The Hillside
Margaret, Age 12, Barrie, ON

There once was a narrow hillside that flourished and dimmed at a bleak point on the horizon. One side was beautiful, flecked with pearly blooms and fringed with dense, rich grasses. A cool stream tumbled through delicate, lacy canopies of moss. The sun tinged the fragrant leaves with a smudge of gold.

But on the other side, the sweet slopes plunged into a valley of darkness, and things were sparse. The moss dipped into grotesque sheets of mud, infested with sinister creatures, and the trees bore capricious frowns that seemed to be etched into their barren trunks. Shadows dripped from every threatening, furled finger of the trees. The sun splashed around in the endless blue sky, its fiery rays rippling with every gust of wind. But it stayed just outside the lower valley’s boundaries. Just like its previous happiness....

The old teacher, with the deep grooves and wrinkles winding up his cheek, told them this, the listeners. “The happy valley is your heart,” he told them. “The happy valley reigns with prosperity, just like your heart does, acquiring happiness through a state of mind, just like the branches of the happy valley. If only the branches of the trees in the valley of gloom were to extend just a little further, they could acquire that same glory.”

You reader, hold onto the happiness that pulses through the roots in your heart, like the roots knotting through the ground in the happy valley....

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