In the valley, all the children began to disappear. They were still there, but they were invisible. They still chattered, made whirl winds of messes, climbed trees, and broke windows with stray baseballs. But no one could see them. Parents recognized their child by the sound of their voice and the feel of the child’s head when they pressed their palm against the invisible spot. It was an epidemic.
A child would be born and visible for three days before they started fading. For several days after the children began to disappear, they were still slightly visible. But you could see right through them. You could look at their face and see their brain underneath and underneath that the blue blanket with stars and lambs they were sleeping on. You could look at their chest and see their little hearts beating. The parents knew they had to do something. There could not let more children be born and then forced to live an eternity of invisibility.
The parents talked to great physicians and world renowned scientists. They talked to witch doctors, magicians, and mystical hermits. No one knew what to do. But all of them, even the respected men and women of science, alluded to the great snail. The great snail grew up in a cemetery. He lived with a family of snails, but when he began to grow larger than the rest, he made the other snails nervous. Soon he was shunned. Once he was the size of bus, he knew he could no longer live in the cemetery. He slowly started his journey away from his home. Unlike most snails that create slime trails, he created a grand river. The ghosts living in the cemetery were dragged into the river. They splashed and grasped for their headstones, but the current was strong and they were carried away in the snail’s river. They bobbed and tread water as the river rushed.
Eventually the snail found where he wanted to live. He saw it from a distance. It was a grassy meadow right by the sea. He finally stopped moving. During his entire journey, he hadn’t noticed the dozen or so ghosts bobbing along behind him. But when he got to the meadow, he turned around to see them. They were no longer ghosts. Their hazy blue, almost invisible bodies had transformed into flesh. They were whole people again.
The snail realized he had quite the gift! He could bring the dead back to life. But the process was exhausting. When he got to the meadow, he had never been more tired. He fell into a deep sleep. In his dreams, he had an epiphany. He was destined to travel the world, finding worthy ghosts to bring back to the life. But he could only make the journey once every five years as it was so exhausting.
When the people of the valley heard the legend, they knew that no one was more worthy then their invisible children. They hired a private investigator to find where the snail was. After discovering he was back as his home by the seashore meadow, they sent two town advocates to talk to the snail. They told the snail of their troubles and the kindly snail agreed to help.
All the children in the town were prepared. They were lined up by age. The newly born babies were to go first. They still had their form. The parents could say goodbye to them while looking into their eyes. But the mothers did not want to say good bye. They looked into the children’s eyes and worried they would never see their babies again. Last to go in the river were the oldest children. All of them had their own small boat to sit or lay in while they drifted down the river. When the adventure down the river started, no one knew if it would work. After all, they were not ghosts. They were still alive, but invisible. The children could feel the transformation. They watched as their hands started to have color again. They looked behind them or in front of them at the other children on boats and laughed as they saw their friend’s faces again.
While the children floated on the river, the parents began their own journey. They walked from the valley, following the river, dreaming of finally seeing their children again. They knew they would all meet at the valley soon.