Her mother was holding her tiny hands as she woke up from her sleep. It was a good sleep and it’s been awhile since the little girl slept that long. Her mother leaned over, gave her a kiss on the forehead.
“사랑해 (Saranghae),” she said. The little girl rubbed her bleary eyes and saw her mother walking away towards the woods. She got up and ran after her, calling out… but her mother continued walking, oblivious to her daughter’s cries. The little girl tried to quicken her pace but her legs began to feel heavier and heavier. Her feet were stuck in the sinking mud around her.
The girl called out for help fighting desperately against the pull of the mud but it was apparent that she wasn’t going to win this fight. She wrestled and fought harder but exhaustion was creeping over her. She took a deep breath and screamed for help.
And then, there was silence.
The little girl opens her eyes in a daze.
It was a dream.
But surely what she’s seeing now must be a dream too. There were magnificent and beautiful animals standing all around her. She pinched herself just to be sure.
This is no dream. She looked around her and realized that she’s lying inside a magical flower bed!
Soon more animals arrived. There were a family of hedgehogs, a group of mousedeers, a pack of majestic looking wolves and even a grumpy looking old bear! Except for the bear, the other animals gave her a gentle and welcoming smile. “Don’t worry about the bear, he’s just old and cranky,” a voice said. The girl spun around but couldn’t find who was talking to her.
“It’s me, the honey bee. Don’t worry, you’re safe here,” said the reassuring voice. Seeing that the girl was still afraid, the bee began telling her magical and wondrous stories of the woods as the flower bed kept her warm and safe.
“But what about the menacing beast that was running after me?!” the girl asked, still feeling jittery.
The bee roared with laughter so much that the little girl was a little irritated with the buzzing sound it made.
“Oh dear me, sorry child!” the bee said apologetically.
“There is no evil creature. You see child, Man’s fallacy is that they are greater than all other creatures and their downfall is their excessive pride and ingratitude, hubris if you like”, explained the bee.
“They would come out here, chop the trees and take more than what they’ve been given and as a result, most of the trees and even the animals have become endangered species. One day, all of us decided that something must be done and the idea of the menacing red-eyed beast was born”.
“So there is a beast! Or is there?” the little girl scratched her head feeling confused.
The bee said, “Well yes and no. You see my dear child…”
“It was me”, a voice interrupted. The girl turned around and before her was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen.
“Mama!” she cried. It was indeed her mother. She could never forget that beautiful smile and lustrous hair although just from a dream, but something was different.
“You’re a …”
“Yes my baby, I’m an angel,” whispered her mother.
Her mother did not survive that day but she now lives in the wind. As an angel, she can take on shapes, colours and forms. She also explained how she would appear as a menacing beast to men with evil and greedy hearts to instill fear and respect towards the woods.
Reunited, mother and child spent some time talking, crying and finding comfort in each other. Overhead, the storm had passed and it was time for the little girl to go home.
“I don’t want to go home, Mama. The people are cruel and they mock my appearance,” sulked the little girl.
“Awww my poor baby. But who’s going to take care of your father? He will be devastated,” said her mother.
The little girl heaved a sigh. “Don’t worry, we’re going to give you a good scrub before your mother takes you home!” the bee said. With that, the bee instructed the other animals to bring the little girl to the nearby lake to be cleaned.
As her mother was cleaning her, the little girl told her why she was in the woods with her father. Upon listening, her mother gave a big and seemingly knowing smile. The scrub and bath was so therapeutic that the little girl was soon falling asleep. “사랑해 (Saranghae),” was the last thing she heard as she went deep into sleep.
Written for Etude House