the top of the garden.
There was such a breathtaking view from up there. Curt watched as his garden below grew denser and became more colourful as seeds continue to fall in all directions.
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When Curt looked down at his beautiful garden he realized that the magic was always in his possession. Yet, he had to journey far away to know of its place.
This piece was read as part of Origins and Superpowers, a public readings event held by Scope and Melbourne Library Service in December 2015. A group of writers with disabilities who had worked with professional writers in the Telescope Workshops read selections from their work across the genres of fiction, memoir, poetry and non fiction.
Telescope is one of the arts programs run by Community Inclusion staff at Scope and it includes workshops, a writing prize, awards and public readings.
Watch Daniel read his piece here: