“I’d love to get to sleep at a reasonable time Mom, but my sister just finished burying my bed in the backyard!” my voice rose hysterically at the mere thought of my precious water-bed laying five feet under, the soft pillows probably suffocating on dirt.
“Well do something about it! I want you in bed in thirty minuets young lady, no excuses!” and with that, my grouchy mother trotted out of the room.
5, 10, 15, 20… the minutes ticked by. My mind was drawing a blank, no solution was coming to me, oh what to do, it was like I had writer’s block of the severest degree.. Shovels would take to long, I don’t have the money or time to buy a replacement bed, and a bulldozer would take out the entire before even trying for my bed so that’s definitely out of the question. I could claim another bed in the house… but no, I must have my incredibly relaxing, comfortable queen size bed.
Suddenly, I flew from the house, struck by an idea. I returned five minutes laterand lead a pack of my neighbor’s dogs to the backyard. German shepherds, golden retrievers, black labs, poodles, and Jack Russell terriers all stood in a straight line awaiting my directions as if they were soldiers standing at attention.
“Dig poochies! Dig like your entire dog biscuit eating future depends on it,” I commanded, pointing to where my bed lay, out of sight.
With barks of delight, they feasted upon the task, paws moving at the speed of light, and dirt flying in my face as they barked with unchecked joy at the opportunity to dig through rose gardens and not be reprimanded. Within what seemed to be only moments, their enthusiasm finished the task.
My bed was now bathed in moonlight, back at the surface where it belonged, although the legs were still stuck in the fertile soil of my mother’s prize winning flower garden. Tulips of all hues, bright cardinal red roses, and a long lost pair of gardening gloves decorated the top, somehow making it look as breathtaking as when I had first rested my gaze upon it, despite the dirt that made the once-turquoise duvet a filthy brown. A satisfied sigh escaped my lips, somehow letting my canine minions know their work was done, that they could leave even though I was not consciously present.
“Sugar, you better be asleep in five…” my mother’s dangerously sweet voice spilled out of the house, jolting me from my stupor. I frantically brushed dirt off the covers, “four…” I didn’t think I can get the bed to my room in time “three..” pushing, shoving, tugging, and pulling, nothing can move it “two…” my legs propelled my body into the bed with haste “one.” my head hit the pillow and sleep claimed me immediately as my mom's voice died out. Of course, my dream starts with getting pneumonia after sleeping outside in the rain!
Despite the wind howling through the village, emphatically tossing slush from the road into the face of civilians out for a stroll, Jenville still managed to look picturesque from the warm candlelight that bathed the windows of homes and garland that decorated storefronts. Clusters of warmly wrapped families hurried through the winter weather turned foul, anxious to get out of the cold, wet streets. One however was not in a hurry for that reason. Fourteen year-old Lydia Braxton flew through the street as if sprinting would allow her to shed the tragic memories of two nights past.
She pulled open the heavy oak door of Perry’s Travel Arrangements just wide enough for her slim frame to slip inside. One pale hand reached beneath the hood of her cloak to tug nervously at a few strands of curly honey-brown hair. It fell limply to her side almost immediately in sync with widening gray-blue eyes at the sight of the sizeable granite stones that the back wall was made of. She shook her head, desperate to not slip back into the past, for it was vital that she talk to Perry as soon as possible. However, her shuddering was to no avail, fog seemed to descend upon Lydia’s vision and then the store disappeared, overcome by visions of the past.
The stone walls of the fireplace were rough, but Lydia couldn’t care less about how comfortable her current quarters were. All that truly mattered was the safety of her family and herself. “We have searched all rooms and collected all inhabitants we found. Anything else you want me to do Chief?” A sob caught in her throat as she watched the forms of her mother and father collapse on the dirt floor of the living room next to her eight year old brother. It had been difficult enough not to come to his aid when hands had dragged George form the base of the fireplace. She had simply pulled herself further up the chimney in an effort to stay undiscovered and able to save him. But now, with most of those close to her heart found, her self-control was tested on a whole new level. The second intruder now stepped forward, revealing tanned skin, eyes like the depths of the forest, and jet black hair. He opened up his mouth and began to talk in broken English. “The woman and boy will be… useful, take them with us. I have no use for the other… dispose of him.” With a muffled shriek of despair, Lydia ducked her head moments too late, for she had already seen the rifle raised, aimed at her father, and the bullet find his head.
“No! Dad, answer me please! DAD!!” sobs racked her body. She rolled around, kicking and screaming, but it was getting harder and harder to move. Suddenly, a comforting hand began to stroke her hair and helped to calm her down. “Lydia, my child. Stop your weeping, it was all only a terrible dream.”
He nodded, then vanished through a curtain of pines. Esmeralda collapsed the moment her dear fisherman boyfriend crossed the tree line and allowed her grief to consume her. Even though the inclining if his head had been Chase’s way of promising her that he would be fine and return home to her, she still felt as if they were both forgetting something vital. A horrible howl broke the calm silence of the morning and even the fact that it was the ungodly hour of 4:30 am, Esmeralda shot to her feet, perfectly awake and alert.
“Chase...” her first call was a whisper so as not to disturb any wild creature, but more wails caused her anxiety level to skyrocket.
“Chase... Darling? CHASE!” she was now shouting hysterically and her worn black boots carried her slim figure forward a few steps to the edge of the forest.
All the warnings the elders had ever hissed at the children who dared approach the Woods of Fatality came flooding back into the stream of thoughts circling her mind. They had talked of trees that tripped you, bushes that used their leaves to snare you, and horrible beasts that ate youngsters alive.
“No, don’t think of that. Concentrate on Chase alone.” Esmeralda murmured in a shaky tone that solidified when she thought of her rock. And with that, the young woman entered the forest of her nightmares
She traveled slowly along the faint path which twisted and turned between two sides of towering pines scurrying a few meters, pausing as if sensing danger, and then flying forward again. The tallest of the trees seemed to glare down upon her. A low haunting moan whistled through the leaves, causing Esmeralda’s terror to increase by tenfold. Unconsciously, she began to pick up her pace and cease her hesitations.
Glancing around, her bright blue eyes began to take in more of her surroundings as they adjusted to the dim lighting.She gazed upon calf high layers of dead leaves that carpeted the forest floor, appetizing poisonous berries that swayed on the limbs of prickly bushes, and enormous eyes that slowly blinked from the depths of off path woods.
Pulling her moth eaten shawl tighter around her torso, so as to tighten her grip on an oddly shaped bundle wrapped in an yellow cloth clutched to her chest, and flipping her long french braid of thick ebony hair, the young messenger let a smile cross her face upon the sight of the wood boundary.
She tried to appear calm as she rushed by the fringe of a residential so as not to spook anyone or anything, but by the time businesses surrounded her, Esmeralda was in an all out sprint. Her surroundings barely had time to register with her before she upon them or past them.
Finally, her boots were pounding on the creaky fishing wharf, as she dodged supplies, squeezed between fishermen and arrived by Emerald Queen.
“Chase!” Esmeralda called, holding up the bundle. “You forgot your lunch!”
Hello. I am your journal. I think we need to talk. Put down your video game console, and pick up that pencil. Do you remember that dream you had a few days ago? How about that music you heard the other day? Or those stars you saw? Why don’t you write about one of those? Or maybe something else. Don’t waste your brain on figuring out the best way to beat that level in your video game. Use your brain to create something that will make the world more beautiful and give it a little inspiration to keep going. Don’t worry, we all believe you can do it. Now we just have to convince you.
The door sat there, closed and alone. It desperately waited for someone to save him from his curiosity and unveil what laid behind him. Stuck in this boring, blank hallway was such a dull life to lead. No one ever came down his hallway. The door, opening into the hallway, didn’t even know what was on the inside of the room. And as the years went by and still no one came, he began to lose hope.
The door often tried to picture what was behind him. Was it gold and jewels pilled miles high, sparkling in the torchlight of the dungeon? Or maybe the cure for cancer was hidden in the chamber behind him? Perhaps it was a library filled with scripts of magic spells.
As the door was trying to imagine about the day when someone would come and open him, someone turned the corner and came down his boring, blank hallway and changing his dull life. The human seemed to be lost, but the door did not care, for he had been waiting for a long, long time for this day. The door wiggled himself and jiggled his doorknob, being as conspicuous as possible.
Startled, the human stopped in her tracks. She peered at the door quizzically, though not frightened. Carefully, she came closer, and examined the door’s exterior. After checking to see if she was alone, she quietly turned the handle and opened the door.
I creep up the steps to my dad. He’s going to be so surprised when I wake him up, I think. I get to his room. His door is closed. I open the door slowly. I walk inside and go to the other side of the bed to where he is. I hear him sturr. I walk slowly to his side of the bed. I jump up and yell,
“Surprise!” He jolts awake. I start to laugh hysterically. He quickly erases his surprise.
“It's not my birthday, Bathilda. It’s yours. So why am I having the surprise wake up?” He asks me.
“I'm weird like that,” I say with a smile.
A dark shape slips by me in the shadows, just beyond my light. My emerald eyes strain the depths of darkness. There appears to be nothing…. I creep forward, every bone in my body crying out in terror. If I am caught, I may not see another day. Darkness envelops the stables, and the stench of stale hay washes over me as I pull open the heavy door. I am taking an enormous risk stealing a horse - but my twisted leg prevents me from leaving any other way.
I slip past stalls, keeping to the shadows as so not to cause alarm. Finally, I reach Skymane, a black mare whom I have always loved. Carefully, I saddle and lead her away. She makes no noise, save for the clip-clop of hooves.
At home in the darkness, I look over my birthright, my prison, my life - and prepare to leave without a regret. Turning to Skymane, I hear it - a soft rustling behind me. No words can describe the fear that swallows me as, so very slowly, I turn. Gazing into the azure eyes of Miss Anabella Smith, I know my life is over.
I looked at the instructor with a confident look on my face. I looked confident, but on the inside I was nervous out of my wits. They must expect a lot from me since my parents are the best racers on Roiwei, I thought.
“Now today you will learn how to get off of the ground and to catch the wind drifts,” the instructor said. I looked over at Ilak. She looked nervous- very nervous. She was actually shaking. I then looked at Ariak. She looked very confident.
“Now any volunteers to try first?” The instructor asked us. I raised my hand.
“Norffas you want to go first?” The instructor asked me.
“No. It’s a question,” I started. I saw all eyes on me, “ Aren’t you going to show us how to do it first?” I asked. He laughed. I gulped. I looked back at Ilak. She looked even more nervous and she was looking right in my eyes. Her eyes read “SAVE ME NOW OR I’LL DIE”.
“ But I'll go first,” I quickly said
Every day, at five o'clock, Finn and Isadora would wander the woods - together. They never held hands, didn’t kiss - merely spoke of intangible dreams they could never obtain; where they would go if given the chance.
In the solitude of the pines and willows, it didn’t seem to matter how his taut, muscled form towered over her small, gaunt one. No one whispered that she was a politician’s daughter, and he had never earned a full education… in the deep forest, it was simply the low rumble of his voice; the silver of her laugh, refugees of uncaring worlds.
Ten years after the tradition began, Finn’s boots crunched through dried leaves as he approached the path, bouquet of Venetian red roses in umber hand. She was waiting, mint-green eyes bright.
“I know, so sorry.” They set off down the path. A light wind rustled the creaking branches and tossed her long auburn hair.
“Do you remember….” he began, slowly. “That summer night, five years ago, when you appeared at my window, and I followed you here even though it was storming, in he dead of night?” She nodded.
“And you took me to the cliffs on the far side of the forest where we had never been before - and began to weep?” Again, she bobbed her head.
“And then you told me that your father planned for you to leave town and marry and move to the city? That he already had a candidate in mind?”
“And you refused to do it, you howled and pleaded, that you wanted to live here - but he was forcing you to leave at dawn, and you would never come back?”
“And then….. you kissed me goodbye… the first time, you kissed me… and told me that you would never leave, not when I was here. You looked so beautiful, like the moon…. and then -”
She stopped and turned to face him. She was still petite and pale, but flaming hair whipped around her face and her emerald eyes shone with the light of love.
“I will never leave - I took an oath that night, and I am still here. Do not doubt me. Until you leave, I will wait for you.” Finn’s breath came hissing out.
“They think me mad.”
“Do you care?”
In silence, they walked on. The dying trees swayed and whispered, leaves spiraling towards loamy earth below. After a quarter of an hour, the air grew cold and thin. Finn shivered, but his companion did not.
“I must leave.” she whispered. “You know that I cannot go there…”
He nodded, then vanished through a curtain of pines. The olive and umber seemed to swallow him.
“I just….” his voice echoed back, as though across eons. Finn stepped into the graveyard, meandered towards the very back, and knelt at a small, white stone.
ISADORA ROSE VERITY
He bowed his head.
“I wanted to lay flowers at your grave.”
“I’d love to live, but my parachute just exploded. No problem…. Oh, you can have my Shakespeare collection.”
Always look on the bright side of life, they say. Well, as I fall through the sky, I have a really nice view of the beautiful sunset. It almost makes up for it all - the chase through the Amazon Rainforest, the little Poison Dart Frog issue, and the fact that I’d been living off spam for two weeks. Ah, the life of an archeologist. And they say Indiana Jones had it bad!!
“Um, should I be worrying?” came the crackly voice of X through my flip phone. A word to the wise: Smartphones are overrated. Old-timers work just as fine.
“No, no big deal. Just, um, say I was protecting a village from invasion by flesh-eating swamp things, okay? Love you too. See you on the other side!” I shut the phone.
The sky is seashell pink, the sinking sun a blaze of pure gold. The cliffs above me cast shimmering shadows on the sparkling sea below. Waves splash playfully, as if applauding my approaching doom. The wind is cold on my face, but at least I can’t feel ocean spray yet.
I manage to flip myself on my back, and stare up at the sky above. Now would be a really great time to know how to fly…. but, I decide, a strange, heavy peace finally settling over my thrill-seeking heart, perhaps this isn’t so bad. After all, I’m going to die staring at the great open sky, doing what I love to do most - taking a chance. A line from Shakespeare drifts through my mind….
We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our little life is rounded with a sleep…..
A sharp pain slams through my back - the golden sky flares, stars exploding in all the magnitude and magnificence of a dozen supernovae - and then, all is gone.