Gnome with Tiger Lilies and Columbine

   Jason galloped through the meadow after whatever was waggling the plants. Suddenly he realized that he had found his way back to the tiger lily. He bent over, gasping for breath, sure that he would never catch whatever was leading him around in circles. Wiping the sweat from his eyes, he stood up straight, gazing at the tiger lily. To his amazement, a little man with a pointed hat leaned against the stalk. Even stranger, the swallowtail butterflies near the tiger lily were actually tiny humans with butterfly wings. Jason blinked, but the vision remained.
   "We know something you don't know," the little man hummed. The swallowtail fairies giggled.
   Jason jumped back.
   "What's a' madda'. You look like ya' seen a ghost!"
   Jason rubbed his eyes. "I, uh, I, I'm sorry. I just never seen anyone like you before."
   "So ya' doesn't 'member us? We used ta' take care a' ya' when you'se was just a kitten runnin' wild."
   Jason's eyes grew wide. Try as he may, he could not remember the little man. "I'm sorry. I don't remember."
   "Well, maybe ya'd like to know about yer' little girl."
   "What do you know about her?" Jason stammered.
   "We know she's a' runnin' wild, like youse did long times ago!"
   "So you know where she is?" Jason implored.
   "No, but we know what happened ta' her," the little man replied. The fairies giggled again.


   Jason stared at the little man.
   "If ya' want to know, you hafta' give me yer' gold watch," the little man grinned.
   Jason glanced down at his wrist. "This is some kind of trick."
   "No trick. You just gimme', gimme', gimme'!" The little man reached for the watch.
   Jason sighed and handed it over. The little man screeched with joy.
   "Well?" Jason demanded.
   "The bad fairies changed her," the little man whimpered.
   "Changed her? Changed her into what?"
   "Into a bad fairy, a' course."
   Jason furrowed his brow. "Then what happened?" Jason implored.

The Terrible Tiger

   The little man scrunched his shoulders and gazed down at his feet.
   "What happened to Crystal?" Jason yelled.
   "Please don't scream at us. We don't like it when ya' scream!"
   "Tell me now!"
   "They turned into awful critters and made terrible noises that scared us."
   "What about Crystal?" Jason demanded angrily.
   "She turned into a terrible tiger and flew away with them."
   Jason put his head in his hands. "How do I find her," he groaned.
   "Take this trail to the Prince. He might 'member ya'." The little man pointed at an overgrown trail.
   "How will I know this Prince?" Jason asked.
   "Ah, ya' used to play together. He looks like a boy but he is old, very old, I daresay as old as the world. If yer nice to 'em, he might show ya' what to do. Now off with ya', boy. Ya' can't dawdle here all day."
   Jason moped along the trail, thinking about the long hours he had spent at work and how little time he had spent with Crystal.

The Prince

   Suddenly Jason encountered a young man in a shiny green robe standing in the flowers. "This must be the Prince," Jason was hoping.
   "Please, I need your help, sir. My name is Jason. I'm searching for my daughter."
   "Yes, of course, I remember you. You have changed a bit. I don't suppose you remember me."
   Jason squinted, "No, I'm sorry, I don't."
   "Pity. Funny how you don't remember the meadow after you leave it. I don't suppose you want to play? Oh, well."
   Jason was shaking his head. "Please, can you tell me how to find her?"
   "I must change you back into the boy you used to be if you wish to find her. Will you do that for her?"
   "All right, here goes!" The Prince pointed at Jason. At first nothing seemed to happen. Then, all of a sudden, Jason remembered playing with the Prince for hours in the meadow--chasing each other and singing and finding gold--and golden objects--in the streams.
   "Why, I remember you. We played together in the meadow so long ago, it seems like another life!"
   "Good, good. Now the key thing is to remember your feelings. You were so enthusiastic in those days! You were so exalted then, my friend--our days were golden. Allow your inspirations--You will need them to find your daughter!"

Stay on the same path.
Take a different path.