Finding What Matters

Once upon a time, far, far away in a small town in Southern France there was an orphanage. It was called the M. S. Kray Orphanage by everyone in town but no one quite understand the name or how it came to be. It was a small building, and it showed the lack of upkeep. Looking at it from across the road was the faithful matron. She knew that if something didn’t happen soon, the orphanage would be void of its’ children and she would be out of a job. In reality, it couldn’t even be called a job. She wasn’t being paid for this. But her predicament is one that I will explain to you later on. As she crossed the bustling town road with a basket of eggs and fresh farm vegetables she uttered a silent prayer for the orphanage and its’ two very special occupants.

“Children, I’m home! And I’ve got supper too! How does a veggie omelette for each of you sound?”

“Mais oui Marta! That sounds excellent!” shouted one of the two children. He was a young lad about 13 with a sprinkle of freckles across his cheeks. His nutbrown hair gleamed in the sunset that shone in through the window. He was seated at a small table in the corner of the room with a girl who appeared to be his sister. Both were happily playing checkers.

“Well, Jane, why don’t you come help me in the kitchen and leave Simon to his math homework which should have been done earlier. Eh, Simon? How would you like that?”

“Very well Marta.” They both said in unison. Jane was only eleven but she acted like a young lady as stood up and straightened her dress. As she did so a strand of hair strayed from one of her long french braids. She tucked it in and smiled at Simon as she followed Marta to the kitchen.

Simon, left alone at the table, put away the checkers and sat down to do his mathematics.

After the trio ate, Marta helped them both get ready for bed. They asked her for a story. She told them the same one she had been telling them since she knew them.

“Well, it was quite an awful night. It was very dark and stormy. I passed the orphanage on my way home from the marketplace. But instead of walking on like I normally would, I stopped and looked closer. It was almost as if overnight the place had overgrown. On all my regular walks it looked well kempt. And the matron and her husband were always at the window to greet me as I passed. This time I heard the cries of two children. I ran inside and found you two. You were in cradles side by side and Simon, you were reaching out for Jane’s hand. I knew I couldn’t leave you both alone like that. So I took it upon myself to care for you and raise you. I didn’t know your names, and all the record books didn’t list two newborns. So that’s how you became Simon Martason and Jane Larendaughter. ”

“And that’s you became our matron.” said Jane between yawns.

“Yes, that’s right. Now off to bed you two. Sleep well.” As she walked away to her bedroom she knew what she had to do. She could already see where the letter was in her mind and part of what it said. It read: “Dear Marta and Laren, when you find these children please take care of them for me. They aren’t children actually, they only are for the moment. They are very close to each other though they will not know why. You must say to them when they reach an age of understanding that they are brother and sister although they are much more than that. You see they uncovered a spell book when they were cleaning up the place to make it an orphanage. They were clueless and read it aloud. I can’t tell you everything in this letter for fear that in may land in the wrong hands. But I will visit you and tell you both why this occurred. Much hope, Augustia.” “What did occur Augustia? What really happened?” “Laren is dead and you still haven’t told me the whole story.” Marta said out loud alone to herself in her room.

“Greetings Marta! I am Augustia. I must say that I am very sorry about Laren’s passing. Although it was years ago I’m sure it still hurts. But soon, it will no longer hurt. The pain is only temporary.”

“Augustia, is this the visit you promised? Why, what are you doing? You’re an enchantress!”

“Yes I am. You see Jane and Simon found a spell book made by the rival of all enchantresses. When they read it aloud a spell was cast on them and all their possessions. The night you were walking by was when it occurred. Listen, Jane and Simon are husband and wife, and they are young adults.”

“No, it can’t be! They are what? If I get my hands on that little scoundrel I will kill him!!”

“Be calm Marta. You must let me finish. I can’t stay long. The only way for the spell to be broken is if Simon tells Jane he loves her before he turns 14 in a week. Jane loves Simon already, if she would show it maybe he will be moved to break the spell.”

“Oh Augustia! What must we do?”

“We must have hope. It is Friday, he must tell her he loves her before the next Friday passes. I know it will work. I wish it didn’t have to take this long, but it did. I must go Marta. Good luck.”

And the Enchantress disappeared. Augustia had pity on the young adults who were trapped in childlike form all thanks to one evil sorceror. So she set a plan into action to ensure their freedom and the freedom of Marta. Unlike what Marta was believing, Laren’s passing was just a consequence of the spell. That’s one reason why it had to be broken. And soon.

“Good morning children! I wasn’t expecting you to get up on your own! What’s the rush?” Marta exclaimed as the children pounced on her bed.

“We want to go hiking this Saturday!” shouted Simon and Jane in unison. “Oh please Marta? There’s a lovely trail that we have taken before that leads to meadow where we could have a picnic lunch. Oh please??” Jane was persistent.

“Alright! We’ll take a hike. Jane you go fetch the goods and Simon you help me get the basket. It’s on the third shelf in the basement. I’m just a tad short for the job.”

“Yipee! I will make everybody’s favorite sandwich!” Jane shrieked excitedly as she stormed down the stairs to the kitchen.

A few hours later…

“Oh look at it children! It’s beautiful! So where shall we set up our spread hmm?”

“Over here Marta. By the tree next to the brook.” Marta knew the only reason Simon suggested that was because he was already in the brook hunting for crayfish. “Jane, come help me catch this big one!”

“Okay! I’m coming!”

“Oh if only you knew children…” Marta set up the spread with her eyes watching the two laugh and play. “Augustia, you better be right.” Then she raised her voice to get Simon’s attention, “Come eat first guys!”

“Five more minutes? Please?”

“How about you come eat when you are ready?”

“Yes please Marta! Thank you!” Jane wasn’t watching her feet and an especially big crayfish pinched her pinky toe. “Ouch! Agh! Simon, I’m bleeding!” she looked into his eyes as tears started pouring out of hers.

“Here, sit down on the bank. I will cut him off.” She watched still crying, as he pulled out his pocket knife and cut the crayfish off her toe. He did it so tenderly. “There, he’s all gone Jane. You’re still crying huh? Come here.” Standing in the water he picked her up and spun her in the air. Then he climbed out and sat down gently placing her down next to him. She huddled close to him and the tears kept falling. “It’s okay. I’m here and you can cry as long as you need to. Shh now.” He unraveled her braids and folded the ribbons and stroked her hair. He whispered into her hair, “I love you Jane. I love you.”

And Marta sat holding her breath watching. The world stopped spinning for a brief moment. She watched as the children whom she had called her own, grew into young adults. Jane was fully mature and just a few heads shorter than Simon who looked down on her with intense emotion. And suddenly, the world was a whole lot brighter.

“Sarah, Sarah, I love you.” Michael caressed his wife of two years and he cried into her hair. Marta shouted for joy. So did Augustia. The spell was broken.

“Marta? Marta!” Laren ran across the meadow and swung his wife up into his arms. “The pain is only temporary...Oh Laren!” “Shhh now. I’m here.” The older couple stood silently watching as the children they raised came to.

“Oh Michael! I’m so glad to be back in the real world! Being a young girl and having to watch you interact with me everyday without knowing what I lost, what we lost; it was awful.”

“Sarah, shhh I love you. I’m never going to let you go again. I’ve found what matters the most to me. I am not going to lose it again. Let’s go to Marta and Laren. Eat our picnic lunch all together?”

“I’d like that.” And it was a sweet reunion for the four of them. The wind swayed in the trees as they returned to The Michael and Sarah Kray Orphanage. Pinned to the door was a note from Augustia promising children for the young couple. They all walked in and closed the door behind them...

Happy Christmas to you all!

Hope the story was a good one!