Chasing Rainbows - Inkwell Prompt #49 (By the light of the moon)

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At 8 years old, Jack felt defeated. Life was just too hard. He had struggles that went beyond the understanding of his years, although he understood just enough to know that life was not going to offer him an easy ride.

For Christmas, his parents had bought him a metal detector, and a tent! He figured that if the road ahead seemed uncertain, he might just as well go prospecting for gold, as do anything else. They had encouraged him, saying they could obtain permits to detect on the beach or ask local farmers for permission to access their land, but Jack already knew where he was going to find the most gold! And that was not in any farmer's field or beneath the cliffs of some coastal behemoth; no, he would find his gold at the end of the rainbow in the Leprechaun's pot...I mean, where else, right? And, unlike others who had never found it, he now believed he held the upper hand. He had a secret weapon!

He figured that as he already lived on the spectrum, he might as well seek out his life's fortune in that wonderful arc of beauty that coloured his world between the raindrops.

He ran out into their large back garden, popped open the tent, and threw his sleeping bag, pillow, a torch, and a few provisions inside, enough to satisfy any young adventurer. The back garden merged seamlessly into open fields and forests, and it was there that he started detecting, willing it to rain so that a rainbow might appear and light his way.

That first day, he found a few old rusty nails, some bottle tops, and a 10c piece. It was exciting for sure, but still, he was desperate to find himself some gold. He kept at it all afternoon, stopping only for the hand-delivered orange juice and cookies from Mom.

By dusk, he was tired, struggling to keep his eyes open, and as the sun drew in, he crawled up inside his tent under the old mulberry tree at the bottom of the garden, on the edge of a little clearing, and fell asleep with his arms wrapped tightly around his detector.

He awoke a few hours later to a lyrical sound breaking the silence. It was already evening, and there was an eery white glow to the darkness. The forest took on a magical hue at night under the moonlight - just the right backdrop for a nighttime adventure!

He peeked out between the open folds in the tent, to witness the most extraordinary sight; a tiny little man, barely 3 foot tall, dancing around a little fire in the middle of the clearing, chanting a mysterious rhyming incantation, his face aglow with golden radiance. He wore a short red jacket and breeches, and a large black hat sat cocked on the top of his head.

As the moonlight shone through the trees illuminating the scene, Jack's attention was gripped. He had read about these creatures of the night! Not being one to think before he leaped, or to mince his words, Jack stepped out of the shadows of the tree and into the shimmering light.

Excuse me,

he said,

but are you a Leprechaun?

The little leprechaun started and then froze. Quickly stuffing his hands into his pockets after gathering up some trinkets from the ground, he spun round to face the voice that had disturbed his reverie. What was that standing in front of him? A curiosity indeed!

A boy? A man-child? He pondered ...this was rare. Just relax... he tried to reassure himself...maybe he hadn't seen...everything? He cocked his head and peered up at the boy over the top of his spectacles.

Who are you?

he demanded, trying to exert authority from the start.

I saw everything,

the boy replied.

Well, there's goes plan A, thought the little Leprechaun. I wonder if he can handle the truth?

Yes, I am a Leprechaun!

he said, fixing his eyes on those of the young boy.

And what is your name?

I...am Jack.

The two of them held each other's gaze in the aftermath of those declarations; the little leprechaun willing the child to cut and run. Five minutes later they were still trying to outstare each other when Jack broke the silence that hung between them.

So, if you are a real Leprechaun, then you must have a pot of gold hidden at the end of the Rainbow.

It was postured more as a statement of fact than a question, so the little leprechaun felt no obligation to answer.

This kid was going to be a handful, he thought, considering his options.

No, no, no...that is just a myth. All I have is this little silk purse.

he said retrieving it from his breast pocket and opening it to reveal a single shiny shilling.

Jack looked on wide-eyed and open-jawed. Gold. This is what he had been seeking all along.

The leprechaun, realising that he needed to put an end to his interaction with the little human, before things got out of hand, held tight to his hat, spun around three times, and simply disappeared. Jack spent the next hour looking everywhere for him, finally stopping only to race back to the house determined to devise a plan to find a rainbow, seek out the leprechaun, and follow the rainbow to its very end, where he knew he would one day find the leprechaun's pot of gold.

Spurred on by his encounter that evening, Jack spent the next few years of his life chasing rainbows. Whenever the rain fell on a sunny day, he would pick up his detector and race outside, keenly seeking out the blaze of colour in the sky and then picking his way through the fields and forests, seeking the other end of its arc. Each time he challenged himself to explore further, dig deeper, and engage more with those around him in search of the elusive rainbow's end. He had many wonderful adventures, he went to school, he learned about the world, he made friends along the way. He discovered a love for basketball and a passion for writing and painting canvasses. His world was ablaze with colour, but in between the raindrops, reality still stood its ground. He spent as much time overcoming obstacles as he did enjoying the fruits of adventure and discovery. Through it all though, he never stopped searching for the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Nine years passed and life had him once again exploring the local woods in the twilight. One day, whilst detecting along the forest floor he heard the very familiar sound of lyrical incantation. His eyes lit up! Could it possibly be after all this time? He knelt down in the scrub and crept to where the woodland shadows gave way, and there, by the light of the moon, the little leprechaun sat, quietly, smiling, his hands wrapped around a very beautiful pot of gold. Jack only just managed to stifle a gasp.

He gazed at the leprechaun, tilting his head sideways, marveling at the little creature. It was the first time that he had ever caught a glimpse of the leprechaun's pot of gold and the moment felt sacred. He was transfixed. The little leprechaun, oblivious to his presence, appeared consumed with joy and the immediate area around him was awash in colour. Rainbows abounded everywhere. The beauty of the moment was captivating.

Rubbing his hands together with glee, the little leprechaun shrieked in delight as he purveyed his wealth. Digging his hands deep into the golden hue of his pot, his elation overflowing, he sifted through the mountainous treasure. He loved coming to his pot each evening to play. Sifting through a myriad of precious gems each day, running between his fingers as he raised them up for air, each had its own memory and when his fingers located one it connected with, the whole pot would glow. He would throw the treasure up into the air and allow its ambiance to shower him with joy. Some were sad, some happy, joyful....but they were all his.

A twig snapped. The little leprechaun looked up startled and their eyes made contact.

You, again!

he exclaimed.

Jack's face fell and he looked away abruptly.

I'm sorry, I'm really sorry,

said Jack,

appreciating that he was disturbing something special,

but you do have a pot of gold and you told me that it was all a myth...I... I remember that.

He had been searching for so long, so very long.

The little leprechaun was about to disappear again when he felt the tug in Jack's heart meet his own. He hesitated, perhaps he could break with tradition, break the leprechaun code, just this once.

Come sit down with me for a moment, young man,

the little leprechaun beckoned and gestured towards a large boulder beside him.

Jack, we chase rainbows in search of the pot of gold at the end, but no matter how far we get on our journey through the colours of life, the rainbow's end never gets any closer; and the leprechaun's gold does remain a fable.

Jack's eyes pricked but his ears were piqued with curiosity.

But you have one!

he exclaimed,

how is that possible then if there is no way to reach the end of the rainbow?

Young Jack, you don't find your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you manifest it at the very beginning, and as you pick your way through the arc of your colourful life, you amass little treasures along the way to add to your pot. We leprechauns are highly possessive of our pots and devastated if they are ever stolen or compromised, for they represent every living memory, dream, and facet of our lives and identity and for that to be stolen, imitated, assimilated, or decimated, is soul-destroying. So we hold these things precious and close to our hearts, and that is why we are so defensive and protective of their contents.

You have been topping up your riches for years. You are your own pot, and each enriching encounter is another little fleck or nugget, another experience to learn from and treasure. Life is about the journey, my boy, not the destination.

But why can't I see it yet?

Jack implored.

Your pot will grow ever bigger, always keeping up with the wealth of memories and experiences that you gather along the way. One day, it too will reveal itself to you, and the riches of your life will drive you forwards with purpose. You are still so very young and have a long way to go yet. Now, go on your way, and keep doing what you are doing. Have faith. Keep believing. Your time will come.

With that, Jack got up and thanked the leprechaun for his time.

The little leprechaun smiled. Awash with colour, he was used to creating his own rainbows and pots of gold...and now that the lesson had been shared, he knew that Jack would one day create a pot as magnificent as his own, but first, he would have to find his own rainbows to traverse, and he had a strong feeling that the journey had already begun. And so by the light of the golden moon, he bade farewell.

As Jack left the outskirts of the forest, he looked back in wonder. Life suddenly didn't seem so impossible anymore. Maybe there was hope after all. As he turned and headed for home, a small warm golden glow flickered inside his breast pocket, and deep inside, his first shillings were starting to take shape.

Chasing Rainbows is my entry to Inkwell prompt #49 'By the light of the moon', part of the Inkwell-Dreemport Challenge Week 3 , AND my response to @snook 's Leprechaun challenge #snookschallenge6.

Dedicated to my Jack.

Sources:

image from canva pro library

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