Darling is the dearest deer in her family. She has the sweetest, loveliest, dearest voice in the entire forest.
Every morning, her family heads out into the grasslands, but they never take her with them. “You’re just too dear for the dangerous wild,” they say.
Every morning, Darling sings as she’s left behind, her voice full of sorrow:
I wish I could go,
Where you go,
Sing all day beside you,
Run all day around you.”
Then, the morning of her first birthday arrives. She’s left behind as always but today’s special. She just can’t stay still. “I’m old enough to take care of myself!” she thinks, “What’s the harm in a little stroll”?
As soon as she steps out of the grove, her jaw drops. And out comes her voice, sweet and pure:
“’Morning, blue sky,
‘Morning, gold grass,
I can’t believe I haven’t seen,
Your beauty till now.
I can’t believe I haven’t breathed,
So deeply till now.”
She runs long and far, never having felt freer before. She runs until the landscape starts to get darker and wilder. Afraid, she turns around to head back… and comes face to face with a lion, the danger her family warned her about.
She screams and gallops towards home, but she’s never had to run so fast before. Her knees buckle and she falls with a cry. Without thinking, she opens her mouth and out comes her voice, shaking with fear:
Am I too dear,
To take care of myself?
Should I have stayed home,
My whole life instead”?
The lion pauses in his tracks, stunned at her beautiful voice. Darling uses the distraction to kick dirt in his face, and as he roars in anger, she leaps up and runs towards home, faster than ever before.
When she crashes into the grove, her family rushes towards her. “Where did you go, dear?!” they ask in panicked voices. This time, when Darling opens her mouth, her voice comes out strong:
I went where I wanted,
Faced great danger there,
Took care of myself,
Can no longer live in fear.”
Her family stares at her, speechless, but then her eldest sister comes forward. “You’re still the dearest deer we know, and we want to do everything we can to keep you safe… but you know how to look out for yourself,” she says with a smile, “So you may come graze with us tomorrow and sing to us all day.”
Darling hugs her sister and sings with her voice full of joy:
For I’ll be happy.
For I’ll be free.”
When morning arrives, Darling wakes up with her heart racing with fear… and excitement. She leaps out of the grove with her family, knowing she can take down any lion that comes her way! Her freedom is just too dear for her to live in fear again.