"My Long Necked Giraffie" is a children's story that's for adults too. This delightful story is about imaginary friends that don't really need to be so imaginary after all...
Imaginary friends are a normal thing in childhood. Later in life we tend to forget about these that we once held so dear. Life tends to loose its creative colour, until of course we rediscover that it's quite ok for adults to still have these wonderful friends. There are other themes in this book too which also can be used in a psychotherapeutic setting.
My Long Necked Giraffie
My giraffe is my best friend. He has a long neck and he is real fun. He has a long neck. I mean, he has a really really long neck. His neck is so long that he could easily wrap it around the biggest tree you could imagine and it would still fit.
I love my giraffe.
My mum says that he isn't real, but she doesn't know. She says she can't see him and that nobody can and so that proves that he isn't real. One day she came to me to have a really serious talk about him and said that I may have to see a doctor about him. I told her that I didn't need to go to a doctor about him, because he wasn't sick at all. I told her that I have been on many adventures with my giraffe and that he always protects me. My giraffe is my hero. I told her that if he hadn't been there on some of my journeys I would have been dead long ago, but even that didn't make her happy. No-one else has a friend like him, not in the whole wide world, except of course all the other friends that he has. My mum still wasn't convinced. Maybe she is jealous that I have a friend like him and that she doesn't.
Three days ago my giraffe Raffie, and I went to the forest at a quarter past two in the middle of the night to get night berries. "Have you ever tasted night berries before Cherylee?", he asked. I said I hadn't. Raffie is so amazing, because he helps me to find out about all the things you don't learn at school and in normal life. Raffie smiled. "They are the best tasting berries you've ever had." "Why don't they tell you about night berries and all the other exciting things we have discovered, at school or on TV shows?", I asked. He said it was probably because people at school and on TV wanted to keep life boring. He said they did that so they could sell more computer games and other things that help ordinary people to be less bored. He then told me to be quiet for a bit because we now came to a tricky part of the forest. "Is it going to be dangerous?" I asked, but he only said "shhh", so I was quiet.
I felt a scared kind of feeling inside, but at the same time I was also excited, because I knew that Raffie had always kept me safe thus far.
There was the time when we went to visit Mrs Dragon and that was fun. She baked us cookies without an oven and she lit the candles without matches or a lighter and she did many other really cool tricks. But then Mr Dragon had come home unexpectedly and he was really hungry. He had been hunting all day and had caught nothing and he mistook us for dinner. Mrs Dragon tried to explain to him, but he was shouting and carrying on that loudly that Mrs Dragon couldn't get a word in. Now that was scary, but Raffie made sure I was safe by wrapping his long strong neck around Mr Dragon's mouth, so he couldn't talk and scream and make all that noise any more. And that forced him to listen to Mrs Dragon who said we weren't dinner, but friends. I then saw Mr Dragon go really red in his face and I thought it was because he was furious. I thought he was going to blast us all by spewing fire out of his nostrils, but he was actually just embarrassed, so the whole thing settled down and we all laughed.
It was really dark in the forest now, and kind of chilly. I felt a shiver come down my spine. There were noises I had never heard before, but most of them were all in the distance. Then there was a strange hazy light ahead of us. It was kind of blueish green. I couldn't quite see what it was, but I knew it wasn't the night sky through an opening in the forest, because it was brighter than that. We walked quite slowly, trying to make as little noise as we could. Raffie was concentrating hard. It was like he was following the light and that the light kept moving further ahead, because we didn't seem to be getting closer to it. All of a sudden there was a loud noise right beside us. It was a flapping noise and a screech and then the flapping noise disappeared high in the trees. My heart was pounding and I couldn't walk for a few seconds, while I was trying to find my breath back. "What was that", I whispered, holding back my tears. "Don't worry" said Raffie, "you're safe." "Keep going, we have to get there before quarter past three, or the night berries will be all gone." "The Brimmels like them too you know and they get there around that time." "What are Brimmels?", I asked. "I'll explain it to you later", he said, and then he again said, "shhhhh."
My mind drifted off while I was following my friend. All of a sudden I saw the Brimmels. They were having a party with lots of music. They were bright orange and had red stripes and spots all over them. I found out that the red stripes and spots were because of night berry juice stains. They were very messy eaters and it also didn't help that night berries squirt their juice when you bite them, a bit like oranges when you try to cut them with a blunt knife. The Brimmels thought it was fun to squirt each other with the juice. I shouted at them, "Don't waste the night berries, because others might also want some", but they didn't care and squirted me right in the eye. Ouch, that stung. Then it was dark again. I had just been daydreaming, but then in the middle of the night, uhm well, I hope you know what I mean.
I noticed my feet were sploshing in something like water. Raffie said, "Climb on my neck and I will keep you dry." He is always so kind and thoughtful and sweet, and not just to me you know. There was the time when my mum was sick and I told him about it and so he did the washing, cleaned the house and cooked dinner for our family. My mum said it was such a lovely thing I had done for her and couldn't work out how I could have cooked such a beautiful dinner. I told her Raffie had cooked it and that he had done all the cleaning, but she laughed and then told everyone about her amazing daughter and how well I could cook. I got really frustrated, but I couldn't say anything, 'cause I thought maybe people would think I was crazy if I told them about Raffie, so I just smiled. "One day they will understand", I thought.
Raffie bowed his head down to the ground. "There you go", he said, "On the other side of the mudpool, and you hardly even got wet." "We're almost there." The fuzzy blueish green light had got brighter and I could now see movement in it, but I still couldn't quite see what it was. We kept going, a bit faster now because of the extra light. I was almost getting hypnotised by the fast dancing movement in it.
The twigs were snapping under my feet and it felt like the ground was kind of going down on the right hand side. I was trying to keep my balance and didn't quite know where to go. It was confusing. I had lost the sense of what was up and down. Then all of a sudden there was a loud crack and a thud and I felt myself falling. "Help", I yelped. Fortunately I fell on something soft. "I'm safe", I thought. Then I recognised it was Raffie's head. It puzzled me. Just before, his head had been a long way above me, but now it was below me. "How did you do that?", I asked. He had reached out with his very long neck and had caught me just in time.
"You got too close to the edge, Cherylee" he said somewhat sternly. "You could have been... eh... dead... if I hadn't got you." I looked down. The moon had come out and I could see how far down I would have fallen. "Sorry", I said sheepishly and I held on very tightly to his stumpies. Oh, "stumpies" is what I call those funny sticks that a giraffe has on top of their heads in between their ears. My mum said they are called "ossicones" or something like that. So she does believe in giraffes..., just not mine.
Mum has no idea how dead I would have been if I had fallen all the way down that cliff you know. I would have been so dead that even Raffie wouldn't have been able to make me alive again. Well, maybe he could have got me to become alive again. There is not a lot that Raffie can't do I reckon.
After the night berries adventure I got safely home again and snuck back into my bed. My mum doesn't know that it is at nights we go out like that. I don't think she would let me if she knew. But she has no idea how incredibly yummy night berries are. And she has no idea that Brimmels are actually not orange but purple, because I only imagined them to be orange in my daydream, well, my daydream at night I mean. She has no idea that the fireflies that guided us to the place where the night berries grow are so unimaginably gorgeous that you could write a whole book about them.
She has no idea about how funny dragons are, and how volcano weasels make holes in mountains that make them spew fire and that there are mouse sized bears who make honey instead of eating it, and that everything else that Raffie and I have discovered is really real.
I still have some night berries left in my pocket you know, so I know that it wasn't just a dream. My mum would believe me if she could see and taste them. Only problem is that you can only see and taste them at nights, when she is asleep.
Her life must be so boring...
My life would be so boring without my friend Raffie.
But you know what's the best thing of all about Raffie? He gives the best loooong squishy hugs that anyone has ever given anyone, ever. He just wraps his long neck all around me and then I hold him real tight.
I love my giraffie.
This story is also available as an illustrated book.
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I didn't realise
when I first wrote "My Long Necked Giraffie" that the actual imaginary friend was not Raffie, but Cherylee. The story had come to me as a message from my unconscious mind. After pondering on it for a while I worked out it was talking about a dear friend whom I have known for about ten years. In my mind this friend has, besides being a real friend, also taken on the role of imaginary friend, something that has been quite instrumental in healing the trauma of some very difficult life events.
Thanks so much, "Cherylee". That's why this book is dedicated to you... the real you.
Of course Raffie primarily represents me and my desire for close fun filled friendships in which I can lead, explore, protect, help, rescue and most of all, love and be loved.
At a secondary level Raffie is symbolic of Jesus who also wishes to lead, explore, protect, help, rescue and most of all, love and be loved in our lives. He can even give us new life, like Cherylee thought Raffie might be able to do for her. This we can read in eg. John 3:16 in the Bible.
My desire to assimilate his character traits, as I live my life as a Christian, is also expressed through the story.
©2010 Ralph Holwerda
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