Turine Viet-Tu Tran + Louise Boyd

My New Friend

Pop-up book, by Turine Viet-Tu Tran, closed size 16x22cm

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Saw it floundering out there by the edge of the field. First I wasn’t sure if it was a forgotten piece of tarpaulin flapping around in the drowsy afternoon wind, or whether my eyes were playing tricks in the slowly fading sunlight.
A strange creature, unlike any I had seen before. As I edged closer I gathered, from the sad mewing that came in bursts, that it was hurt. There was fur and feathers, when it craned its neck it had a face like my favourite teddy bear. Big sad blue eyes sparkled intensely back at me, like sapphires in soft cotton wool.
The land would grow dark soon, couldn’t leave the poor thing out there injured and alone. Twice my size, and not easy to shift for a small girl who could barely yet reach the kitchen sink. Lucky I didn’t bump into anyone, since it squealed rather distressingly and they might have thought I was hurting it.
My Father’s disused shed at the bottom of the garden, I arranged some old blankets into the form of a bed. It hobbled into the centre, gladly curling up into a ball, and fell fast asleep. After observing my curious find for a while I decided Mother would be wondering where I had got to. Leaving it sleeping, I bolted the door safely behind me.
At dinner I hid some potatoes in the folds of my dress. Almost managed to sneak out the back door when Mother found me.
I told her everything about the creature in an instant, sure that she would understand, sure that she would want to help.
But she told me I was ungrateful for what God had given me; go straight to bed without any hot milk.
In the dark I listened very hard. Thought maybe I heard the creature cry out through the night twice. My teddy peered back at me through the dark and I promised him I would do everything I could to help our new friend.
Became better at smuggling food after that. From the kitchen or the dinner table, biscuits or steak or oranges or anything.
Most days that summer I spent out in the shed playing with my new friend.
Mother seemed pleased I had found something to occupy my time. But every time I asked if she would like to play she would say I’m busy.
The creature seemed to be making wonderful progress, gobbling everything up, occasionally pausing to stretch impressive pearly wings.
I’ll fix you, I would whisper to it gently, stroking its soft feathers.
One day Mother agreed. Excitedly, I unbolted the shed, watching my Mother’s expression; I let the door swing open.
You must have fixed your new friend.
An empty pile of blankets in the corner, my friend was gone.

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Illustrator: Turine Viet-Tu TRAN

Writer: Louise Boyd

 

 

Life of Tree

Illustration by Turine Viet-Tu TRAN, digital print 20x29cm

Side by side they grew for over one hundred years. At first, two little green shoots, unaware of the others existence, reaching upward into the big wide world. As they grew, the very tips of their leaves would brush gently in the space between them. Young trees always want to spread their branches and occupy as much space as possible. But, it happened one day, that she rested a branch on his, so lightly it might have been an accident. She didn’t move, and he didn’t shrug it off. Little by little, their love grew. By the time they were fully grown their branches were intertwined, they were inseparable.

In the twilight he gazed at her. Her gnarled branches now bare, no fresh buds had emerged from them for years, her bark had darkened, grown tired and dry. Though when he looked at her, he saw in her every single day of those one hundred years. The days they had basked in the balmy summer sunshine, how beautiful she had looked in the first blossoms of spring, the fierce, rich reds of her autumnal glow, the way her branches would glitter and sparkle in the chill of a winter evening. Most of all, he saw the terrible storms they had weathered together, and survived.

I am afraid. He saw the shiver shoot through her, so wrapped his heavy branches around her waist and drew her close.

You don’t have to be afraid, I will be right by your side.

It’s as if I can hear them already…the trucks…the saws…they’re coming to tear us apart. Shh. Listen to the land, it is at peace. Tonight my darling, we have the moon, the stars and that is all we need. This night is ours, let tomorrow be tomorrow.

He felt her trunk soften in his grip, and wished that the morning would not arrive. Together they swayed close under the moonlight until sunrise broke.

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Illustrator: Turine Viet-Tu TRAN

Writer: Louise Boyd