Making Dew

by Jim Wasserman

Every day, the people of Benjour woke up to the most beautiful sunrise anywhere in the world; unfortunately, none of them knew it.  The town was so perfectly placed, they were greeted every morning with a most wonderful sight.  Surrounded  by rolling green mountains that wrapped around the village like a snuggling blanket, next to a river that was a blue snake slowly rippling its muscles as it took in the sun’s warmth, the people of Benjour were simply not aware that it could be any different.  So they did what they did every morning.  They awoke, looked at the red, gold and yellow arms reaching over the mountains to hug the cool of night away, and then simply moved on as they said, “Time to make dew.” 

The people then went about the fields, gathering droplets of morning nectar from the grass, the leaves, and the flowers, all gathered into a single cup, to be given to Morley, prince and eldest son of the king, for his breakfast.  Every morning, while the people toiled, Morley awoke in the biggest bed in the biggest house (in a place known for everyone having big houses, mind you!) and, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun’s greeting, said “I want my dew!”  Now gathering so much sweet water is quite a task, but the old King, Morley’s father, had made it a morning ritual, because he wanted his heir to be happy, and so he gave Morley anything he wanted.  “A child that always HAS the best will BE the best,” the old King often said. 

The people, for their part, copied the King in the way he raised his child (after all, surely he had to be wise, they assumed, as they don’t just call anyone King, do they?). After Morley, they would spare nothing to give their own children whatever they wanted. The parents would work two jobs, or stay very late at one, all to be able to buy their child the latest toys, bobbles and bangles that were the must-have of that week. One day out of seven, everyone would gather at the market in the village square, counting up and adding each family’s money to purchase the latest toys that were guaranteed to make one’s child happy (at least until the next market day, when new toys came out). Because of all the counting, the day became known as Sumday. The parents never actually watched to see if the toys pleased their children because, the next day, off again to work they went to afford next week’s newest wonder.  Still, the people would all smile and say to themselves “Sumday, we will have enough and be happy!”

One person did not live this way in Benjour. As it happened, Morley had a twin brother, Lesley. Lesley, however, being the younger of the two, was not in line to be king, so he did not get any of the things his brother did. As Prince Morley received new toys nearly every day, Lesley would have to use what he had and pretend. One birthday, Morley received a play castle that he could pretend was his Kingdom (though it became a bit small after a while). Not getting one, Lesley went outside, found a tree and climbed it, declaring the sturdy branches his fortress in the sky. Morley practiced ruling his plastic play city, but when he lost so many of the toy people, and the buildings were stepped on and broke, he cried because his city was ruined.  Lesley made a city of cardboard boxes, complete with people (made from clay, painted rocks, and anything else he found) that soon took up his entire room. When the cardboard broke, it was easy enough for Lesley to make a replacement.

Morley got so many board games to develop his future kingly wisdom, he could not finish them all, so he played with each one till it became complicated or he became bored, and then he would move on. Lesley, meanwhile, took his markers and paper, and remembering his favorite stories, made up his own board games, with pictures and rules and even spinners that told you how many spaces to move!

Lesley was happy enough, but Morley wanted to make sure Lesley knew he had it better. So every morning he made Lesley watch as he was presented with his golden goblet of morning dew, just enough for him and him alone. He would describe the taste to Lesley, saying it tasted of the flowers, trees and sunshine that made it.  Lesley would watch, drinking plain old water, until one day he came up with an idea. “If I cannot have my dew, I shall make dew!” he decided. Before breakfast the next day, Lesley took his glass of water into the kitchen.  There he added sunshine (or at least honey, which looked like liquid sunshine). As for trees and flowers, he had heard that cinnamon was made from a stick, so he added some of that, too. Lesley mixed it up, adding bits of orange, lemon, and anything else he had a notion to, brewing it all into a tea.

Lesley cautiously took a sip… and what a taste! It was sweet and spicy with all of the warmth of tiny sparkles dancing on his tongue, just like the morning sun reflecting off the blue river. Lesley could not wait to tell his brother, so that he might taste homemade dew himself. Thinking he ought to share it with everyone in the village, Lesley made a giant vat of homemade dew.

Morley, however, was not amused. Sure homemade dew tasted wonderful, maybe even better than his natural dew, but he wanted all the dew. “Give it all to me!” he cried. “But we should share it with everyone,” Lesley protested. “What if someone else had discovered this? Wouldn’t you want them to share with us? I think the only right thing to do is to give dew to others, as we would have them give dew to us! I brewed it, and it is my dew-tea to share!” But before he could finish, Morley grabbed the vat of golden sweetness and slurped the whole thing down for himself. 

About an hour later, Morley was not feeling very well. As Morley found out, too much sunshine, in any form, can make you sick. What made it worse was that it was the day before Sumday. This was a sad day in Benjour, as children were tired of their toys bought the week before, or the toys were broken or missing parts.  Parents were doing last minute jobs, tired as they were, so they could have a little bit more money to buy deluxe versions of whatever whats-it their child had to have the next day. To make the people feel better, Morley would walk about the town, telling everyone that they would all feel better Sumday, when they would have new and better things to make them happy. Now, though, Morley was too sick to walk around. The advisors met in panic. 

“The people will not be cheered! The children will cry without someone to tell them they will be happier tomorrow,” they fretted.  They had always had Morley, so what could be done?

“I’ll go,” said Lesley.  “I am Morley’s twin, and I look just like him.”

“But…you are not him” the advisors said, confused.

“No, but Morley is not available. So you will have to stay here and make dew, and then I will walk about the town.” 

This the advisors did, so that Lesley took new vats of the golden liquid with him as he left.

Lesley was a bit unsure as he went about the people. He had never really walked about on the day before Sumday, so he was surprised at what he saw. There in the town center, the children all sat and cried.

“Our toys are not fun anymore,” one said.

“My toys are broken,” said another.

“I’ve lost parts of mine,” said a third.

Now Lesley knew what Morley always said to them. “Don’t worry, for tomorrow you will have new toys, and you can throw away these old ones. Sumday you will be happy and content!”

But Lesley did not say this. Instead, he asked the children to show him their toys. Slowly, they made a pile of all the bits and parts, a broken top here, a doll who had said all she had to say there, many board game pieces, broken planes, trains and even a rainbow-colored stuffed dog that, well, just didn’t seem a fun shade of rainbow any more.

“I tell you what,” Lesley said to the children. “You know how I love my morning dew each day, and that no one else gets to drink it but me. But I have now learned how to make dew. If I shared with you, would that make you happy?”

The children all stopped and stared. “Yes!” they all shouted as one.“We would love to taste it. Please, we would do anything!”

“Then here is the task. If you will take these toys and bits and pieces and work together and make a new game out of them, you may try the dew.”

For the next hour, the children giggled and whirred about the town square, creating a most wonderful thing.  The squares of the sidewalk became a giant game board. They used chalk to draw instructions in the squares. They used the old toys to make things to jump over. A broken chair became the target for a ring toss. Even the rainbow dog was used, as you couldn’t move ahead unless you threw it up in the air and caught it three times. The children had so much fun, many even forgot about the nectar that was to be their reward. So loud was the laughter (never heard on the day before Sumday), that the parents came out of their jobs to see what was going on. When the children showed them, the parents joined in. Everyone was turning the town square into a giant board game. 

The next day, Morley was feeling better. Being Sumday, Morley went to the town square to watch the frantic buying. It made him feel good to know he did not have to elbow and claw to get his toys. But when he got there, there was no frantic crowd. There was no pushing and shoving and parents trying to buy anything new. There were people, but they were calmly talking.  When he looked closer, he saw some people trading toys. Others were grouped together, each with different parts, making a complete set of a game. There was no hurrying, but there were smiles everywhere.

“Oh thank you, prince,” cried a group of parents and children sitting together around a creature that seemed to be made up of many different stuffed animals’ parts. “Since you showed us yesterday how to make dew, we have had so much fun trading toys and creating new ones together.”

“Not only that,” said a beaming man, “but I think I’ll try to come home from work a bit earlier, so we can finish our playhouse.” As he said this, he winked at two children who smiled back from their perch atop what otherwise would be mistaken for a stack of boxes.

The crowd, ever so pleased, pressed in around Prince Morley, shouting their thanks and cheers. Morley quickly realized what his twin had done and tried to respond.

“You don’t understand,” Morley told the whole village gathered before him, though their laughter made him hard to hear. “Whatever I told you yesterday, you must listen to me now, and I order you to believe it above all else. Yesterday, you saw Lesley, not Morley.  Listen to me, please.  Les is Mor!”

And the people of Benjour did hear him, and they took it to heart. Morley, for his part, slowly (and a bit reluctantly), came to accept the new ways of the town. Forever more in Benjour, they did not arise so early in the morning, except to appreciate the beautiful sunrise. As for the rest of the day, they made dew, they shared their toys, and they lived by the saying "Less is More."

About the Author

Jim Wasserman is a native of Dallas, Texas. A former attorney, he became a teacher because " helping to inspire and prevent problems is better than cleaning them up afterwards." Jim has published in law reviews, newspapers and journals, from fiction, to essays on education, to poetry. He is currently working on a textbook and stories to teach children about Media Literacy. Jim could not be anywhere near as successful or happy without the love and support of his wife, two sons, or two cats. Jim is dedicated to his personal life mantra, "Dignity is overrated."

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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