Once upon a time, on a blustery and quite rainy day, two fastidious girls decided to venture out of their cozy flat in search of adventure. Of course, if they were wise, they would have stayed put, drinking tea and chatting by the fire for the entire day, instead of getting their socks and shoes completely soaked in the rain. However, these two were determined to break free from their house and explore new lands, so much so that not even the weather could stop them. Well, it never has before.
You see, the girls began their friendship in the same small town nestled within the calm mountainside, where everyone knew each other and change rarely occurred. Despite this, they were very opposite people: one was decidedly sensible, insisting on planning each day, while the other was easy going and spontaneous, walking in whatever direction that the wind happened to blow her. However, they had one important thing in common: their love of words. In order to leave that small town for a while, the girls used books and storytelling as portals into magical, uncharted lands where adventures always took place. But, not today. This time they could find their way with their own two feet.
The story begins in a terrible rush, with the girls trekking to the train station to make their train. As with every story, the journey is never easy. While the girls ran onto their train just in the nick of time, they could see the weather get worse and worse. The wind was blowing the train so hard that the girls thought it would fall off the tracks. However, it reached their sought after destination, Ayr, in one piece. Barely as the train stopped, the girls jumped off, so wrought with excitement that they could not stay sitting any longer. They gazed at the beautiful beach town in awe- the ruins of a castle could be seen in the distance, a mysterious island was floating before them in the sea, and the relaxing scent of salt water was before them. Even as they stood among the picturesque streets, they could hear the waves thundering onto the beach.
However, the weather continued to get wose. The wind picked up, blowing sand into the girls eyes and whipping their hair into their faces. The wind was so angry that it refused to let the girls walk normally, and forcefully pushed at their legs. After five minutes, the two realized that it was impossible for them to explore this beautiful isle if they couldn’t even walk one foot, so they decided to take a bus to the closest shelter.
A bit disheveled, the girls scrambled into the bus station, damp and shivering and cold. All they wanted to do was see the crumbling castle and explore its ruins. As they turned around to wait for their bus, they heard a soft old voice of a woman speak up behind them.
“Girls, you know that the Castle is closed until April, right?”
“Oh,” the girls said with downcast faces, “no we didn’t. Do you know what else there is to explore in Ayr?” It looks as if their silly adventure would be cut short…
The old woman stared back at them gently and said, “Well, the Burn’s cottage is open right now. If you would like, I can give you a ride there. My car is only a few minutes away.”
Now, reader, Hansel and Gretel should immediately flash into your mind, just as it did for the sensible girl, along with the foreboding caveat that parents universally drill into their young children: one should never get into the car with strangers. But, how dangerous could this sweet old woman be, especially with two girls? Perhaps this is what Little Red Riding Hood said as well. But, throwing all fairytales aside, the two friends looked at each other, nodded, graciously thanked the woman for her offer, and began to walk to her car.
The three talked about many things, from the reason for their travels to the stories and books they were studying in school. The woman had much in common with the young lasses; her own children were interested in the same things, despite being from such a different place. Moreover, she began to tell them the old stories of the town, the history behind the Burns’ cottage, and the places that they should make sure to visit. The minds and hearts of the girls began to soften, and they began to think that it was a blessing that they met this old woman.
When they arrived at the cottage, the old woman got out of the car and went round to where the girls were standing. She said,
“I have been to your town, once, a very long time ago. Your people treated me with so much hospitality and care that I would now like to return the favor.”
With that, she sneakily gave the girls enough money so that their adventure would cost them nothing. The girls were shocked; they couldn’t move from the spots where they stood, and could only hastily thank this old woman for her unnecessary generosity. When the girls began to walk away, they spun around after a few steps to thank the old woman again, for her gift to them finally started to sink in. But, when they looked round, the old woman had magically disappeared. It was as if her car had burst into tiny particles of thin ayr.
If, like a children’s story, you are expecting a moral, there are many to be found in this one tale. Yet, the best I can think of, is that kindness and generosity are the most magical of cures, much like a smile.