Sarah and the Puzzlemaker by Jim Surkamp
WATCH THIS ON SFARI AND OR FIREFOX. THE CHROME BROWSER MESSES UP THE VIDEOS. SORRY AND THANKS – JS
Once upon a time in the land of Landever, there was a man who traveled from village and town saying things that were – well, puzzling. And because people didn’t know what to make of this nonsensical, contra-sensible man, he became know throughout every village and town as – The Puzzlemaker. One day in the village square of Landever City, he announced: “Since you people do not know what to make of me, I’m making myself your king! And since the people really did not know what to make of him, they said: “Okay.”
2 The very day he put the crown of Landever on his head, The Puzzlemaker began to make rules – lots and lots of rules – that were, well, puzzling. He put a tax on laughter. Daydreaming was outlawed. He decreed that when people needed something – anything – they had to wait in a long, long line. They had to. The Puzzlemaker said: It’s the law. Puzzling laws, and a puzzling king, too. The people felt a darkness descend upon their villages and fields. It was a darkness they didn’t understand, a darkness they had never seen before. A few children saw him for what he was. They sensed the Puzzlemaker was playing a game, a terrible game to darken and confuse the very souls of the good people of Landever. One child, namely Sarah – felt The Puzzlemaker did not know great truths. One day at dinner with her father and mother, Sarah finally burst out: “The Puzzlemaker is wrong!!!” She paused and said it again: “The Puzzlemaker is wrong!!”
3 “What is right?” her father asked. That night in bed before sleeping Sarah pondered her innermost secrets, those of Eternal Light, the proof of her innocent trust and love of Truth. She thought: “I must see through the Puzzle. The Truth is always, always as simple and clear as day. Truth is never a riddle, never a Puzzle.” That night she dreamed, among so many things of a wondrous shape. it was more beautiful than any earth words could express: a fine, crystalline network of streaming light traced with violet, red, rich green and pale blue. It was a Living Ancient Fire. To behold its shape made her free and at peace. She felt at one with her true self. It was as if she were facing the sky and saw the thunderclouds flee, revealing a starry heaven, endless and deep. The next morning Sarah jumped out of bed.
4. “Now,” she thought, “I really have something to paint.” Picking up her finest brushes 4 she dipped them into her paint pots and began to paint the Spirit of Eternal Light around and within her. When it was done she ran into the kitchen. “Mama!!! Look!!! Papa!!! Look!!!” They were stunned at first. Then they became overjoyed at the sight of the beautiful, noble and crystalline form that Sarah had painted so very, very well. Gazing upon her painting, Sarah’s father said: “I feel like the river in spring when the ice breaks up and floats out to the sea. He shook his head: “I’ve been frozen so long, Sarah.” He was becoming himself again, thought Sarah, like before The Puzzlemaker puzzled him. “The Truth is always so simple and always clear as day,” she sang. Full of joy, her father and mother put Sarah’s painting on top of a pole. Proudly waving their vision-flag, they all went dancing and singing to the very center of Landever City where Landeverites were gathering for market. While startled faces peered out from every window, Sarah tore down the banner
5 bearing the grey-colored Royal Puzzle from the flagpole in the market square. They raised in its place the wonderful sight of Sarah’s Living Ancient Fire Crystal. People could see it from their windows and even distant fields. The faces of Sarah’s friends lit up with amazement, then joy. More and more children joined, then their mothers, then their fathers, then their uncles and aunts, grandparents, and neighbors. It was really noisy and happy. They were dancing, laughing, hugging and truth-telling, a sight unthinkable just the day before. Now, puzzles don’t stand up too well to Joy. Never. Not far away, the Puzzlemaker could not help but hear the singing. He sagged in his throne, depressed. “Not everything is puzzling, Sire,” whispered a gentle guard. Yes, the Puzzlemaker was depressed but now he was depressed because of how bad he had been to all the Landeverites outside. 6 Being Supreme Puzzlemaker had, yes, become very very puzzling, even to the Puzzlemaker himself. He went out to his balcony overlooking the gaiety. “At last,” he said, “I see how unpuzzling life really is.” He said to Sarah meekly: “Can I join you?” “Sure” said the thousands all at once. And so he did. Sarah loved how much noise and fun she had created with her dream and vision flag. The sun shone glorious. The Puzzlemaker changed his name back to the name his mother had given him: “Joe.” And for centuries thereafter all the people under the same big sun had the power to never, ever become puzzled again. copyright, James T. Surkamp