The only sound in the Windsor Woods cabin was the timed ticks of a worn wooden clock. Broken toys and hand-me-down dolls littered the playroom floor. A girl with straw hair and a porcelain smile picked through scattered crayons to find the right shade for her cartoon cat. As her scribbling continued, a fan of light peaked around the trees to flash into the window, and a gleam from a dusty shelf caught her eye. There, among old trinkets and portraits of forgotten relatives, a silver lion stood proud but tarnished, dusty and neglected.
Underneath the grime of time she saw something magnificent. She plucked it delicately from the shelf. She wiped away the dust from every crease of his ornate mane. She polished the silver with a loving touch. In the radiant reflection of his restoration, she saw her beauty shining back at her. The solid feel of his sturdy frame gave her strength. The determination in his eyes made her brave. The girl with the straw hair and the porcelain smile promised to never let the lion go. She kept him in her pocket, she held it when she was sad, and she slept with her nightstand guardian fighting away the terror of the unknown.
Eventually, as the ticks of the clock counted down her passion, the girl who lost her porcelain smile decided that she could see the lion just fine from the shelf. He was there if she ever wanted to hold him. Her silver guardian still watched over her from afar. She didn’t need to polish him anymore because she knew his every wisp of mane and every zig and zag of his face-long scar. She didn’t have to worry about forgetting the intensity in his eyes-she’d always remember them. The snow coat dust and frostbite tarnish once again claimed their shelf top perch.
Then one fall afternoon, a girl with a rainbow of hair skipped through the leaves and burst into the empty cabin without bothering to knock. Her lips were sharp, her eyes were jade, and her style was daring. She jumped on a piano in the corner and punched out a tune with a practiced dance of finger strokes. With each string of notes, the promise of her depth echoed off the bare walls wrapped in a baritone melody. But behind the smiles, covered by her enthusiasm for life, was a lonely lover.
A sliver of sunlight peaked over her shoulder, and as she looked up from the keys, a silver shine winked at her. She popped to her feet, stepped up the bench, and vaulted over the piano. She bounced over to the shelf with mischief in her eyes; but the playful suspicion painted on her face slipped away with the barriers around her heart when she saw the lion staring back at her. With a burst of breath, she blew away the dust and snatched the figure from the shelf. Turning him in her hand she examined the ornate lines and etched shades underneath the layers of stagnation. She saw courage in his flowing mane. She saw tenacity in his battle wounded beauty. She saw strength in his stoic eyes. Without a single tick from the wooden clock, the girl with rainbow hair rubbed the silver on her dress. Through jade eyes speckled with flecks of gold, in the glorious reflection, she saw her own true beauty for the first time.
She had to remember that she never cries.
The sight of the dusty shelf tightened her chest. Turning towards the door ached in the most wonderful way. She knew that the lion’s silver legs couldn’t carry him away. Frozen in place with white knuckles wrapped around her prize, she wondered, “How can it be a sin to steal him?”