<p>The University of Melbourne’s Creative Literature and Writing Society present The Remarkable Quests of Raddish and Quill, a collaborative column for Farrago.</p>
Quill was sitting legs crossed on the carpet, ready for their afternoon yoga. The sound of Raddish typing aggressively on their new mint-green typewriter flooded the tree house. Raddish had taken up writing a month ago—following the inter-dimensional evening they’d spent reading Edgar’s poems and eating his cat-friendly garlic bread. Quill closed their eyes, breathing in the air of the Butter Town afternoon—a lazy afternoon without a planned schedule. A long, loud sigh came from Raddish’s room…and then another…and then an even longer one, until finally Quill got up and flew to Raddish’s room to see what was causing their dear friend such frustration.
Raddish’s head sank into the typewriter keys, but before they could let out another sigh, Quill appeared in front of them.
“Do you truly believe?”
“Believe what?” Quill asked.
“Believe that I can ever write like Edgar?”
Quill took a moment, looking at their friend who they believed in completely.
“You would write like Raddish, not Edgar.”
Before Raddish could ask, or Quill could explain further, Quill’s eyes followed the golden sunlight that flowed through the window and melted at their feet.
“Let’s go outside Raddish! It’s a beautiful afternoon, one that we will yearn for when winter falls.”
Of course! Why didn’t Raddish think of that before! A stroll around the friendly faces of Butter Town would always make them happier. Raddish could always count on Quill; they were one of the most sincere beings and knew every remedy to all Raddish’s muddles. At times Raddish would look into Quill’s eyes and pray that they remained the happiest they could be.
As they walked outside, Raddish felt the warm breeze greet them. They felt an unexplained rush of joy that convinced them to jump up and down and run and move! The trees shed their small yellow leaves, making it all seem too magical. The wind carried muffled sounds of ‘Abracadabra,’ followed by cheers and laughter. Intrigued, Raddish and Quill followed the sound to the Buttercream Cafe.
It was Old Mr Jack Lee’s magic night!
Old Mr Jack Lee fascinated Raddish. He had a thin, white, fairy floss beard, and kept it tied up with a red ribbon. He claimed this was where he kept his magic—all tied up in one place. Raddish could not hold back their excitement and clapped their little paws. Quill watched their friend’s excitement over the little things with a sense of mellow amusement.
“AAAAAABRA KA DAABRA!” Old Mr Jack Lee bellowed from behind his white beard. “Has everyone got their ears and nose today? The eyes would be with me!”
Old Mr Lee could make a rabbit vanish, reappear, and then turn into a dove! Raddish believed there was nothing Old Mr Lee could not do!
As soon as the show was over, Raddish wanted to introduce Quill to the magnificent person that was Old Mr Jack Lee.
“Old Mr Lee! This is my best friend Quill!”
But Old Mr Lee was not as jolly as usual. In fact, Raddish thought there was a tinge of melancholy in his eyes.
“How are you Old Mr Lee?”
“I believe I am fine Raddish, just fine”
“Fine?! You’re fantastic Old Mr Jack Lee!” exclaimed Raddish.
Old Mr Lee paused packing up his props, sat down and dropped his gaze to the adventurers’ tiny feet. He shook his head slowly.
“I have been doing magic in four cornered rooms for the last forty years, and I have never witnessed real magic.”
Raddish felt their heart sink. What could he even mean?! He was the jolliest person in the whole of Butter Town! Never seen magic? Magic was tied up in his beard!
“What do you mean, Old Mr Lee?” Quill asked.
Old Mr Lee hesitated but Raddish and Quill’s genuine eyes encouraged him to open up. He pulled out a faded picture of a landscape. Its sky was filled with strokes of bright green and purple rays. The land below it was covered in crystal white snow. It seemed like a picture from another planet.
“Is this even real Mr Lee!?” Raddish cried.
“It is as real as the earth and all its magic.” Old Mr Lee paused, sighed and continued, “Magic that lets out all its secrets, but is magic nonetheless.”
He held the photograph to his heart. “We call them miracles.”
Old Mr Jack Lee had dreamt of seeing those mysterious lights ever since he’d first learnt about them in Uncle Tan Lee’s library. Uncle Tan Lee had framed pictures of his trip all over the walls: bright green lights appearing across the dark blue sky with no explanation whatsoever. Uncle Tan had mentioned the name of the magical place, but Old Mr Lee had been only ten years of age at the time and had forgotten. Uncle Tan passed away soon after that visit. Old Mr Lee had asked everyone he could if they’d ever seen those lights. But no one in small Butter Town believed they could be real.
“Wait!” Quill interrupted Old Mr Jack Lee’s reverie.
“Just wait, Mr Lee! I know this place!” Quill exclaimed, flapping their wings with excitement. They closed their eyes as if to remember something, their eyelids wrinkling with concentration. “I KNOW! It’s the Northern Lights! It’s Iceland!”
Old Mr Jack Lee’s eyes lit up and he danced and cried in excitement. But then he stopped, heart sinking with realisation.
“But how do we get there?” he asked softly.
Quill thought for a while. “I know a friend who knows a friend, who knows a friend! Quaaaaaaaa Quaaa!”
Quill cleared their throat and began again:
Suddenly, two majestic albatross appeared at the cafe door. Quill held the faded picture of the northern lights up to the big birds.
“Say, Aidan and Amy, would you like to go to the Northern Lights with us?”
Aidan and Amy looked at each other and nodded excitedly with a big, “Yes!”
“One of you would have to carry Old Mr Lee and the other, Raddish.”
Aidan and Amy did not mind; they loved carrying flightless beings. Hearing their excitement made the albatross’ day.
“But it will be cold there!” Amy warned.
“That’s alright! I’ve been knitting all year!” Quill exclaimed. “There is certainly enough fuzzy warm sweaters for all of us!”
Raddish felt an adventure unfolding and thanked whatever it was that governed them—if indeed anything did—for willing them to step out of the house that day.