Our father had this book. He kept it hidden underneath a velvet-draped table. Whenever we visited his theater, at the first opportune time, my sister and I would steal into his dressing room and remove it from its resting place. I would call this book our secret, but I knew our father had placed it there for us to find.
Our father was a great magician. The audiences he entertained most nights of the week believed his magic to be nothing more than the collection of cleverly crafted illusions they saw on stage. Those who knew the real him, the him that shined outside the glare of the lights, knew that our father’s power went far beyond his easy mannerisms and debonair style.
Neither Poppy nor I knew then how potent his magic really was or how his talent would be passed on to us. We were young and the only thing we cared about as we took our secreted treasure to the empty stage was what enchantments would be offered up when we flipped through the book’s pages.
“I hope there’s a castle,” Poppy said. She had just turned seven and being a princess was high on her list of priorities.
“There’s always a castle,” I replied. Being almost nine at that time, my days of princess wishes had faded. A new desire was taking hold though I had no role model to pin it on. “I hope there’s a shooting star,” I began, “and planets and twinkling lights.”
“What about a chest of treasure?” Poppy interrupted my musings. “Or a whole roomful! Then there would have to be a dragon to protect it all!”
“I thought dragons protected their treasure in caves,” I said in a desperate attempt to preserve sanity. “Anyway you know it’s not real.”
“But what if we could make it real?” Poppy leaned in conspiratorially.
“Then we’d be rich with a hungry dragon on our hands.” I shrugged. I pretended that the idea didn’t interest me, but truth be told it tickled my imagination as it always did when she said those words.
We plopped ourselves on the dusty stage floor and threw open the book. Bolts of electrified magic shot from the book and skittered around the stage, seeking out the farthest corners, saturating the very air with powerful magic. Our skin tingled as the illusion solidified around us. A myriad of vivid-hued hills sprang up around us like rainbows. In one corner of the stage, a cauldron appeared enthroned atop a tall green mound. The theatrical candy beckoned us to join it, for though we were settled amidst the scene, we were not yet a part of it.
Poppy grabbed my hand and placed it atop the open book. In a blink, we were transported from the gritty planks up to a platform situated high in the flies. From our grassy perch we looked down at the simmering, red cauldron below. We were no longer just two little girls dressed in everyday clothes but a red-headed princess named Poppy and a rainbow-haired mage named Jellybean.
We were armed and dangerous with wands in our hands. Our imagination was our ammunition and with it we populated the stage with all the things we had earlier wished for but did not see. Little did we know, but this was a turning point. Never before had we provided our own props, but from that point on that’s all we would ever do. Our creations weren’t as awe inspiring as our father’s, but as we got the hang of things, our designs truly became our own.
That, of course, was a long time ago, and though I don’t enter play worlds much anymore, I still have occasions as a Creator to enter real worlds of my own design. My methods are different than the ones my sister and I used then, but the soul of what I’m doing is really no different. Our father, through his imaginative sets, taught both Poppy and me that we shouldn’t be afraid to dream or to bring those dreams to life.
—Jellybean Reds, Creator of Little Creatures
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