Written by Atticus Payne

There is the Land of Like and the Land of Love. This isn’t to say they’re very far apart, or in completely different universes—anyone will tell you people usually have to travel through one to get to the other. This isn’t even to say these lands are whimsical and nothing more than a child’s bedtime story, though their names might seem so. They are very real, as plenty of grown-ups will assure other grown-ups, though that makes for a terrible case, since things grown-ups say to each other are often lies. So take this: plenty of grown-ups say it within their heart and believe it each day. They take some uneasiness with it. 

Now, do you believe me? They both exist. And at the first look, they may both look similar, or even the same. Both happy (mostly), light (mostly), and full of things ready for people to use. Mostly.

There’s also a gulf between the two. They’re close to each other, yet Love is…quite inaccessible, to say the least.

Of course, as with anything whose name is prefaced with “the Land of” and overall sounds simply delicious to visit, you get past the oh-so-conveniently-inconvenient gulf by sprouting a pair of wings. Plenty of people do this all the time, though some fall somewhere into the gulf while trying. They are quickly forgotten. The length of the gulf itself depends on the person. Thus the strength of the wings, of course, doesn’t.

To get to a person’s Land of Love, you often have to do all you can in the Land of Like first, to hopefully strengthen those wings and take flight over the gulf. But even then, you may never sprout wings and instead remain very happily living in the Land of Like. It’s perfectly fun. But most people want Love.

That’s fine too. Often, these people are met harshly with the truth against one of the stupidest lies ever to be told: that Love is a lot like, well, liking. It is not.

Love is Love. Those wings get crumpled fairly easily, but the lucky ones just get blown back to the Land in which they belong.

Others—and this is the worst—believe dreadfully well that they deserve a place in the Land of Love. So they’re impatient (or simply smart, but having come to the wrong conclusion) and try to build their own plastic wings. Lamentable things, those.

Sometimes they’re worse and demand the wings be given to them. They’ll still be plastic. And they’ll still fail. But when they fall, it’s not cushioned at all.

You can’t fake the wings, I suppose. They just grow. No one ever knows why; a lucky few can understand how; most will have been fortunate to simply understand about the wings. Maybe they’ll each understand how fortunate they are with their own bits of knowledge.

Probably not.

But for those that do make it to the Land of Love, there’s another rude truth that might wake them from a lying haze. Might. Some are lucky to have learned this from somewhere else, someone else, before: that the Land of Love is big. It has many things.

Some of them hurt.

Some that get to the Land of Love, still hurt. Some of the wings stay long enough to take them back away. Sometimes no one will know why.

There are thorns just as there are fruits in that land. And the chances of pricking the first are more or less as high as finding the other. Because the wings, the people, and the land, aren’t perfect. They aren’t heroes.

Neither is anyone. And that’s not a bedtime story.

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