Creatures We Dream of Knowing is a compilation of seven heartwarming stories that probe the wonders of creation through the eyes of creatures who ask those they encounter to open their eyes and hearts to their wisdom.
When a young boy receives a plea in a dream from a frightened colt with purple diamond eyes, he embarks on an unforgettable adventure that leads him from the warmth of his bed to a dark horse pasture where he must learn to use his hands and his heart to rescue the abandoned foal. As the collection of short stories continues, a band of unique characters will meet a creature from the depths of the ocean previously unknown to humanity; travel into an oriental carpet with the creatures who live in it; discover a butterfly who wants to end a war; share a dragon's story; find out what happens when someone rubs a genie's bottle with the wrong hand; and perch in the branches of a tree unlike any other.
Creatures We Dream of Knowing encourages others to simply imagine what would happen if such beautiful creatures truly existed in our universe.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.48(d)|
Creatures We Dream of KnowingStories of Our Life Together
By Andrew Marr
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Andrew Marr
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKorniel: The Colt with Purple Diamond Eyes
I woke up shivering from a strange dream. The pale light coming from under my window shade told me it was too early to get out of bed. The readout on my digital clock said the same. Good. I wasn't ready to get up for school. I needed time to think about my dream. I wasn't sure if I'd dreamed I was a horse with purple diamond eyes or if I was riding the horse. I shivered and struggled to recall my dream. I was riding a horse. No. I was a horse. It was all very muddled. The horse was trapped by a soft, warm wall it was galloping against. While riding or galloping, I saw some unhappy people. One was a girl I knew from school, Kirsten Walters, stooped over with sorrow. What was her problem? Had she been so sad all along and I hadn't noticed? Maybe I was too caught up in my own troubles to notice anybody else's. I rode on and saw the school bully, Mickey Munson. Mean Mickey. Only he wasn't smirking now. He was darkened by fear and anger. What troubled him? I rode on and saw another face, a face with messy brown hair drooping over the forehead, the wilted face I see every morning in the mirror. That face was me, Kenny Laurens. Who wouldn't look like that with a father who yelled at him all the time? Somehow, I knew the horse was galloping so hard against the sloping wall because it wanted to reach the people with the sad faces, even me.
The horse reared its front hooves and struck the wall so hard it broke through. Cold darkness stabbed me like a frozen knife. Was I still the horse I was dreaming about? Something rough, moist, and warm, like a corrugated towel, moved along my body, giving me some relief from the cold. The warm corrugated towel got to my forehead, then stopped. I heard a snort of disgust, horror, and rejection. It was so sharp I thought somebody had snatched my blankets, but no, they were still wrapped around me. The vision of the horse faded and I stopped shivering.
Kenton! Help me. I am cold. Kenton?
"I'm not Kenton. I'm Kenny," I whispered.
Kenton Miller Laurens is the name on my birth certificate, but nobody calls me Kenton. Not even my parents. Everybody calls me Kenny.
You are Kenton. Please come! Now. I am freezing.
"Who are you?" I asked. "How do you know my name is Kenton?"
I am Korniel. I know all true names. Please come! Now. I am freezing.
"Where are you?" I asked.
I am here. Come quickly! You will find me.
There was no way I was going to stay in bed a second longer. I tore off my covers and dived for my jogging suit.
I closed the kitchen door quietly and leaned against the side of my house.
"Where are you, Korniel?" I whispered. "Are you at one of the horse farms close by?"
What is a farm? Korniel asked.
"Are there lots of other horses where you are?" I asked.
Yes. Please come. Now. I am freezing. I am scared.
Two purplish spots just like the eyes I saw in my dream appeared, then disappeared as soon as I'd seen them. I had my direction.
"I'm coming," I whispered.
And I was off in a cloud of dust.
The closest horse farm belonged to Mr. Garret. It didn't take me long to get there, but I was hoping this was the place because I was already tired from running. I slowed down and peered over the fence. A few horses were out grazing some distance away, but I didn't see any that looked like the horse in my dream.
"Where are you, Korniel?" I asked.
I am here. Come quickly. I am freezing.
I looked across the pasture for a sign. After a couple seconds, two purple eyes appeared again. That was all I needed. I carefully wriggled between the wires of the fence and ran toward the place where I'd seen the purple spots. The neighing of a distant horse froze me for a few seconds. Although I lived within a mile of this horse farm, I was as scared of horses as I was of lions or tigers.
Korniel's call for help overrode my fear of the other horses, and I dashed to the spot where the call was coming from. There, on the ground, was a small white colt all striped with blood and slimy afterbirth.
"Korniel!" I cried.
He turned his head in my direction.
"Whoa!" I cried.
Korniel's purple diamond eyes dazzled me and froze me to the spot.
Korniel's plea pulled me back to his helpless state. I knelt down beside him and pushed some of the afterbirth off him. It was so cold, it explained why Korniel was shivering so much. All that afterbirth should have grossed me out, but I was too worried about Korniel to care about what was gross and what wasn't. I was shivering myself, and I was still short of breath, although I shouldn't have been this long after I stopped running. Then I noticed that Korniel wasn't breathing very well. I started to rub Korniel's flank as hard as I could to warm him up, but it didn't seem to be doing him any good.
"I'm sorry, Korniel," I said, "I'm not good at this."
Your love is guiding your hands, said Korniel. Do not let the stallion who yells at you rob you of knowing your worth.
Stallion? No horse every yelled at me. It was my father who did that all the time.
To my surprise, I found I knew where Korniel wanted me to rub him, and for how long. That gave me a little more confidence in what I was doing.
"Why did your mother abandon you?" I asked.
Not her colt.
"That doesn't make sense," I said.
I kept on warming Korniel as best I could. His mane and his head were in the worst shape, because that's where the most afterbirth was, and that's where the going got really tough and slimy and sickening.
Do not touch, Korniel warned.
He'd warned me too late. Korniel's forehead gave me a horrible shock.
"It looks like you've got a bump on your forehead," I said. "I hope it's nothing serious."
It is what makes me Korniel.
I wanted to ask Korniel what that meant, but I was pretty sure he wouldn't give me an answer I could understand.
I am sorry that the touch hurt you.
"That's okay," I replied.
Korniel looked at me with those purple diamond eyes of his and the pain went away almost instantly.
You have done all you can do to warm me. I need more help.
But I already knew that I had to go either to the house or the stable to find Mr. Garret or to one of his farmhands. I was petrified at the thought, but since Korniel's life depended on it, I had to do it. In church, Pastor Groves was always saying, "Love casts out fear." This was the first time those words meant something to me. When I got to the house and stable, I saw a man going about his chores. With his heavy build and short hair, he looked like a marine.
"Hey! Mister!" I called out.
He gave me a look that would have stomped me into the ground if I wasn't so worried about Korniel.
"What are you doing here?"
"There's a colt out there, abandoned by his mother, who's freezing to death!"
"Look, kid, a mare doesn't abandon her foal, and we didn't have a foaling last night, and we weren't expecting one. If this is your idea of a joke—"
"I don't joke about abandoned colts!" I cried, on the verge of tears.
"Don't you know the facts of life better than that?"
"I know the facts of life and I know what I see with my own eyes," I sobbed. "Korniel's been abandoned and he'll die if you don't take care of him."
I'd never talked to a grownup like this in my life, and I couldn't believe I was doing it now, but I was desperate and I didn't know what I'd do if I couldn't get the farmhand to take me seriously.
"Who's this Corn-neal you're talking about?" the farmhand asked.
"It's the colt's name," I answered.
"And who said you could name our colt?"
"I didn't name him. He told me that's his name."
The look I got from the farmhand told me I'd made a big mistake.
"I suppose you want me to believe that colts talk to you every morning before breakfast," said the worker.
"I don't care what you believe," I said. "Just go and take care of him before he dies!"
"Look, the only person around here who gives me orders is Mr. Garret. Is that clear? If you want to tell me what to do, go buy this farm, and then you can boss me around."
I felt defeated and was mad enough to bang on the farmhouse door and yell at Mr. Garret to come out and take care of Korniel, but before I got to the back steps, the door opened and a heavyset teenager came out. I recognized him as John, Mr. Garrett's oldest son, a high school senior and a star on the football team.
"Whoa!" John cried. "What's all this yelling about? You're disturbing my mother's breakfast."
"I found this abandoned colt in your pasture and I came to tell you about it," I said.
"I don't see how we can have an abandoned colt out there when we weren't even expecting a foaling," said the worker.
John gave me a searching look that wasn't unfriendly.
"All I know is that I saw him," I said. "I know he needs help. Now."
"Do you go wandering in other people's pastures like this all the time?" the worker asked.
"No. I didn't mean to trespass, but please help Kor—that colt."
John pursed his lips. I didn't blame him. He didn't need to have to go rescue a colt right when it was time to get ready for school.
"I'll check it out," said John. "What's your name?"
"Okay, Kenny, I'll know whose parents to call if this turns out to be a joke."
"I promise it isn't," I said.
"I'm taking your word for it enough to go check this out. Jimmy! Come out here!"
Jimmy, a slightly built ninth-grader, who was rumored be a dope smoker, slinked out the door with hostility written all over his face.
"What is it?" Jimmy asked.
"This kid found an abandoned colt in the pasture. Harvey and I need your help bringing it in"
Jimmy's face darkened and he let loose a string of curse words.
"Shut up and come with me," said John to his brother. Then he turned to me. "Time for you to skedaddle. And thank you if you're right about the abandoned colt."
Thank you for getting the help, said Korniel.
Those words gave me warmth and energy to get home faster than a prize-winning racehorse.
* * *
I shivered by the side of the road waiting for the school bus, as I had not gotten ready for school in time for my mom to take me there on her way to work. Our tense conversation about my early-morning run rang in my ears. It seemed she yelled at me at least as much as my dad.
The bus finally came and I got on. The seat next to Kirsten Walters was free, so I sat there. She gave me an angry look with her dark eyes. The long curls of dark hair framing her dark, puffy face made her look like a monster.
"How come you're sitting next to me all of a sudden?" she asked me.
"I don't know."
You did not make a mistake by sitting next to her, said Korniel inside my head.
"How are you doing?" I asked.
"Lousy. And you?"
A brief vision of Kirsten pleading with her father at the door entered my head. I was sure she was trying to talk him out of going to wherever he was going. Was he a drunkard, like my father? Even more reason to feel sorry for Kirsten if he was. I tried to think of something I could say to Kirsten, but I couldn't.
The stallions and the colt are taking me somewhere.
"Good," I said, before I knew I was opening my mouth.
"What's so good about life being lousy?" asked Kirsten.
* * *
"Earth calling Kenny Laurens."
The sharp edge of sarcasm in Mr. Miller's tone of voice grated on me. Worse were the grins he got from my classmates.
"Is there any reason why you cannot pay attention in math class?"
There were many reasons why I couldn't pay attention in math class. My life was already a mess before Korniel came along, but I couldn't tell my math teacher that.
"I guess not," I said in a low voice.
Mr. Miller went on with words that cut me to ribbons, the same kinds of words I my dad would say.
Somebody is helping me because of you, said Korniel.
"Oh, good!" I exclaimed before I could stop myself.
Mr. Miller stopped in mid-sentence and glared at me.
"Do you mean to tell me you're glad you're flunking math?" Mr. Miller asked in a soft voice filled with knives.
It was hard to concentrate on talking to Mr. Miller when I felt Korniel's thoughts and feelings inside my head. Fortunately, Korniel calmed me down, as if he knew I was in trouble.
"I'm sorry I'm not doing better," I heard himself saying. "I don't mean to make it a hard day for you. I'll work on the math this weekend."
Mr. Miller looked surprised that I spoke nicely and he started to look like a human being himself.
"Well, I hope so, Kenny. I'll be calling on you in class again next Monday."
That wasn't a good start to the school day, and it didn't get better. During history class, I suddenly felt saturated with warmness that started to drive the chill away.
Yes, said Korniel before I could form the question in my mind. A light is making me warm. Thank you so much for coming, Kenton.
"My name is Kenny," I reminded Korniel.
That drew a strange look from Ms. Moore and more smirks from the other kids.
"There was no General Kenny in the First World War," she said. "Are you dreaming of being a great military hero?"
"No," I mumbled. "I don't want to fight any wars."
"Glad to hear it.
* * *
After I'd gobbled down my lunch, I leaned against a tree in the schoolyard and watched the other kids play.
Why don't you join the other colts? Korniel asked me.
"I just don't. How are you doing?"
I am feeling warmer and the stallion gave me something to drink.
The stallions worry about me, but they shouldn't.
"Is it that bump on your forehead?"
Next thing I knew, my head was slammed against the tree and Mickey Munson was glaring at me.
"What's this about a bump on my forehead?" Mickey asked.
I wanted to sink further into the tree to get away from Mickey.
This colt is afraid, said Korniel.
Korniel's support straightened up my backbone. I looked Mickey in the eyes and saw that Korniel was right. There was a lot of fear mixed with his anger.
"Maybe it's because you do have a lump on your forehead that keeps you from thinking straight," I said.
I almost regretted saying that when Mickey slammed my shoulders against the tree a second time. I couldn't believe I was standing up to Mickey even this much. Oddly, I noticed that tufts of hair were sticking out of Mickey's head, the sign of a very bad haircut that he probably got from a parent who didn't want to pay a barber to do the job.
"Who are you to talk about lumps on my forehead when your whole face is going to be one big lump when I'm through with you?" Mickey asked me.
"I am Kenny Laurens. That's who. And I won't take any more bullying from a crummy kid like you."
Suddenly, I glimpsed a couple of bigger boys beating up on Mickey. Somehow I knew they were his cousins and they had attacked him recently.
"Since now," I said. "How come you have to pick on me just to feel better about getting picked on by your horrible cousins?"
Mickey backed away, his face turning pale.
"Who told you about my cousins?" Mickey asked.
Spooking out Mickey made me bolder, but I was just as spooked myself about the visions I was getting from Korniel.
"A little horse told me," I replied.
Mickey drew back his fist to punch me in the face.
"I guess you know how kids feel when you beat up on them," I said.
Mickey drew back his hand and collapsed in front of me like a pack of cards. He gave me as menacing a look as he could and sauntered off.
"Korniel," I whispered, "how do you know so much about Mickey's problems?"
I know everything I was sent here to know, Korniel answered.
Excerpted from Creatures We Dream of Knowing by Andrew Marr Copyright © 2011 by Andrew Marr. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Korniel: The Colt with Purple Diamond Eyes....................3
The Last Duck-Billed Fountainfish....................27
Grandmother's Oriental Carpet....................47
The Rainbow Butterfly....................69
Pendara's Story, as Told to Leonard....................111
The Flask of Rathumar: As Told by Denny Hamilton and Gerald Manning....................134
The White Tree....................169