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This story is ancient. I take no responsibility (now) for its many errors of grammar, style, punctuation, and spelling. Read my childhood works and despair.

I can no-longer clearly remember what made me write this story. It is, most certainly, based on my own childhood bedroom (where I was still sleeping when I wrote it), which has the same two narrow windows, and the trellis underneath. Certainly it was influenced by Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market, and also by Maurice Sendak's Outside Over There. It may also have been suggested by a long period (at least a whole summer, though it seemed like forever to me) when there was scaffolding up the back of the house that I used to climb up and sit on (I even had an armchair, though I can't for the life of me remember how I got it up there).

I've re-written this story more than once. Midsummer Night (v2) significantly changed the plot (and even the main character), Midsummer Night (v3) updates the style of version 2.

Midsummer Night (original)

The Midsummer's rain fell in the darkness beyond the bedroom window. Tom lay in bed listening. Each drop was so clear and distinct that he thought he could hear them all, each drop of rain separately. It was like the careful progress of thousands of feet, each dripping gently to earth. They were accompanied by tiny clicks and snaps, as if each drop moved one piece of gravel, bent one stem of grass. The gentle falling of the rain was like a huge orchestral work, played just below the edge of hearing.

Always Tom had believed that another world existed, on this most special night, the longest day, his birthday, just for an instant in the depths of the almost night. How could it not, on this, the best of days? Always he had drifted into sleep before he could see that world, now, on his tenth Midsummer, he lay awake and the rain was like an echo of that other world.

At last he could stand it no longer.He had to go and look, see what was there. If there had not been the gentle rainsong then he would have been too afraid to go, but the rain whispered, "It is there! Come and see, come and see!" Tom's room has a balcony along its outside wall, that looks out over the garden. It is in fact the roof of a porch and is sided with a trellis. His house is only one in a long row, but the houses have large gardens, fringed with old trees.

Tom clambered out of bed and to the window, he opened it without looking, and went. Above the balcony the sky dripped colours. Flocks of high cloud reflected rainbows of old sunlight while serried layers of luminescences hovered on the horizon. The air air was rich and warm and heavy with the scents of flowers. He looked at the trellis, usually it was bare but for a withered clematis. Now lustering leaves curled up from it, spiralled stems dipped beneath the weight of white lilies the size of coffee pots. He was right! The Midsummer world did exist! His heart leaped in exultation.

Without pausing for thought he swung himself over the rail and clambered down the trellis.

Where, normally, the backyard lay, lush plants reached over Tom's head. On leaves as large as outspread umbrellas glistened drops of water the size of marbles, their surfaces swimming with molten silver. He walked past strawberries the size of chairs and cushions, huge aubergines shone black and purple with breathtaking intensity. Raindrops splashed from the leaves in slow motion arcs, spreading rainbow veils across the path of crazy paving that he followed. Beneath the giant plants were smaller ones glowing in the shadow, bluebells, Harebells, and Tom almost thought that he could hear them ringing.

He wandered into overgrown arbours where the coloured light filtered onto crumbled sundials and benches carved with lion's heads. In the shadows orange fruit glowed with their own light. Beyond rose strange trees, Baobabs and Acacias, with lilies fiery between them. Golden leopards smouldered in the branches of the trees, all bronze and amber.

The colours of the horizon silhouetted strange palaces from which music and incense drifted. Tom saw fakirs and caravans of spice scented merchants trundling along black marble roads beneath the glowing fruit, watched by the panting leopards. A tiger padded from the glowing darkness and regarded Tom with its hypnotic gaze. He stopped, afraid for a moment, but the tiger turned and moved away, its silver whiskers chiming softly in the warm breeze.

He came to an area where the vegetation brushed closer, carved pillars of stone rose from the tangling green masses with flocks of tiny birds of paradise perched in the trees, jumping from branch to branch with long feathers waving, bright plumage bobbing wildly. On the ground a black web of soil and grass outlined brilliant patches of coloured light, where the trees dissected the reflected colours from above.

So beautiful was it, that Tom stayed amongst the jewelled plants of the Midsummer forest until the first fire of dawn touched the tree-tops.

In some way that when dawn fell full on the forest it would be gone and he would once more be in the garden, or that there would be only the garden, and that he would remain in the forest forevermore, if he did not get home first. But why not stay? Why not remain forever in the Midsummer world, drinking its beauty. For a moment he was sorely tempted, but the birds of Paradise screeched and jumped on the branches crying, "Go now, run! It is not good to stay in the forest past Midsummer! Run! You must get home!" and he knew suddenly that it would not be good, would not be right, to stay.

He ran through the Baobabs and the tiger-lilies. He splashed trough a cinnamon scented river where twirling paper boats each held a candle. Under majestic chain of turning stars he retraced paths amongst the fallen pillars and urns of empty temples, across the grit and gravel of high desert peaks, sculpted cliffs of red granite adorned with mountain oaks, digger pines and tumbling eagles. Down through groves of cedars he ran, while clouds of black rooks were exhaled by the horizon, framing the ascending limb of the sun, crimson and gold touching each leaf one by one on the treetops.

Now he came once more to the rain-drenched forest of giant plants and fruits. Plums and blackcurrants gleamed in tones of blue and purple as Tom ran past them. The run was not tiring, he was not exhausted, but there was so far to go and the sun was so close! Each footstep sent rings of rainbow droplets rising from the earth as he closed on the white trellis and its fragrant creeper.

His hands and feet slipped on the wood as he climbed, in the distance the tops of the trees were already fading as the dawn caressed them into oblivion, already the light was swinging closer as he threw himself over onto his balcony. Then the sun flashed in a cleft of mountains, which were suddenly only the houses at the end of the street. Where the forest had been the sun lightened the wet lawn and the dark trees, early morning, the day after Midsummer.