Children of Wax

Once there was a forest where the sun blazed fiery and hot every day of the year. In the middle of the forest was a village of thatched huts, where the hunters hunted and the farmers farmed and the children played in the sun. Some played football, some played tag, and some went exploring in the forest.

One day a hunter got married and built a hut from wood and leaves on the edge of the village where he lived with his wife. Soon her belly swelled and she gave birth to a lovely baby boy.

The midwife was there at the birth. She looked at the baby boy and frowned. "This is no ordinary child," she said. "He is not made of flesh. He is made of wax. You will hvae to keep him indoors. If he goes into the sun, then he will melt."

Two other children were born, a boy and a girl, and they too were made of wax. All three were kept indoors until night-time when they were allowed out - but not too far. It was dangerous to go out of the village at night, so they had to stay close to the hut in case lions or tigers were out hunting, or in case they trod on a snake.

In the day their mother would sit with them and tell them stories about the wide world: mountains, oceans, deserts, and forests; tales of adventure, and amazing creatures.

The eldest son was restless. Every day he'd peep through the cracks in the wall at the world outside. He wanted so badly to go out and explore the forest, travel to the ocean, climb the mountain. He looked up at the birds in the sky and envied them.

As he watched, he sang this song:
I want to break free
Go out of these walls
To climb many mountains and sail seven seas.
I want to be free
To go my own way
Not stuck inside
These old cold walls.

"No!" said his mother, "You cannot leave! You will melt in a moment."

One day he'd had enough. He pushed open the door and ran out into the sunlight. His brother and sister watched as he stood there in the sun, staring up at the sky. He sang his song and danced in the dust. In a few moments his head began to melt, then his arms and his chest, and finally his legs, till there was just a puddle of wax on the ground. When night fell the children went outside and scooped up the wax.

"He loved birds," said his sister, "let's make him into a bird."

They moulded the wax into the shape of a bird and covered it in cool green leaves to protect it from the sun, then left it perching on the fence outside their hut.

The next morning at dawn they watched through the window, wondering if the bird would melt. But something else happened. As they watched the leaves seemed to turn into feathers, the wax eyes turned in to living beady eyes, the waxy beak into a sharp black beak. The bird opened its wings and glided up on an updraft high above the hut, circling and calling down. His brother and sister thought they could hear the same song:
Now I've broken free
Gone out of these walls
Now I'll climb many mountains and see seven seas.
I will be free
To go my own way
Not stuck inside
These old cold walls.

They watched, delighted, as he flew away toward the mountain, which rose high and mighty above the forest.

(Smith, 2014, pp. 300-301)

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