Starry Night over the Rhone
Oil on Canvas, 1888
He remembered unpacking his bags at boarding school while his roommate watched. His roommate had asked him what the helmet was for, and Henry had suddenly had the suspicious sensation that he had been kept in the dark, that the world was off behaving in one way while he, Henry, wore a helmet. He had barely prevented himself from answering his roommate honestly. The words, “It’s a helmet my mom bought me to wear in PE” were replaced with, “It’s for racing. I don’t think I’ll need it here.”
Whatever was going on inside the wall in his room was much bigger than finding out that other boys didn’t have to wear helmets. If there really were forgotten doors and secret cities, and maps and books to tell you how to find them, then he needed to know. He looked around at the tall, dew-chilly grass and for a moment didn’t see grass. Instead, he saw millions of slender green blades made of sunlight and air, thick on the ground and gently blowing, tickling his now damp feet, and all the while silently pulling life up out of the earth. Each was another kid without a helmet, a kid who knew how things were actually done.
Above him, the stars twinkled with laughter. Galaxies looked. Nudged each other. Chuckled.
“He didn’t know about secret cities,” Orion said. “His mother never told him.”
The Great Bear smiled. “Did his dad tell him about forgotten doors?”
“Only having to do with science projects or bicycle trips.”
“Mostly topographic, or the kind that shade countries in different colors based on gross national product or primary exports.”
“Nothing with ‘Here be dragons’ on the edges?”
--N.D. Wilson, 100 Cupboards