Elodie and the Glass Castle

Written by Maritza Brunt

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Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a little girl and her name was Elodie. She lived in a simple village with her father, mother, and baby brother. Elodie’s favourite thing to do was read books, pick flowers in the butterfly meadow, and bake yummy treats with her best friend, Annie.

One day, Elodie and Annie were in the kitchen when her father burst through the wooden door.

“Elodie!” he puffed, out of breath. “Where’s your mother?”

Elodie stared at her father in surprise. He was holding a piece of parchment paper tightly in his hand.

“She’s gone to the market,” Elodie told her father.

Father spun around and rushed back out the door.

“What was that all about?” asked Annie.

“I have no idea,” Elodie answered her friend. “I guess I’ll find out later.”

That evening, the family was eating dinner when Father stood up.

“I have something to share,” he said, smiling at Elodie and at Mother, who was feeding the baby in the rocking chair.

Elodie sat up straighter and listened carefully. She didn’t want to miss what Father said!

Father held up the parchment paper he’d come home with earlier.

“This piece of paper says something very special,” began Father. “But I need to explain something first. Elodie, you are a princess.”

Elodie was stunned. She replayed the words in her mind.

“A princess? Me? How is that possible?” she asked Father.

Father and Mother both smiled at her.

“A long time ago, my Father was a king in one of the nearby areas. But there was a big war, and to keep my Mother and his children safe from all the fighting, he moved them here. You would probably be too young to remember your Grandfather, but he did come to visit a few times before he died. And of course, you know Grandmother.”

Elodie nodded, still taking it all in. Grandmother lived in a little cottage at the beginning of the forest, and Elodie loved to bring her fresh flowers.

“The castle that we all used to live in was destroyed by the fighting,” continued Father. “And for years and years, we couldn’t go back to the land, because it wasn’t safe. But today I received a letter. The war is over! And that land that our castle is on is now ours. We can go back and claim it, and the kingdoms will be restored.”

Father sat down. He was still processing the news himself, but he was excited to see his younger brothers again. They had left the village many years ago when they had grown up. As the oldest, Father had stayed to marry Mother and look after Grandmother. But as the oldest, this meant Father would now be king.

Elodie looked at Mother, who had finished feeding baby brother and was now gently rubbing his back.

“Mother?” she asked quietly. “Does this mean I won’t get to see Annie anymore?”

Mother smiled. “Of course you can still see Annie. The land that our family now owns is very large,  but parts of it are very close to our village. Annie can come and visit in the castle whenever she likes.”

Later that day, the family, accompanied by Grandmother, headed out to see the land that was now theirs again. Elodie bounced in the carriage seat, struggling to keep still, and watched through the window as they travelled through the forest.

Soon, the family was on the other side of the trees. The horses slowed to a stop, and Father climbed down from where he’d been riding to open the carriage door. Elodie tumbled out onto the soft grass, and looked around. The meadow stretched further than her eyes could see, but in the far distance she saw horses riding toward them.

“Father!” she called, and pointed.

Father squinted against the sunlight, and then his face lit up. “It’s my brothers!” he called, running toward the approaching figures.

Within minutes, the brothers were laughing and hugging, and Elodie saw her Grandmother wiping a tear from her face. At last, the family was together again! Elodie thought her heart was going to burst with happiness.

Until, that is, Father raised his hand to ask for silence.

“We have been apart for many years,” he began. “And before we begin to rebuild and claim our land, I think we should offer a prayer of thanks to God for these blessings.”

The family agreed, and began to bow their heads, but suddenly Uncle Jeffrey spoke up.

“Blessings?” he scoffed. “What blessings? We don’t have Father with us anymore. We’ve been kept from our land for years, forced to live away. What do we have to be grateful for? It isn’t fair.”

Elodie stared at Uncle Jeffrey. How could he say that? Life wasn’t fair, she knew that, but God had been good to them and always given them food and a house and whatever they needed to survive. And now God had given them land for a castle, and the chance to family to be together again.

Uncle Ross smiled kindly at Uncle Jeffrey. “Brother, we’re all together again. Surely that is cause for celebration and thanksgiving.”

Uncle Jeffrey rolled his eyes, but kept quiet, and Father led them all in a prayer, thanking God for blessing them.

When Father had finished, he pulled out a map. The family crowded around while Father explained where their land began and ended.

“As you can see,” he said, pointing at several spots, “as king, my family and I will build our castle right here, close to the forest. The soil is good and firm, and it is close enough to our villages, too.”

Uncle Jeffrey studied the map with a scowl on his face.

“You want to build here? With a bunch of rocks?” he asked, pointing toward the large boulders that were close by. “How boring.”

Father didn’t move. “We need to consider what is safe and practical,” he told his brother.

Uncle Ross agreed. “I think I’m going to build myself a large house further into the meadow,” he told the family. “It’s nothing special, but I think because the soil is good, I can have a big garden with plants and vegetables one day.”

“Well,” Uncle Jeffrey sniffed. “I’m not wasting this opportunity. I’m going to build myself a palace, one of the biggest you’ve ever seen! It’ll be made of glass, and decorated with diamonds and rubies and emeralds and sapphires. And I’m going to build it on the beach, so that the water will reflect off the glass.”

And with that, he turned, mounted his horse, and rode off toward the beach.

Elodie’s eyes got big and round. Uncle Jeffrey’s castle sounded beautiful! She could imagine all those gemstones sparkling in the sunlight.

“Father, can we build ours on the beach, too?” Elodie asked hopefully. “We could collect seashells to decorate with!”

Father and Uncle Ross smiled at Elodie, but their smiles were a little sad.

“Elodie,” Father said, crouching down. “You’re right. Uncle Jeffrey’s castle does sound beautiful. But let me ask you a question. What makes Annie special?”

Elodie thought for a minute.

“Well, she is kind, not just to me, but to everyone. She is fun to make up games with, and she always helps out, even when she doesn’t want to.”

“She’s a good friend, isn’t she?” Father asked.

“The very best!” Elodie said.

“Well, what if Annie didn’t have any of those qualities? What if she was mean instead of kind, or not fun to play with, or she left you alone instead of helping? Would that be a good friendship?”

Elodie shook her head no.

Father smiled. “Just like you listed many things you love about Annie, I’m sure she could do the same for you. And you have both been friends for many years, because you keep finding things to love about each other—things that make you both special. You have built a great friendship, and it is solid, isn’t it?”

“It is,” Elodie agreed. She didn’t know where Father was going with this.

Father bent down and tapped the ground with his hand. “This ground that we’re on is just like you and Annie’s friendship. It’s firm, and even though sometimes there might be hard times, we know that it won’t crumble, because it is solid.”

Elodie looked at the earth beneath her feet. She was beginning to understand.

“That’s what Mother says about the Bible stories she reads us, too!” Elodie told her Father. “She says that what Jesus teaches us is solid and we have to pile each story up like blocks to make a really strong house.”

“That’s right!” Father said. “And building real houses—or castles—is exactly the same. The land that Uncle Ross and I have chosen to build is firm and won’t crumble. Uncle Jeffrey’s palace may be beautiful, but it’s not wise to build on sand. We need to build somewhere where we know that no matter what comes, our house will still stand.”

Elodie nodded, no longer sad. She knew their castle would be beautiful, because it was strong.

And it was. Over the next year, the family and workers they hired to help built a castle on the land Father had chosen. It was big, but not too big. It was made of stone, and Elodie was allowed to choose shells and flowers from the meadow to decorate inside.

At last, it was finished. Grandmother and Uncle Ross’s little castle was finished too, and Uncle Ross had built himself that beautiful big garden he had wanted. When the family got together to once again offer thanks to God for their finished homes, Uncle Ross promised Elodie she could come and pick the zucchini and pumpkins at harvest time.

Uncle Jeffrey’s palace was finished, too. And what a palace! The family rode down to the beach to look at it one afternoon. The glass had been cut on an angle where it caught the light and dazzled in every direction. Uncle Jeffrey had found the reddest rubies, greenest emeralds, and bluest sapphires, and they winked at Elodie as they reflected off the water.

But one evening, there was a bad storm. Elodie woke to the sound of her little brother crying, and she hurried into his room. He was standing in his crib with his arms outstretched, and she picked him up and carried him into their parents’ room. The children climbed into bed with Mother and Father, and as the lightning flashed and the thunder shook the castle, Mother stroked their foreheads and prayed. Elodie soon fell asleep, knowing she was safe.

In the morning, Elodie found Father walking around the castle, inspecting it.

“No damage,” Father shook his head in amazement. “Thank you, Jesus!”

Suddenly, they heard hoofbeats, and turned to see Uncle Ross galloping up the drive.

“Wesley,” he huffed to Father. “It’s Jeffrey. You have to come and see!”

Father ran to the stables with Elodie close behind. Quickly mounting his horse, he pulled Elodie up behind him, and they took off toward the beach.

When they got there, Elodie gasped. Uncle Jeffrey’s palace had been completely destroyed in the storm. Shards of glass were scattered along the beach, and some of the precious gemstones that had sparkled just days before were floating out to sea.

Father and Uncle Ross turned when they heard a noise behind them.

It was Uncle Jeffrey. He was wiping a tear away from his eye.

“Brothers,” he said. “You were right. I was wrong not to listen. I am sorry. Can you forgive me and help me make this right?”

Soon, Uncle Jeffrey had another castle, built in the meadow close to Uncle Ross and Grandmother. It was much smaller than everyone else’s, but that was okay with him, because it was built on solid rock.

And that was just the way it should be, thought Elodie, as she carried zucchinis from the harvest to visit a much happier Uncle Ross.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pexels Free Images

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