Written by Susan Browne, Illustrated by Vicky Leonard.
- The Dream Collector
Bee-Zee is an elf. To you and me, his age seems a lot: 367. But actually in elf years this is like being about 13 in human years. Elves usually live for a very long time, and if there are any living near you – which there probably are – they most likely remember you when you were little if you were living in the same place. And the people that used to live there before that. They have great memories, and they love to see children playing in the garden or outside, enjoying nature. If they see you dropping litter they will feel cross, but if they see you picking up litter they will really love you, and tell their friends about how amazing you are. If they like you a lot they probably do favours for you without you even knowing it. Ever found something you thought was lost for good? That could have been the elves helping out. They are great at finding things.
Bee-Zee always has ideas and he loves to read, and today he had an idea about collecting people’s dreams. He had read that Mona-Lu the wish fairy can turn people’s good dreams into a special magic spell that would stop you from having bad dreams… forever. Bee-Zee hated bad dreams. Sometimes he had dreams that frightened him, and now that he was 367 he didn’t like to be going to his Mum about it. He felt he was much too old for that. So he would lie in bed feeling worried and sometimes frightened, until the sun came up and everything looked okay again. So on this sunny autumn morning he was looking for some dreams to buy.
‘Morning Todd,’ he said to his neighbour. ‘Did you have any good dreams last night?’
‘Hello Bee-Zee. Yes I did; I dreamed that there was no more rubbish thrown away by humans ever and the land was completely clean all of the time.’
‘Wow! That’s a super one! Would you like to sell it to me?’
‘Sell you my dream? How would we manage that?’
‘Well, I have made a very special dream jar, look,’ he showed Todd a beautifully decorated glass jar, and opened it up. ‘All you do is sit down somewhere quiet for a few minutes and think about the dream with the lid off and the dream goes into the jar, and then you put the lid on tight and give it back to me. Oh, and in return, I will rake your lawn for you this week and next week.’
‘Really Bee-Zee? That simple. Okay then, let’s give it a go. I’d like if somebody did the raking, it would give me more time to go travelling.’ So he accepted the dream jar from Bee-Zee and set about finding a quiet spot to do the job. When he handed back the jar he had a quizzical look on his face. ‘Bee-Zee?’ he said, ‘What was my dream again? I can’t remember it.’
‘Ah. That means the jar is really working. It’s in the jar so it can’t be in your head as well.
‘I see,’ said Todd, frowning a little. ‘Well I guess that’s fair if you are going to rake my garden for me.’
‘I will,’ said Bee-Zee. ‘Thanks Todd, I hope you enjoy your holidays,’ and he went on to find some more dreams.
By the end of that morning he had bought a total of eight dreams. They were: no litter and the earth being clean; Mrs Higgish’s housework being done by fairies every Saturday; Loddy Fogwart’s marrying Princess Loveheart; Manni Hayheather having a visit from Archangel Purlimiek; Ella Fanfeather making successful cakes; Mary, a fairy, finding some eggs; Bee-Zee’s Dad completing his wishing well and Bee-Zee’s sister Heyda learning to fly. He was going to be very busy with all the jobs he had promised to do to pay for the dreams. But his jar was brimming with good dreams, and he set off to see Mona-Lu the old wish fairy.
He travelled on foot, because he couldn’t wait for his blackbird friend who said he’d be tied up having a bird bath for an hour. He ate no lunch, because he was too excited. It took three hours to walk there. Even though elves are surprisingly fast walkers. Through the Forest of Frandaloo and across a field with sheep in it. Bee-Zee loved the forest. Elves love trees, and he stopped a few times to chat with the trees. He found it really revived his energy when he sat down and nestled into the bark of the tree. He told one tree about his idea.
‘I’m not so sure it’s a good thing to buy people’s dreams from them, Bee-Zee,’ he replied in a deep, crumply voice.
‘Oh,’ he said dejectedly, hugging his jar closer to him, watching the colourful cheery dreams dancing and swirling around inside. Bee-Zee tried to fight off the doubt that crept into his mind after hearing this from a tree. Since trees are very wise.
‘Why don’t you go along now and see what she says. You will learn something anyhow, and you have come all this way,’ the tree said with a smile. Trees have the most amazing smile. It’s really worth a look some time.
‘Yes. I’ll let you know on my way home,’ said Bee-Zee and ventured on to the edge of the forest. Sheep never bothered him, but Bee-Zee was a little frightened of them. They were quite inquisitive and sniffed around at elves. One was sniffing him now as he walked and it made him want to run, but he just walked a little faster. Mona-Lu was said to live in a stone cave beyond the field, he had only ever heard of it, and read about it. The map was in one of the books he had got. ‘Nearly there,’ he said. Just then he looked up and saw a very tall fairy, twice as tall as him, looking down quizzically at him. She wore a dress made out of sunflower petals, and green sunglasses. Her hair was purple and curly. She gave him quite a start.
‘I wasn’t expecting anybody. How are you Bee-Zee of the fir wood trees in Mrs Hanlon’s garden?’
‘Oh, you know me then? Hi Mona-Lu. I have some dreams. I want you to make them into a spell to stop me from having bad dreams. Please.’ He showed her the jar.
Mona-Lu peered down at the jar over her sunglasses with a strange expression on her face. ‘Bee-Zee! Are there real dreams in this?’
‘Of course. Yes, they’re really real. I promise.’
‘Where did you hear that I can use these? They are contraband. Not allowed. You must give them back to people. People’s dreams are in fact the journeys their spirit makes to what are called the astral planes at night. Our dreams are very important to us. They should not be sold or taken away.’
Bee-Zee felt awkward and looked down at his feet. ‘I’m sorry. I just really wanted to stop having bad dreams.’
‘Bee-Zee, don’t be sorry. You didn’t know, but you must give them back today. I have just the thing for you. Promise you will give every dream back today and I will give you something that will help.’
‘Okay, I promise.’
She disappeared into her cave for a few minutes. He waited patiently, out of sight of a woolly sheep that was quite near to the cave also. She arrived back, and he was sure her hair had changed colour slightly. It looked blue now.
‘This is a dream catcher. You hang it up near where you sleep and it helps to release the fear from bad dreams and keep the good energy from happy dreams. You can have it, it’s a spare one.’
‘Really? For me?’ It was beautiful; a series of circles with webs of sparkling thread weaved through them, and colourful feathers hanging from the bottom. ‘Yes. Get those dreams back to their rightful owners as soon as you get back, okay? ‘Yes Mona-Lu. Of course. Right away,’ he said.
Bee-Zee made sure he gave all the dreams back. He felt sorry for Todd who had been so looking forward to taking a break from the raking so he could go travelling, that he did the job for him anyway. And he found, from that day forward, that he slept much better. If he had a scary dream he barely remembered it, it was as though the scary feeling had been quickly washed away. And every good dream brought about an even better feeling than before, making him feel really happy throughout the day. Exercise 1: Make your own dream catcher and hang it up near your bed Exercise 2: Look for faces in the trees. Draw or take a photo of them. Exercise 2: Go for a walk in nature with an adult and work together to safely pick up any litter you find, wash your hands afterwards.