There once was a kingdom unlike all the kingdoms you might know or have ever heard of. It was a kingdom that was neither won in battle nor discovered by exploration. It was a kingdom made from creativity – a single-handed creative task fulfilled by one little girl.
Let me tell you how this kingdom came into existence.
Once there was a little girl who was tired of her life in the human world. She lived with her parents, her sister and her brother in a small house. The house was old and drafty, and in winter it was so cold in the house that the three children were sick very often.
The young girl had been in bad health ever since she was born and she battled sickness all her life. The family took great care of her. When she was sick, her older sister would read to her and her little brother would play with her. The mother, a warm and caring person, made her favorite dishes and sat with her until she fell asleep at night. On the weekends, her father came home from work and he would sit in her room with her and would work on a doll house he promised would be ready for her birthday. She loved watching him while he worked on her doll house, because he put so much love and energy into that project of his. Even the cat cared for the little girl. The big cat with its multicolored fur purred loudly, making the girl feel calm and loved.
Though there was some discord from time to time, the little girl thought of her family as a collection of stars – five bright stars shining through the darkness of life. On some days, these stars shone so brightly that if you looked at them for too long you would go blind. On other days, they only glowed faintly and were barely visible.
After a terrible case of pneumonia, the little girl dreamed of a kingdom far away where she was healthy and where the family had enough to live a good life. Even in her dream, the girl was modest. She didn´t want luxury and jewels and money – she only wanted for her family to be happy. When the girl woke from her dream, she told her sister all about that kingdom she had dreamed of. The girl´s older sister listened attentively and advised her to draw the kingdom just as she had envisioned it.
With colored pencils and a large piece of paper, the little girl sat down at her desk and started drawing. She drew a map of the kingdom and after that, she even drew the kingdom´s crest.
“What do you want to call your kingdom?”, the sister asked.
The little girl thought about it long and hard.
Then she said, “I want to call it the Kingdom of the Five Stars.”
The next night, the light of the moon shining brightly through her window, the little girl stared at the crest she had painted. It was a dark green crest, with a vibrant purple lily in the bottom right corner and five bright stars in the upper left corner. The lily and the stars were divided by a yellow and purple striped ribbon.
“I wish, I wish…”, the little girl whispered, “I wish, I wish…”
Suddenly, she thought she saw something glisten in the far corner of her room. She stared in that direction, but she could not see anything out of the ordinary.
“I wish, I wish…”, she whispered again.
This time, she saw it! There was definitely something glistening in the far corner. Quickly, the little girl got out of bed and walked over to the corner. Up close, she saw that it was not something glistening, but light coming through a hole in the corner where two side walls met. The little girl leaned closer and looked through the little hole, but she could see nothing but white. She wondered why there was a hole in the wall she had never seen before. Curiously, she put her hand to the wall and pushed hard. The wall gave way and opened up to bright, white nothingness.
The little girl got up and stared open-mouthed at the white nothingness that laid out in front of her. Her head tilted to one side, she put her hand to her chin and wondered what she should make of this big white nothingness.
“It´s like a blank canvas”, she said to herself and knew instantly what she wanted to do with it.
From her desk, she grabbed a paintbrush she had used earlier to draw the map of the Kingdom of the Five Stars and her crest. Then she stepped out into the nothing, leaving the human world behind her.
With her paintbrush, she drew a path with flowers to both sides. After ten minutes, she had managed to draw only a few feet of the path and three purple lilies.
“This is taking way too long”, she exclaimed.
And she got up and put the paintbrush into the pocked of her pajama top. Then she closed her eyes and when she opened them again, a wonderful path stretched out in front of her, lined with wonderful lilies in all colors imaginable. Now that she knew the trick, the little girl made trees and bushes and flowers appear all around her – only by imagining them. She created an entire kingdom with only her mind – flowers, bushes, trees, paths, streets, houses, villages and an entire castle. She painted the sky a wonderful shade of blue and let little clouds waft through the sky. She drew little fish into the ponds she had envisioned, painted little birds into the trees and made animals run over the grass.
She looked about her kingdom pleased. It was just as she had envisioned it in her dream – only so much better, now that she was actually there. But even with the birds chirping, the animals jumping jollily around and the soft and warm breeze going through the branches of the trees, the kingdom was yet very quiet and silent.
But even then, the little girl knew just what to do. As fast as her feet would carry her, she ran back along the path to where the kingdom ended and her room began. Here, she called for her brother and her sister. They both came, rubbing the sleep from their eyes. The multicolored cat followed them.
“Look”, the little girl cried and she pointed at the magnificence of the kingdom.
Her brother and sister couldn´t believe their eyes. What a magical place this was! They followed their sister onto the path that lead them away from their cold house right into the summery warm day that the little girl had drawn for them. And with their imagination combined, little children showed up all around. All their friends came to play with them in the Kingdom of the Five Stars and as the little girl asked them to follow them to the castle, she saw that at least fifty children came with her.
In the castle, the little princess climbed on the throne. It was too big for her, so she asked the cat to come and sit beside her. The cat didn´t hesitate, for the throne looked comfortable and cozy. It jumped onto the throne and curled up next to the little girl.
“You should be this kingdom´s princess”, the little girl´s sister said.
All the kids cheered in agreement. One of them made her a crown out of lilies and put it on top of the little girl´s head. With a princess to rule the kingdom, the children started playing and soon laughter echoed from all over the place. The little princess smiled and thought to herself that this was the most wonderful place in all the world.
She joined the children in playing and as she felt hungry, she climbed onto a tree and picked apples.
“I want you to taste like ice cream”, she said to the apple and as she bit into it, it really tasted like ice cream.
The children followed her example and told the apples what they should taste like. The little princess helped the cat, who couldn´t speak and tell the apples what they should taste like.
“And while I´m at it”, she said to the cat, “I think that you should be able to speak as well.”
“Thank you”, purred the cat and told one apple to taste like cat food.
Day in, day out, the children played in the kingdom. When they were hungry, they ate the grass, the apples or drank the water. They just had to say what it should taste like – and so the grass tasted like licorice, the apples like bubble gum and the water like cherry juice. When they were tired, they simply walked into one of the houses, climbed into bed and slept as long as they desired. Whenever they woke, there were kids around to play with. The little princess made up fun competitions and in the evening, all the children sat around a crackling fire telling each other stories.
But one day, a nasty dark cloud darkened the sky. From the distance, the children could see someone coming down the path to where they were playing. They all ran inside, where the little princess climbed onto her throne quickly. The cat curled up next to her.
There was a loud knock on the door.
“Come in”, all the children called.
The door opened and a man came in. When he raised his head to look about the room, all the children fell silent instantly. He was a very nasty old man with a vicious look on his face. He wore black and it gave him an air of cruelness. His cold and mean glance went through the room.
“Now what is this?”, he asked.
He sneered at the children with their painted faces, their little hands covered in paint, the room of the castle decorated with the prints of their hands and all the animals peering into the room from the windows. Then he saw the little princess on her throne.
“You have weed in your hair, little child.”
“But no”, the little princess said proudly, “That is my crown, don´t you see?”
And she bent her head so that the man could see the crown.
But the man did not want to see the crown. He hissed, as the cat raised its head and looked at him. Then he look around again, a look of utter disgust on his face.
“Who rules this kingdom?”, he demanded to know.
“The little princess does”, the children exclaimed.
“That´s quite impossible”, he yelled and all the children stared at him petrified.
“No little child can run a kingdom this big. I demand to speak to the ruler of this kingdom.”
“But, but…”, the little princess´s sister stammered.
“Be quiet, child”, the man roared, “I am quite fed up with your nasty lies. A little child runs this kingdom? A little child rules over this land? You must be joking! It is absolutely impossible that a child could be the leader of a country. Well, look at her! Look how small she is, how fragile, look at her little hands! You want to tell me that she is able to create a kingdom? To rule a land that needs a firm, guiding hand? This little girl is nothing but a sick little girl! She is no princess!”
Some of the smaller children started to cry and the older children looked anxious.
“But I created this kingdom”, the little princess said, tears blurring her vision.
The nasty man laughed. “You created this kingdom? Don´t make me laugh!”
And he laughed loudly and viciously.
“Do tell me how you, little child, managed to do that”, he said in between laughter.
“I used my imagination”, the little princess whispered.
That made the nasty man laugh so hard, he put his hand to his belly and held it while his whole body shook with laughter. The children stared at him. They were now very much afraid of the nasty man and they moved as far away from him as they could. The little princess, however, did not register his nasty laughter. In her head, the evil words he had spoken echoed loudly and she realized that what she had done was indeed impossible for a child. She was, after all, only a sick girl. She had had nothing but a paintbrush and an idea. Surely a kingdom needed more than imagination and the desire to find a happier place.
The nasty man now turned and left the castle, laughing as he walked. He didn´t know what he had done to the little children. One by one, they vanished and left the Kingdom of the Five Stars. And as the princess drowned in the nasty things he had said, the kingdom seemed to vanish as well. The walls of her room were closing in on the little princess and her sister and brother. The cat meowed in protest as it had lost its voice again. The princess´s sister tried to talk to the princess, tried to calm her down, tried to stop the tears, but it was to no avail. The little princess cried and cried. The harder she cried and the more she believed the fatal words of the nasty old man, the more the kingdom dissolved into thin air.
“What can we do?”, the little brother cried.
He had grown to love the kingdom very much and as he watched it die, he panicked. He didn´t want this magic place to go away – the magic place where he had friends to play with, where he didn´t know cold nor hunger and where he was happy all the time.
He closed his eyes and envisioned a beautiful fairy, with fluttering wings and sparkles all around her, dressed in a magical dress that changed color according to the fairy´s mood. He knew that in this magic world only a magical being would be able to help them. And as he stood there, his eyes closed and his imagination focused on the fairy, he was sure to have heard the rustle of fairy wings.
“What is this place?”
The fairy´s voice was so small and quiet, the little boy had almost missed it.
“This used to be the Kingdom of the Five Stars”, the princess´s brother answered quietly.
As the princess´s sister stared at the fairy in surprise, the fairy looked about. What was left of the mighty Kingdom of the Five Stars was a half finished path with rotten lilies to either side. From the castle only the carpet and the throne were left. And what had been a blue sky, was now a grayish dark cloud and it looked like there was a storm coming on. The open room, their entry to the kingdom as well as the exit to the real world, was very close. So close, in fact, that the fairy could feel a cold draft, one that she had never felt before, because were she lived it was always warm and sunny.
The fairy shivered and her magic dress changed its color to a dark gray that mimicked the kingdom´s sky.
“I wish to go back”, she said, “I cannot survive here. I live on laughter and happiness, and this place is falling apart. I can feel the echo of despair and tears and loneliness and surrender. What is this place? Surely this is not a magical place?”
“It used to be”, the brother said sadly, “it used to be a place where children came to play and where the apples tasted like everything you wanted them to taste like. Here we heard wonderful stories and played from sunrise to sundown. But… but there was this old nasty man and he laughed at us.”
His voice broke and he started sobbing.
“He told our sister, the princess, that she couldn´t be the creator of this kingdom, because she is just a little girl in bad health and that she was not fit to rule such a big place”, the sister said.
“But that´s complete nonsense”, the fairy said assertively.
And she flew over to the little princess, who sat on her throne, her face buried in her hands, the crown of lilies hanging lopsided on her head. The fairy could feel that the princess had almost completely lost faith in what she had done and that there was only little hope left that the Kingdom of the Five Stars could be rescued.
“Little Princess of the Kingdom of the Five Stars”, she said softly, “I want you to answer a few simple questions. Can you do that?”
The little princess lifted her head and stared at the fairy with expressionless eyes, but then she nodded slightly. The fairy shuddered because of the cold she saw in the little princess´s glance. But she was determined to save the kingdom – not only because without laughter and happiness the fairy could not survive, but because she despised old nasty men who tramped on children´s imagination and declared it not real. She, as a being existing only because children believed in her existence, she thought it a great insult to say that a little child with a pure heart could not imagine and create a beautiful place like the Kingdom of the Five Stars, and be its ruler.
“Do you, little princess, know who created this path?”, the fairy asked, pointing at the path that lead away from the castle, the very same path that was the princess´s first creation.
“I thought I did”, the princess whispered.
“Well, it´s quite an easy question, isn´t it? Either you did create it – or you didn´t. What will it be?”
The little princess was silent, while she looked over to the half-finished path.
“I think it was my head.”
“Your head? But surely, your head belongs to your body, now doesn´t it?”
“I think so, yes”, the princess agreed.
“Now, if your head belongs to your body and your body belongs to you, then it was you who created this path, right?”
The little princess nodded, but then she shook her head.
“It can´t have been me. I´m just a little girl! I cannot have created a path this beautiful or a kingdom this big”, the little princess cried.
“Why not?”, the fairy inquired.
“Because I´m just a little girl”, the princess said and started crying.
“Please close your eyes”, the fairy said, “Close your eyes and remember what the kingdom looked like when you first envisioned it.”
The princess sobbed loudly, but then she closed her eyes.
“Can you see it?”
The princess nodded.
“Focus on that picture in your head, hold it right there, don´t let it slip away. Can you see it? Tell me, what did the Kingdom of the Five Stars look like before it was almost completely destroyed?”
“It looked just like the kingdom in my dream!”
The fairy laughed, “Well, if it looked just like the kingdom in your dream, doesn´t that mean that it must be your kingdom? Who else could look into your head or have the same dream you have had and build a kingdom just like it?”
“No one”, the little princess exclaimed, “It must have been me who created the kingdom!”
She opened her eyes and stared at the fairy with her mouth open.
“But that means… but that means….”, she stuttered.
“Say it”, the princess´s brother and sister called out.
But the little princess didn´t know how to put it into words. Her soul hat already registered the truth, but her brain couldn´t believe it yet.
“Just close your eyes and listen to what your body tells you. Listen to what your soul tells you, princess, listen to what your heart tells you”, the fairy told her.
The princess closed her eyes again, took a deep breath, listened to what her heart told her and said: “It was me who created this kingdom. I drew the path and the lilies and everything that you can see. I told the apples to taste like whatever you want them to taste like. I made the sky blue and I made the air warm and the life happy. I imagined everything that you can see, hear, touch, feel, and taste. And because of that, the children named me princess of this kingdom – and thus I´m its rightful ruler.”
“Yes”, her brother and sister cried and applauded happily.
And as the princess realized that the nasty old man´s words no longer harmed her, the kingdom rebuilt itself. As if a row of dominoes had been given a push, the kingdom spread out from the place where the little princess stood on her throne and it pushed away the cold and gray nothingness that had been closing in on them. And as the kingdom came back to life, the children came back as well. Soon, laughter filled the air again and it drew away the last dark clouds and eerie shadows.
“I am the princess of the Kingdom of the Five Stars”, the little princess called, “I am the princess of the Kingdom of the Five Stars and no one can tell me otherwise! I created this kingdom with only my imagination and this kingdom shall exist for as long as I believe in it. And never, never, never will I doubt its creation and existence again! Never ever will I forget that I am able to do great things – even if people do not believe it! For some, I might be a small child in bad health, but here, where I rule, I can be just who and what I want to be! So I say, I am the princess of the Kingdom of the Five Stars!”
The children applauded happily and cheered loudly. The nasty old man´s words had had a great impact on the little princess, but now that the princess had found her own voice and her own place in the world, the lily crown re-blossomed even more beautiful than before the crisis of faith. And as the flowers opened up and flaunted their beautiful colors again, the little princess invited everyone to join her in a story-telling competition and she opened with a cautionary tale of struggle and rediscovering faith in yourself.
The children gathered around and waited attentively for the princess to begin her story. The princess smiled at all the children. She felt confident again and knew that her faith would not be shaken this easily once more – for she knew what she was capable of and that no one would be able to take that away from her again. And so she thought it quite fit to start the story telling competition with a story of a nasty old man who destroyed a young princess´s dream of living in a kingdom where everyone was happy.
And her is how the story began: “There once was a kingdom unlike all the kingdoms you might know or have ever heard of. It was a kingdom that was neither won in battle nor discovered by exploration. It was a kingdom made from creativity – a single-handed creative task fulfilled by one little girl…”