After a long, tiring Friday, I changed into my favourite moon-patterned pyjamas, then snuggled myself into the blanket. I gazed at the night sky; the ones painted on my rooftop, along with several star-shaped lights hanging from it.
My eyelid is gradually closing down, my mind slowly drifted away. That time when I am half-asleep, I uttered a little wish from the bottom of my heart.
I want to sleep under the actual stars.
All of sudden, both of my eyes are opened. I saw the night sky, along with an unknown young boy wearing a blue cape who is looking back at me.
That is when I realized that I am not in my bedroom.
I stand up immediately, distancing myself from the unknown young boy while looking around the area. Underneath my feet, where I was sleeping, is grass. A big tree was behind the young boy, but there was nothing else except the marvellous night sky surrounding us.
Observing my behaviour, the young boy claps his hands once, fully understand the current situation. As he takes several steps towards me, he bows himself down.
“Welcome to the World Under The Stars, my lady. I am Prince Hugo, honoured to meet you.”
“The World Under The Stars?” I replied in confusion.
“This is what we call our world since we are always surrounded by the stars,” standing straight up, Prince Hugo started walking closer to me as he replied my question.
I doubted what I just heard. He said, “always surrounded by the stars”?
What a perfect world!
Clearing out my throat and calming myself from the overexcitement, I asked him another question, “What kind of world is this?”
Prince Hugo flashes a smile. “I can take you around this world if you like, my lady,” he replied, putting his hand towards me, offering me to take it.
Overjoyed by the tempting invitation, I take his hands, starting my journey in the World Under The Stars.
“The first stop of today is called the Glowing Mushroom Garden,” Prince Hugo stated, pointed out at the colourful piece of land on my right-hand side, after we walked for ten minutes.
“As the name states, this is a garden filled with mushroom in various colour. Purple, light blue, neon green, bright pink, yellow; you name it,” Prince Hugo explained as he opened the wooden fencing, the entrance of the area.
A pretty scenery unfolds before my eyes. Colourful mushrooms mingled with one another at the side of the pathway. The whole area is surrounded by bushes and trees, who is dimly lighted, pronouncing the bright colour of the mushroom even more.
Prince Hugo politely gestured me to walk in front of him on the concrete pathway. I walked around the small octagon-shaped pathway as I intake the scenery before me. Felt something cold on my knee, I glanced downwards. It was then I realized there is one thing that is off: the mushroom is big enough that its cap brushed my knee.
“Um…, the size of the mushroom is much bigger than the mushroom that I know, though” I stated.
Prince Hugo lets out a laugh. “The mushroom here is big, but it is not to be eaten. After all, they are poisonous,” he stated.
Hearing that, I immediately reached my hands out to clean my knee.
Prince Hugo grabbed my wrist, stopping my action. “Poisonous, but only when eaten. You are fine, and you will be fine.” He gave out a warming smile.
I sighed out of relief.
“You see,” Prince Hugo let go of my wrist and put his hands on top of the nearest pink-coloured mushroom. “This mushroom has a unique hormone that allows them to secrete a chemical which produces the light. Yet, the chemical is harmful to the human when eaten.”
Upon hearing the explanation, I gathered my courage to put my hands on top of the mushroom. To my surprise, it is quite soft and bouncy; like a plush doll.
“Is there something like this in your world, my lady?” watching me throwing my hands around the mushroom, Prince Hugo uttered a question.
I shake my head. “No, not a glowing in the dark, colourful mushroom like this.”
After satisfying myself by throwing my arms around the mushroom, we started moving on to the second stop. Walking for another twenty minutes, Prince Hugo announced that we have arrived.
“Now, I present you, the Sky Lantern River,” Prince Hugo pointed to the area beneath us.
There, lay a river with clear water that appears blue as it reflects the moonlight. Right on top of the water surface, thousands of sky lantern floats around, bringing orange-coloured lights to the scenery, giving a warming sensation. Silhouette of trees can be seen from the land across the river, completing the scenery.
Prince Hugo put his feet unto the steep slope, offering his hands towards me. As our hands joined one another, we gradually descend the slope, getting closer to the riverside.
As soon as we reached the flat land, I dashed toward the river, then squatted. There, I saw the reflection of me; the same long, curly black hair, blue eyes, wearing the navy pyjama that I used before I slept.
Soon after, I saw another reflection behind mine. A young man with short, blonde hair, with his dazzling green eyes. He is about the same age as me. His blue cape that is slightly moving as the wind blows made him looks bigger than he actually is.
Yes, this world is so dark that I was never actually able to get a closer look at Prince Hugo up until now.
Taking off the blue cape and placing it on the ground, Prince Hugo gestured me to sit comfortably on top of it. He sat beside me as he uttered, “This is one of the brightest places in this world.”
“Don’t you guys have like…, you know, lights?” I asked.
“Well, the moonlight, the mushrooms, the lanterns, planktons, fireflies…,” he replied.
“I mean, light bulbs. Electricity,” I cut off his sentence to emphasize my point.
Prince Hugo turned to me in confusion. “What is that? Where does it come from?”
After explaining about the electricity and understanding that electricity does not exist in The World Under The Stars, we get up and started walking to the third stop of the day. As we walk, I noticed that we are getting closer to the trees that we saw from across the river.
Arriving at the forest, the whole area is pitch black. I got hesitant to enter the forest, yet Prince Hugo hold my hands and lead me deep into the forest, where the darkness fully surrounds us, along with the chilly winds.
However, just before I get to adjust my eyes to the darkness, a spark of yellow light in the sky entered the line of my vision. I reached my hand to grab that spark, only to find a small bug-like creature, with the glowing body.
As it flew away from my palms, I followed the creature with my eyes, only to realize that the continuous yellow light keeps popping out in the dark forest, brightening up the scenery. The forest is no longer dark, but overflowing with the yellow lights.
“This is the Fireflies Forest,” Prince Hugo stated as he turned around to face me. He opened his arms and the creatures swarmed unto him, surrounding him by the glowing yellow creatures.
“Fireflies? I have heard of that!” I replied. I opened my palm and two bugs land on it.
“Oh, so there are fireflies in your world as well!” Prince Hugo send out a smile.
“Well… to be exact, we used to have it. But this is the first time I have ever seen one,” I stated, observing the two bugs on the palm of my hands.
Prince Hugo stared at me in confusion. “So there is no more fireflies?”
I shook my head. “It all dies.”
After walking away from the forest, leaving behind the glowing yellow creature, we started walking to the fourth stop. Taking the lead, Prince Hugo brought me back to the Sky Lantern River and kept walking on the riverside until we find a small wooden boat anchored.
“Let’s go to the Glowworm Caves,” he said, leaping into the boat. He then offers his hands to assist me to get into the boat. Taking his hands, I entered the boat, sit at one end, while Prince Hugo starts rowing from the other end.
As the boat moves on, the sky lantern is gradually getting less, and the riverside slowly changes to a forest. In no time, we reached the entrance of the caves.
What I saw inside the caves is breathtaking. Engulfed by the total darkness, thousands of small dots and strings are hanging from the top of the caves, filling every crevice of the caves with their neon blue lights.
I am out of the word to describe the most magical scenery I ever saw in my life. Seeing me turning my heads around the cave in amazement, Prince Hugo stopped rowing the boat, letting it flow slowly with the river current, enabling me to thoroughly observe the scene. We then sat at the boat in silence for a while.
“Isn’t it bright even without the electricity, the artificial lights that you mentioned beforehand?” Prince Hugo throw out a question at me.
I nodded my head. “This looks much prettier than the light bulbs,” I replied him, reaching my hand towards the top of the caves.
“Is there something like this in your world, my lady?”
I shook my head. “No…, not something from nature like this.”
“I see, a lot of things here does not exist in your world,” Prince Hugo nodded his head to my reply, then proceeded to watch the caves in silence.
“You see, Prince Hugo,” I started my sentence, averting my gaze from the caves to face him. He turned his face toward me, waiting for the continuation of my sentence.
“In the world where I came from, I cannot see the stars. The night sky is just black; I guess the pollution hides away the stars.”
“That sounds…, somehow sad,” looking straight into my eyes, Prince Hugo replied.
“On top of that, all the lands are transformed into buildings, so there is no garden to walk around with your friends. There is no river with clear water that gives reflection; they are all filled with muddy water with trash. There is no more forest nor fireflies; grandpa said they already went extinct. There are no caves like this either.”
“Can you let me know what is it like at your world, my lady?” To Prince Hugo’s prompt, I started talking more and more as the boat rocks slowly. Prince Hugo sat by my side and listened to my stories thoroughly.
Yet as I keep explaining, as I keep reflecting, the worse my world sounds compared to The World Under The Stars.
After my stories ended, Prince Hugo rows the boat again and brought us out of the caves. We then started walking back to the hill where we first met.
“How was it, my lady? Do you like our world?” Prince Hugo asked as we walk.
“It was a good experience. Thank you for showing me around, Prince Hugo” I replied. This young boy has been so polite to me, taking the time to explain the details of each station, waited for me to thoroughly enjoy every scene, and even listened to my stories.
“Please come back here whenever you like, my lady. Whenever you feel tired of the artificial, and sought for nature,” he replied. “When that time comes, I will be with you, walking you around more areas of The World Under The Stars that you have yet to see.”
I smiled at his reply. “See you next time, Prince Hugo.”
He stopped walking and stood underneath the big tree. I overtake him and lay down on the grasses.
Beneath the dark, starry sky, I closed my eyes, falling back to sleep to come back to my world, the world of reality.
And with that, my wish has been fulfilled at The World Under The Stars.
I opened both of my eyes and welcomed by the painted night sky and the star-shaped lights.
And all the memories I made from The World Under The Stars come flooding into my brain, overfilling me with emotions. That time when I am half-awake, I uttered a little wish from the bottom of my heart.
I want to come back to The World Under The Stars.