The moon is an island ...
The island of lovers, dreamers
Island, the island of poets ...
We meet up there, in the dream

- Carmen Gavrila

CHAPTER ONE: EMILY BLUE

Once there was a girl whose soul was very blue. Everyone knew her as Emily, but secretly she called herself Emily Blue. If I ever told anyone my secret name, Emily often thought to herself, it would only be on a very special occasion.

Her soul was as blue as the sea, as blue as the purest sapphire – it was an extraordinary blue. She knew of sorrow in her life, yet she rarely got depressed because her heart was filled with wonder. With her radiant blue eyes, Emily could always see the magic in everyday life – even, and particularly, when life was very bleak.

Emily lived with her older sister and their grandparents on a glorious island called Newfoundland, off the east coast of Canada. Newfoundland, with its rugged terrain and rural communities, was a place of many cultures, stories, and mysteries – with its own distinct dialect which is a mix of English, Irish, Scottish, Gaelic, and French. Emily liked to think of herself as robust in her personality as Newfoundland itself. One thing Emily had to admit though was that, despite her lively disposition, she would sometimes privately struggle with a fear of the dark. Emily felt more comfortable sleeping with the lights on in her bedroom at night, and she always kept a couple flashlights underneath her bed.

Emily's older sister often made Emily feel ignored, even when they were together at the same place. Emily's grandparents were so busy with their errands, their hobbies, and their card games with the neighbors, that they rarely gave Emily any attention. Some days, she often thought to herself, I feel nearly invisible.

When life got hard, Emily would look for moments of joy and wonder. On one occasion, her grandparents took her and her sister on a long adventurous trip. Starting from a seaside harbor in Newfoundland, Emily's family boarded a giant ferry called the L.L. Catherine North and traveled south-east through the dark gray of the foggy night, across the magnificent Atlantic Ocean. The next morning, the ship safely docked on the shores of North Sydney in Nova Scotia and they drove south -- eventually making their way out of Canada and into the United States. During their second night in the U.S., Emily, her sister, and her grandparents were leaving a restaurant when they came back to the parking lot and discovered that their car had been vandalized. The windows had been completely smashed in, and some of their belongings had been stolen. Emily’s grandparents and sister sulked and complained, making a big emotional fuss over the burglary. Emily, meanwhile, couldn't help but notice that the white street lamp above them, shining its soft beams of light down into the automobile, was causing the piles of broken glass in the car's interior to look like hills and mountains made entirely of glistening, sparkling diamonds. Her private sense of wonder often prevailed.

Emily had been disappointed by people so often that she mostly just kept to herself. She didn't have many friends at school, and the few friends she had usually made her feel ignored -- just as Emily's sister did. When visiting with others, she often felt stranded. She felt alone in a valley of ash, sitting at the bottom of a basin of coal-gray soot, where the only colours to be seen were the blue of her tired eyes and the blonde of her long sandy hair. One overcast afternoon beneath a beautiful silver sky, Emily went with her high school friends to see a movie at a local theater. While they all stood in line, Emily's friends had a long conversation without her. As her friends were busy talking, Emily noticed a flock of birds flying in a spectacular formation, right above her in the sky. She quickly held up her camera and took a picture, capturing a photograph of the birds just as they were diving down only a few feet above her. A few days later, Emily got the roll of film developed at a local camera shop and she saw that her picture was awe-inspiring, the birds photographed up-close in mid-flight. Of course, she didn't share the picture with any of those friends who ignored her when they went to the movies. She kept these for herself.

More than anything, Emily craved a little loyalty from people. Hardly anyone ever remained true. She knew there were plenty of good people in her neighborhood, but that didn’t matter anymore. In Emily’s disappointment, it felt like a town full of lonely tears. Emily tried to see the world in a beautiful way, yet she was also just an observer, hardly having a chance to participate in life.

One evening, alone in her room, Emily sat at her desk and composed a letter to herself. Someday, you will read this message, Emily wrote, and you will smile. I know the day will come. It might be a long time from now, or maybe sooner than I imagine. I don’t know. I can feel it though. I feel it in my bones. There is great amazement out there in this sad life, more than I ever dreamed possible. One day I will catch a glimpse of this secret world, and it will make me stronger.

She hid the letter in an envelope. She wrote, Letter to My Future Self on top of it. Then she stuffed the envelope deep inside a drawer in her desk, in safe keeping for her future self.

Emily developed a special bond with her pet animals. She had a pet rabbit, a mouse, a bird, and a cat. Emily treated her pets with careful attention and heartfelt devotion. She fed them only the finest vegetables and the cleanest water, and she sang to them to keep them happy. She gave names to her pets based on the kind of animal they were. She called her rabbit Rabbit, her mouse Mouse, and so on. There was one exception to this pattern -- she named her cat Tilley Bean. But that's another story.

Emily would sometimes take walks at night in the forest behind her house. She would stroll to the other side of a hill, where a river flowed peacefully. Once she came to the river, she would always look for the night sky's reflection in the water. The shimmering river would always be filled with countless stars -- shining like floating pearls in the water.

In her solitude, Emily’s stargazing was a comfort as she watched the flowing river. She often wished she could reach into the cold graceful stream and grab some starry pearls with her bare shivering hands.

The stars were wonderful, but the Moon spoke quite deeply to Emily. Whether it was day or night, whenever Emily felt especially sad or alone, she would look up at the sky in the hope of seeing the Moon. When Emily stared at the moonlight on the softly rising and falling surface of the river, she felt her heart stir. It was a mystery, like a dream. As she watched the lunar light on the gentle river, it felt as if the Moon was beckoning her, calling out to her in some quiet fashion.

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