At the bottom of the garden, beneath a cherry tree laden
with sweet smelling cherry blossoms, an elderly female royal Mynci was sitting
on a granite bench. Her beautiful gowns were carefully arranged around her, falling
in gentle folds around her feet. The folds of the gown almost seemed to mimic
the gently curled petals of the sunrise-pink water lilies floating in the cool
Cooled by the refreshing shade provided by the
overhanging boughs, Mei-Yi's face was lit by a small smile. There was a little
twinkle in her deep blue eyes that belied a cheery emotion, almost as though
she were remembering something good that had happened a long time ago.
The sun slowly rose higher and higher above the
garden, and the shadows grew shorter in length. Just as it began to become too
hot, a gentle breeze arrived bringing welcome relief from the heat. The many
flowers in the garden waved merrily, and the cherry blossoms in the tree danced
back and forth in patterns too intricate for most to notice.
At almost that exact same time, Mei-Yi heard
a sound that did not come from the wind or the stream or her garden. At the
opposite end of the garden, closer to the house, she heard the creak of a gate
and distant voices drawing closer. Her heart sank as she heard them.
"Aww Mother, do I have to go? You know how boring
this place is. I'd rather go play with my friends. It's not fair!" The young
voice resonated with injustice.
"Hush, Tan-Tan. You know that it will go much
faster if you will just try to enjoy yourself for once, and besides, your Father
and I will be back to get you in only a few hours." The second voice was older
and a little more dignified.
"But Mother!" wheedled the younger, Tan-Tan.
"She is so boring. Boring boring boring. There's nothing to do. Please don't
"That's quite enough. Get on with you now, and
please try to behave."
And with that, Tan-Tan was bundled through the
gate and thrust towards the back of the garden by his very busy and rather tired
Mei-Yi sighed, and the quiet little smile was
now gone, replaced by a dutiful frown. There was nothing wrong with her grandson,
Tan-Tan. In fact, she loved to have him around. It was just that the feeling
was not mutual, and the fact that he always wanted to be somewhere else with
someone else, or indeed, anywhere else with anyone else, always put a strain
on things. It was so difficult to relax and have fun with him when his dislike
of her was so evident.
Still, thought Mei-Yi, a rambunctious young Mynci
could hardly be blamed for not liking the quiet and peaceful lifestyle of his
old grandmother. To him, she was ancient. And since she could not compete in
sports nor even play hide and seek very effectively, it was little wonder he
always felt so bored.
"I'm here, Grandma," called a very defeated-sounding
Tan-Tan. It stung her to hear how... how contemptuous his voice was. Of course,
this was no different from any other time. Mei-Yi could not think why this seemed
to hurt more today than any other previous parent-forced visit.
"Good afternoon, Tan-Tan," she called in answer.
She heard him slowly shuffling nearer. "How are you dear?"
He grunted in reply.
"Well, I'm glad you're alright. Go ahead and
amuse yourself. I'll make us some dinner in a little while." Another grunt.
Mei-Yi sighed, and returned to her reminiscences.
Tan-Tan ran off, pleased that she did not want
to bore him with old stories and anecdotes of people he didn't know and would
never know, or people he just didn't want to know anyway. The one redeeming
feature of a visit to his grandmother's house was that she had a big garden.
And as in any big garden, there were lots of trees to climb, a task he set about
quite happily. Given the circumstances, anyway.
The young Mynci clambered up tree after tree,
up and down, up and down. He subconsciously tried to stay as far away from his
old grandmother as possible, worried that she might spoil his fun. After an
hour, he had exhausted the supply of trees to climb, and sitting quietly only
occupied him for a maximum of two minutes. So Tan-Tan began to look to other
trees, trees that were not quite large enough for him to normally think of climbing.
But Tan-Tan was so bored, and so confident in
his climbing skills that he decided to give one of the smaller trees a try.
Slowly and carefully, he pulled himself up to the summit, and looked around
the top canopy of the garden, grinning from his success. With a little laugh,
he swung down from the tree and somersaulted to the ground.
Purple tail swinging, he raced over to the next
tree, even smaller still. Tan-Tan had decided that he needed a real challenge,
something dangerous and exciting. Buoyed by his previous success, he lifted
himself up and onto the thin boughs of the tree. The leaves were young and had
a waxy texture, and he was quite hypnotised by the unusual white buds that adorned
So fascinated, was he, that he hesitated whilst
he was at the top of the pretty little tree. He knew that the tree was really
too little to support him for long, and that he should really have jumped straight
back down. But he didn't. The little tree gave a startlingly loud, sickening
crack, and without thinking about it Tan-Tan leapt to the ground. He blinked,
and was dismayed to see the branches of the tree lying on the grass around him,
just a stump left in the ground and a jagged bough. A white bud drifted down
to the ground to rest on top of the rubble.
Mei-Yi had heard the sound and rushed over, and
Tan-Tan was surprised by the speed at which she was moving. He was also dismayed
by the sadness and anger that showed on her face.
"Tan-Tan! What have you done? Are you alright?
Whatever possessed you to climb that poor little tree? Don't you know enough
about climbing to know that you are too heavy for a tree of that size?"
Tan-Tan winced. Of course he should have known
better. It was a great wound to his pride, to have his climbing skills insulted
like that. It didn't matter that his grandmother was completely right.
"Well, I was bored," smirked Tan-Tan. "And I
wanted a challenge, and I thought it might be fun. Besides, it's only a stupid
tree. It's not like you haven't got tons and tons of others." He tried to shrug
nonchalantly, but didn't quite manage to pull the look off, making himself look
instead as though he had a nervous twitch and had seen something interesting
up in the sky.
Mei-Yi saw through her grandson, but she was
not impressed. She was hurt that he had so little disregard for nature.
"I'm glad you think so, Tan-Tan," she said, softly.
"Of course, this tree was seeded from the tree given to me by your grandfather,
but, as you say, there was nothing special about it." Tan-Tan's gaze flickered,
and his smirk wavered momentarily. "Evidently, there is nothing left for you
to do in the garden, so come and sit with me by the stream."
Tan-Tan sighed heavily, rolled his eyes, and
then began to follow the retreating back of his grandmother. Even climbing the
bigger trees again would have been more interesting than listening to her ramblings
for the next two hours. He began to think that perhaps climbing the little tree
had not been the best idea he could have had.
As the two sat down on the bench by the shallow
stream, Mei-Yi wracked her brain for something to say. She did not understand
why, but she felt more hurt today by Tan-Tan's behaviour than ever before. It
was not that he was behaving any worse than he might usually, but his attitude
towards her just seemed to bother her more today. There was no real reason why,
Tan-Tan shuffled his feet, waiting for a lecture.
Waiting to be told he was bad and disrespectful just like every other time he
had broken something or said something rude. Waiting for the stories of aunts,
uncles, cousins and acquaintances to begin. Waiting to be bored, and already
bored of waiting.
"Tan-Tan," said Mei-Yi, calmly, "I'm sorry that
you find me so boring." This was new. This was different. Tan-Tan wondered how
to respond, and shifted position nervously. "I know that this isn't the most
exciting place in the world for you, but if you'd just give me a chance, we
could have a lot more fun together while you're here." Fun? Here? Hah, Tan-Tan
knew better than to expect that. "There are a lot of things that you don't know
about me. If you would listen and learn, I'm sure you'd find it interesting."
"Like what?" Curiosity had bested Tan-Tan's reserve.
"Well, did you know that your grandfather and
I once quested for Fyora? Or that I found ingredients for the Healing Faerie
during the battle for Meridell?"
"No kidding?" breathed Tan-Tan in awe.
"No kidding," confirmed Mei-Yi, smiling gently.
Maybe Tan-Tan was finally going to listen to her. It seemed strange that it
had been this easy, and yet before he had resisted all efforts of companionship.
Maybe he was growing up.
Tan-Tan stared at his grandmother in surprise.
Old, boring Grandma who was always so annoyingly quiet and dignified, so rule-abiding
and pernickety. He was shocked and surprised at what those two quick argumentative
examples had illustrated. Grandma had not always lived in a garden, and she
hadn't always been boring.
Maybe he could learn some things from her, after
Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing he had to come
Mei-Yi smiled as she saw an interested look dawn
upon her grandson's features. She felt a glow of happiness light within her,
and beamed at him.
She had waited a long time for this day.