adrian (ONE ACT PLAY)

27 Sep


ADRIAN is sitting alone down stage left, playing with a toy truck. MOM is pacing center stage, arguing with her husband, who is not physically present.


Okay, I understand. Being different is okay. She’s clearly different. But there’s a difference between being different and being…

Don’t put words in my mouth, Michael. You know I wasn’t going to say that.

What I was saying is there’s a difference between being different and being so different that I start getting calls from her teacher for “questionable behavior”.

… No, of course she’s not doing anything wrong, but getting a call from administration during her second week of kindergarten is a red flag to any parent.

Different is having a secret talent in math, Michael, different is learning to read early. Different isn’t that.

Gestures to ADRIAN.

Maybe we should call someone…

I don’t know, a therapist? A psychologist?

There are doctors out there that could help us, help her. I’m telling you, I did some research the other week, and read a bunch of articles that laid out her situation to the T.

Apparently it’s a condition, a mental condition, and a couple of therapy sessions could straighten her out… People have sworn by it, Michael, I think we should give it a try.

Anyway, she’s still in her developmental period, right?

Nothing is set in stone.



ADRIAN is sitting cross-legged down stage right, reading a Goosebumps novel. MOM stands directly behind ADRIAN, holding a periwinkle skirt behind her back. ADRIAN does not look up when MOM talks.


Amy, honey, I have a surprise for you…

You have to close your eyes first: you’re going to love it.

Good, good. Are you ready? Okay… now, OPEN!

Say something, honey! What do you think?… Well I think the material is gorgeous, and the color matches your eyes beautifully. And it would pair wonderfully with that white silk blouse I got you the other week!… And you know what I think? I think you should wear this to your formal coming up.

Don’t be ridiculous, of course you’re going to go. It’s your eighth grade formal! Your last big event before graduation! I remember my formal, gosh, it was ages ago. I remember, your grandmother took me to a wonderful little boutique down in Maywood. It’s closed now, but it had the most adorable dresses and jackets and shoes… And she told me, “Pick whatever outfit you want, darling, and I’ll buy it for you. Happy graduation.” I couldn’t remember ever being happier than I was that day. We spent hours flipping through rails of dresses, trying on different combinations of skirts and heels… Until I found the most gorgeous purple gown somewhere in the mess. It had a bodice that hugged my waist and a skirt that flowed beautifully down my legs to my ankles. I had never felt more beautiful.

We should go shopping sometime, don’t you think, honey? Get you out of those awful slacks and into something meant for a figure like yours. People will start thinking you’re a boy with the clothes that you wear.

ADRIAN looks up to the audience.



ADRIAN sits in a chair. Throughout the scene, ADRIAN begins masturbating. MOM is pacing, fuming.

Disgusting. Disgusting!

And to think, I wondered why you never mentioned a boy, why you never answered when I asked you about crushes at school. Because you’ve been sneaking around with a girl?

ADRIAN moans.

So what, you’re a… I can’t even say it. I think I’m going to be sick.

ADRIAN moans.

My daughter. My beautiful little girl. I don’t know where I went wrong… Was it the divorce? Was that it? I know your father and I were a bit shaky, distant sometimes, but we were always there for you. We always supported you. And now, this?  

ADRIAN moans.

I knew we should have stuck with the therapy. It’s your father’s fault. He said it was making you unhappy, but we should have just stuck through it. Maybe you wouldn’t have ended up like this.

Maybe it’s not too late. You’re still young, you’re only a teenager, maybe I should call Dr. Napoli and see if he has any availability this week. He can help us.

ADRIAN moans.

What do you mean? You don’t know what you’re saying, Amy. You’re going through something, and it may seem right right now, but it’s only a stage, and Dr. Napoli can help you get through it.

You don’t know what you’re saying. Don’t you want to be normal? Do you really want to be a freak for the rest of your life?

MOM raises her voice. ADRIAN moans louder.

Well, you know what Amy? If you don’t want to get better, I won’t help you. I’m done helping you. I tried everything with you, bought you the nicest clothes, took you to the nicest stores, took you to the best psychologist around, I tried talking to you about boys, I told Haley’s mom to try to get Haley to talk to you about boys. I tried everything! But you still decide to sleep with that disgusting lesbian. And you know what? That makes you exactly like her.

ADRIAN climaxes.


Whispering as ADRIAN climaxes.



A disgusting lesbian.



ADRIAN is miming excited conversation with fiance downstage right, discussing details for their wedding. They are putting invitations in envelopes, blissfully in love. MOM is upstage left, with a phone to her ear.

ADRIAN’s voicemail plays.



Hey there, you’ve reached Adrian and Olivia! Sorry we can’t come to the phone right now, but leave us a message and we’ll be sure to get back to you. Thanks!


Hi Amy… Adrian. Sorry.

It’s your mom.

If you’re there… pick up, honey!

Well, that’s alright. You must be out with Olivia.

Well, anyway. I wanted to tell you that I heard the fantastic news from your father. I’m very happy for you both!

I was going to drive up when I heard, I even started baking your favorite cake. Carrot ginger, remember? I used to make it for you after school sometimes… you’d open the door and you could tell by the scent that I had made it, and your face would just light up… I was going to bake it for you, but it got super hectic at work and I couldn’t afford to miss a day… But I’m going to drive up for the weekend, with cake, you better believe it!

Anyway, honey. I just wanted to tell you that I love you and I’m just very –

Voicemail ends with a BEEP.

… very happy for you.



ADRIAN is sitting alone, finally center stage, staring out into the audience. ADRIAN addresses MOM, who is not present.


You know what I thought of when Olivia and I took Cameron to buy her prom dress today? I thought of that time you dragged me out into the city to find an outfit for my high school graduation. It was very strange, very sudden; you had already known I was gay, it was finally sinking in that I wasn’t the girl you always dreamed I would be. You had stopped taking me to boutiques and buying me clothes, years before. And you knew I was borrowing dad’s tux for graduation; that was already settled. But that day, I got home from school, wasn’t even off the bus before you grabbed my wrist and dragged me to your car. You were smiling so hard, you seemed almost manic. And you wouldn’t even tell me where we were going. “It’s a surprise,” you kept saying, “it’s a surprise.” Honestly, I was more petrified you were having a stroke than I was disappointed when you parked in front of that little boutique.

The windows were draped with such a bright shade of pink. And it sunk in, what you were trying to do again. You sat there and you screamed, “Surprise!” and you looked at me with such hope, the guilt almost resurfaced.

And you know what? I humored you. I walked in with you, and nodded when you asked me if I thought something was pretty, but the whole time, you were draining me of everything we had let grow together, all of the trust and love and acceptance. Drip by drip, with every dress you snatched from the rack and swung in my face. Every dress, you took something else out of me.

But, you know, looking back, you showed me exactly what not to do with my own kids, kids I knew I would have one day with the woman I loved. I guess I have that to thank you for.

Cameron tells me she’s in love with the boy who asked her to prom. And I couldn’t be happier for her. I’m watching that boy like a hawk, don’t get me wrong, but I’m letting her love. And I really pray that one day she finds the kind of love that I found with Olivia. And you know what, mom? I hope you find that love too.




We Are Still Looking Down

30 Sep

Last night, at 7:53 PM, I accepted the request of my one thousand and fifty-seventh friend on Facebook. In some virtual dimension of my consciousness, I could see neon confetti falling and hear victorious Spartan men crying and feel as though I received a letter announcing my full-ride scholarship to Harvard University. After allowing myself to indulge in my cybernetic triumph, reality spiraled me back to the silence of my room where I sat alone, with my legs crossed and my door shut.
A handful of hours later, after scavenging the internet for fascinating articles to post for my one thousand and fifty seven friends to appreciate, I stumbled upon a spoken word film that, of course, captured my attention after the Ebay commercial ended and before the final image flashed. As a poet and an outspoken activist, the poem’s heartfelt discouragement of social media peaked my interest enough to share it, along with an artsy quote from the poem: “Learn to coexist”.
The poem, entitled “Look Up” by Gary Turk (you may watch the video here, if you wish to do so:, revolves around the question of what we miss when our attention is enveloped in our technology. The poem artistically hits major argumentative points, such as we are not the selves that we paint on social media, and virtual relationships are as false as they are animated. It goes on to depict a striking story of a man who met his future wife while asking for directions, only later in the story learning that none of this happened because he was on his phone.
Only after some time to ponder the happenings of that day did I recognize the irony in the poem. I spent five minutes and one second of my time – to say the absolute least – listening to a poem with tear-jerking orchestral music in the background, about the necessity to drop our technology and “learn to coexist”. However, after watching this beautifully directed video on YouTube about something that a large percentage of me believes in, I could not help but contemplate the effectiveness in regards to its cause. Yes, I cried when the male character kissed his dying wife on the forehead, only to learn that she was never given the chance to be his wife. Yes, it articulated, in an exquisitely genuine manner, a movement for which I would wholeheartedly argue to my friends. But did that inspire me to shut down my computer and pick up a book? Did Turk’s words truly influence the way I perceive social media, or did he just beautifully reiterate something I have always believed in? Did sharing that video do anything to further the cause, or did I just encourage my one thousand and fifty-seven friends to spend time watching another video and then to share it, so their thousand-some friends will do the same?
Being hit with this realization, my mind brought me back to a number of articles I had read about the same topic. One of the articles, for example, entitled “Hiding Behind the Screen” by Roger Scruton focuses on the ideas that social media provides us with a medium onto which we may portray our most attractive, and perhaps most deceptive, selves, and that the relationships we may develop online are safe and unreal.
The article strongly argues the same point that the video argues, but which medium is most effective? Was it the article or the video that best persuaded me to shut off my computer and take a walk around my neighborhood? Did either of them?
In such a comparison, it is important to recognize distinctive features in both pieces, and question how those attributes stand in the effectiveness of its delivery. The article takes a psychological approach to support the argument, explaining in depth the detriments of using social media as a way to cultivate relationships. Scruton writes, “In the once normal conditions of human contact, people became friends by being in each other’s presence, understanding all the many subtle signals, verbal and bodily, whereby another testifies to his character, emotions, and intentions … When attention is fixed on the other as mediated by the screen, however… [one is] not risking [his or her self] in the friendship to nearly the same extent as [he or she] risk[s] [his or her self] when [he or she] meet[s] the other face to face.” He goes on to describe how one engages in a relationship with the screen that depicts the messages, not the person creating them. As clear through the excerpt from the article, Scruton’s piece is dense with information as opposed to emotion, developed theory as opposed to personal experience. While Scruton’s article is thick with his negative opinion, he still uses psychological information to support his argument.
Similarly, in the video, as Turk appears in front of a black backdrop looking straight into the camera, and clips play of teens scrolling through their newsfeeds on Facebook, his voice rings:

“I have 422 friends yet I am lonely

I speak to all of them everyday yet none of them really know me

The problem I have sits in the space in-between

Looking into their eyes or at a name on a screen

All this technology we have
It’s just an illusion
Community, companionship, a sense of inclusion

When you step away from this device of delusion

You awaken to see a world of confusion

So when you’re in public and you start to feel alone

Put your hands behind your head, step away from the phone
You don’t need to stare at your menu or at your contact list

Just talk to one another, learn to co-exist”

The poem states a problem, how the author perceives that problem, and how the reader may escape that problem. There is no informational evidence to support the poet’s case, only artistic representation of a predicament the poet presents. It important to keep in mind that, generally, an article is designed to be descriptive, where as a poem is designed to be emotional.
So, the article provides a more logical approach as to why social media is more detrimental than it is beneficial. However, which medium draws the most attention, and will be most easily passed along? It is much more difficult for a thirteen page article to capture your attention over a five minute video filled with a sexy English man, beautiful background music, and a somber story that is integrated to leave you a little bit broken. While the article is filled with fact and is definitely persuasive in its argument, it is only entertaining to those who enjoy reading informational articles. The video, in contrast, is written, directed, edited to be easily watched and passed along.
So while both mediums have their positive and negative traits that allow them leverage in their effectiveness, the video provides a strong message that will most likely remain in the viewer’s mind. And while the article provides strong support for the writer’s case, it is an unfortunate but noteworthy point, as written in Christine Rosen’s article “Faking Cultural Literacy”, that most people do not care much about the hard facts. Whether or not the viewer decides to act upon the suggestion that he/she is given is entirely up to the viewer. As for myself, while I recognize that very few of my one hundred and fifty-seven Facebook friends are anything more than virtual acquaintances, I also recognize that I am a product of my generation which will continue to be enveloped in our technology.

A Painting of a Tree

4 Aug

My imagination streaks a picture of a presence in a fashion as idealistic as luminescent light illuminating this coffee shop. I chain myself to the acknowledgement that idealism is only oils coated behind biased perception, playing behind eyes that saw too much anyway.
I’d see intermingling branches when I’d peer above myself, not in the crude, harsh interaction of wood against wood, but instead the content, interweaving leaves of adjoining stagnancy. The energy emitted from those arms, trudging in equally submissive unison, interjects the preset tension of external qualms, gentle coating my hands and softening my fingertips. I do not see roses growing from the cracks in the pavement, nor do I see colors drenching the blown up advertisements crowing our heads. But, accepted obscurity, adjoined challenges, defaulted respect, I do see, and each hint of our positivity strips away the debris from my chest, the warmth melting the remaining grains of past ignorance.
Let fate set a gilded frame on the solidity before our roots into which we can rest, not for the world to perceive but instead, to lock us in place, to ensure us into a proximity in which you can see my every flaw, every imperfection to the stitch of my skin. Though that which makes me human looms like a blotch of ink on the corner of your glasses, our quarrels can be dismissed as imperfections as well. These marks that taint the space between us make us as human as we are.
But our humanity only catalyzes the rest, only prints the blank sheets of looseleaf upon which we will both drag the pen. Abandon predeterminations, misconstrued romanticism. Just speak, and let speak, as the birds that lie on our interwoven branches do the same.


4 Aug

The gentle padding of the routine jogger’s strides along River Vale road could be heard like a metronome from the opposite side of the town. Which laid, understandable, about 12 square miles from where she ran. Though the midday sunlight streamed through a crack in the blanketing clouds, deeming it an optimistically decent day, the only sounds able to be heard were the thumps of the jogger’s relentless feet beating the already-beaten-down concrete.
The squeaking tires or the occasional passenger along the town’s single main road rang like a foreign instrument, interrupting the orchestra of practical silence of which this town prided itself. The jogger, by mere cause of routine, would pause her metronymic steps about the entrance of the Country Store, where she’d order their famous Pike Roast, enjoy the bitter energy warming her throat, and thus continue her daily path along the silence.
The Country Store, and all of its secluded corners, served as a reservation for teenage recklessness, the air encompassing the lingerie musk of all the “firsts” experienced there: the tentative first kiss of exhilarated middle schoolers, with the intention of infiltrating adulthood; the first swig of Jack Daniels by the time-constrained freshman, all with the apprehension that the next call to his phone would be by his omniscient mother; the first horribly conducted “puff puff pass” by the group of sophomores who swore they never would, six years before. All the firsts, all the experimental actions taken by kids who thought had known better, billowed upon that earth like grey smog from the chimney of a fireplace. The under-nourished ground absorbed that smog as if in hope of some water, and yet the firsts continued clouding as children continue growing. Like a cycle. This town, I’ve realized, is a cycle.

To Question

14 Nov

To question is a fairly cherished ability in the eyes of the simple-minded, and arguably, beyond. It’s quite beautiful in its own intimate way, for a mere sporadic thought of inquiring confusion can spark, rarely bigger or more significant than a spark of a flame itself. One single, tiny grain of curiosity is all it begins as, and yet one minute puzzlement could indefinitely morph the bounding molds of the beholder, for rarely does a trivial curiosity remain at its level of insignificance. That infinitesimal puzzlement soon spreads rapidly like virus to each curve and crevasse of your brain, not merely embracing your cortex and suffocating your cranium, but sinking into each millimeter of terrain as if it were quicksand. And beneath the thin surface of your control system, hiding behind each wrinkle and through each directed action, your brain is hardly yours anymore. You are alive, you are tortured, you are awakened. Lying at the tip of each fingernail is a liable answer and if not, yet another question to clasp a fist around the base of your neck and steal you to a new state of awakening. You are fueled by this ever-kindling flame as it controls everything that you do, that drives every word your lips form, all braced by the itch of this no longer insignificant curiosity, but now, a question. And, let me inform you, let me scratch this itch of yours, until this thirst is quenched, until your puzzlement is given relief with absolution, you are your question.

You see, I am a child of question. A girl. A woman maybe? I don’t know. I’m a being of many, many questions because none of my questions were ever answered.

Please, allow me to keep us in an equal understanding: I am hardly a simpleton, never under the short-reached extents of a fool. In fact, a sizeable sum of my questions I had answered myself. They are none but theories, of course, but what could truly be one hundred percent consoled as truth? Even what the average, educated mind understands as accuracy could very well but nothing but an assumption supported by coincidences. The term one in a million, when the theory of these coincidences emerges, is typically brought up, as if that one in a million verifies the unrealistic nature of the thought. As if that one in a million is a synonymic euphemism for never. But, ah, here is yet another question I answered myself: what is never? What is nothing? I believe there is no such thing. One in a million is slight, but a possibility, as two in two million results in two lucky contesters, despite from how many people they rose.

Shall I quench yet another of your inevitable questions, unvoiced anywhere but your mind? Who am I?

In truth – and this is definitely truth – I don’t really know.

Confession of the Insane

3 Sep

It’s funny how the mind works. At one moment, you could be completely and undoubtedly stable. And the next? Unstable. But I’m only using that word as a euphemism, a polite replacement to a word I’d never imagined my hands to scratch on paper. My “unstable” mind has been to Satan’s basement and bedroom and back, and I think I deserve the deception of this situation’s intensity. But then again, as my back leans against this cool, white, brick wall, as my fingers create for you this confession that which you believe is merely a story, I’m bound to realize that I began writing this for release. And keeping this word locked in Satan’s sock drawer will not allow my unstable mind the full extent of a release.

No. It’s funny how the mind works. At one moment, you could be completely and undoubtedly stable. And the next?


You see, I comprehend this particular reality: that to you sane minds reading this confession, it’s nothing more than a work of art. But before I utter another word of truth, let you grasp the understanding that this is my life. This is real. This is real, even if this is not.

It’s funny how the mind works. As I lay against the cold wall, carved by ice, it seems, fingers scratching what I can on this crumbled paper with this stolen pen, I hear Him again.

He’s here. He’s in this room.

The walls are so light, it’s blinding. The walls, the floor, the leaking ceiling, the slowly circling fan. It even smells white, like that revolting scent of alcohol at the hospital. But with each step He takes – slow, calm, and as loud as gunshots – the walls, I swear to you, fade to grey in contrast. My eyes squint to see Him clearly. Though His skin in your reality is as mundane as the skin of a passing pedestrian, to me His skin shines with a light indigestible to mortal eyes.

If you had seen it, you would know.

If you were blessed with the curse of witnessing the phenomenon, or cursed with the blessing for the same ordeal, you’d understand.

The walls are truly fading. They are fading to every faded color on the color spectrum, a sight only slightly unbelievable, to me at least. Hell, I hardly notice. Each brick, a different faded color: blue, purple, orange, red. They practically display a washed out color pallet as He emits a light so blinding that I scramble to the blended corner and hide my face.

“Shh,” He says.

“Shh,” He keeps saying.

“Shh,” He says over and over and over until the suffocated sounds resulting from His mere presence stop.

Why tears are leaking from my eyes? I’ve yet to confirm the sold reason. Could very well be from simply the mere absolution of His being, a sensation that leaves me writhing in wonder and fear and intrigue and pain and love.

My face is still hidden in those bricks so cold that it’s as if they were carved from ice. My face, my freezing tears, my pale cheeks and white lips and shut eyes are still hidden.

Until I feel warmth gingerly touch my chin. A beautiful eruption of soothing, warm tranquility shoots up and down my body still hidden in those bricks so cold, it’s as if they were carved from ice. They are fingers. Smooth, long, soft fingers. His fingers. Fingers which then connect to a shoulder that frame a chest that balance on legs and feet that all belong to him.

The intrigue of a man who is hardly and everything that which a man is, who lives in the scrambled corridors of my mind, should certainly not reach such a distinct intensity, for if anything, health purposes. There he sits, in the darkened, shattered hallway connecting my brain to my senses, a mutual home so tattered that it’s as if it had been struck by Hurricane Katrina.

He hits, crouched, shushing me to the cliff edge of comfort, living in my mind and my veins, and the white walls and the leaking ceiling and just about everything else reality holds in its discreetness.

See, if I had learned anything from my time in this institution, it had been that there is truly a thin line between what is reality and what is not. There it lies, hardly noticeable, dividing the moment you awake from your intoxicating lucid dreams. And if I had learned anything more, it had been that that great divide which we are blessed from birth to acquire had abandoned me somewhere along my journey to Satan.

Everything is reality, and everything is not.

He is real, He is alive, He breathes the same air we are engineered to breathe, and yet He does not. I live just as He, and you and your family and yet I do not. That which is labeled as true is very well merely a story the human mind had configured. Understand: everything I say is real. Everything I say is not.

Mind you, I did once obtain that line which marks my conscious as one to blossom. I was once stable, or sane if you prefer that term. Before the war, before the blood shed from a man by the hand of another. Before I had witnessed it all. Before He appeared through the mist of my tattered innocence. What was my reality, if not the only one I knew to be true?

See, I was engaged to be married. Me! Married to a man so sane that, considering the present outcome, it’s verging on ironic. He was everything an eighteen year old romanticist would dream of, just out of college and as handsome as those topless men you’d find on a Nora Roberts novel. Oh, what a man he was.

In a funny way, he had shaken my world before my world had legitimately tilted off its axis. At the same time, he sobered me to the wonderful chapter of maturity. A new chapter, that which I had heard of second handedly, but never experienced. Have I yet experienced that chapter? Had I yet written in those black pages? Had I ventured into that land so secretive and mysterious, hidden behind a wall of blinding fog? Not with him, you can presume. Not with him. Not with the man I had so naively opened my heart to during a raging battle between brothers.

God knows I had learned much in romance. It is quite unbelievably unfortunate: how much I had learned.

Two weeks before the wedding. It happened then. The assumed turning point, or the date that which the hurricane struck. It’s funny; I had been suppressing the memory for so long that attempting to remember is as futile as regenerating a car lost in quick sand. It’s trapped in the suffocating embrace of that liquid, hovering just above absolute ruin. And yet, the line I had cast for that almost sunken dream shines the smallest ray of hope for survival. Look, the quick sand is melting!
I was worried, in the beginning of this confession, that when I had veered closer to this inevitable point, I would be unable to gather the pieces of the memory. Even worse than that case: I worried that even if I were to gather it, the jagged edges of that broken recollection would reopen old wounds and spiral me directly back to the condition in which I had begun. You realize, I presume, some things are meant to be kept broken. Some memories are best left forgotten. We all have those memories. I’m not the only one with regrets.

Nonetheless, the quick sand is melting. I feel it. And you know, it feels slightly good to start remembering, even though I realize that He is here remembering with me. Not he, but He. The one who is strangely silent at the moment. Observing, always observing.

It had occurred two weeks before the wedding. I had neglected all womanly worries most brides would drown themselves in. My mother’s adequate wedding dress was stowed away in my closet, protected by the sheer plastic it was engulfed in. Though I recall the bold, erupting excitement I felt regarding my wedding, the only bonding I currently had on my mind was the bonding of the bandages on my soldiers’ bloodied bodies.

I worked as a nurse, yes, but it was more than merely an occupation; it had become my identity. My disgust had grown numb toward the grotesque images I had seen on a regular bases, and nothing but determination thrived from there. In a way, I suppose the pain a regular human would feel during the exposure of such gore was, like so many other aspects of my existence, suppressed. Bottled up, like carbonation trapped by the slim walls of a glass bottle and capped. In turn, I suppose, the determination rocketing my success as a nurse shoot that bottle with every hardly-surviving soldier I aided. The only blockage between my nadir and I was the need for my soldiers’ wellbeing. My soldiers’ and my husband’s.

… Oh God, it’s so close. God. I almost with He would start talking to distract me from myself. From my own mind, and memories.

Ha, tears are streaming down my face. They’re dropping on this paper. I hope they won’t blend the ink.

But I remember. I remember so fucking well that broken feeling during which my composure, my soul, and my sanity were all shattered into the vast oblivion. Everything I had ever worked for, in one moment, dissolved into the pain I had been suppressing for so many years as a nurse.

I was visiting one of my favorite patients, Marcus. He always made me smile, despite the physical and mental destruction we both knew he lied in. It’s safe to say he was one of the largely contributing factors to my equanimity. Who was I to be weak when someone chained to the inevitable brink of death sill managed a beautiful smile?

We were laughing. What about, I forget. Maybe the weather, maybe my wedding. Something ordinary. But one of my colleague nurses swung open the thin white sheet separating Marcus from another patient. She told me my fiancé was on the phone, asking for me. Urgently.

I couldn’t recall the last urgent message I received from him, while he was the only tranquil control in my life. I threw Marcus a quick half-smile goodbye and followed the nurse to the main office, where the main phone was kept. I placed the phone to my ear and asked my fiancé what was wrong.

As seconds passed, silence rang on the other line, quickening my typically stable heartbeat with precognitive confusion. I heard him breathe my name.

He sounded weak. Hurt. Like the soldiers I try to aid before they are stolen by stillness. Worry held the air in a tense, iron embrace. “What’s going on?” I asked, scared, struggling to keep the ground from falling beneath me. He didn’t respond. I asked again and again, each time with more hysterical urgency sneaking into my voice.

He said my name again and, oh God, he sounded weaker. “Run,” he breathed. “Get out. The soldiers. Run.” And then I heard the utterly terrible ring of silence, suggesting the only thing that can uncap that bottle holding me. I gripped the phone to my ear and screamed his name. My hands grasped the edge of the table on which the phone was held and I screamed his name again, willing him, begging him with the shear force of my absolution to say my name back. I vaguely heard footsteps behind, and vaguely felt worried hands gripping my arms. But reality’s silence grabbed and knife and thrust it into my back, unleashing the screams for my husband.

And before I could take account of his last words, I felt the ring of the quiet dancing on the back of my neck.

And then I felt the fire, slamming me against the wall behind and shattering everything else I held dear to me.

The fire, the bomb.

Debris fell from the ceiling that was no longer there. I laid there staring up, feeling nothing but the ringing silence and the numbness to my life’s ruin. It smelled of destruction. I smelled the metallic scent of blood. Maybe my blood, maybe not. Could I move? I couldn’t think. But I tried. First my fingers, then my toes. I breathed and closed my eyes. When I could, I gathered what was left of my physical strength and pushed myself off of the bed of debris.

The room and the ruin spun around my cracked head.

Oh God, the pain. The pain I felt. I had no idea a human could feel this much pain. A pain so strong that the grey, red, and other miscellaneous colors I could have seen were blotched by a searing, white color. But I ignored it. I balanced my body on my hands and knees and crawled slowly out of what was left of the room. I heard nothing. But sweet God, what I saw.

My nurses, the doctors, seeing nothing, lying in their own life’s blood. My soldiers, stolen by death before nature could prevail. And Marcus… where was his smile? Where was the gleam in his eyes? His right leg and part of his chest, and his eyes’ gleam and his beautiful smile were stolen, stolen by the bomb.

I was the only one, they later said. The only one that survived. But, you see, I didn’t survive. I was as much taken by that bomb as Marcus was. Staring down at his unbelievably torn body, a laugh leaked from the bottomless pit by which my heart was replaced.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. I laughed at the destruction around me. I laughed at the torn, bloodied bodies I once aided. I laughed at the outcome of my wedding, at the outcome of my husband, of my life. I laughed so hard that tears finally leaked from my eyes.

And then, through the dust clouding my late workplace and home, over the bodies I shared coffee and smiles and words with, I saw Him. For the first time.

It’s funny, I thought he was God at first. And then I realized, why would God have the nerve to peer at what became of his children? No, he wasn’t God.

He was close though.

He is close.

He stood there, staring at me with those colorless and blinding eyes. I don’t remember if his feet were touching the ground or not. The aura in which he was engulfed was so white and heavenly that I don’t even know if I noticed it.

Then, with the will of his gaze, I swear to you, my wounds closed instantly. I stood with strength I had no idea I obtained. My feet left the ground and I’m telling you, his gaze carried me in an embrace warmer than any I’d received, and more comforting than my husband had ever been. Ha, I guess I was cheating. I should probably feel guilty.

But then, I didn’t feel anything. Just blackness. And that’s all I was. Blackness.

And here I am.

Countless years later. Writing this confession on this crumbled paper with this stolen pen, Him watching my every move.

His name? I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you my name either. I couldn’t tell you if Marcus’ name was really Marcus if I was ever really a nurse, or if I was ever really engaged. Maybe I was born in this institution, into the brick walls and under the leaking ceiling with that slowly circling fan. I can’t tell you my father’s last name, or if I have any sisters. But this is my story. Believe everything I say, or don’t if you prefer. They are both intelligent actions. They are both suggested in this case.

But I promise you this.

Everything I say is real. Everything I say is not.

A Dream Relived

17 Aug

I’d like to say I couldn’t imagine that it would happen again.

Or that the memories from a feeling trapped in my veins were completely unexpected to soak back into my blood and set my life on fire. I truly yearn to scratch up any remaining support for my inevitable, undeniable innocence.

But you and I and the ground I walk on and the sky I watch and the air I breathe all know that will never be the case. You never disappeared. You were just held in hold, as if time froze in an ice cube from last summer, through the equally wretched winter, until now.  And you and I and the ground I walk on and the sky I watch and the air I breathe are all witness to the melting of the frozen cuffs grasping time, grasping your movie star smile and my happiness. And as we walked upon the rocky round, as we watched the dimming sky, and as we breathed each other’s air, you brought me back to myself. And I’d like to say I was blind to it. I wasn’t.

I was surprised you didn’t know I had flown to your country, though. It was so advertised by shared friends and family that I was convinced it had reached you through the grape vine. Nonetheless, when I told you I’d be visiting your town and I read your clear excitement, familiar butterflies quaked my gut. I never knew why or how you evoked that reaction from me. It was always evident though. Even when I reached the point of convincing myself I could move on easily. Even then, at the slight thought of your name that led to a fading memory, which led to an imprisoned emotion. Even then, you somehow flipped some switched in my stomach, or opened some cage in my head releasing toxic amounts of dopamine through my body.

It made me smile. Through all of the lies I’d been living, and the quiet pain I’d been suffering from the weight of my life, you made me smile.

You looked…. indescribable. Your smile could stop anyone in their tracks. It was so perfect I wanted to just shut my lips until you would look away. My smile couldn’t compare to yours. Nearly. But you made me smile despite my insecurities.

You had the same chocolate eyes and matching hair. Same general facial structure. But, you’d grown. You were no longer the cute boy I’d met and fell for as a more immature girl. You’d become something of a man. Even your stance had matured: back straight and hands tucked in your pockets. It seemed as if with that one year gain, your timid insecurities flew away as easily as the seconds had. You were a man, and I remained stuck in between ten and twenty, lingering in time and waiting for the maturity you obtained.

I was so nervous that, with you, I wouldn’t be able to talk freely, as I felt with everyone else in the past year or so. Awkwardness became my new unfortunate definition. Stuttering, not talking loud enough, spacing out, the like. But when we began walking down those familiar roads, through our memories together it seemed, words leaked from my mouth as easily as it had last year.

I’d like to say it’s not as much as you that made our annual meeting completely incredible, but the me that you restored. But, again, I’m forced to realize that you fit into the equation like the remaining puzzle piece. Your smile made me nervous, but in the sense that I hadn’t discovered with others. I’d remembered that sense of freedom from the forever ago, but I can honestly say I hadn’t thought it could return. It had though.

Somewhere in the negligence of time or weather, we found our way to the one cement structure near the recreational center: the one spot easily marked as ours. As we climbed up to the flat top, you spoke of how you’re heading to the army in two years. I told you I would join you in the years following my college graduation, but you insisted you would never let me.

We spoke of everything for seconds, minutes, hours up there. Your deep, strongly accented voice made me laugh or cry or blush. I taught you the time step, hoping you would grab my hand to steady yourself. You wouldn’t stop shrugging your black jacket off your shoulders just to place them on mine for “five minutes”. You said you liked the cold. With each word formed by your beautiful lips and sent by your rich voice, I learned and loved more about you.

You shivered so hard, I was afraid you’d shatter if I touched you.

“Are you cold?” You asked, despite your present condition being conspicuously worse than mine.

I shrugged and giggled as another set of shivers were sent down your underdressed back. “Take your jacket back,” I insisted as I slipped it off my shoulders and held it out for you. Your eyes displayed pure unspoken defiance. With equal rebellion, trying to hold back my uncontrollable smile, I placed it on the ground behind where you were sitting.

I can imagine that through your grin, you were thinking how impossible I am. But I was more than glad I wasn’t forced by my own self-consciousness to veil myself with the mask of the perfect girl. I felt so real and alive than I had in a very long time.

“How about a hug?” I heard you suggest. I couldn’t exactly detect what bled from your voice – maybe coldness, maybe humor. Maybe excitement. I used every tint of strength I obtained to hold back my own excitement. I shrugged as if a hug meant nothing more than a hug, and glanced down at my iPod before inching towards you.

Whenever, that night, words escaped me, I would simply flip through my playlist so I wouldn’t have to meet your gaze.

I sincerely hope you didn’t notice.

Your arms were so inviting, though, and I couldn’t do much but hide myself in your warmth. It was an incredible feeling, as if the warmth your shudders had created were passed in a surge of affection towards me.

Almost unwillingly, I dug myself closer and closer to you, resting my head on your shoulder and my Heart closer to yours. You nudged your cheek on my forehead and I could feel the calm warmth of your breath.

The silence was beautiful.

It was as if the slice around us created an orchestra of music just for our ears. The wind whistled through the hands of the trees and the birds sang for us. Your breath flew in and out rather quickly – if by the cold or by the same reason mine was, I don’t know. But we were still in the life around us, trembling to its soothing beauty and to each other.

Before the birds around us could utter another breath of song, your forehead was leaning on my own.

My mind had drained of everything. All of my problems, my insecurities, waiting for me less then a mile away. I couldn’t think, I could feel. And hell, did I feel. I felt scared and worried and nervous and excited. And happy.

Your lips were so close to mine before your logic shattered the silence.

“We shouldn’t,” you murmured.

And I knew. I knew probably more than you did. I understood that the minute you took your first steps to your house and I to mine, my chest would be quaking from a raw wound. One kiss was pouring salt into my heartache, resurrected from last year.

I knew. But I didn’t care.

My eyes remained closed and my lips didn’t utter a word.

“You’ll be going to America so soon. We can’t do this. We can’t do this,” your voice was drenched and bloody with pre-existing pain. I could hear it so clearly. It felt so real that all of my doubts had faded by that moment.

Seconds ticked by before I spoke the only response I could afford. “I know.”

With that, the silence grew and the music played again. We didn’t try; we didn’t speak, or think. All we did was feel, and gravity conducted the rest.

And the second your lips touched mine, all of the possibilities existent between us played to an extent of extreme.

Your lips it a match to a side of my life I’d ever discovered before. I wasn’t just a sad girl right then. Everything I had lost returned with one kiss. I smiled and laughed and cried and understood that maybe you were more than a kiss with a name.

And that night, as we held each other and walked the rocky ground and watched the rising sun and breathed each other’s air, just for that night, you were mine.

And with words released into the air, and with our first steps apart after a night in a dream, I have nothing to hold onto but the mere words to be continued.


9 Jul

Maggie stared into his deep chocolate eyes, innocent hope filling them, momentarily forcing her to forget about Zach. She instantly broke the gaze, fear freezing all of the blissful butterflies in her stomach. I have a boyfriend, I have a boyfriend. Despite her attempts to keep it hidden, Ari, as always, easily read the distress in her eyes as if they were an open book. What are you thinking?” he asked softly, keeping his distance. Maggie spoke the truth. It was always the truth with Ari. Always.

“I wish we could have a moment that, when it’s over, it would have never happened,” she glanced at him. Odds were he didn’t understand. She wished he didn’t . But what doesn’t Ari understand?

“What would you do in that moment?” His eyes were intense, filling Maggie with a feeling of doubt towards everything she believed in; he shouldn’t make her feel so… wanted. Maggie gulped, the butterflies resurrecting in her gut. Once again, she told him to effortful truth. She needed to. If it didn’t leave her lips, it would have been bottled up in her chest, gathering the stray emotions until it explodes and blows more holes in her heart. “I’d kiss you.”

She refused to meet his eyes, but, being Ari, he caught them anyway. “I would too,” he chuckled, running his fingers through his thick, beautiful hair. Maggie didn’t exactly find the humor in the situation, considering she had a perfectly good boyfriend waiting for her in America, and she was falling for Ari all over again. Why did he have that effect on her? Anger suddenly surged through Maggie’s pure soul, an emotion as foreign, as alien, as anything. It was fair. It wasn’t fair! Why did she have a boyfriend? Why did the world have to be cruel enough to separate Ari and Maggie across oceans? And why did Ari make her ask all of those questions??

Maggie turned her book to him, unable to meet his kind eyes. She knew she would melt into them; all of her restraints, any standing barriers, would come tumbling to the floor from those eyes. “What are you thinking?” He asked again. She could feel the heat radiating off of his body as he stepped even closer to her neglectful stance. They were practically touching. “You know you can tell me anything.”

His soft voice drained the rage from Maggie’s heart, filtering it to mere sadness. Almost to herself, she whispered from the truth of her heart, “This is the moment”. After she realized she’d said it out loud, if only a mere breath, she mentally punched herself in the gut. Though she knew she didn’t elaborate, she also knew that Gal understood the recognition. This is the moment that she wished she could forget when it’s finished. She wished with such a strong urge that she could stretch on her toes and brush his lips with hers, learning if they felt as soft as they looked. Maggie sighed and shut her eyes, knowing that she’d have to say goodbye sooner or later. Her flight back to America was a few hours, and her mom called her twice from her cousin’s house. She turned around, opened her eyes, and for the first time, she looked at him. Meaning, she really looked at him. She soaked up every aspect and feature about this man only a year older than she, but clearly a man nonetheless. His smooth, dark brown hair fell just about his eyes, causing his big hands to, every few moments, brush it back from his face. My God, those hands. Those hands that fit perfectly with Maggie’s when they danced to “Fall For You”, by Secondhand Serenade. Just them, trying to figure out the next steps under the setting sun and in the shadows casted by the towering trees. Awkward, but perfect.

His lean but think arms bulged out from under his T-Shirt, the light blue accenting his olive skin. Maggie wanted so badly for Ari to take her into his arms and just hold her forever. And then his eyes. His chocolate eyes that seemed to grip her, capture her in a cage of beautiful weakness. It was as if she could fall into his warm gaze, drowning in thick waves of lovely perfection. He was perfect. He was perfect.

He noticed her staring.

He ran his fingers through his hair, once again tousling up his hair in a cute, boyish way. He met her gaze again with such seriousness she was taken aback. “I guess this is goodbye,” Maggie said softly, before he could say something that could, if possible, break her heart even more. His lips opened, paused, then closed again, as if he was about to say something but decided against it. He seemed so sad, so broken, Maggie could feel that distress radiating from his body. “I guess so,” he sighed.

They stood there, wasting several precious moments to simply look at each other, breathing in each other’s presences before they really had to say goodbye. “Do I at least get a hug?” Ari half smiled and she joined in easily. Maggie nodded and retreated to a place she wished she could call home. He seemed to have gathered her in his arms and she let him; Maggie simply gave into him. By this point, every trace of Zach had left her mind, and she rested her head on his shoulder. Maggie felt his lips in her hair and she closed her eyes, enjoying the moment. After far too soon, he broke the amazing embrace and she stepped away. “Goodbye,” he whispered.

Before tears had a chance to fall from her eyes, Maggie made an attempt to crack a joke. “Wow, this is super depressing. I feel like we’re on some kind of soap opera,” she forced a giggle, and his lips quirked up, but he remained as solemn as before.

“Maybe one more hug?” Ari smiled and Maggie grinned at this, nodding and mumbling an “alright”. He closed the space between them and folded her in his arms, engulfing her, become one. She breathed in his scent, a delicious mixture between mint and jasmine. Maggie held onto him tightly, and he returned the intensity, even bringing more, if possible. “You know,” he whispered softly in Maggie’s ear, “we can have that moment”.

She froze and stepped away from him, her heart skipping a beat and freezing over all at once. Oh my God, I have a boyfriend. I have a boyfriend! A great, amazing, respectful boyfriend! But why do I feel like I need Ari so much? Because I do need him. But I can never have him.

“No, we can’t,” Maggie replied, attempting to apply false strength to her words. So much for strength; her voice cracked. He took a step towards her and cupped a hand on her cheek. Maggie slightly gasped, feeling electric shocks at his touch.

“I think we can.” Ari stared into her eyes, captivated, hypnotized by his intense yet gentle glare. She stared back helplessly, physically and emotionally unable to move her feet. “Can you forget?”

She couldn’t speak. All she could manage was looking into his wide eyes, waiting for his next move.

They were silent for what seemed like infinity until he slowly started lowering his face to hers, like gravity pulling them together. Maggie’s eyes automatically closed, and she felt his breath warm on her cheek. His nose skimmed hers and, as odd as it sounds, Maggie resisted the urge to giggle from both the strange gesture and the butterflies in her gut. When Ari’s lips brushed hers, she practically unwillingly let all guards left crumble to the ground. Ari kissed her then. As in, he really kissed her. Some distant part of Maggie screamed out how wrong it was and yet the other part, the majority of her heart and mind, didn’t care. She was always the one to live for today. And if this wasn’t living, she honestly didn’t know the meaning of life.

His lips left hers far too soon, and when Maggie opened her eyes, she found him staring at her. Her lips tingled from the aftershock of the kiss, causing her body to erupt with the strongest emotional bliss it had ever experienced. She was on the verge of grinning at Ari and telling him all of the wonderful feelings she felt right then, but, as she slowly faded back into reality, she remembered. Oh my God; I have a boyfriend. I have a boyfriend and I just kissed another guy!! Oh my God, technically, I just cheated! Before Maggie could start hyperventilating, she closed her eyes and breathed out deeply, as if everything, all the sins she had just committed, could fly away as easily as that single breath.

“What are you thinking?” She heard Ari ask. She opened her eyes and melted at the purity, sincerity, and mere innocence in his eyes. Maggie didn’t know how she couldn’t be angry with him; he just pushed passed everything she believed in, and he still emitted a heart-breaking display of innocence. “How to you feel?”

“Confused,” Maggie remarked, fidgeting with her necklace. “One thing I’m sure of is I won’t forget that.” Ari shut his eyes and let his head fall, something she realized he did whenever he was either distressed or in pain. “Me too,” he chuckled wryly.

“Well,” Maggie breathed after a second. “I guess this is goodbye?”

He ran his fingers through his hair. “I guess so.”

“Until next year, Ari,” Maggie made the attempt to smile, desperate to find that crack of light in the nauseating grey coursing through her veins. He smiled softly in reply and put up his hand, marking the farewell he failed to say with words. Her smile in return was, like his, masking the unbelievable amount of pain clenching her heart, and they started to back away slowly from each other. Maggie turned and began stepping towards her aunt’s house, glancing back only once to notice Ari glance back at the same time.

Maggie pivoted back around and breathed, trying to untangle the knot of confusing emotions forming in her soul. With each step, the emotions grew and tore her heart open even more.

Glimpsing at the sky, Maggie noticed one stray bird soaring behind the crowd, the flock. And, as she made her way to her destination, she wondered if that bird felt as alone as she felt right then.


Timeless (by Alexandra Monir) Continued

8 Jul

This is a continuation of the story, TIMELESS, by Alexandra Monir. If you haven’t read the book, I sincerely insist that you do; it is definetely one of my favorite novels! Below (in the bold) is an excerpt of the last few paragraphs of the book. Enjoy!

The next morning, Michele walked up the front steps to school, a spring in her step. For the first time since her arrival in New York, she was ready to live – truly live – in her own time again. She finally felt ready to surrender to the present.

As she was digging in her bag for her homework assignment, she heard the sound of a late student skidding into the room just as the final bell rang.

‘Class, we have another new transfer student,’ Mr. Lewis announced. ‘Everyone, meet Philip Walker.’

Michele’s head snapped up in shock. Oh – my – God. She was too stunned to move a muscle as she locked eyes with the spitting image of a young Philip Walker. Michele realized with a jolt that this was who she had seen by the school office that day when she’d thought she had seen her Philip.

The new student continued to look at her with those intense sapphire eyes, even as the teacher handed him a folder of class materials. As he reached for the folder, Michele saw it on his finger – the gold signer ring that Philip had given her. The very ring she had lost.

Michele smiled at him in amazement as Philip’s words echoed in her ears: ‘I will find a way back to you. No matter what, I promise.’”

Stunned and yet in a heart-soaring state of awe, Michele was suddenly overcome with the temptation to burst into tears and to leap into her Philip’s arms. Even then, though sternly instructing herself to hold back the waterworks until they were alone, she could feel the stinging in her eyes and the blurriness taking hold of her vision. A million questions were dashing through her mind: how was it possible? Is it really him? Why does he all of a sudden look like a teenager again? Michele yearned the presence of her soul mate, and desperately missed his warm arms around her, or his bittersweet song as his fingers raced across his piano’s black and white keys. Michelle studied his every beautiful feature, not catching the perplexed expression on his face. His exquisite eyes were the color of sapphires, obtaining such a deep blue that, many times, she thought she could fall into them and land in the middle of the ocean. His luscious hair was longer, falling in thick, dark waves to his shoulders and sliding over his eyes every now and then. Everything was perfect, was the same, except for the absence of his 20th century and very gentleman-like outfit. In exchange, Philip wore a black T-shirt with a picture of “Bullet for my Valentine” printed on the front. His skinny jeans were dark blue and hung just below his waist, revealing his surrender to the 21st century style: I-like-to-strut-around-school-with-my-undies-hanging-loose. Though, despite Michele’s distaste in that style, to say that she liked it on him was an understatement. Her eyes drifted down to his finger, and she had to use all of her willpower to hold back a giggle of glee. He had the ring! When she lost it, she was 110% sure that it was the last time she would hold it, considering that she lost it at some point in the 1900s. Even though Philip himself was from the 20th century, she found it mind-blowing that, not only did he find it, but he kept it for all of these years. She was pretty sure that her heart skipped a beat at the sight of him as she blinked away tears and suddenly realized that she had become first period’s daily entertainment. Both Philip and Mr. Lewis – and pretty much the other twenty five kids in the classroom – were eyeing her curiously.

                Mr. Lewis cleared his throat. “Um, Michele, you ok?”

                Great! Attract attention to yourself, why don’t you? She shrugged him off like she was totally fine, but she could feel her cheeks heating up, and could hear smirks because of the rosy color that never failed to blanket her face in times of humiliation. She stole a glance at Philip, just to catch him scrutinizing her like she was a lunatic and/or a creepy stalker inspecting her new prey. Maybe she was a lunatic, and, as for being a stalker, she would stalk Philip any day if it meant being near him. So much for getting accustomed to living happily in her own time. But technically, Philip wasin her time, right? Michele stifled a fake cough as she muttered, “Uh, yeah, I just have allergies to, erm, dust.” Dust?! Really? Michele mentally kicked herself in the butt. How more obvious can I get??

                Poor Mr. Lewis had no idea how to react, considering his lack of children and a spouse, and therefore his lack of knowledge of female issues. She fought back the urge to flee from the situation altogether; the only aspect keeping her from leaping out the door was that her Philip was right in front of her. Returning back to reality from a mild state of shock, she, for the first time since he’s been here, soaked in his expression. He was confused, to state the least. Confused and completely creeped out from the scene she was creating. Michele’s insides froze, as she considered a painful fact. Could it be that he doesn’t even remember who I am?If that was the case, then there was no point in even talking to him alone. For the most part, she realized that he probably wasn’t even the same person. Having the privilege of traveling through multiple lifetimes – her hand flew up to the key around her neck that started her journey – she experienced things that were probably forbidden to experience in the first place. She wouldn’tbe surprised if she found herself having a one-on-one conversation withHades in her after life. But honestly, it was worthit. Michele had no regrets, nothing that she would take back, even if it meant spending eternity in the depths of hell withthat creepy three headed dog and a large chew toy. Despite her being content with her past, she now recognized the high chances of a totally other soul in his body. What can she say? God works in strange ways.

                Mr. Lewis broke the desperately awkward ice that formed in the air around us. He addressed the class, his eyes displaying exasperation to move on. He obviously wasn’t good with this sort of things, and Michele, for one, was thankful of the fact. “Philip just moved from Australia – ”

                “You mean the weird, savage place where people live with kangaroos and then shoot them for fun?” Ben interrupted, glancing at Michele every couple seconds. He definitely took to heart the little scene she constructed before and seemed envious in a way. The class giggled like they were back in kindergarten as Ben’s face morphed into a smug expression, though Michele really couldn’t find the humor in the joke. Heck, she didn’t even realize it was a joke until after her peers erupted into giggles. She hushed a neighbor and averted her eyes back to Philip, who was standing at ease in the front of the room, his eyes rolled up in annoyance. Sheesh, this really isn’t him, Michele gaped mentally. I have never seen Philip roll his eyes once before.

                “Class! Class!” Mr. Lewis ordered, scolding. “Nobody shoots kangaroos in Australia, and nobody is savage there either. Now be quiet and listen.” He turned to face Philip, and Michele could vaguely see an apologetic expression displaying in his eyes. Philip didn’t respond, or barely even acknowledged the teacher’s presence. “Philip, would you like to share a little bit about yourself to the class?”

                Michele’s lips twitched excitedly. Maybe if she could hear a little bit about him, then she could determine if he’s her Philip or not. She sat up straight, excited, and leaned forward.

                He glanced at Mr. Lewis with ticked-off eyes, and then faced the class. Michele could tell that he did his best not to look at her, and he was doing pretty damn well. He started speaking in a thick, Australian accent. “Uh, I’m Philip… Phil Walker. I’m from Sydney.”

                Philip – uh, Phil – turned back to the teacher who was leaning against his desk. So far, the chance that this attractive-in-an-emo-bad-boy-way that had the same eyes and name as Philip was in fact Philip was thinning rapidly from slim to none. Slumping back against her chair, stunned, Michele ran her fingers through her hair. I don’t get it, she thought desperately. What, is God throwing me a tease because I bended the rules a little bit? To Michele, it seemed a bit harsh, considering that she could feel her heart breaking all over again, right after the tiny taste of curing she received.

                “Anything else?” Mr. Lewis asked, urging him on.


                Mr. Lewis let out a hurmph and pushed off of his desk. “Ok, now let’s see where you can sit…” His eyes roamed the classroom, enlarged behind his thick glasses, and settled on a seat right between Michele and Ben. “You may go and sit in that desk right over there.” Mr. Lewis pointed to the seat as she slid farther down her seat and blushed furiously. Ugh, how is she going to live through the day?

                Phil’s eyes jumped from one seat to another, openly desperate to find a seat other than the one next to Michele. He obviously knew where the desk was, though he still asked, “Where?”

                “Right over there.”


                “Yes, Phil, there.”

                Phil reluctantly bent down to swing his black bag over his shoulder, and dragged his feet to the desk neighboring Michele’s. Though she knew that it was against all of the implied regulations that were a package deal to her new conclusion, her heart fluttered in denial as he drew near.

                His bag dropped to the floor witha thump and he slid into his chair witha sigh. Michele leaned forward in her seat, her head dropped so her curly hair concealed her eyes. Glancing quickly at Phil with her peripheral vision, she caught him staring at her. She cringed without even reading his expression, frightened like a kitten for three reasons. First, she threw at him yet another reason to think that she’s a complete creep; as everyone learned in kindergarten, staring isn’t nice.  Second, if he was glaring at her, she honestly couldn’t take it. She probably would havebroken down witha river of tears pooling on her desk before the bell even rang. And third… no matter which Philip it was – Phil, the punk rocker who seemed exactly the opposite of Philip, or Philip, her soul mate for all of eternity – she was still under the impression that there was hope. As a dedicated optimist, she was practically frantically searching for a little crack of sunshine in all of this, one little spark of hope that would keep her from giving up the cause and keep her dignity alive. At this point, it was even beyond her dignity, which was a pretty big step for her. Philip showed her everything that she had lost when her mom died. He relit the fire that had blown out inside of her, even when she was 100% sure that her mom was the only one who could light it in the first place.

                She was a millisecond away from averting her eyes back to her fidgeting hands at killing herself for peeking when she realized with some oddly flattering form of shock that he was looking at her. As in, reallylooking at her. As in he was scrutinizing her so deeply that he scarcely noticed that she was staring back at him. It was mesmerizing, the way that his sapphire eyes flared like blue fire with such intensity that it sent shivers down her back. Their eyes locked when he noticed her glance, and emotions flickered across Phil’s face: concentration, confusion, frustration, and one that she couldn’t put her finger down on. What is it? Is it just because her brain isn’t working properly due to the way that his stare turns her brains to scrambled eggs, or what? Then, it popped into her head, and as corny as it sounds, the best way to describe it honestly was like a light bulb flickering on. And her heart froze in a whirlpool of emotions that were overflowing her body. The last emotion that she recognized in Phil’s beautiful eyes was a faint hint of familiarity.

                Shocked, Michele finally tore her eyes from his and, as she averted them to Mr. Lewis – though her stunned mind didn’t allow her to make out his words – Phil cleared his throat and looked down. He recognized her! Well, sort of. But at least it was something to hold on to. It was like out of a world of new found darkness and desperation, a tiny ray of sunrise peaked out from the horizon and streaked the black sky. And though it wasn’t much, and his expression elucidated that his sweet moment of clarity had been wiped away, her optimism insisted that it could only get better from there.

                Almost as if on cue, someone had nudged her arm from the side: a gesture to turn around. Before she did, her lips twitched in anticipation. She knew that touch before; Michele realized it was Phil before she even peaked. It is incredible, really, how someone could become so accustomed to anything and everything about a person: their touch, their smell, even their mere presence. It may be rare, but as Michele had learned to discover, rarity played a major role in her everyday life.

                Her heart pounding a thousand beats a second, she glanced over her shoulder, nothing but Philip – old and new – darting from wall to wall of her mind.

                Michele had to remind herself to breathe, the sight so natural and common and yet the most wondrous thing in the world. She never really got used to Phil, and the effect that it left on her mind was leaving her faint. Phil was watching her intently with those large azure eyes with one arm extended, offering a folded slip of paper.

                Michele peaked nervously at Mr. Lewis, who was too engrossed on his discussion about John Adam’s presidency to notice their lapse in attention. Turning back to Phil, Michele gulped silently and hesitantly reached for the slip of paper in his hand. And, as she gripped the tiny, ripped sheet of lined paper her skin gingerly touched his, and electric sparks shot up her arm.

                She gasped and met his blue eyes, only to find his as wide and shocked as her own. In all truthful honesty, she shouldn’t have been that surprised. Those pleasurable sparks of – for a lack of a better word– love ran through her body at his mere touch; they always have. Her brain should havebeen accustomed to it by now. In fact, her mind was barbarically screeching to the rest of her body, “Shut your mouth! Act natural! Act cool!” but of course, her stubborn everything from her neck down wouldn’t even appear to be listening. So much for the whole “act natural” façade. Act natural? She might as well have put a sign around her neck in bright neon colors that read, “I’m a creep that freaks out from a strangers simple touch.” And that wasn’t even a touch. That was like a skim of the hand. Yeah, not a touch. And still she couldn’tmanage to shut her gaping mouth.

                She finally mastered up the will to pry her lips closed. Nervously, she glanced over her shoulder at Mr. Lewis, who was, once again, too engrossed in his discussion to notice their little romantic scene back there. Romantic? No, that’s not quite the word. For Michele, maybe, but not for Phil. At least not yet. The word was more… eerie. Eerie and yet familiar at the same time. Like a stranger that you know you’ve seen before, and yet you’re 110% sure you’ve never met. Ugh, life. Wait, let’s rephrase. Ugh, Michele’s life.  

                Almost automatically, and eyeing the memorable ring that was hugging his index finger, Michele gripped the slip of paper and slid it out of his hand.

                She sighed to herself, shaking from post-Phil affect, and opened the folded note. In scribbled handwriting – he obviously didn’t inherit Philip’s careful and precise hand – Phil wrote,

Do I know you?”

                Now, if none of these other incidents cued the tears, this one just did the trick. He remembered her. He actually rememberedher. How was that even possible? She really didn’t have a clue, and at the time, as tears were swelling up in her eyes, she really didn’t care much at all.

                Michele flipped the paper over eagerly and scribbled, “Yes” on the back. Making sure she discreetly cleared her face from stray tears, she turned her head to him and handed him the note. She, as a very respectful-of-privacy kind of girl – as if – she sincerely tried to turn her head. Settling the dispute withher head and her heart by staring intently at the window next to Phil and watching him with her peripheral vision, she kept tabs on his emotions. He hadn’t even opened it yet. Why?

                Her knees started knocking together in excitement as he turned the paper over and stared at the words. Just after he read them, and flashes of emotions played across his face, the bell rang, cutting the stiff classroom air like a knife.

                Michele bent down to grab her backpack and swung it around her shoulder before she made her way out of the room. Don’t look back, don’t look back, don’t look back. She had made the decision that she already made a big enough fool of herself for one day, and trying to talk to him wouldn’texactly help the situation. Yeah, her defective social skills would help as much as pouring diet soda onto a dying plant. Not the sharpest idea.

                However, as she soon realized, the paranoia wasn’t needed and, well, was going to have to wait for some time.

                “Hey,” she heard a deep, familiar voice from behind her, an Australian accent tinting the velvet voice that she once knew. A warm hand rested on her shoulder, a hand that she used to lean into as she fell asleep. Or, at least a similar hand. She wasn’t exactly sure yet.

                It was enough to turn to head, though. When she did, her eyes met a mere few inches from Phil’s. Her breath couldn’t catch, she was practically paralyzed – she was immune to any form of body control that she just had moments ago –  and her mind was barely a mind any more. Scrambled thoughts, shrieking voices like a failed attempt at harmony, thoughts crashing into the walls of her head like the ocean’s waves against jagged rocks in a storm. At some hidden corner at the back closet of her mind, she heard a muffled voice shriek, “Move, you idiot!” with such gusto that that tiny part of her brain was taken aback. She gained the realization that she had stopped moving, and rubberneckers, including Ben, halted on their tracks to observe the obscene scene. Well, to put it more precisely, Ben halted on his tracks to glareat the scene. As far as Michele could tell, this wasn’t the best of his days. But, at the time, it had barely occurred to her that anything was happening. For all she knew, the whole world was a million light years behind them. And they were flying. Somewhere engulfed in a blue as deep as the glittering sea before a sunset. Blue was all she could taste, see, smell, all she knew and all she would ever know. And it’s been so long since she’s been there. In that beautiful place that could only compare to paradise, and even there, paradise would be dulled next to this wondrous world that belonged to them.

                Suddenly, the ocean, her own world, theirown world vanished beneath her as Phil tore his eyes from hers and glimpsed around himself. The action seemed almost reluctant – and the thought made her heart skip a beat – but she couldn’t know for sure. But all she didknow was that Phil was as deep in that dream as she was, because he hadn’tdetected the watchers either. Muttering something under his breath, he grabbed her hand and started making his way down the hall, hauling a shocked Michele along with him. The snickering high school students scattered to their classrooms, giggling about what they had just observed. As if this day couldn’t get any worse.

                “Where the hell are you going?!” Ben roared from behind them, though class had started minutes ago and the hallways were cleared out. Michele could honestly care less about being late for class, though it could have well been the fact that her mind and soul were still stirring from, well, Phil. If she had the power to say something – anything – oh, she would have tackled that chanced from behind. But, no, her spirit was so dazzled by the simple presence of this new boy in her old soul mate’s being that her right mind could hardly keep up with the situation.

                A negligent Phil kept strutting down the hall, either purposely ignoring a fuming Ben advancing on them or too lost in his own thoughts to even notice. One or the other, Ben was furious for some strange reason, and Phil ignoring him was the feather that weighed him down and threw him off the edge of the cliff.

                “Hey! Scumbag, I’m talking to you!” He stomped right up next to Phil and glared at him, his eyes frighteningly wild from behind long lashes. Seriously, she could haveseen a lunatic on the streets of Harlem with a gun that obtained eyes saner than Ben’s. And what’s odd is that whenever he and Michele were together, there was never a moment when he wasn’t cool and composed, like the majority of the “popular kids” in high school. And now? Forget about coming home, buddy, because he’s got to get used to an exciting place called a psychiatric ward.

                Phil, whose hand was still linked to Michele’s, planted his feet on the ground and eyed Ben, his expression dangerous. It was more than terrifying to view it from a paralyzed set of eyes, and, in reality, she should have broken it up right there and then before matters got worse. Once again, her obstinate spirit refused to listen to advice and stayed silent in a state of shock. “Can I help you?” Phil seemed to be at total ease, soaking in Ben’s appearance from head to toe like a sponge soaking up water, but also frighteningly like he was examining an enemy before he struts into battle.

                Ben, who hadn’t even noticed Michele even existed in his ludicrous rampant, finally glanced at her. Well, he glanced at a part of her. Ben stared with a hard expression at their joined hands, and it just seemed to add some extra weight on his already-weighed-down self, and the more weight, the closer the temper meter neared to hysterical. His eyes shifted back to Phil’s who cocked an eyebrow, as if waiting for a reply.

                “Yeah,” Ben fumed, his fists balling and his top lip curling into a snarl. “You can. Let her go or you’re going to wish you never left Australia, you freaking foreigner.”

                Phil’s expression darkened. It was either Ben was extremely stupid or he had no idea of what was going on. Or he was terribly brave, which could have very well been the case, judging from previous actions, but that would just have roamed back to the “stupid” category. If Michele were in Ben’s place, she would have been shivering in her boots just by his expression. Nobody should really mess with Phil, by the looks of it.

                “Or what, Fabio?” Maybe it was for pride, or for show, or just because he wanted to, but Phil tugged Michele towards him and tucked her under his arm. Without thought – or so it seemed – Phil shifted her sort of in back, so if Ben grew Satan’s horns and started charging, he would pretty much take the bullet. Or the horns. Whichever comes first. “You going to hit me with your purse?”

                Ben laughed humorlessly, his face twisted into rage that definitely dampened his handsome features. “You have issues, man. Let go of her, or I’m going to make you.”

                Phil held a traumatized Michele tighter to his chest and replied with a curt, “No.”

                “You asked for it.” Ben swung his arm back and Michele gasped. Is he going to hit Phil?! She was about to scream, though her hands were covering her mouth like a muzzle and she was once again begging her stubborn spirit to keep quiet, when Phil shoved her behind him, grabbed Ben’s fist in the air, and decked him in the face. SMACK! Just like that. Ben slumped to the ground, unconscious. It was easy to tell that he was out cold, and Michele was in too deep of shock to break the still silence.

                She stared at him, stuttering, groping for the right words. After what she’d just experienced, Michele had seriously no intention of ticking him off, and then again she yearned to punch him in the gut for hitting her friend. But that wouldn’t do much, would it? “What? Uh… you… uh, what the –“

                Phil shrugged it off like it was nothing, though she could notice his fist reddening and swelling by the second. “It’s whatever,” he remarked, his eyes expressionless and almost bored.

                Rage swelled in Michele’s soul, like storm clouds rumbling into a clear sky, and thunder crackling like those old cliché thrillers. “One dark and stormy night,” the narrator would begin. Well, cue the lighting, because Michele was 110% ready to hurt somebody, preferably someone whose name is Phil.

                Her graceful hands balled up into unattractivefists and she stomped a step toward him. Expecting him to stumble back and shiver like a scared puppy who had an encounter with the most menacing dog at the park, she let herself trudge another step towards him, pretty much closing the space between them. He hadn’t staggered back like she had desperately hoped, but her face displayed no dismay, or, rephrased, her face exposed nothing of what she was experienced inside.

                She pointed a finger in his face. “If you ever hit any of my friends again then I will find some way to put your pretty little head on a platter. Got it?”

                His lips quirked up, showing that he was verging on the point of amusement. Oh, he was so close to a major spanking by peaceful Michele Windsor herself.  Bruised hand or not, he was going to get it.

                 She hoped.

                Phil started walking toward her, but the problem was that she was right in front of him. Even though it killed her macho façade, she backed up until her back hit the lockers and she was officially cornered. This is why Michele stayed out of fights. As hot tempered as she was, she was about as violent as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma who was just about to get eaten by this big bad wolf. He leaned in, his amusement flaring to the maximum, as was Michele’s frustration at not being able to do anything about it.

                Leaning even farther in – and with no possible place the Michele could escape to – he breathed a menacing, “And how exactly are you going to do that, Michele?”

                Push him! Her conscious was instructing her, though she was pretty sure if she went down with her mind’s screeching she would end up as poor Ben over there. Just do it! Do it! Mom would! She grunted at the annoying truth of the words. Mom definitely would push him, as the absolute minimum. He would be getting off easy if he just got a little push. Gathering up any of the dignity and willpower that were left, she shut her eyes and shoved him as hard as she could and with a GRUNT! he fell flat on his butt.

                Still on the ground, he peered at her from behind those thick, dark lashes with an expression that was impossible to read. And she honestly didn’t havethe courage to take the time to read it. Before he could manage to spit a word out of his lips, she started darting to outside, fully prepared to ditch with fully restored dignity inside of her.

                Just as her hands were reaching out to thrust open the school doors and dart into the blinding light of early spring, a strong hand gripped her elbow like a metal hold, swinging her back and allowing her to go absolutely no where. Michele didn’t need to glance back to reassure herself that it was in fact Phil whose hand was wrapped firmly around her arm. Ugh, so close!!!! Her mental voice whined as she tried and failed miserably to jerk her elbow out of his hold.

                “That wasn’tvery nice,” Phil remarked under his breath, amusement dripping from each word like honey from a spoon. Before Michel e could reply, Phil swung open the doors and dragged Michele outside, who was rapidly losing her new-found pride by the second.

                Michele’s heals dug into the ground, or as best as they could on pavement. “Let go of me,” Michele growled through her gritted teeth, but honestly, she was just wasting her breath. Phil was heaving her along so easily that she might was well be a 20 pound puppy resisting the pull on her leash.

                They approached a shiny, black truck, and, as angry as she was, she couldn’t help but notice how the color of his car was so dark in matched his thick hair. It even glistened the same way that Phil’s did in the sun. Not that it was completely dazzling or anything. Not at all.

                Still gripping her arm so tight that her fingers were starting to numb, Phil dug into his jeans pockets and fished out the keys to his car. At this point, Michele just stopped trying to escape. It was no use, as she had begun to realize. Now she started gathering brilliant ideas for evading from his car. She could always jump out, that is, if he didn’t lock it, and if he doesn’t have one of those bothersome cars where you can only unlock it from the driver’s side. Ugh. Though Michele was far from admitting it herself, her brilliant ideas were about to take her roughly about nowhere.

                With Phil’s strong hand still imprisoning her elbow, he clicked a button on hi s keys and the car emitted a beeping sound as the headlights flashed. He swung open the car door to the passenger seat and motioned with his hands to go in. The easiness that he emanated was past the point of frustration, and stubborn Michele refused to give into him. She kept her feet planted firmly on the ground, gritted her teeth and snarled, “I’m not going anywhere with you, you ignorant, obnoxious creep. You’d better let go of me right now or I’ll call the police and report you kidnapping me.” Phil stared at her, his impassive eyes hinting no form of emotion. Is he actually considering?? Her eyebrows quirked up, smug, ready to take on the proud lights of victory, with the paparazzi snapping pictures of her in every direction.  

                His eyes suddenly rolled, his features twisting into an expression of irritation. “Oh, just get in the car.”

                Michele stood her ground and placed her hands on her hips. “I won’t!” Yes, she realized how childish it sounded; she might as well have stuck her tongue out like a three year old taunted by the mean kid at the play ground. Michele actually had to restrain herself from stomping her foot.

                Phil sighed and took a step forward. Michele, who was soon to be cornered once again by Phil, began to stumble back when Phil reached out and grabbed her elbow again. He yanked her close to him, fast and possessive but oddly gentle, and she gasped as he slipped his other hand under her knees and picked her up as if she weighed ten pounds.

                “Let me down!” she shrieked, her heart racing.

                He ignored her plea and placed her gently down in the car. She stared at him, incredulous. “Really? Was that necessary?!”

                “Chill out. You were being difficult.”

                “So that’s what you do when people get difficult?? My God, you’vechanged.” She threw her hands up in exasperation and sighed as they fell to her lap along with her suddenly heavy head. Her head was practically fully forward now, and she fought back tears that sprung to her eyes. Oh, jeesh, why now?!

                “Don’t pretend like you know me, Michele.”

                She shut her eyes and could feel her heart breaking from the memories her and Philip had shared. “But I do.”

                Silence settled awkwardly, and Michele could feel his eyes boring holes into her but she refused to meet them. She simply let her head hang, and waited patiently for him to do something, anything, that would end this moment.

                He finally let out a breath and she heard the door slam shut and the one next to her open seconds later as Phil entered the car. He stuck the keys into the ignition and turned them, starting the black truck with a furious rumble. Backing out of the school’s driveway and onto the main road, Michele and Phil flew off to… somewhere. Nowhere in Michele’s eyes.

                As quickly as the grief arrived, it left just as rapidly, drained and replaced by, once again, anger. After moments of letting it heat up, Michele was amazing how ticked off she could really become. Seriously, her rage at everything that was going on – from him hitting Ben to forcing her into his car – the emotion that stirred inside her was just about beyond explanation.

 I don’t care if his eyes match Philip’s. I don’t care that he practically paralyzes my heart even though I just met him today. I really don’t care that I have the random temptation to run my fingers through his luscious hair, just like Philip always used to do when he was angry. No, I don’t care. I hate him. I HATE him. Michele tried to convince herself. She told herself over and over again that what she felt wasn’t anything but an extremely large amount of hate. But who was she fooling? Sure, she definitely had the urge to yank Phil’s gorgeous hair out of his head, or kick him below the belt until he’s writhing on the ground in tears. But Michele had to face facts. Was it possible to make Phil cry? She seriously doubted it. Even if it was, would she try it? But then again, what’s the point of even asking that question??

                Michele turned her head, her dignity reduced to, once again, zero. No, scratch that. Her dignity was in the negatives at this point. Staring out of the dirty windows and watching the scenery rush by in a swirl of colors, she asked angrily, “Where are we going?”

                He remained silent. The still air sat between them awkwardly, causing Michele to shift uncomfortably, until Phil replied, “My place.”

“Uh, why?”

“Because we have to talk.”

Michele eyed him warily. “And we couldn’t have talked in school?”

He chuckled and kept his gaze on the road. “You were created a pretty big scene in the classroom, and I didn’t want to add to the bravado.”

She folded her arms obstinately. “Well, who says it was all about you? Vain much?”

Glancing at her with an are-you-kidding-me expression, he insisted, “Oh, come on, Michele. I can’t be the only one between us that is sure that we’ve met before. And I’m just not talking about, like, an encounter at Starbucks on a Saturday morning; I’m talking about a real relationship. And that spark back in the classroom…” He trailed off, deep in thought.

He felt the spark too! At the time, Michele was 99.9% positive that the feeling was a one way street. It seems like the .1% won over this time. And not only did he feel that magical spark that she’s experienced so many times in her life with him, but he remembers her. Well, not exactly. Not yet. But at least he recognizes that she’s just not some girl. They’re getting somewhere.

But that didn’t mean that he was off the hook for acting like a jerk. Though her heart was beating like the invisibly rapid flaps of a bluebird’s wings, she was proud of her strong voice. “You sound crazy, Phil.”

Michele, waiting patiently for a response, received none at all. No anger, no frustration, no words of exasperation. Nothing. Zip. Zero.

The rest of the car ride was uneventful and, for a lack of a better phrase, painfully awkward. Country music from an FM station played softly in the background, but honestly, in the background of what? There was no ground in the first place. It had slipped out from under her and she was currently fallen flat on her butt in some rude kid’s car – though she knew she wasn’t fooling anybody by insisting that he’s just some random kid – listening to Casting Crowns as she stared out of the window.

After what seemed like forever, they pulled into a newly-built driveway and he parked directly in front of an exquisite, extravagant mansion of a house. Michele’s jaw dropped open, stunned, though she shouldn’t have been; the house that she presently lived in was more or less twice the size of this.

But it was pretty darn big.

“You livehere?” Michele whispered incredulously, almost to herself. Phil, however, took the keys out of the ignition and leaped out the door, making his way towards Michele’s. Swinging open the door for her, he replied, amused, “You shouldn’t be so surprised, Miss Rich-and-Famous. You’re a Windsor, aren’t you? Ah, a family rival.”

Michele nodded absentmindedly, still astonished by the enormous structure that he called a house. And it’s not as if she was being hypocritical; she was far from calling her grandparents’ house her home. She slept there, she ate there, but it would never be her home.  

She allowed him to help her out of the car, pleasantly – and internally – surprised at his gentleman-like act. It reminded her of Philip.

Shutting the door behind her, she trailed behind Phil, soaking in her surroundings.

It was beyond astonishing. An exquisite garden of bright dandelions and tulips sprout all around her, with roses of every shade creating a romantic aura. Brilliant trees, as strong and stubborn-looking as the Walker family itself, allowed the house some privacy from the outside world, but still let them watch the people walking or the beautiful sunset if they pleased.

“Are you coming or what?” Phil asked, laughing, already at the end of the trail while she was stuck, dumbfounded right smack in the middle. She blushed and scurried to where he was standing, careful not to ram into him like a crazy bull.

He inserted a fancy looking key into a keyhole, and they entered the most beautiful home that she’s ever seen, aside from her grandparents’. High cathedrals rose up to the sky and a large crystal chandelier hung from it. Intricate designs of crimsons and teals danced across the soft, yellow paint on the walls, giving off a modest, modern, and very homey feeling.

“Come on!” Phil urged, snapping her out of my trance. A warm hand grabbed hers, and she was in too deep a state of awe to resist. He led her to a beautifully contemporary kitchen, swung open a door, and walked her down two flights of stairs.

When they had finally reached the bottom, everything was so dark that she was even in that annoying state when she was having difficulties identifying what was reality. Phil’s hand released hers and she heard footsteps make a path toward the center of the floor. She heard a loud CLICK! and suddenly the room was flooded with extremely bright light, causing Michele to cringe and squint her eyes.

When her eyes had become accustomed to the brightness of the room, she finally took in her setting.

It was outstanding how much could fit into this room. She wouldn’t call it small – in fact, it was very, very large – but so many things were compacted into the space that it forced everything to looksmaller than it actually was. She noted a ping pong table, a pool table, a large flat screen TV with couches neighboring it, a huge mirror, racks of baby clothes, and so much more. But what really caught her eye was the grand piano that was lying all alone in the center of the room. It might as well have had a spotlight glaring down at it, for when Michele had noticed it, she couldn’t tear her eyes away.

Because this was the same piano that Philip, her old Philip, played on in the 1900s. She was so sure that this was Philip’s piano that she would have bet anything on it. And Michele was never a gambler.

With so many questions shooting through her soul like rockets and yet fear of the answers blanketing her confidence, she was anxious to talk about something else. She glanced at Phil who was, embarrassingly, leaning across the room on the wall parallel to her, watching her every move like a hawk. Her cheeks burned that familiar rosy red, and she pretended that she didn’t notice his full lips twitch up to a smile.

“Aren’t you afraid that your parents are going to catch you ditching school?”

He didn’t reply at first, then he pushed off the wall and ambled towards her. “At this point of my life, my parents are the least of my worries.”

Michele ogled at him, confused. Philip was always concerned about his family. Something was wrong, and she could feel it from the bottom of her soul. Well, everything was wrong about this situation, but something was off. “Why?” she wondered out loud.

Phil scrutinized her expression intently as he replied curtly, “Because I have no idea who they are.”

They both fell silent, Phil awaiting a remark from Michele and Michele gaping at Phil. That wasn’tright. What?! No wonder she felt something was strange about the situation. Then who did he live with? Why does he still call himself a Walker? Maybe he’s not even related to Philip in any way, magical or not, and Michele was just getting hallucinations from depression. She wouldn’t have been shocked.

She took a step towards him, compassion washing through her. “I’m sorry. Who do you live with?”

He stared at her, his expression softening at her empathy. “Family friends.”

Michele remained silent, hoping he would elaborate without her help. Guess not, huh? “So were you brought here as a kid, or…” Her voice faded off, clearly motioning him to explain in a – she hoped – still sympathetic way.

Stillness settling in the air between them and silence ringing in her ears, Phil pivoted on his heal and started sauntering away towards the piano. With his back still facing her and his hand leaning on the cool, flat top of it, he answered, “When I was a baby, my parents left me on the outside of Mile’s and Janine’s door, my step parents, in the winter with nothing but a cloth around me and a strange letter.” He sighed, his voice heavy and his Australian accent deep with pain. He continued, “When I turned one, Miles and Janine decided they needed a fresh new start for their family, considering that I woke up screaming every night with nightmares. So, we moved to Australia.”

Oh, so that’s why he has such a strong accent.Michele’s heart was bleeding for him. He seemed like he was in such pain and despair when he talked about his parents, and though her mind was still ranting on with questions, she quietly walked up behind him and laid a supporting hand on his shoulder. Phil’s hand subconsciously reached over and covered hers on his shoulder, and she couldn’t deny the fact that her heart skipped a beat or two.

Phil continued with his story. “For the time being, I was relatively happy. I met great friends, I learned to love Miles and Janine and their baby, Gemma. Except, every single night I would have the same dream. The same nightmare, really. And when I would enter the dream, my mind would confirm that I was having the dream again, but whenever I woke up, I could never recall what it was about. The only aspects I remember each time are mirrors, a piano, and unforgettable hazel eyes.”

He met my gaze and whispered, “Just like yours.”

This is it, Michele’s obnoxious mind was whispering to her soul excitedly. Everything was coming together. Like pieces of a puzzle.   

Turning back, Phil sniffled, as if he, the famous macho man who punched Michele’s friend unconscious, were crying. But she could have easily been mistaken. Phil, however, seemed restless to change the subject, or at least discuss something a little bit less painful. Michele was completely content with that; to see this guy in pain was like experiencing it herself, only magnified.

“You know I’m in a band,” he said, his voice falsely gleeful. It was depressing how much of an awful actor he was, but Michele just played along with it, desperate to keep him away from the tears.

“Oh, yeah?” Michele giggled, actually honestly curious. “What kind of band?”

“I’m the lead guitarist and singer in a rock band called Rebellion. You should listen to our pieces sometimes. I write them.” He started explaining all this and ranting on, but more to himself than to Michele. She just listened, intrigued. Phil rambled on about how his admiration for music by Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith would never cease, and how one day he wants to become just like Steven Tyler. He even used those scarves to wrap around his microphone, just like Steven Tyler did.

After a while about all this rock talk – and Michele was paying attention, truthfully interested at all he was saying – Phil met her gaze and snapped back to reality again. “You know what my band doesn’t know about me, though?” A grin was tugging at the sides of his lips, mischievous and as cute as humanly possible. 

Michele laughed at his expression. “I’m scared to know. Are you going to tell me something like you’re also a zombie killer in your spare time, because all of this is pretty much unbelievable to me.”

Hooting along with me, Phil claimed, “Believe it! My future is set, babe. I’m becoming a star.”

“Interesting. Come back to me on that one in ten years. Now about the answer I’m scared to discover…”

He beamed at her, his eyes teasing. “Yes, it’s true. I’m a killer. You’re my next victim, Michele, so you’d better run!” He chased her around the room, and Michele and Phil cracked up at practically nothing until tears were streaming down their face and they had to bend down to dampen the pain of the blissful cramps in their stomachs. It was exhilarating to be able to laugh again. Michele realized that it was the first time in a while that she was truly happy. Without Philip and her mom, she forgot what it really felt like to grin without reason, or to laugh until she had no energy to keep on laughing. And, in all honesty, it was the best feeling in the world.

When all of the cackling simmered down to mere giggles, Phil finally managed to get out, “Nobody in my band knows that I love playing piano.”

Michele gasped, ecstatic that she found yet another aspect that linked Phil to Philip. Or Philip to Phil. Either way, they were linked, and she was joyful past the point of elucidation.

“Play something for me,” she insisted.

Phil agreed and stalked over to the black, cushioned piano bench from behind the piano. Michele rested her arms on the top and her chin on her arms, observing him sliding his hands over the smooth black and white keys. With one last glance at her, he started playing a familiar melody.

Michele’s heart froze, mid-beat.

He’s playing our song! How he even knew about “Bring the Colors Back”, the piece that Philip and Michele wrote themselves, escaped from her mind, but currently, she was lost in the beauty of the chords he played. She closed her eyes and fell into the melody, and found herself singing along. “Why, when you’re gone, the world’s gray on my own, you bring the colors back…”

Her eyes still shut closed, she raised her arms over her head and let all of the memories rush back to her, like removing a boulder from a stream. When her and Philip first met at the Windsor’s Halloween ball, when he was engaged to that awful Violet. When Philip played ragtime for Violet and her mother chastised him for playing “race music”. When they wrote, “Bring the Colors Back” together. Their picnics by the lake, their secret kisses outside of his home’s gate, when he gave her his family ring… But she couldn’t think about that now. She wouldn’t think about that now. “Why, I feel numb, I’m a sky without a sun, just take away the lack, and bring the colors back.” Despite her mental wishes, the song neared its end, and Phil played his last chord.

Michele’s ears rang at the abrupt silence, and she smiled slightly before she opened her eyes. When she did, she cringed to find Phil gaping at her, his mouth dropped open and his sapphire eyes wider than anything she’s seen with him. “What’s wrong?” she asked, breathing heavily from singing and twirling to the exquisitely memorable melody.

Phil grinned wildly and reached into his shirt. For a scary second, Michele thought he was going to yank something out of his shirt as ludicrous as his smile, but all that he pulled out was a worn-looking locket. Now, before you go thinking with a set mind that it’s not masculine to wear lockets, well, it looked pretty darn good on Phil. But then again, Phil could wear a paper bag and still look amazing.

Clicking open the locket, Phil carefully and yet urgently pulled out a yellowing piece of folded paper that resembled a letter, or an old fashioned letter, to be exact. Phil met my eyes excitedly. “This is the letter that was left with me as a baby. Read it.” He directly jerked it in Michele’s face, persistent and urgent. She raised her eyebrows, wondering what this could be about, but catching onto Phil’s contagious excitement. Over what?

She took hold of the letter and glanced down at the text. With shivering hands, she read:

“Dear Philip,

Before you run around with life, determined to creed that you’re alone in this world, let me clarify: you were never alone, you are not alone, and, Philip, you will never, ever, be alone. Even in times of despair, think of those who love you, like Miles or Janine. They truly do love you, so believe it. And I love you, too, I hope you know. And I can relate to you so much, my friend. I know what being alone feels like. Being alone is falling in love with the most perfect stranger, but only to be allowed to see her by nature’s cruel choice. Oh, Philip, she’s wonderful. I’m doing this because I want a second chance. Because I was given a second chance, and this time, I will not fail her.

                Philip, I understand how crazy this sounds to you, and the last thing I want you thinking is that I’m a lunatic. Then again, maybe I am. But aren’twe all? Yes, we all are. She taught me to accept that. But sanity only reaches certain levels, as does madness. And to you, who are a virgin to the truth, will probably take this the wrong way and throw this letter out once you reach the age of maturity. But, Philip, as a friend, a loved one, and a perfect stranger, I am begging you. Don’t throw this out. And please read this with an open mind.

                I am you, Philip, just as you are me. I was given a second chance at love, and, though you will not remember writing this, I am you. Knowing our minds, we are realistic. Or, at least I was until she came into my life. A realistic is someone who thinks everything through logically. Is this logical? Of course not. In fact, this is the exact opposite, making this sound even more terribly preposterous to you. But you, I, we, will meet her again, and you must do exactly is written, or another chance is wasted and this time, it is our last.

                I am forbidden to reveal too much to you, Philip, though what I can say is that she is beyond beautiful. And once you see her, you will know that she is the one. The odds are that she is going to ogle at you with those dazzling, large hazel eyes and you will think that she is some crazy girl. But, as time goes by, you will realize that she is so much more.

                You will play for The Song. Philip, you know exactly which I’m talking about. It’s in your blood, and your instinct will guide you to play it perfectly. IF, by any chance (and this is a big if) she sings along, you will know for sure that she is the one. Nature will guide you from there. But, I beg of you, it may sound crazy what she will try to explain to you, but believe it. Oh, it’s the realest thing in the world. If she cannot show you, just as she could not show her face to me for sixteen long and painful years, believe her words and trust her with your whole being, because she deserves that and so much more. Love is a strong word, Philip, and when you learn to say it through life, those who truly love you will say it back.

                Let her read this, Philip. My love, this is for you. I’vemissed you terribly. Every day was a struggle for me, despite my music that released some of the weight from the shoulders and the grief from my heart. Do you remember Melinda? The woman at my piano concert that congratulated me and hugged me? Well, we married soon after and had five beautiful children: Mary, Chelsea, Alice, Michael, and Aidan. Oh, you would lovethem so. I loved them with all of my heart and they meant the world to me, but no words can describe the pain that I felt for losing you. Though, as I’ve stated, I cannot explain all that I wish to explain to you, but I do want you to know that I love you so much it hurts. I have changed, my love. Time has wounded me, and the turn of the century took effect on my 1900s self. However, I want you – I need you to remember that this is still me. We are still meant to be, and somewhere inside the boy in front of you is the man I used to be. Find him, darling, and you have found me. I love you. You are my melody. I promised you I would find a way back to you, no matter what. I keep my promises. I cannot wait until we are together again.

Love with all of my might,

Phoenix Warren

Ps. I found your ring.

                By the time Michele had finished reading the letter, tears were already streaming fiercely and freely down her face. It’s true then. This is Philip. This is my Philip. She was speechless, and a mixture of deep, harsh, exhilarating emotions were crashing through her body and spirit. Ecstatic he’s here, despaired that he doesn’tfully remember her, frightened that she’ll remain unremembered. Phoenix Warren. The memory of her discovering that Philip was actually Phoenix Warren, a secret heir to the Walker throne when everyone thought he was dead. But no. Just as he had promised to her, Philip had pursued his dream to play piano. With too many emotions to hold inside of her, she let out a cry and hugged the letter to her chest, then sank to the floor.

                “Michele!” Phil exclaimed and fell to his knees to level withher. He gripped her shoulders possessively and, with sobs racking her body, she threw her arms around him desperately and held onto him as if she was afraid that if she let go, he would scurry away. Her Philip couldn’t run away again. Not again.

                Phil hushed her, whispering cliché yet soothing words in her ear and stroking her hair. His touch calmed her, so her bawls reduced to mere tears rolling down her cheeks. His lips mumbled softly in her ear, “Michele, though I don’t understand any of this, I believe what that letter says. I don’t know who Phoenix Warren is, and, quite honestly, half of the letter is rambling to me. But, I believe it all. And I believe you are special. I knowyou are special. I’ve known you for a day, but that’s all I need, Michele.”

                Michele leaned back so she could read his expression. Was he being sarcastic? Was this all a joke to him? But when she met his deep sapphire eyes, she understood that every word that left his lips was the absolute truth. They spent so many beautiful moments just staring into each other’s eyes, desperate for the moment not to last, and yet anticipating tomorrow and the day after that, knowing they have all the time in the world to get to know each other and learn the true meaning of love all over again.

                “Michele,” Phil laughed giddily with tears in his eyes. “I remember you.”



22 Aug

                  I stared out of my small square window in my room, watching the blood red sun peak up behind the mountains surrounding my house. Today’s the day, I mentally sighed. Another year passed by. Another year without Mother. Tears rimmed the corners of my grayish blue eyes just at the mere thought of my mother’s lovely smile and curious gaze. She was nick named as “The Freak of Hills” when she was still here, but that name blanketed the truth of my mother. Our neighbors and friends didn’t know her like I did; they missed out on her beautiful personality, her curious eyes, open heart. She came into my room every night and we would talk about every single thing possible, like what happened today, what’s bothering us, etc. Every single night. We did everything together; we were like Mario and Luigi, though I was named as “The Young Beauty” and her as the horrid name given by watchers. But we didn’t care. I loved her, she loved me, and that was all that mattered.

                        And then she was gone.

                        Just like that.

                        She put me to sleep one night just like all the other nights before, with a song she hummed to me and a kiss on my forehead. I went to sleep with thoughts of her, thoughts of my beautiful, caring mother. And then I woke up with a note in my palm that said plainly “8” in a black sharpie marker. I thought I would find her in the dainty kitchen she so often called “a neat-freak’s paradise” (every single spoon, dish, and bowl was in place, shiny like the screen of a brand new HD TV), baking biscuits for Father and pancakes for me. But as I raced to the kitchen that one morning with an odd feeling in my gut, I was shocked to find out it was empty and silent. Actually, I take that back. My heart was swirling with emotions that obviously showed on my face, like pain and sorrow and confusion. All of the emotions that a 6 year old can handle, I felt.

                        Father, on the other hand, was a gentle yet silly man who rarely showed more than a goofy smile or a dramatic pair of hazel eyes. For the next year, I would wake up screaming every night, and sob to his warm shoulder until dawn broke and the tears were all gone. After about a year, the dreams stopped and the tears stopped coming, but then again so did the smiles. When I used to be such a bright, happy little girl with the bright, happy thoughts a little girl should think of, I twisted into a girl of sadness, a girl with a personality as dark as her hair midnight black hair. And today marked off another year without my shining star.

                        My grip on Victoria tightened at the simple notion of Mother. I glanced down at the small figure of plastic limbs and fake hair resting in my lap. How can such a fake little yet beautiful doll mean so much to me? I sighed. Some kids get blankets as a baby, or, necklace they never take off. For me? Well, my mom insisted in buying me a small Victorian Age doll that ironically looked exactly like me, except for the fact she was dressed in a stunning, full cotton gown, with a blue corset on the dress to make her blue eyes pop. The tiny 1800’s doll fixed her long black hair in an up-do, displaying every inch of her angelic face; along with the old hairstyle, she carried a sun umbrella in her palm and small sky-blue hat on the right side of her head. Naturally, I called her Victoria.   

                        I took Victoria and the note Mother left me everywhere, the note in a heart shaped locket and Victoria tight under my grip. This wasn’t surprising to the other citizens of the hills; they were the only specks of things I had left of Mother.

                        The round butter sun fully climbed its way over the peak of the mountains and settled in the middle of the sky, now fully marking the day I’ve been waiting for: my eighth birthday.

                        On reflex, my hand went up and fidgeted with my metal heart locket before I even noticed I was doing it. I emitted a humorless giggle and opened the locket to take the note I’ve stared at so many times before. I opened the old paper slowly and stared down at its face, which was stained with sharpie almost three years ago. In one big scribble, taking up the whole page, was the number 8.

                        “Mimi!” I jumped at the deep voice that popped from the sweet silence of the morning. It was Father, who was giving his usual morning hello from the kitchen downstairs. “It’s your birthday! Take a shower then come downstairs,” he said. “Nancy and I have a surprise for you.” Father remarried to Nancy about a year after Mom left partly because he was lonely and always thought she was beautiful, and partly because he couldn’t in heck be a mom. I wasn’t that upset about him marrying again after he convinced me that Nancy wasn’t trying to replace Mother. I didn’t think of Nancy as a mom or a stepmom; I kind of only thought of her as Nancy. And I always liked her as a neighbor, so I wasn’t that objective when I heard the news. She was only here to smooth out the issues we couldn’t as father and daughter, or man and child. That was all.

                        I let out a breath I’ve been holding it seems for a while as I folded the note and put it once again in my locket. I stood from the wooden chair next to the window and reluctantly dragged my already exhausted feet to the bathroom down the hall.

                        I came into the small bathroom with the marble floor and locked the door. Smiling slightly, I gently placed Victoria on the counter with her back leaning against the wall. Her black hair spread out against the white wall, popping out in comparison to the light color of its surroundings. I’m happy I have such a great friend, I thought. There’s nobody like Victoria.

                        I pulled my eyes from her face to turn my gaze to the mirror. I stared at the girl across from me, mimicking my moves, never straying from her job. So perfect, I thought. So perfect. My eyes took her in from top to bottom, never missing a feature I’ve gotten so accustomed to in my years. My black, long, wavy hair framed my heart shaped face and fell down to just bellow my waist. My hair fell into my face when I leaned forward to explore my features; I lifted my hand and tucked my hair behind my ear. My gaze shifted to my face. My skin seemed to be as white as the walls surrounding me in the luminescent light, even whiter compared to my midnight black hair, and the color only altering at the area of my cheekbones; I’ve always had natural blush. I got it from Mother.

                        My gaze turned to my eyes. It seemed as if a storm has been brewing in my wide, almond-shaped grey-blue eyes as they rolled from aspect to aspect of me. Emotionless eyes show a life of a torn child, who used up all of her emotions already. Is that me? I shuddered, then sighed and shook my head. Why can’t I be normal?

                        “MIMI!!!” Father yelled once again from the kitchen. “Where are you? Are you out of the shower yet?”

                        “Uh, yeah!” I lied, grabbing Victoria and tucking her under my arm. “Coming!” I unlocked the wooden door of the bathroom then started running to the kitchen, my bare feet making barely a sound on the floor.

                        In moments I was standing in front of a patient Nancy and Father, smiling and sitting at our table in the middle of the floor.

                        Father seemed skeptical. “You took a shower?”

                                    I nodded, my eyes still expressionless, careful not to give anything away.

                        His mouth was kept in a tight, straight line but his eyes looked amused. “Come, Honey,” he invited me over with his hands, and I advanced to his open arms. I sat down on his lap, and he chuckled as he pulled me into a tight embrace. “You still smell like sleep,” he mumbled, his face in my black hair. A traitor smile slipped onto my lips for a mere second, but I yanked it away and replaced it with the same expressionless gaze.

                        “Well, I took a shower,” I protested as I got up from Father’s lap. With my back to him, I let out a soundless giggle – my lips shut tight – and pulled a chair from under the table to sit on.

                        Father shrugged, now fully amused. “Alright. It’s you’re birthday; I’ll let you get away with it this time.”

                        I nodded, smiling. Despite all the tears shed, it WAS my birthday, and I WAS a year older than before. It was a happy day, I realized. A happy day.

                        “So,” Father started, glancing at his wife and putting his arm around her shoulders. “Talking about your birthday, Nancy and I got you something.” A grinning Nancy reached down under the table and pulled up a small square box wrapped in blue and purple silk ribbons.

                        I beamed, my full row of adult teeth shining and showing, then yanked the box off the open table Nancy laid it on. Thoughtful, I undid the beautiful ribbons (careful not to tear them) and pilled them off to the side. Slowly, I opened the lid of the box and gasped.

                        Inside was the most beautiful light purple gown – doll-sized for Victoria’s lean figure – with sky blue sashes scattered around and around the dress. The silk sashes glistened in the light of the kitchen, and made you think of a never ending stream, flowing and pure. Not only was the gown beautiful, but in the middle of the box I took the dress from laid an exquisite heart necklace, doll-sized and perfect.

                        But it looked familiar.

                        My hand flew up to my chest and I tugged my locket out from under my shirt. Pulling it off around my head, I compared the two, one doll-sized, one-sized, but both fit for a princess.

                        Not only were they similar.

                        They were identical.

                        Besides the size difference, you could hardly tell them apart; the only diversity was that mine held the note left for me by my mother.

                        Until I saw something white behind the silver designs.

                        My heart quickening like the booms of a shotgun, I raised the tiny piece of jewelry and slowly opened the lock on the side.


                        So slowly.

                        My heart stopped.

                        Inside the necklace so identical to the one of my own was a tiny piece of paper folded and worn out. With shaking hands I clicked open my lock and laid my note down on the table, then gradually opened the smaller note and smoothed it down right next to mine. As I’d expected, the tiny note had an 8 written on the face of it, with the same exact creases and folds as mine had.

                        In the background of my curious trance, I heard giggling then snapped out of it. I glanced up; Father had whispered something into Nancy’s ear, and she blushed. Now, I was completely snapped out.

                        I rolled my eyes at their disgusting playfulness and grabbed both of my necklaces, one now belonging to the doll tucked safely under my arm. I stood up.

                        Nancy and Father both looked my way. “Where are you going, Hon?” Father asked, his face now out of my step mother’s hair.

                        “To my room,” I croaked, my voice cracking from the curiousness of what had just occurred. I spun on my heel and started to hurry out of the kitchen, when I wondered something. “Father?” I said, turning back around to face him.

                        “Yes, dear?” he replied, with Nancy’s head resting on his broad shoulder.

                        Mentally gagging at the sight, I asked, “Where did you get this?” I raised the tiny necklace I was grasping in my palm, holding it so tight an indentation was forming.

                        Father chuckled at my stressed-out expression and stiffness. “Don’t be too happy,” he joked. “It’s only your birthday.”

                        I groaned. “Dad, just answer the question!”

                        He shrugged and mocked pained eyes. “Can nothing be kept a secret anymore?” I threw him my fierce and deluxe I’m-gonna-kill-you-soon face, and he laughed out loud. He threw up his hands in surrender. “Ok, ok. I found it lying on a tree stump walking to the town store this morning. But don’t worry; I cleaned it, and washed it, and kissed it just for you.” He made obnoxious kissing sounds and I sighed at his foolishness. When will he grow up?? And I’m the child.

                        Turning back around to scramble out the door, he stopped me. “Wait, Love. Let’s take a walk.” His hands motioned to the back door and I reluctantly stepped in his direction.

                        I was confused. Father never usually takes walks with me. What’s going on? “Is everything ok?” I asked slowly, my heart quickening.

                        He laughed, his eyes bright. “Is it so wrong to take a walk with my daughter?” he turned towards Nancy. “What do you think? Am I a bad man for asking such a thing of my ward?” Nancy giggled and shook her head, her auburn hair swishing back and forth over her shoulders. Father looked back at me. “What do you say?” He lifted his arm to put around me, and I shrugged, my heart slowing down but my mind still reeling. Something doesn’t feel right. But what could it be? Everything seems normal… except of course for the necklace incident. What was that about?? How is that possible? Dad doesn’t even know about the note Mother gave me, so he couldn’t be lying about finding it on a tree stump, then washing it. Wait… he washed it, but the note wasn’t wet. How could that be? The necklace was the kind that was completely fragile and would ruin anything inside if placed into water. But the note was completely intact. That’s not even physically possible. Am I going crazy? What’s happening to my sane mind???

                        “You coming?” Dad’s voice shattered my mental rambling and put a stop to my fanatical thoughts. I am not going crazy and nothing is happening to my perfectly sane mind. Sure, Father washed it; the note probably dried by the time he gave it to me. Yeah, that’s it. Everything’s ok.

                        Though doubt tempted me to think twice on the excuse I’ve told to myself, I kept my conscious locked in a mental cage; this wasn’t the time for mysteries or stories. This was my birthday. I nodded to my concerned Father, and he shrugged then opened the door for me. I took my first step outside and breathed in the crisp, clean air of early spring. I closed my eyes and let myself drown in it; the air of the mountains always calmed my raging mind. Father, who had been inside talking to Nancy, just hurried out of the house to me and winked back at his wife. I was too peaceful to roll my eyes.

                        “Hey, babe,” Father started, tucking me under his thick, muscular arm. “How’s it goin’?” He grinned down at me, his eyes curiously excited. For what? I shook my head at the innumerable crazy possibilities he could have thought up in that mind of his. Ugh, what have I gotten myself into??

                        I shrugged, and we started walking slowly down the stone path Father built.

                        He chuckled. “C’mon, Hon. I’m going to need a little more than that.”

                        “I’m fine.”




                        “Outstanding, amazing, spectacular, what do you want me to say?!” I snapped, glaring at him through my think eyelashes.

                        He grinned at my impatience. Was my frustration amusing to him? What a dad, I thought sarcastically, mentally shaking my head. “I want you to be happy!” he shook me, then held me tighter to him. I shrugged again, and then repeated, “I’m fine.”

                         Now he was the one the roll his hazel eyes. He sighed in exasperation. “Aren’t little girls supposed to be jumping up and down with happiness on their birthday?”

                        I stepped away from his arm, and said, “Probably. But I’m not like other girls.” He glanced at me in the corner of his eye and I held my chin higher up. Yeah, I was different. But at least I could admit it.

                        “No, you’re not like other girls,” he agreed, beaming. “That’s why I love you. That’s why I’m so proud to be your father.”

                        Tears swelled in my blue eyes. Though it was true I had an amazing dad, he rarely told me he loved me. And I didn’t blame him; he had a lot on his mind, with Nancy and his job. It was a treat when he told me he loved me, and now he said it with so much pride that the traitor tears I was trying to hide spilled over. I turned my head away from Father.

                        He looked appalled. “Are you crying?” he asked softly.

                        I lied. “No, I have something in my eye.” But, my voice betrayed me and cracked. Lovely. Just lovely.

                        He smiled slightly. “Both your eyes?”

                        I nodded.

                        “Ok… no offence, sweetie, but you’re a terrible liar. But, I’m going to let it slip since it’s your birthday.” I wiped my eyes and noticed we stopped walking. I felt his gaze burn holes in my face so I glanced up at him, meeting his eyes. “But I have something to cheer you up.” The excitement found his way back into his eyes, and he pulled out a blue handkerchief from his pocket. Eyeing it, I took a step away and asked, “What’s that for?”

                        He mocked scary, spooky eyes. “I’m going to tie you up and fly you to the moon!” He had his hands up mimicking monster claws and I laughed out loud, the last tear falling from my eyes and the last stitch of doubt wiping from my conscious. He laughed too, happy at my happiness. “Come here, Babe.” I stepped into his arms and he tied the handkerchief around my head, covering my eyes.

                        Confused yet trusting my father, I felt his hands resting on my shoulders as he led me… somewhere. Where was I going? The corner of my lips twitched as he softly led me left and right, over tree roots and around stumps. I held Victoria tighter to my chest and giggled. It was weird that I felt so happy. And yet, it felt so good.

                        I gasped as someone (I’m guessing – and hoping – Father) picked me up and climbed up a staircase. The cool air of the outside blew against my arms and I shivered. Stairs outside? What’s going on?

                        “You ready?” Father’s voice whispered in my ear, and then I could feel his lips against my forehead. I nodded, and Father untied my blindfolds and jumped when I heard a booming “SURPRISE!”

                        Before my eyes was pretty much my whole town, including my school friends and family from Chicago. They were wearing birthday hats and sun glasses and blowing blow-outs. They all looked different, considering the fact that they lived in different parts of America, and differed from size to hair color to style. Except they all shared one thing that defined the “happy occasion” of a birthday: smiles. Everyone was smiling. Everyone except me.

                        There was only one smiling face I wanted to see.

                        And I would never see her again.

                        Life was like this: you’re born, you live, you celebrate, and then you die. When did mourning mold into this? Why was life always said to be filled with happiness but you always end up drowning in pain? Life. Such a small word. Such a confusing meaning. But on the bright side, I know how to act. I know how to paste a smile on my lips and put on a show for the others. How could I not? I didn’t want to put my Father in a bad position, considering he’s the man who represents our “family”. Is this a family? Is what we have really considered a family? Jeesh, sometimes I can’t figure out what’s real or not; with a smiling girl in the picture above the oven and then the girl in real life who’s been through so much it managed to mature her. Kids at my age were still playing tag and being read stories for all I know. I’ve put all of those childish games behind me years ago. And one must ask, did it bring me happiness? But what good would that do? I barely know the answer myself. What’s the point in asking?

                        In the back of my mind I heard Father let out one of his booming laughs. “Aren’t you going to thank your guests, Mimi?” I jumped, then put an end to those rambles that give me a headache. I didn’t need this right now. Right now, I had to smile and get this over with.

                        I grinned. “Ohmygawd, I love it! The decorations, the music, the food, everything is so great. Thanks so much!” My head bobbed up and down as I rambled on and on about how wonderful everything was, and their smiles only got brighter and brighter. When I finished, they erupted into “Don’t mention it”s and “your welcome”s and “Happy birthday!”s.

                        When they simmered down, Father, with delight displayed in his hazel eyes, said, “Well, now all that’s over with,” he glanced at me. “It’s time for cake!”

                        The huge crowd in front of me exploded into excited babble and I smiled pleasantly. Not too ecstatic, not too sad. Pleasant.

                        Father grabbed my hand and helped me down the stage he brought me on. Guiding me over to the table, he motioned for Nancy to bring… something… out. He pulled out a chair for me at the head, and I examined the long, rectangular shaped table. It was covered in a sky blue sheet with purple and pink poke-a-dots, and on it laid bowls of finger foods for the guests.

                        Sitting down, content with the outcome of my birthday, people erupted into one song of “Happy Birthday To You”, very loud and very off key. Nancy, singing and smiling too, was carrying a large chocolate cake to wear I sat. On the cake flickered nine candles: eight for my birthday and one for good luck. Jeesh, with these songs I’m definitely going to need all the luck I can get. Nancy placed the cake right in front of me and when the song ended, I reluctantly blew out the candle, thinking of only one wish and one wish only.

                        Time passed, and soon the sun merely peaked above the rocky mountains, ready for its night sleep. It reflected an orangy-yellow in the atmosphere around us, but the calming aura really didn’t put a damper on the party. People mingled with others, sipping on drinks and munching on chips. To me, the guests’ voices were purely buzzing sounds in the back of my head as my back leaned against the chair I was sitting on. The loud party, arranged to be only in the front yard of my house, definitely had an impact on me and my temper, so I breathed in and out slowly, just as my mother taught me as a child.

                        When I saw something move on the side of my eye.

                        In normal cases, I would ignore it and proceed with whatever I was doing at the moment, and in normal cases it would just go away. But this wasn’t a normal case. As I said the party was arranged to be in my front yard, on the left side of me. Nobody wandered nor allowed themselves to roam in my backyard, considering that they didn’t want to get on Father’s bad side.

                        My head swiveled around with a gasp when I saw it again.

                        And I couldn’t believe was I saw.

                        I saw Mother.

                        I kicked my chair back and sprinted to where I saw her stand; she was gone. Panting, I glanced left and right violently, careful not to fall down the steep hill on my right. I saw a figure through the dimness of the evening and squinted my eyes. Widening, I could barely believe was my eyes were telling me: Mother stood at the bottom of the hill, glancing back up at me with her smile.

                        “Mother!” I kept looking down, trying not to trip on the rocks and tree roots, but careful not to lose her. I saw her turn back around and start to walk. “Mother! Wait!” She glimpsed back up at my, a smile in her beautiful wide eyes. With tears in mine and a song in my heart, I started sprinting down the hill. I could already feel the warmth of the hug waiting for me at the bottom. Just then, however, my foot caught on a tree root and I went stumbling down, head first.

                        “Ahh!” I yelled, and my fingers dug into the earth to stop my painful rolling. With a sharp pain on my knee, I winced and didn’t dare touch the tender wound, blanketed with blood. I ignored the pain, and glanced up, waiting for Mother to run up the hill and aid me.

                        She was gone.

                        “Mommy?” my voice echoed through the hills and valleys of the Appalachians, and my tears started streaming down my face. “Mother?” I repeated, my voice quivering and my tears mixing with the blood from the cuts on my cheeks.

                        I’d lost her again.

                        With a shock of regret and stupidity, I realized that once again, I’ve lost my Mother. In the back of my mind I heard a scream of pain and sorrow and tender loss, and then I realized that it was mine.

                        I looked to my side expecting to find a faithful Victoria there, but then I realized that as I fell, she flung from my hand. Where could she be? My eyes searched the silence around me, and then I thought logic. If I fell straight down the hill…

                        She must be in the cave.

                        I pushed myself off the ground and onto my feet, and brushed the dirt off my jeans, careful not to touch the bloody gash on my knee. I started down what was left of the hill and arrived at opening of the cave. Glancing inside, I sucked in a deep breath and stepped into the blackness and silence of the cave.

                        Fear froze my body and my eyes widened. Though I didn’t want to admit it to myself, I knew deep down that I was afraid. I was extremely afraid. Why? Why was I so scared of a place I’ve ventured so many times as a child? I didn’t understand myself; even though my heart yearned so much for the comforting feel of Victoria under my arm, my mind was telling me this was wrong. A strange, small voice in the back of my mind was yelling at me. What the hell am I doing? I honestly didn’t know. But, stubborn me ignored my wiser side and I went deeper into the cave.

                        I froze on my tracks. A light was shining at the side of my eye, and slowly I turned my head to see. And I couldn’t believe what I saw.

                        Yes, my eyes recognized Victoria in the middle of the ground. But was it the same Victoria? Was it? And how could she have gone this far when I tripped in the middle of the hill? That’s impossible! Is it? How is this happening? What’s going on?

                        Questions arouse in my mind, the same sense of fear from my gut returning and making me lightheaded. I staggered back, and leaned on the wall of the cave or support. I had torn my eyes from the Victoria in the center of the ground, but other voices, persuasive, beautiful, hypnotic voices told me to look again, reassuring me that it’s alright. Warily, my heart beating faster than the flaps of a blue bird, I feasted my eyes on the Victoria that was apparently the same doll I’ve had for all these years.

                        She was lying down the center of the cave ground, her midnight black hair sprawled out on the dirty ground. However, the ground didn’t look dirty at all. All of the rocks near her started rolling away in the other direction, slowly and other-worldly. The ground Victoria was laying on was clean and spotless, and even magical.

                        And that wasn’t even the most magical thing about the scene.

                        Victoria, with the same beautiful features I’ve become so accustomed to, and the same clothes I’ve slipped onto her slender doll body, was glowing. Her whole body, all twelve inches of it, was radiating a yellow light so magical and beautiful it stole my breath. My eyes couldn’t get enough of it. I wonder what she feels like. My eyes never left the goddess-like appearance of Victoria and I barely knew I started walking towards her before…

                        “Mimi?” My father’s frantic and booming voice was like a splash of cold water. I staggered back a few steps and noticed how close I’ve gotten to her. Father’s voice sounded far away, but it echoed through the walls of the cave, enhancing the worrying and concern I’ve put him through. What a birthday.

                        “Coming.” I tried to push my voice to something more than a whisper, but a whisper was all I got. It’s alright. Either way I’m going to get to him. I shuddered when I though of all of the yelling I’m going to have to get through tonight. I rolled my eyes and sighed. Now I should get Victoria…

                        My mind shifted back to the glowing creature in the middle of the room. I had to get her, one way or another. And maybe Father could help figure out why she was… glowing.

                        I slowly took the last few steps to the doll until it closed the space between us and I was standing right in front of her. Yes, yes, just a little closer, the little voices spoke in my head. Their voices were like music. Yes, a little closer, and I would have my Victoria back.

                        I bent down…

                        My hands grasped her arm.

                        Now I can barely explain to myself what happened next. The voices in my head got louder and louder until they were all that filled my ears. The cave room started spinning around me until it was just swirling colors. Every where I looked, I saw colors. Colors, and music, and events in my lifetime, then before I was born. Through the swirling colors, I saw my first birthday, and I saw my mother’s beautiful smile, and then I saw the Twin Towers collapse… I wasn’t even there. I wasn’t even born. I saw things I’ve read about in history books, flashes of events I’ve learned in Social Studies. Everything, the whole world, kept twirling and twirling and twirling until…

                        It stopped.

                        Suddenly, everything stopped, and I was back in the cave with a normal, un-glowing Victoria in my hand.

                        I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t even scream. I recognized this as shock, and shook myself until I could once again move my legs. What had just happened? I could have imagined it all. Yeah, probably. It’s ok now. Everything’s ok.

                        Father is probably worrying sick about me. My usual paranoid rambles confirmed that I was back to normal, or at least I hoped. Though I was unwilling to admit it to myself, I had realized that I was not normal and this was not normal. But if it wasn’t normal, then what was it? Abnormal? That’s way too general. Abnormal defined me. I wasn’t normal; I’ll admit it. But I’ll grant I was sane. And this, all of this, especially if I had imagined it, summed up into one small yet terrifying word: insane.

                        When I could once again move, I stretched my back and tried to ignore the way the walls were spinning dizzily around me like a crazy mini tornado. I could make it ‘till the end of the cave, and then Father will help me. Everything’s going to turn out fine.

                        Squeezing a nice and normal Victoria to my chest, I scrambled out of the “room” I was getting sick of and started down the hallways it took me to get here.

                        It was like a maze. I had to choose either left or right, but somehow I had a feeling which way led me to the outside. Weird, I know. And I couldn’t wait to collapse onto my bed; I’ve had enough of weird for one day.

                        My mind wandered as a child’s should until I had reached the final hallway.

                        And I froze.

                        I was standing a few feet from the corner of the hallway; I would take a right and I was outside. But something was off. Something…


                        I saw sunlight.

                        Bright light was shining against the wall of the cave, and the crisp smell of a spring morning tried to calm my racing thoughts. But that didn’t work.

                        My heart pounded like the beats of a crazy drummer against my chest as I tried to move my frozen body. Betraying me, I was completely unable to jerk myself out of the trance I was locked in. It was like I had no availability to my body, only my eyes. It was just out of my reach, but I could not get it. Close, but no cigar. But I was not even remotely close to realizing what the hell was going on, or how this could be happening. The unanswered question nagged on my sleeve.

                        I distinctly remembered all of this happening at night. Did I pass out when… whatever happened before… happened? I don’t remember pulling myself off the floor. Maybe my conscious was so far from my grasp that I didn’t realize it. or maybe…

                        No. it was not possible. No magic and/or mystical substances are involved in the situation.

                        Then why do I feel so strange?

                        The voices I remember so clearly were returning to my frozen mind, and though something was definitely off, they felt so right in my soul, like the love for a season returning once again. But it wasn’t a love. It was an obsession.

                        That was the only comparison I could make. An obsession. It was as strong as an aching need yet as fake as luminescent light. Calmness washed through my body and mind, though somewhere in the back of my mind I realized that I was getting hypnotized. I couldn’t help myself, but, dazed, I stepped towards the light.

                        I willed myself to hesitate my next step. Did I want to do this? How could I know what’s on the other end?

            That’s crazy, I thought. And either way, you’re going to have to leave this darn cave sometime. With a little help from the nagging yet beautiful voices in my head, I took a deep breath and closed the space between me and the outside world.

            And I couldn’t believe what I saw. 

                        My house was gone. So was my neighbor’s, and the house after that. The trees scattered throughout the mountain somehow seemed… younger. And that’s not even the craziest thing I saw.

                        The same old, rocky pavement cut through the land in front of my eyes; that wasn’t new to me. It’s been there all my life. But, then again, it’s been there before my life            too.

                        On the road were people. Some women, some men. Some children. But different. The women we’re wearing twenty-first century jeans and t-shirt. They were wearing dresses. And I’m not talking about the summer dresses you see girls wear everywhere. I’m talking about full-blown gowns with corsets and wide skirts so long that they were like a tiny trail behind them. Some were holding sun umbrellas. Some were holding children who were dressed as strangely as the parents. The men I saw were wearing tight black pants with a baggy shirt tucked in, the pants reaching all the way up to their chest. Their hair was slicked back and unlike all the guys today, they actually looked like… gentlemen.

                        That wasn’t the only thing I saw. I saw wooden carriages. Wooden carriages being pulled by horses. The “driver” was merely a man sitting on a seat on top of the carriage, holding a rope. The rope, I guessed, was used to steer the horses right or left. I could tell it was very old fashioned. Very.

                        The sun all of the sudden seemed too hot. My breath came too fast, my heart beat too quickly, and it seemed all too much for me to process. With sudden dizziness my knees locked and my eyes closed, and the last thing I saw before my vision blackening was the feet of two men running my way.


                        I was stuck in that misty, magical place between dream and reality when I felt a cool, damp towel press against my forehead. I smiled faintly, not at all ready to wake up but stretching so that the towel could find its way down to my neck. It felt so good against my skin, and I was so happy to have a caring person like Mother in my life.

                        “Mother,” I murmured, blissfully sleepy. “I had a terrible dream that you left me and Father, and I went back in time.” I chuckled groggily to myself. How crazy.

                        But the woman I heard was definitely not the voice of my mother. “She’s talking in her sleep again, but I think she’s starting to wake up,” said a woman with a strong English accent. She seemed to be talking away from me. I stirred, but kept my eyes closed.

                        I could feel her gaze turn back on me, and the towel went back to dabbing my face. “Darling, are you awake?”

                        I tried, unsuccessfully, to open my eyes, but they just seemed too far from my grasp. I tried again, and this time, I blinked a tiny bit. I blinked and blinked until my vision cleared and I could fully open my eyes.

                        The first thing I saw was the ceiling. It was high, and very… decorated. And big. So big that it could fit four large, diamond chandeliers. They were large, but beautiful. It seemed so intricate and beautiful that only an old fashioned hand could create such a marvel.

                        Old fashioned.

                        With a gasp, I sat straight up, making the woman next to me jump. I guess I sat up too fast because the room started spinning and I fell right back down onto the pillow.

                        “Oh no, darling, be careful,” the woman said, her sweet voice overflowing with concern. After several unsuccessful attempts of opening my eyes again, I pushed so hard that they flew open, and I refused to let them close again.

                        I tried, slowly this time, to sit up, though the extremely annoying dizziness kept returning. I felt a warm hand press against my back as I propped my elbows up to lean on them. I moaned as my head swirled with wooziness, and then damp towel returned to my face. I leaned toward the comfort of its touch, my eyes half open when the warm hand caressed my cheek in a motherly fashion. She tisk-tisk-tisked me and chuckled. “At least you’re looking better than how we found you.”

                        I forced my eyes open all the way and stared at her.

                        She was an older woman, maybe in her late fifties. She was pleasantly fluffy, wearing a bonnet and an apron over a sky-blue wide skirt. Though the outfit was scarily something you would see on Halloween, I was too confused to process her clothes.

                        I cleared my throat and tried to speak. Though I meant it to come out strong and sure of myself, it barely came out more than a whisper and, unbelievably, it cracked. Many times. It was like I had a sign hanging around my neck that said “I’m an insecure little girl”. Just lovely. Anyway, I whispered, “Who are you?”

She grinned, her eyes crinkling, obviously relieved that I could talk. Barely. “Well, dear, you can just call me Mrs. Lovett.” I stared at her. She seemed nice enough, like she wasn’t planning one of the evil plots I was contemplating in my mind. It’s a start.
“What’s your name?” She asked, her wide hazel eyes twinkling.

                        “Mimi,” I replied, pleased to find that my voice emitted less annoyingly tired and gross. I sighed and ran my fingers through my pleasurably smooth hair. My head was still reeling, but I felt amazing compared to what I felt when I woke.

                        I glanced at Mrs. Lovett, and realized that she was staring at me with wonder. I looked away, blushing; I’ve never liked it when people stared at me, especially with Mrs. Lovett’s marveled expression. Don’t ask me why, because I’ve never known myself. Go figure.

                        “Well,” Mrs. Lovett stood up slowly, her eyes never leaving my rosy face. “I’m going to go talk to the other nurses and some of the queen’s servants. They were wondering-”

                        “Wait,” I interrupted her. “The queen?”

                        Mrs. Lovett closed her eyes and chuckled in spite of herself. “My, my, forgive me. I forgot to tell you!”

                        “Tell me what?”

                        “You are now being aided by Queen Victoria’s staff after two of her soldiers found you unconscious by a cave opening.” She hesitated. “What an odd place to be. Why were you there, may I ask?”

                        I ignored her question. “Queen Victoria… I heard about her. I’m guessing we’re not in the Appalachians anymore?”

                        She stared at me like I just suggested that “apple” starts with “w”. “Uh, no we’re not. How’s your head darling? Maybe you should lie back down.”

                        Again, I ignored her sweet suggestion. “Where are we?”

                        “Um, Great Britain.”

                        I mentally rolled my eyes. “That wouldn’t surprise me, considering your accent. It’s really cool by the way.”

                        She smiled slightly. “Mine is light compared to most citizens living in England. If you like mine, I have a pretty good feeling you’re going to love it here. Good day, Miss. I will be back shortly.” She started to turn, but I cut her off once again.

                        “Wait!” She glanced back at me, patiently. Though I knew it was necessary to ask this question, I was dreading the answer I would receive. With hesitation and very slow, as if it were painful to exit from my mouth, I asked, “What is the year?”

                        She was reluctant to answer, though I could barely hear her speak through the harsh poundings of my heart against my chest. “Are you sure you feel alright?”

                        “Please, answer me!” I almost cried, though I tried to be strong and blinked my tears away.

                        It seemed a million years before she answered. “It’s 1847.” The whole world froze. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, and I couldn’t believe it, though a small part of my mind kept telling me that I shouldn’t be surprised. With everything that happened, the spinning in the cave and seeing Mother (though I couldn’t explain that part yet) all had to come together to mean something. And I guess that something meant this.

                        I suddenly felt dizzy again, and my eyes rolled to be back of my head as I wobbled. Mrs. Lovett rushed back to my side, concern returning to her hazel eyes. “No,” I croaked, trying my complete hardest to get a hold of myself and not embarrass myself any more than I already had. “I’m alright.”

                        She stared at me wearily, her eyes displaying a deluxe I-don’t-believe-a-word-you’re-saying expression, but replied, “Okay,” reluctantly. “I’m just going to step outside for a moment. Call my name if you need anything, I’ll be by your side before you can say ‘jiffy’.” She rushed from the room then, not even waiting for me to ask her what the hell jiffy meant. Oh well.

                        Suddenly, I heard a slight swish from the door as if someone who had been staying completely still moved an inch. My head swiveled around as I gasped, only to find a pretty tall, pretty young, and yet completely handsome boy gawking at me through the door.

                        I was too tired and confused to acknowledge his handsomeness.

                        “Can I help you?” I snapped, determined to get his eyes off of me. So far today, everyone I’ve met has been staring at me like I’m a stupid lab experiment and I was sick of it already. Though I expected – and sincerely hoped – that his eyes would glance away guiltily, but they stayed fixed on my face, now displaying extreme curiosity, and unfortunately it was boosted to the maximum when I rolled my eyes.

                        I sighed. “Can I help you?” I repeated, a little calmer, realizing his young age. He shouldn’t be that much older than I am. 12, maybe 13, I thought. Though he does look a bit more immature than I am… but then again, who isn’t more immature than I am? Jeesh, I’m like a teenager in kid form. Ugh. My ramblings were cut short by the expression I noticed on his face. It seemed the trance he was so deeply in was broken, and now he stared at me a bit insecurely, like a shy child meeting a new friend.

                        He stared at me. I stared at him. Honestly, it was waaaaaaaay too awkward for my taste. I blew out a long breath of irritation, but I actually didn’t mind studying his face. I now noticed his handsome features: wide, blue eyes, brown hair, and a nose so flawless even men would be fawning over its perfection. But seconds past, and minutes, and my still-woozy mind couldn’t handle such deep concentration. Still playing a face of irritation, I sighed and said, “I’m gonna ask you one more time. Can I help you?” I had said the words so distinctly and straightforward, I was sure that he was going to glance away from me, embarrassed, but his curious yet insecure eyes were still locked with mine.

                        He then cleared his throat and glanced at the floor, and though I could sit all day studying his face, I was clearly relieved that the pressure of his eyes on my face was lifted. I know it is odd to say it, but his gaze did leave me just a bit woozier than before. How curious. He cleared his throat again and stepped forward, his hands locked and fidgeting behind his back. “Hello,” he mumbled, his eyes returning to mine, but the odd pressure not returning with him. “Um,” he fumbled with the right words to say. “My name is – uh – I mean I’m, um, I’m -”

                        Irked, I threw my hands up. “Just spit it out!”

He clearly tried to shake the awkwardness out of his voice, and when he talked again, he sounded clear and strong. “My name is Edward, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.” While pouring this out he had taken another step forward, his hand held straight out, waiting for a hand to shake it.

                        Half of the words he said I could barely comprehend. “Wait, wait, wait,” I shut my eyes tight, my head whirling again. “What’s up with all the big words?”

                        Confused, he glanced up to the ceiling and his hand dropped. “I do not understand. There are no big words ‘up’,” he pointed to where his eyes were searching, and I rolled my eyes, dramatically.

                        “Never mind,” I muttered, rubbing my head.

                        “Well, then,” he moved on, and took one more step closer to where I was lying. He smiled, his eyes now displaying the courtesy of a boy much older than himself. “I’m not sure where you are from, but here, when a man offers his hand to a woman, she takes it gratefully.” His eyes motioned to where his hand was, as he called it, offered.

                        Unbelievably, I let out a ringing laugh. “What movie did you get that line from?”

                        Suddenly, all cheerfulness and spirits of a young boy were left from his expression. He glanced down dramatically to his open palm, waiting for a handshake. “At this point, it is disrespectful to me to not take the friendly welcome I have offered.”

                        I stared at him with disbelief. I was about to ask who the hell this boy thinks he is, but then I remembered myself. He was the eldest son of the queen.

                        Rapidly, I jumped out of bed and tried to hide the fact that the room spun around me twice. I stood up tall, wincing when my back cracked and opened my tightly shut eyes. From the perspective of a pretty tall eight year old standing up, Edward didn’t tower over me that much. But I’m not gonna lie; he was pretty tall.

                        I noticed his eyes were boring into mine, curiosity and wonder displayed like an open book. I glanced down at his hand, still waiting for the shake he asked for. I rapidly placed my hand in his and watched our holding hands intently as his grip firmed on mine. His grasp was strong, like a man, yet soft, like a gentleman… if that makes sense. I had no other words to describe it. It may seem odd and immature, but that was the first time a boy had ever held my hand, besides my father. His hand was warm and comforting, and yet very supporting. From what I had known in my lifetime, there are many things you can tell about a person in a mere handshake. His gripped hand led mine slowly up and down and few times, and then stopped. I glanced back up at him, and – not exactly surprised – he was still staring at me. But his gaze was not pushy or freaked out. It was merely pleased and happy… and amused.

                        He laughed out loud, his head falling back and eyes shut closed. His laugh was soft like velvet, and rich like melted chocolate dripping from a spoon. His amused eyes found mine again. “It is as if you have never received a handshake before.”

                        “Oh,” I mumbled and blushed, and tried to tug my hand softly out of his, but his grip was strong as steel, and I really didn’t want to get him angry. “Well – I mean – um – uh-.”

                        He laughed again. “Now you are the one to stutter. Taste a spoonful of your own medicine!” His grip on my hand tightened, and I honestly had no choice but to laugh along with him. The sound was so soft and yet strong, just as his handshake was. Go figure.

                        Just when I was really warming up to him and let myself go, laughing, Mrs. Lovett opened the door and her heals tapped into the room. “Oh,” she gasped when she saw us holding hands in the middle of the room. “Am I interrupting something?”

                        “Yes,” Edward said.

                         “No,” I replied at the same time. We glanced at each other, and, embarrassed, I stepped away from him, my hand slipping from his.

                        Mrs. Lovett glanced between us, and her gaze settled on the young prince. “I will just leave then. Good day,” she bowed her head as she backed out into the room. There were several long minutes of awkward silence. Well, it was awkward for me. While I was gazing at the door where Mrs. Lovett exited, I could feel Edward gazing at me. Again.

                        I sighed, and turned to meet his gaze. “You know I really can’t take much more of this.”



                        “Pardon me?”

                        “What is up with all this messed up vocab?!” I shrieked, my head reeling.

                        He sighed. “Again with the ‘up’. Miss, as you can see, -”

                        “Mimi,” I interrupted. He looked at me with confusion and I explained. “Call me Mimi.”

                        He smiled. “That is your name?”

                        I rolled my eyes. “No, it’s my dog’s name.”

                        “Why would you call yourself by the name of which your dog possesses?”

                        “I was kidding!” Jeesh, I could not make jokes with this kid. “Ever heard of the word ‘sarcasm’?”

                        The sides of this mouth tugged the slightest bit, enough for me to make out an amazed expression. “My, my, Mimi. You really are a feisty one.”

                        I smirked. “So I’ve been told.”

                        He chuckled, his blue eyes crinkling. He cleared his throat and tried to suppress the grin, but he did a pretty terrible job because his eyes were still smiling. Its rule 101 in hiding your feelings: always remember to blanket the truth in your eyes, because that’s always a giveaway. I should know. “Might I say something, in the best sense?”

                        I shrugged. “Sure.”

                        “What on earth are you wearing?” His eyes looked me up and down a few times, and then met my eyes reassuringly. “In the best sense.”

                        I glanced down at my clothes. “Jeans.”

                        “What are jeans?”

                        I gawked at him. “Seriously? You don’t know what jeans are?”

                        “Would you like to elaborate before I drown myself in shame?”

                        I giggled. “So you do know what sarcastic means.”

                        He grinned. “I’m a kid, am I not?”

                        “Are you?”

                        He laughed. “How old do you suppose I am?”

                        “Um… thirteen?”

                        “Correct! You see? I am not that old.”

                        “Are you not? Is that grey hair I see?”

                        He gasped and rushed to the mirror. He ran his fingers through his shiny and fully colored hair. He turned and glared at me playfully.

                        I laughed at his expression. “Mr. Old Man!”

                        He mocked a shocked face. “Miss. Man Pants!” he fired back.

                        I gasped at that, and glanced down at my pants once again. “These are so not man pants. I got these from Abercrombie!” From his confused expression, I realized Abercrombie wasn’t made yet. “A girl store,” he explained.

                        He chuckled and crossed his arms. “What girls wear… pants?”

                        I shrugged. “Everyone.”

                        “In what world?”

                        That was one I still had to figure out. Though I had to admit that I was having serious fun with this thirteen year old boy, the unanswered question still nipped at my mind. But I guess that had to be put aside… at least until later. “In my world,” I mumbled and sat down on the couch. He strode over and sat down right next to me.

                        “But the weird thing is that I’ve never seen anything like you.”

                        I glanced at him. “You’re talking about me like I’m a science experiment.”

                        He shook his head defensively. “No, I would not talk about women like that. What I am saying is that,” he glanced at me again, and his gaze was fixed there, “you are different, Mimi. Very different.”

                        I sighed and hugged my legs to my chest. “You have no idea.”

                        Suddenly, I noticed I had been sitting on something that wasn’t part of the furniture. Jumping up and frightening Edward, I fumbled through the blankets I was tucked under and found what I had been looking for: Victoria.

                        Giggling blissfully, I squeezed her to my chest and sat back down next to Edward. “Woah,” Edward breathed, reaching out to touch Victoria’s face. “I have never seen anything like it.”

                        I giggled again and stared at him in utter disbelief. “So you’re telling me you’ve never seen a doll before?”

                        He glanced at me and shook his head. “I have, but I’ve seen nothing like this. It looks so… real.” I let him rub his finger on her cheek. “What is her name?”


                        His eyes glimpsed back up at me, amused. “Named after my mother?”

                        “No,” I said it in a way that it sounded like a question. I gazed at Victoria lovingly as I tried to run my fingers through her tangled hair. “Um, I just like the name,” I lied.

                        “Oh,” he fixed his gaze on the doll again. “Wait,” he mumbled, then glanced up at me, then the doll, then exclaimed, “She looks just like you!”

                        I rolled my eyes. “Oh really? Thanks for telling me.”

                        He laughed. “Again with the sarcasm!”

                        I chuckled, then shrugged. “You can’t deny the fact that you left that wide open.” Before I could let him ask what was wide open, I just said “never mind” and he went on with his business of examining Victoria and I.

                        “You know, the only difference about you two is that Victoria is dressed as a lady, where as you…” he left the sentence unfinished, and I gasped and smacked his arm. He let out a booming laugh and threw his hands up in surrender. “I’m kidding! I’m kidding!”


                        I suppressed a smile much better than he did and went back to untangling my doll’s hair. I situated myself so I was sitting on my legs, and suddenly gasped in sharp pain.

                        Edward caught his breath and quickly laid his hand on my back. “Are you ill? Shall I call the aid?” I shook my head, and he chuckled, “You are stubborn. At least let me help you. Where are you hurt?”

                        “My knee,” I gasped out. I remembered falling and creaking a huge gash on my knee when I swung the hurt leg out from under myself. I rolled up my jeans all the way to where it would be considered short pants, and Edward gasped and looked away quickly. “What?” I asked him, my breaths still coming in short pants.

                        “I apologize. I’m just not used to seeing ladies’ – ” He gulped and didn’t finish the sentence.

                        I helped him out. “You mean ladies’ legs?”

He nodded. “Yes, that’s it.”

                        I laughed in spite of myself. Of course he wasn’t used to it. of course he would feel uncomfortable seeing a girl’s legs. I mean, he did grow up in the 1800’s. Ladies all wore long dresses that covered everything up; men didn’t see women’s bare legs until they were married or together, and Edward was only thirteen. He was definitely not married, and he was definitely not together with someone… I hoped. “Just, uh, look away.”

                        I could see him nodding; his head was stiffly turned in the opposite direction. I glanced back at my knee, expecting to see some gross and bloody gash on my knee, but that was not what I found. All I saw was an angry and puckered pink line running through my knee… I guessed that Mrs. Lovett treated it while I was out cold. I quickly rolled down my pants again and, while he was turned around, I ran my fingers through my hair and squeezed my cheeks so they would have a little bit of color to them. I cleared my throat loudly and a pale and slightly dazed Edward turned back around.

                        I patted his shoulder, swallowing back a roaring laugh at his strained expression. His face at the moment compared to that of a little boy who fell asleep in class and found out that’s he’s going to have a pop quiz on that material he missed. Pure, downright fear. “You ok, buddy?”

                        He rubbed his face in his hands and when he glanced back up at me, he was 99% back to normal. “yes. I’m quite alright.” I smiled at him; he smiled at me, and…

                        Suddenly, the door swung open and broke the blissful trance we were locked in. I cleared my throat and scooted a little farther from him, determined to assure Mrs. Lovett, who opened the door, that we had not been … well… flirting. Which we weren’t. We weren’t.

                        We all had different expressions on our faces: edward’s was stone-like (he was obviously angry that he got interrupted again), mine was embarrassed (for the same reason any girl would if she got caught with a cutie), and Mrs. Lovett’s was stressed. For what reason? She suddenly started talking.

                        She bowed her head to Edward. “I’m sorry to interrupt you again, but the Queen Herself asks to speak with Mimi in an hour. If we rush, we will have time to bathe and dress you, darling child.”

                        I probably looked like a complete idiot, sitting there with my mouth dropped open and eyes wide. But I couldn’t help it. The queen, or should I say, Her Royal Majesty, wanted to see me. Why?! I wasn’t worthy to stand in a queen’s presence. In all honesty, I wasn’t worthy to stand in a queen’s house, none-the-less presence. What would I say? How should I act? Should I bow? Should I offer a gift? I gulped, and realized that I turned completely pale. When did I morph into such a wimp?

                        Edward laid his hand on my shoulder and inched closer. “Hey,” he whispered softly, his velvet voice calming my internal rants. “It’s going to be alright. My mother may be the queen, but behind the corn and money, she is a very nice lady.” He chuckled. “In fact, I think she will like you. A lot.”

                        I grinned and blushed, my pale cheeks quickly turning rosy red. I sighed and pushed my black hair out of my face, and reluctantly let Edward help me up. “Thanks,” I muttered, and he grinned at me.

                        “Until we meet again, Mimi.” He caught my wrist and brought it up to his lips. Softly, he kissed the back of my hand, and I could swear that I was about to get a heart attack. He chuckled to himself as he spun on his heel and strutted out of the room.

                        I stared at the closed door, where Edward just left. “He’s so amazing,” I whispered, and didn’t realize I said it out loud until Mrs. Lovett replied.

                        “Yes, he is quite handsome, though stubborn as the knottiest hair in the world,” she glanced at my, amused. “Which, might I say, you have a bad case of.” She pat my head and chuckled, then said with authority ringing in her voice, “We have no time to lose, child. We have to bathe you, with the black orchard scent of course, then I found a beautiful new dress that would compliment your lovely grey eyes. We honestly have to get you out of those man pants.” I sighed exasperated and said nothing in return, and let Mrs. Lovett lead me out of the room. She took fast and large steps and I followed quietly behind, not minding her sweet, calming voice as she ranted on and on about something; instead of making out the words, I glanced around the mansion. It was beautiful, decorated with exquisite scarlet designs running across the walls, and pumpkin-orange patterns intertwining with the red. It had a very comforting feeling to it, and though I was confused with everything right then, it made me feel somewhat at home.

                        Across the wall hung hundreds of paintings that seemed as if they were worth millions of dollars. Seeing swirls of colors like those paintings after spending hell in a cave was like music to the eye, and though many of them had no meaning whatsoever, they told a story with strokes on a canvas. It all depends on how the strokes were created and which colors were used, and honestly, at least with what I’ve seen, the paintings enhanced a happy home. Um, I mean a happy mansion. Trust me, if you’ve seen the inside of this place, you would agree. I’m going to have to remember to ask for a map, I thought when we arrived in front of two extremely oversized white doors.

                        “Well, here we are,” Mrs. Lovett said as she ruffled my hair. “The Guest Washroom. It isn’t nearly as large as Her Majesty’s bathroom, but I promise you will not be inconvenienced.” She turned the handle on one of the doors and shoved it open; I have a pretty good feeling my jaw dropped wide open again. Look at the size of that!! Though I’ve said it hundreds of times that day, I can’t deny that I couldn’t believe my eyes. The bathroom itself was the size of my house! Jeesh, if this was the restroom, I wonder what the rest of the house was like. Mrs. Lovett giggled and patted my back. “I’d love to let you stand here and gawk at the wonders of the, erm, bathroom,” she swallowed back a laugh, “But we have little time left. The tub is filled thanks to the rushing aid of the queen’s servants and myself, though filling it up with small buckets of steaming water is not the most ideal job in the world.” She laughed and threw her hands up. “Hey, you never know. Maybe one day, there will be a tub that can fill up itself.” She giggled again at the hysterics of the idea, but I giggled with her not because the idea was crazy, but because she had no idea how right she had been. “now, hurry, dear. Ring the bell,” she pointed to a small colorful calling bell hung on the right side of the door,” if you need anything. I will be there to assists you. But rush child.” She ruffled my hair once more and with a blink of an eye, she was gone.

                        I stood in the aloneness of the room, sweet silence ringing in my ears like the minor chord of my mother’s piano. It was refreshing for some quiet, but in the midst of the refreshing calmness, I realized that silence could trigger thoughts. Thoughts that I just wasn’t ready to hear again.

                        So, with a quick kiss on her forehead, I laid Victoria down on the black granite counter and stripped off my clothes slowly. I didn’t dare look in the mirror; I knew I would start hyperventilating if I saw myself as Edward saw me. Without a second thought, I skittered to the extremely large marble tub and lowered myself into the steaming water.

                        It was hot, but soothing, and calmed all of the anything in my mind that would trigger the bitter and mind-bottle thoughts. I breathed out deeply and closed my eyes, and let myself melt in the relaxing heat of the water. It cradled all of my sore spots like a cloud and soon, I could barely feel the constant stinging of my knee. For a few more blissful minutes, I allowed myself to lay my head back and loosen the knots the past days have tied in my body, and fully have in to the sereneness of the water.

                        Once the tub water cooled down a little bit and woke me from my blissful trance, I glanced around myself for soap; to my right on a small granite table was a large bottle of dark green liquid. I eyed it wearily and unscrewed the cap, then brought it up to my nose and sniffed. Yes, definitely black orchard. I poured a small amount on a sponge next to where the bottle stood, and scrubbed myself from top to bottom. The roughness of the sponge felt nice against my soft skin, and the scent it emitted into the air filled my lungs and further calmed me. When I was finished lathering myself, I slipped under the surface of the cooling water and scrubbed with my hand until all of the soap was gone.

                        Now for shampoo and conditioner. On the same table I got the soap and sponge from, I also spotted two smaller, clear containers, one with thick liquid (I’m guessing that was the conditioner) and one with more water, flowing liquid (I’m guessing what was the shampoo). So, taking the shampoo first, I poured a large amount into my palm (I had a lot of hair and had to use a lot of shampoo) and started massaging my head until my hair was just one big mountain of white bubbles. I rolled my head back into the water and shook out all of the shampoo. Then, I took the conditioner and poured almost half the bottle into my hand (like I said… lots of hair!). I glanced around of a hair brush, but none caught my eye so I smoothed my hair with the conditioner and brushed it out with my fingers. Which took a while. A long, long while.

                        After all the conditioner was gone, I rested in the tub until the water turned cold to the point where I couldn’t stand it anymore. I spotted a towel at the side of my eye, folded neatly on the counter, so I carefully stood up and scuttled to where it lied. By the time I got there, I was shivering and my teether were chattering. Like I said, biiiiiiiiig bathroom. As quickly as I could, I threw a thick towel over my shoulders and stood there until my shaking slowed and eventually stopped altogether. Hugging the towel tighter to me, I finally dared to look up at the massive mirror in front of my eyes, but scared as hell that I would cry in shame when I saw the results.

                        Reluctantly, I glanced up at the girl in the mirror, and was actually surprised at what I saw. I shrugged. Not so bad, I thought. Wet, yes. Naked, yes. Scared, yes. But my face wasn’t half as bad as I would have imagined. My eyes, painted grey and tinted with sea blue and green, were, as always and annoyingly, like an open book to read. And from the test, my expression was changing from terrified to satisfied, to ecstatic. My cheeks shined a rosy red, and, somehow, my lips reflected that color. My usually pale skin radiated a lively tint, which rose when my lips stretched into a slight smile. No, I wasn’t obsessed with myself, but even modest I couldn’t deny the fact that I was attractive. I eyed a peaceful Victoria and my smile widened. She, too, was beautiful, like a symphony for sore eyes.

                        Suddenly, I jumped when someone banged on the door. “Darling, are you decent?” I heard Mrs. Lovett’s voice from outside of the door.

                        “Yes, Ma’am.”

                        She pushed open the doors and shut them behind her, and she said with her cheery voice, “Good, because I forgot to hang up a robe for you! Do you see what old age does to you?”

                        I laughed. “You’re not old, Mrs. Lovett,” I reassured her as I picked up my clothes from the floor.

                        She hooted along with me. “Oh, my, I love you already.” She quickly handed me a snow white silk robe that looked extremely expensive, one that was fit for a queen. I noticed that she was rushing, so I swiftly exchanged my towel for the robe, tied it around my waist, and let her lead me across the hall into another room, one that seemed like a King’s Suite in a hotel, but better. “This is the smaller guestroom,” she explained to me as I plopped down on the corner of the humongous bed. “We apologize for the inconvenience but you were blessed with such a tiny figure that we realized you wouldn’t need anything more!” I giggled as she dashed into the closet and brought out an outfit so exquisite that I had no words to describe its beauty.

                        It was a dress. No, I take that back; it was a gown. A beautiful sky-blue semi-poufy gown that feel down to my toes if I put it on. A wide, white sash was tied around the waist, and seemed tight, probably to enhance the natural curves of the body. There were white fringes on the short sleeves and the V-neck fell not low, but not high. Just perfect. That was what the dress was: perfect.

                        “Come dear,” Mrs. Lovett rushed me. “We must hurry or Her Royal Highness will get upset.” I shuddered at the thought and untied my robe. I swiftly put on all my underwear and let Mrs. Lovett lead me through the steps of putting on a gown. She stared at me skeptically. “You are telling me you’ve never worn a dress before?”

                        I thought back. “Once, I think. For Father’s wedding.” She shook her head and smiled in disbelief. But I didn’t get irritated at her wonder; at least she respected my ways. I had a pretty good feeling that I would get close to Mrs. Lovett for the time being.

                        Mrs. Lovett told me to stretch out my arms, and she looped something that looked dangerously like a corset through my arms. And, unfortunately, I was correct; it was a corset. She tied it tight in the back, but not tight enough to stop my breathing, like the corset did to Elizabeth Swann in The Pirates of the Caribbean. But, I decided against bringing that up, considering the fact that I wasn’t made yet.

                        She then told me to lift my arms and she slipped the dress onto my slender body through the hole in the head. I was right; it fell down to my toes perfectly. I glanced down at the bottom of the dress and smoothed it out with my hand, but then realized that the creative ruffles were there from design. Mrs. Lovett tied the white bow in the back and told me to wait while she ran to get shoes. Meanwhile, I smoothed out my now drying hair and let it fall over my shoulders.

                        Does this mean that I’ll never get to wear jeans again? The thought popped up into my mind and, oddly enough, it triggered tears. But, if I thought about it deeply, it wasn’t so irrelevant. Jeans represented my childhood in the Appalachians, considering that I wore them pretty much every day of my life. And, though the dress was exquisite beyond belief, so were my 2010 style clothes, in the sense that they defined who I was. But, until I figured out how to find my way back home, I’d have to learn to deal, which wouldn’t be so hard, judging the circumstances. The dress was beautiful, the house was beautiful, and Edward didn’t seem at all that bad. I blinked away the te4ars, and Mrs. Lovett rushed back to where I was standing.

                        “Sit down, dear,” she instructed as she brought forth two white flats with blue designs on either side. I wanted to painfully to ask her where in the world did she get these beautiful clothes from, but she was in such a hurry that I didn’t want to bother her. She slipped the shoes on each foot, and then helped me up.

                        “Look at yourself, dear. You’re a marvel.” I smiled at her thankfully and tapped my way over to where the full-sized mirror was standing, thinking on the way about how lucky I was to have a motherly person like Mrs. Lovett.

                        I stood in the mirror and couldn’t believe that I was the girl staring back at me. While I always wore jeans and some kind of T-shirt, and didn’t mind getting down and dirty, she was fit to be a princess, with an expensive gown that complimented her figure and enhanced the beauty of her eyes. I swear, my waist seemed to be two inches thick, thanks to the help of the corset. Though it’s true I didn’t mind getting down and dirty, it was nice to look like a girl for once.

            “          Now,” Mrs. Lovett stood from her comfortable stance of leaning on the closet door. “I’m sorry I don’t have time to curl your hair or apply make-up on you, but your hair looks so pretty straight and your eye lashes are so thick and your lips so rosy red that you don’t need any. Now let’s go!” she gently pushed me out the door and led me through doors and hallways that I couldn’t keep up with. All the while, she was explaining to me how to act in front of the queen, such as what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. after a while of rights and lefts (that look mysteriously like a maze), we appeared in front of two extremely large and decorated doors, which I recalled to be the Throne Room. “Here’s our stop.” Mrs. Lovett breathed deeply, then knocked on the doors loudly, calling, “You’re Royal Highness! Mimi is ready to stand in your presence and speak with you.”

                        “Bring her in!” A strong voice exclaimed through the door. Though strength could mean many different things, in this case it meant power, but security and warmth as well. Just by those three words, I could already tell that Queen Victoria was a kind woman from the core.

                        Though I was ready as I would ever be, I gulped and felt unnaturally cold. What if she didn’t like me? What if I say something wrong and she beheads me like I heard in stories? It was as if Mrs. Lovett could read my mind, because she squeezed my shoulder and whispered, “You’ll do fine. Just remember what I told you, and you might actually enjoy yourself.

                        I smiled weakly to her as I gripped the handle on the door and pushed. With one step, I was inside the Royal Throne Room, and the doors shut loudly with a BANG! behind me.

                        Just me and the Queen.

                        In a room.


                        I could hardly believe it. The room itself was outstanding, though it was just a background in comparison to Queen Victoria. It was not her beauty that dampened the room’s delicate designs, but the power and strength you could see she obtained. Though she was sitting down and her long dress sprawled by her feet, I noticed that she was not very tall, maybe five feet. She had long brown hair that was tied tightly in the back of her head in a bun, but it exposed her prevailing face. Her eyes, the same blue-ish grey color that I wore, over flowed with two sides: sympathy, kindness, and understanding, and yet power heat, and strength for what she believed in. I didn’t think I could handle being in the same room with such a woman. ‘Just remember what I told you’ I recalled Mrs. Lovett’s words and took a deep breath before I stepped in front of the carpeted stairs and knelt on one knee.

                        “Your Majesty,” I addressed her. Still kneeling with my face down, I spoke with fragile strength, “I would like to personally express my gratitude for your generosity of taking a stranger in need into your home and aiding her. Thank you, Your Highness.”

                        The Queen chuckled. “Stand, my dear. Your gratitude is accepted, and you are welcome.”

                        “Thank You, Your Majesty,” I stood, my back straight and my posture adding a few inches to my height. My eyes met and locked with those of the Queen’s, and she seemed to be in deep concentration. I did my best to not look away or cringe under the heat of her gaze, but to keep my expression light and grateful.

                        She stared at me for several silent minutes, then she rested her chin in her hand which was leaning against the arm of the throne. She chuckled humorously. “I cannot understand you, Mimi. You are how old?”

                        “Eight, Your Highness.”

                        “Eight years old. You are at the young age of eight years old yet I can see you carry wisdom beyond your few years.” She stared at me for a few more seconds. Though I was becoming comfortable under her gaze, I had to try hard not to fidget out of nervousness. I remembered from my school drama teacher that breathing helped with you are nervous, so I breathed. In, out. In, out.

                        “You have been through a great deal in your life, have you not?” she asked after the silent minutes.

                        “Yes, Your Majesty, you could say that.”

                        “And you would not mind me asking what it is that matured you at such a young age?”

                        I shook my head. “You may ask me anything you desire, Ma’am. I was very close to my mother, who disappeared when I was six years old. I was… an odd child, Your Majesty, and her running away didn’t exactly help it.” I glanced away, embarrassed, when a traitor tear escaped from the rim of my eye. I blinked the rest of them away. “My father remarried to our neighbor last year, not because he loves her, but because he is lonely. I feel like I should be doing more to comfort him, when I can’t even control my own emotions. Do you understand? I know I’m rambling.” I glanced at her helplessly, my façade of power broken to reveal a torn child.

                        Her eyes were filled with genuine sympathy. “You are not, my child. You are hurt, in every way possible, and you’ve felt more than a child should feel. Is this the reason that you ran away?”

                        I looked away quickly, suddenly terrified, and my breath sped. Could I lie to her? What would I say? If she found out I was lying, what would happen?@ I got a hold of myself with a couple breathes and met her gaze once more. “Yes, it is,” I replied with a straight face. Sometimes, years of putting on a mask comes in handy. “But, as you can see, Your Highness, I am not British. I’ve heard of the wonders of Brittan and I hitchhiked left and right until I found what I was looking for. You may ask, why was I found near a have? Well, I was hot, and I needed shade. As soon as my body cooled down, I guess it realized that I was dehydrated, so I fainted, hit my head, and now I’m not really sure where it is I lived.” I smiled weakly up at her. “Story of my life.”

                        She chuckled. “You know, my eldest son, Edward, has been keeping a close eye on you.”

                         I tried hard not to role my eyes. “I noticed, Ma’am.”

                        She grinned, her blue eyes shining. “Before I saw your face, he told me that you’re very beautiful.”

                        I blushed and glanced at my shoes, but beamed wildly. “Oh, has he, Ma’am?”

                        “Yes, he has. He also told me that you named your doll Victoria. I want you to know that I am flattered.”

                        I was about to say that I didn’t name Victoria after her, but I kept my lips shut and replied, “It is my pleasure, Your Highness. You are a magnificent queen.”

                        She smiled. Thank you, my dear. Now, go and rest, and ready yourself for supper, which I strongly hope you will be attending.”

                        I grinned. “Your wish is my command, Your Majesty. Until then, goodbye, Ma’am.” I bowed, turned around, and strut out the door with my head held high. When the door was closed and I was alone – or so I thought – I leaned on the wall and shut my yes. Mrs. Lovett was right; that wasn’t half as bad as I expected.
                        “Did she threaten to behead you?” I heard an amused voice to my right, yelped, and jumped. My heart was beating dangerously fast when I turned around to see Edward leaning casually on the wall.

                        I giggled breathlessly and rested my hand on my heart. “You scared the living crap out of me!”


                        I rolled my eyes. “Never mind. And no, she did not threaten to behead me.” I threw him a what-are-you-talking-about expressing and he raised his hands in defeat. I shrugged and leaned on the door again. “She was actually really nice.”

                        He grinned. “I told you, did I not?”

                        “Ugh, shut up, Edward,” I laughed, and pushed him. Suddenly, we both jumped to a voice calling his name. “Oops, that happens to be my mother. Give me one second dear.” The threw me a dazzling smile before he disappeared through the doors, and my heart stopped. I let my jaw drop open as my knees locked and I fell into a chair next to me. Let me put the puzzle pieces together. He called me dear, he kissed my hand, he seems very open to me… he likes me! Well, technically those could just be manners. I mean, I don’t know how the men act in the 1800’s; he could just be very courteous. Which would make sense, considering that he’s actually a prince. But then again, the queen told me that he thinks I’m pretty… no beautiful. Where do the pieces of the puzzle lie now?! I jumped again when the door beside me flew open and Edward burst out.

                        “Would you like to take a walk with me?” he asked, his eyes sparkling. “I know somewhere I think you’d like.”

                        “Alright,” I agreed and let him lead me again through the rights and lefts of this creepishly large maze, until we were out the door and standing on freshly cut grass. He didn’t give me time to gawk at the stunning garden, because right when we got outside, he started walking faster. So, I followed him faster, but considering that my legs were at least a half a foot shorter than his, I was practically sprinting.

                        “What’s with the hurry?” I asked breathlessly.

                        “I’d like to get there before sundown,” he explained, glanced back at me, amused. “Wow, you really are short.”

                        I didn’t have the time or breath to argue so I just let it be and followed right behind him.

                        A few minutes later we arrived at the most striking tiny river that I’ve ever seen in my life. The water was so royal blue that it was like it realized it lived near the queen and had to live up to her standards. I giggled in disbelief and stole a glimpse of Edward to realize that he was grinning at me. “What?” I asked him, wondering why he always seems to be staring at me.

                        “You know your eyes are like an open book.”

                        I rolled them just for him. “So I’ve heard.”

                        He chuckled. “We are not done walking, Madam.”

                        I stared at him pleadingly. “Seriously?! The water’s so beautiful! Can’t we just sit and watch it?”

                        He shook his head. “Nope, we cannot. Anyway we will be walking alongside the river so you can watch it all you want.” He grabbed my hand and started walking, so I had no choice but to walk along side of him in irritation.

                        A few minutes of complete silence except the rushes of the water calmed my jumpy spirit and I walked with him in peace.

                        “My mother told me about your family.”

                        There went my peace.

                        I glanced away, embarrassed. “Did she?”

                        Instead of nodding, a look of horror masked his face. “Are you crying?” I shook my head, though it was hard to cover up the fact that my cheeks were bring pink and a tear escaped my eye. He gently gripped my chin and met my eyes again. “Hey, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You were hurt, and you have the right to cry.”

                        I jerked myself softly from his grip. “Your mother said that.” My voice was all gross and nasally, but he smiled.

                        “Like mother, like son.”

                        “I guess.”

                        I fidgeting in the awkward silence that followed, and suddenly the thought of Victoria popped into my mind. “Victoria!”

                        Edward flinched at my random outburst. “What?”

                        “I left her in the bathroom. I have to get her before somebody touches her!”

                        “No,” he grasped my shoulders before I had the time to swivel around. “I was get her.”

                        “But- ”

                        “No buts. Stay here.” And with that, he was off, sprinting towards the palace in the other direction. With a sigh, I plopped myself down on a neighboring rock, ignoring the fact that my beautiful dress would probably get ruined.

                        I sat in silence for what seemed like a million years, my mind wandering off into space, but always returning in disappointment to the same boring scene. After a long while, my legs felt stiff and asleep, and I seriously had to move them. When I stood, I got that really uncomfortable feeling of pins and needles but started walking along the riverside.

                        Ugh, I am sooooo bored, I thought. Honestly, how old does it take to get a friggen doll from a bathroom?! Feeling in need for a little movement of my extremely and annoyingly stiff legs, I moved sideways until I was just half an inch away from the river. I threw my arms up for balance and began to walk on the dangerously close curb of the river.

                        Ok, I can admit, I have pretty terrible feet-eye coordination. So, when my feet were wobbling and my eyes were wandering, I didn’t exactly notice a rock the size of my foot until my foot actually hit it.  totally caught off balance, I yelped as I fell smack into the river.

                        Ok, I have another thing that I have to admit: I’ve never actually learned how to swim. And that shouldn’t be so surprising considering the fact that I live in mountains and nobody has a pool there or anything. so, I went inevitably with my first instinct: flap my arms like a chicken, kick my legs like a ninja, and scream at the top of my lungs like a madman.

                        I was terrified. I’ve seen movies on my pathetic one foot by one foot TV about people falling into rivers not knowing how to swim and drowning. So, in the midst of my ear-splitting yell, I focused all my energy to keep my head out of the water and keep myself from being shoved by the soft current.

                        Just like many things in my life, it didn’t go exactly as planned.

                        Though the current was soft and smooth, it was stronger than my fragile body and heaved me along its path. While trying to both emit a blood-curdling scream AND kick as hard as I could back to my original spot a few meters behind, I couldn’t manage to keep my face about the surface of the water. I sucked in a deep breath before my face went under the water then jerked it back up again. I gasped when my face touched air again, but that wasn’t such a great idea; just as fast as my face touched the air, it got shoved into the water again. With a strong and exceptionally large intake of water, I couldn’t help myself but cough underwater, causing me to breathe in more painful river water.

                        With another minute of coughing under the surface and my lungs filling up with water, I felt dizzy and tired and I was just about to shut my eyes when I felt strong arms grasp under my legs and behind my back and raise my face above the water. Though my eyes were shut, I was aware of my surroundings (I think) and felt someone push on my chest.

                        “Come on, Mimi. Open your eyes,” he cried, his voice masked in horror. His voice sent an odd jolt through my body and immediately caused my eyes to fly open and my lungs to cough out water. I rolled onto my stomach, spitting up disgusting river fluids when I heard him sigh in relief then reached to gather the hair out of my face. “You scared me half to death, Mimi,” he whispered, patting my back as I kept uncontrollably coughing. “Please, please, please Mimi, don’t you ever do that again to me.”

                        I glanced up at him, and felt a shock run to every part of my spirit, but used my amazing skills to mask my bliss. He cared. He cared about me. Though I didn’t understand why and how, I felt like sunshine poured its golden love into my heart as I realized the confusing yet true fact: I was already a part of Edward’s family.

                        I giggled at his terrified expression, but then winced when my throat felt like it was on fire.

            Edward “shh”ed me. “Don’t talk. Your only hurting yourself.” But then he averted his eyes down to meet mine. “But I am wondering why you decided to fling yourself into the river.”

                        I shook my head.

                        He snorted. “Oh, so now we’re playing this game?”

                        I shrugged, and then nodded, grinning.

                        “Alright then. Did you throw yourself into the river because… you hate me?” he frowned dramatically, his eyes widening to the point that he could only be compared to a puppy dog. I giggled, and for the sake of my own amusement, I nodded. He gasped and then pretended to stab himself in the heart; he fell to the ground theatrically, his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth. I smacked his leg and he sat right up again. “Right. This is serious business here; back to the game.” I gave him my stink eye. “Did yo throw yourself into the river because-” I smacked him in the leg and shook my head when he met my eyes.

                        “Did you throw yourself into the river?”

                        I shook my head.

                        “Did you get pushed into the river?”

                        I gave him a look that said “who the heck would push me into a river?”.

                        He threw up his hands in surrender. “Alright, alright, so you didn’t get pushed into the river. Did you faint?”

                         I shook my head.

                        “Did you fall?”

                        With excitement and probably looking like a complete idiot, I started nodding my head up and down like a madman, my wet hair whipping my face.

                        He chuckled staring straight at nothing. “That wouldn’t surprise me.” Then he glanced at me both questioning and amused. “You didn’t smack me or anything?”

                        I shrugged. “It’s true,” I croaked. I winced at the sharp pain in my throat that rode up to my nose and head.

                        He stared at me, concerned. “Please don’t talk. I hate to see you in pain.”

                        We stared at each over for several long minutes, and then I averted my eyes to the grass I was sitting on. “Why?”

                        “Why what?”

                        “Why do you hate to see me in pain?”

                        He laughed, surprising me, his voice sounding like sweet bells. “Is it that shocking that I don’t like to see you writhing in pain?”

                        I smiled wryly. “Well, it’s nice to know that someone cares.”

                        His smile dropped. “A lot of people care about you, Mimi.”

                        I snapped. “Like who? You don’t know my life, Edward. Don’t try to pretend like you do.” I regret the words the moment they left my lips. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that.”

                        He stayed quiet for a few more seconds before repeating, “A lot of people care about you.”

                        “Like who?” I asked, a little more softly. “Who can you name that really, truly care about me?”

                        He shrugged. “Me.”

                        I blushed and looked away. “You don’t know me, though.”

                        He smiled softly. “But I have a strong feeling that I will.”

                        I giggled. “What that supposed to sound a bit creepy.”

                        He laughed along with me, obviously relaxing from the previous tension. “Oh, yes. That’s what I was going for.”

“Can we walk again?” I started to stand.

He stood faster, helping me up. “Promise me you won’t jump into the river again?” His eyes were pure amused which made me cackle and punch his shoulder. “Ouch,” he cried theatrically and I rolled my eyes. However, though my eyes were rolling, I couldn’t blanket the huge, blissful, cheek-to-cheek grin on my lips.

The laughing simmered to just pleasant silence, my hand in Edwards’s, when I had to ask a question. “Tell me about your family.”

He jumped at the random request, but followed through. “Alright. Though it’s true that I am the eldest son, I am not the eldest child.

Though I shouldn’t have been so shocked, my eyes widened. “You lied to me?!”

He shook his head fast, horrified, saying, “No, no, no. I told you I was the eldest son. My sister, Victoria, was born on November 21st 1840, and that makes her just a few more years older than me. After me, Alice was born, and then Alfred, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leapold, and Beatrice…” he counted them off with his fingers, but honestly, I couldn’t keep up. I glanced down and quickly counted the fingers he used and realized he had eight other brothers and sisters. That’s nine altogether! Jeesh, this woman has to get a hobby.

                        Like he could read my mind (or maybe just read my annoyingly readable eyes), he chortled, his laugh like sweet and smooth velvet to my ears. “What, you don’t have that many brothers and sisters?”

I stared at him in shock, but giggled on the verge of hysteria. “That many? Besides my Victoria over here, I’m all alone!” As I watched his face morph into one as shocked as mine before, I continued, “Although I did have a hamster when I was three, but for all we know it died when it ran away half a year later-”

You’re the only child in your family?” he interrupted, his mouth dropped open like someone told him that the world is actually made up of dog crap.

I glanced at him in amusement. “Is that a bad thing?”

He stuttered. “Yes, well, no, but, I mean – one child – that’s unreasonable! Absurd! Why would a family only give birth to one child? That is delusional! One child? What was your mother thinking?” His words halted to a stop as he realized his blunder. I could see he was trying to think up the right words to say, the right words to make me understand that it was just an accident.

But I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see past the sudden anger that clouded my vision; it wasn’t sorrow, pain, or even that abrupt hollow feeling I always get in the pit of my stomach.


Without another word, I stood from my spot and started stomping towards the palace, glaring at nothing but the open space in front of me.

“Mimi! Wait!” I could hear him cry from behind.

He better not follow me, I threatened him mentally. I’m feeling dangerous, and HE BETTER NOT FOLLOW ME.

I could hear his footsteps shortly behind mine.

He followed me.

“Mimi, wait,” he repeated out of breath, panting, and grabbed my arm.

“Don’t touch me!” I jerked my arm out of his grasp and pushed him hard. Staggering back a few steps myself, I composed myself once again and came right up to his face. I pointed a finger at his chest. “Listen to me, Edward,” I growled through my teeth. “If you ever even consider talking about my mother again, I swear I will find some way to put your pretty little head on a platter and serve it for lunch. Got it?!” I put my finger down and broke the gaze.

Thinking I’d get some stuck-up, I’m-the-eldest-son-of-the-queen attitude, I was surprised when he flat out said, “I’m sorry.” And it wasn’t just the I’m-sorry smirk of the whatever, I’m sorry mumble. It was a straight up, sincere, genuine apology.

“Okay,” I muttered, satisfied, and rubbed my face in my hands. I closed my eyes to breathe, the best way of releasing stress, and met his eyes again. Just when he opened his mouth to say something, we both turned our heads to the sound of tiny yet loud bells ringing through the yard and mixing with the rushes of the river. “What’s that?”

“That means dinner.” He grabbed my wrist and we started walking hand in hand back towards his home – our home? – none of us saying a word nor doing something more than studying the beautify of his front yard.

When we arrived to the palace, we went our separate ways… well not exactly; we were more shoved our separate ways by annoyingly pushy servants that immediately rushed me to Mrs. Lovett.

When we came to our stop at my bedroom, I couldn’t deny the fact that I was ecstatic when the aggravating maid ran off to finish maid-chores or whatever they do. How was I supposed to know?

I knocked on the door lightly.

It swung open.

Mrs. Lovett widened her eyes in shock at the sight of me. “Oh, poor dear, what happened?” she exclaimed, checking me out from head to toe and stroking my drenched hair from top to bottom.

“Well,” I started, “I kind of-”

“That’s all very well, dear. Now what are we going to do about dinner?” she interrupted me and practically pushed me into the bedroom then shut the door.

“What do you mean?” I asked, gazing at her as I plopped myself on the bed. I glanced down at my dripping wet dress. Was I going to get in trouble for wetting the bed… well you know what I mean? I certainly hope not, because my legs were tired from all that walking (thanks to Edward) and I seriously needed somewhere to rest them. I happily took the weight off of my feet and glanced back up at Mrs. Lovett.

“What do I mean about what, darling?” she murmured automatically, her mind obviously elsewhere.


            “What about it?”

            I rolled my eyes. “Ugh, never mind.”

            She let it be. “Alright then. Darling, what are we going to do about dinner?”

            I threw my hands into the air. “God help me!”

            Without another word, Mrs. Lovett scat into the closet then hurried back merely twenty seconds later with yet another gorgeous gown in her over-worked hands. This one was a bit more mature and yet it was exquisite with its deep shade of purple. The skirt wasn’t as wide as the dress that I stripped off quickly and replaced it with the new one. It fell slightly longer and thinner than the other dress, but was still way too hoop-ish to be considered anything appropriate for the 21st century, other than Halloween. It fell in dark purple waves, though the tight-ish corset wasn’t merely purple; around the waist it curved so nicely was a white and blue ribbon that twirled around the waist and fringed beautifully at the top of the dress. With a pair of white heals, a quick drying of my hair with a towel, and a dab of make-up, I was ready when I got called down to dinner.

            “Alright, darling. You’re all set.” Mrs. Lovett rubbed my shoulders and threw me a motherly smile, and then spun on her heel. Without a second glance and before I could stop her, she was out the door.

And I was all alone.

How the hell am I supposed to know where dinner is? I thought frantically to myself, and told my paranoid mind to stay calm. I was gonna get there, and I was gonna get there on time.

Straightening my back with determination like I was a warrior, I rushed out the door and took the first right, and then the next left. By the third ring of the dinner bell, I was sprinting. I kept taking random rights and lefts, and dripping in perspiration from both running with heels and anxious paranoia that I was going to be late. Which of course I already was.

Sprinting down another two lefts and a right, I suddenly realized I was sprinting so fast that I didn’t notice a pretty young maid walking leisurely my way.

With an odd mix between a gasp and yelp, I actually managed to hit her like a speeding car crashing into a brick wall, and I knocked her over.

“Oops! I mean, uh, oh my. I’m so sorry!” I stuttered, helping her up to her feet and picking up all the papers and tiny maid tools she was holding. “I really am sorry.”

“It’s alright,” she muttered, shocking me with her expression: pure embarrassment. Not anger, not disapproval, but embarrassment. Though I didn’t have a dang clue why she would be embarrassed, I didn’t have time to ponder the possibilities. Just as she murmured a soft “good day” and was about to rush away, I stopped her.

“Wait,” I put up my hand in a stopping motion. “Do you know where the dining room is?”

“Which one?” she squeaked, her voice as shy  as her blushing cheeks told me she was. “There are many.”

“Uh, the one I’m supposed to be in right now?” I asked, desperately praying that she would know.

Her eyes lit up. “Ah yes, you are Miss Mimi, are you not?” I really liked the ‘miss’ part; I stood up taller and nodded in return. “Yes,” she repeated. “We must hurry to get there in time!”

Oh that ship has sailed, honey, I thought. Obviously refusing to run, I quickly hurried right on her tail. “Thank,” I panted to her as we were dashing through the lefts and rights of the hallways. “Getting there in time means a lot to me, because apparently I have to please the queen… I mean, uh, Her Majesty.” I glanced awkwardly in her direction. “Um, is there anything I can give you in return?”

He laughed wryly, the sound like soft music without its happiness. “A raise,” she muttered and when we arrived at the door that was supposedly the dining room, I didn’t wait to thank her again, I just barged in, and of course, all eyes were on me.

It must have been a pretty funny picture actually, if you weren’t the girl who it circled around. The queen and her large family all sitting patiently at an extremely long square table overflowing with delicious food, staring blankly at a small girl panting at the door. I felt like a good student late for class, with the whole class laughing at you and the teacher yelling. But, the disapproving gaze of the wise queen meant so much more than yelling. It cut deeper, and darkened the humiliated blush on my cheeks.

Breathing the awkward silence but still panting, I bowed to Queen Victoria and said with truth, “I apologize I’m so late for the dinner you so generously allowed me to join. I lost my way and a very sweet maid guided me here.” I hesitated, and then blurted out, “oh, and she wants a raise.”

Surprising me and probably all of the rest of her family, the queen threw her head back and laughed. Though she seemed like a sweet yet serious woman, the sound of her laughter was nice. It was comforting, like it could make you feel at home in a distant land. In other words, it comforted me, making me feel at home in a distant land. How straightforward, I know, but it’s true. I immediately felt relieved that she wasn’t angry and almost grinned as her booming laughs simmered down to a mere chuckle. “I’ll be sure to write that down on my to-do list,” she replied, her voice overflowing with amusement. “Take a seat, Mimi.”

I quickly replied, “Yes, ma’am,” and rushed over to the unoccupied seat next to a grinning Edward.

Before he could say anything, Her Majesty stood from her sweat at the head of the table and declared, “Let us say grace.” I glanced around myself, suddenly frantic. Grace?? I’m Jewish! I thought as I joined hands with Edward and reached across the table to the girl I later learned was Louise. I followed as they closed their eyes and bowed their heads, but did not say “Amen” along with the family. I hoped they wouldn’t notice.

They noticed.

The queen opened her eyes and glimpsed at me. “Do you not say grace?”

I fidgeted under the weight of the gaze of the whole family. “Um, well, I’m actually Jewish.”

The table grew completely silent. And I’m not talking about silent like the adults stopped talking and the kids kept toying with their napkins and giggling. I’m talking like everyone stopped their conversations, put an end to their childish fidgeting and stared at me.

Everyone except Edward and Victoria.

With a disapproving tone in her voice, she addressed every one of the children, and even her husband Albert. “Have you not met those with another faith, children? Not everyone in this world is Christian, you all know, or at least I have taught you all. Including you, Albert. Our family is raised better than this; you are being very disrespectful to our guest!”

With a glance to their mother and then to me, they muttered quick apologies and returned to stare at their laps. “Let us eat!” her voice ringing powerfully and suddenly the room erupted in conversation as servants… well.. served us food.

Amazing food.

Food that could be described as the most amazing food ever.

I swear it was like music to the mouth, bliss to the bite, and heaven to the cup. Chicken, steak, rice, salad, anything that you could ever imagine I stuffed my face with, and though in normal cases I would have felt like a completely pig, I honestly didn’t mind being a pig for once. Trust me, I showed off the dang cookie monster.

By the time dessert came my stomach was stuffed like an overfed mosquito and we were all laughing and talking. “More food?!” I exclaimed with a shocked open mouth to Edward. He laughed and nodded, then went straight for the ice cream. “I swear you all are trying to make me fat.”

Edward chuckled and squeezed my hand under the table, then shoved a tablespoon of ice cream into his mouth like a real man.
                        I shrugged off my female worries and did the same, and soon, of course, my head was spinning with sugar and a serious brain freeze.

“So, Mimi,” I turned my head at the sound of my name to the queen’s husband. He looked like a semi-nice guy, with is hands folded neatly over his lightly bulging belly. “Do you play any instruments?”

Still pretty high on the sugar overload, I yelped, “Yep! I play piano and sing.”

“Would you play a song for us, please?” the queen asked politely.

That sobered me.

“Um,” I scratched the back of my neck and giggled nervously. “The thing is that I don’t know how to play any professional songs; I’ve only written pieces,” I lied, knowing that I’d be playing a song that would be made in the future.

“Then show us what you’ve written!” Alice pleaded as she rocked back and forth in her chair.

I giggled again, and glanced around the room. Of course, my eyes met Edwards, and they practically yelled out, “For me?”

I know it may sound stupid, but I could hardly resist the pleading and yet totally dazzling look in his eyes. “I hate you,” I muttered to Edward under my breath before I turned back to the family and exclaimed, “Of course!” with false excitement.

Queen Victoria clapped her hands together once and said with a pleased voice, “Perfect!” She stood. “Let us show you to your stage, performer.”

After following the family for five minutes, I whispered to Edward, who was right by my side (of course), “Where are we going?”

“To the piano!” he replied matter-of-factly.

I nodded casually, trying to put on a false impression that I was cool with all of this.

Hence false in false impression.

My knees were shaking with every step that I took and my hands were starting to fidget with my locket. I also couldn’t deny the fact that beads of sweat were forming on my brow, and though I tried to cover up my nerves, it was obvious that I was scared out of my mind. Well, at least Edward noticed. He put his arm around my shoulder and hugged me to him, then whispered into my ear, “You’ll do great.”

And with that, we opened two fancy doors to the “piano.”

Now, I thought she was exaggerating when she called it a ‘stage’; I thought she merely meant a piano against a wall as I’ve known for years. Oh, how I was wrong.

When we pushed open the doors to my performance space, I could hardly believe my eyes. She literally meant a stage! I stood with the family staring at an extremely large dimmed theatre with at least one hundred fancy seats and a huge stage in front. standing on that stage was a beautiful black grand piano that practically called out, “Come and play me!”

I didn’t notice how cold the queen had gotten until she was right next to me, her face lowered next to mine. “Go on,” she encouraged, laying and hand on my back. “We’ll be right in the audience.”

I nodded, and gulped, then started down the long isle, my knees twitching and shivering the whole ride. When I got up the stairs, my heels clicked loudly in the silence of the room, then echoed nicely off the walls. I sat myself on the black padded bench, touched the smooth fall covering the keys, and then pushed it open.

With a slight loving smile, I brushed my fingers gently across the keys; I’ve missed the feel of the piano beneath my fingers so much because it felt like home to me. With a breath of calm my now-few nerves, I was ready to go, and played my first chord.

I sang. I’ve heard it said that you’re never really living

Till you found something to die for

And I know from the calls I haven’t gotten

You’ve forgotten me

Time flashes by like the beat of a broken heart

It’s a start but I try not to show it

Because the girl that you see staring into your eyes

Isn’t me, Isn’t me, and I know it

Do you?

Tell it to my eyes, where are you?

How far have you gone? How far from me?

Why can’t you show me the woman I’ll be?

Broken love and shattered soul

I was six; it took my toll

It stole my all, you stole my heart

But we both know it was yours from the start

You took one half, and I took the other

A broken girl with a missing mother

It comes with me, wherever I go

I say yes, my mask says no

Under the veil, beyond the façade

I’m a small shattered girl who’s been terribly played

By my own best friend, handsome song for a sound

Who managed to love me, then spat me to the ground

Come back to me, Mother, that’s all I ask

Till then I’ll forever be wearing this mask

With a soft C minor and then a ride-up, I finished my song with a tear in my eye and Mother’s face in my heart. I averted my eyes from the comforting and homey look of the black and white keys to the family in the darkness that I realized were dead silent.

For a minute, I thought they hated it. I thought they’d get angry that they wasted their precious time on a silly song writing by a young child. I realized that iw as stupid for singing this, and I should have told Albert that I didn’t play an instrument, when I heard the queen stand on her feet and start clapping.

Soon, the whole family was applauding like crazy with silly “woohoos” and “yeahs”. With rushed excitement, they joined me on the stage and all of the queen’s children attacked me like I was some celebrity. I laughed and gave into the hugs they squeezed me in, and when they finally let me breath, Queen Victoria came up too, smiling slightly. I noticed that her eyes were bloodshot from what I realized was crying.

I gasped. “Are you ok, Your Highness? I really didn’t mean to make you cry,” I apologized, but she immediately shook her head.

“You know,” she sniffed. “I rarely tear up from song or lyrics, even the slow ones with meanings. But this,” she shook her head disbelievingly. “This is a masterpiece. Beautifully written, beautifully sung, and beautifully played. Bravo,” she bowed her head in respect and her husband shook my hand, grinning.

That’s when Edward practically knocked me over.

“Woah!” I yelped as I staggered back from Edward’s forceful hug, and soon wrapped my arms around him, too. He nuzzled his nose into my hair and I laughed. He laughed too, but soon whispered, “That was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard in my life. You know what you are?”

I whispered back with the same intensity and drama he put into his words. “What?”

“A genius.” He squeezed me tighter in his arms and I melted into his embrace. I closed my eyes and smiled slightly has I rested my head on his shoulder. He smelled like nothing more than home, though home smelled nothing like him. Mint, and lavender, and sweet honey mixed into one scent that made my head twirl. His warmth, however, was home, if not home to me. When I opened my eyes again and stepped out of his hug, I realized that the queen and Albert were having their own little happy love scene, Albert embracing her and kissing her softly on the lips.

“Ugh, get a room!” Edward looked as if he was about to get sick, and I cracked up at his expression. I punched his arm hard.

“She’s the queen! She does what she wants!” I said with mock smugness and she mirrored my acting.

“Yes, I’m the queen. Listen to your friend, son! She’s smart!” the queen laughed strongly and ruffled my hair, as Edward jumped right back into play.

“Not on my watch!” he exclaimed. “Well, I guess you’re right. She is the queen. But you, my good lady, are not, and I do not give you permission to watch them!” he covered my eyes with his palm and I gasped.

“Who said I need your consent, Prince Edward?” I laughed and knocked his hand away, which soon found mine.

“I do, Princess Mimi.” He turned to his mother and father and bowed dramatically. “Good night, Your Highnesses. I am walking this fine maiden to her room and then – I realized Americans call – I’m going to, erm, hit the sack.” I threw my head back and let out a booming laugh, my stomach cramping and my face turning blue, no doubt.

Edward suddenly picked me up as he did in the river and started sprinting down the stairs and down the hallway leading to the door.

“Oh! Um, goodnight!” I cried back to the queen and her family as they laughed when we flew through the door.

Edward’s sprint simmered down to a mere strut, and after a while of silence I noticed I felt like I was flying. I glanced down and realized that I was still in his arms. “Um, Edward?”

“Hmm?” he answered automatically.

“You can put me down now.” I patted his arm and he chuckled.

“If you insist, Princess Mimi.” He laid me on my feet so gently like he thought I would break if he used any more force. Why wasn’t he thinking that when he attacked me in the hug? I rolled my eyes involuntarily, but smiled. Suddenly, a thought came to me.

“Why do you keep calling me princess?” I asked him, stall walking but staring straight into his eyes.

“That is what I wanted to talk with you about, Mimi,” he said after a minute or so. All joking and playfulness left his voice, and he said his words with such a serious intensity that I was scared. He kept staring straight ahead, though I could tell he noticed me gazing at him.

“What?” I asked nervously. What could it be that would get him so… sober from all his usual excitement? What? Were they planning to kick me out? Was that it? was that why we had that huge exciting dinner and then the performance they encouraged so dearly? Was it all for farewell?

“We’d like you to become a part of this family,” he blurted, and then I stopped walking. So did he.

“What?” I whispered.

He now gazed unfalteringly into my grey eyes and put his hand on my shoulder. “we’d like you to be a part of this family,” he repeated softly. His eyes were pleading, but he kept a straight face.

I couldn’t even tell what mine looked like. I didn’t even care. The only thing I thought about was my father. I know I always talking about the struggle without a mother, but my daddy has been by my side for the while ride. The day that mom left, yes, I was torn. But my father was the only reason that I didn’t break apart. He always held my hand and comforted my cries and soothed my pain. He played soccer with me and took me exploring around the mountains as a child, and though it’s true that he could never be a mom, he was a hell of a dad. And it broke my heart at the thought of yet another love of his life leaving him. Would Nancy take good care of him? I wasn’t certain. I guess you could say that she was the best friend he never had, or the best one to fill mom’s shoes. I mean, before mom and dad got married, they were inseparable friends. They did everything together, and I mean everything. And even though sometimes it definitely makes me feel lonely, Nancy and Dad were pretty dang close. He didn’t love her as a wife, he loved her as a friend, and I didn’t know how a friend could fulfill the duties a wife would to a husband, never-the-less a husband who’s lost every other important person in his life. But then again, I trusted Nancy with his heart. She would never break it, and though he didn’t love her, I could hardly imagine him leaving her. And she was so oblivious to the fact he wasn’t in love with her that she practically imagined them living happily ever after. There wasn’t only the fact that Nancy would be true to him, but there was that big unanswered question still in play: how do I even get back? Even if I wanted to, how would I? I couldn’t just wonder on the streets and starve, searching for a miracle.

Edward noticed my hesitance and stuttered nervously, “Well, where other place would you go? I mean, um, you don’t remember where your father lives and I mean we’d treat you well, and I know Victoria can seem harsh, but she’s a really good mom, but I mean it’s not like she’s replaced your mom, and-”


“Please, Mimi! I said we’ll treat you well and- wait,” he stopped and glanced at me confused and yet totally hopeful. “What did you say?”

I laughed. “Yes,” I repeated joyfully. “I will accept your offer and become a part of your family.”

A grin spread slowly across his face as he cried out, “Yes!” and spun me around in an embrace. I yelped and giggled, bliss and joy filling up every once of my body, reaching out and tingling my finger tips. “Mom! Dad! Come!” Edward yelped with happiness, and the whole family soon came running. “She said yes! She said yes!” the family erupted into excitement and happiness and all squeezed me in a hug.

“Welcome to the family, honey,” Queen Victoria enfolded me in her motherly arms and tears of joy streamed down my face. I’ve never felt so at home, so happy. And from that moment, I knew and realized that this was the place I belonged… at least until I could find a way to go back to father. Until then, this was my home.

Home. Such a powerful word, so strong, and yet so fragile. A home could be broken easily, but I don’t think anybody realizes how effortlessly it could be built once again. When my mother left me years ago, I was torn. I grew in a home so broken and with a heart so tattered that I thought that opening it to new people would be like a punch to my fragile strength and my tender wounds. But, now, I realized that the past is the past, and the present is definitely a gift. I must embrace it, and that was always the answer. Home was not about replacing Mother. It was about opening myself to the world around me, and accepting the people who love me. And then, when Queen Victoria, Edward, and their family – my family – I was home. I slept that night with my loving doll Victoria in my arms, a smile on my lips, and exciting dreams about my future in my mind.


The years flew by as quickly and colorfully as staring out the window of a speeding car on a day in autumn. The memories of me ever living in 2010 slowly faded as the years raced by, and I grew to love my new family as my only family. I slowly stopped wearing “man pants” and started falling in love with feminine aspects like fashion and make-up. I made friends with my younger and older sisters and brothers, but nothing like Edward. We were inseparable. Starting with best friends, and then reaching to maybe something more, Edward and I soon fell deeply in love with each other. At my age of 16 and his of 20, he asked me to marry him and live happily ever after, just like what we used to read in the story books as children. And of course, I accepted his proposal with joy, and by the end of the month, we were wed.

It was 1857, and I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my dear husband and our five beautiful daughters: Jasmine, Anne, Camryn, Rose, and Amber. Jasmine and Anne were twins, both two years old and more hyper than a music box cranked up way too high. Camryn was one year old and so was Rose, but Camryn was half a year older. They were the calm children, the ones who let me sleep at night in bliss, though I never minded comforting Jasmine and Anne in the middle of the night. Why would I not? They were my children, and I loved my children more than anyone. And then came Amber. Amber was my newest child, who arrived just half a year ago. We called her ‘amber’ because, miraculously, she entered this world with pin straight hair down to her little butt, colored in the deepest shade of amber. Naturally, she was deep asleep.

“Happy birthday, my love!” Edward ran up to me and swooped me up into his arms spinning me around.

I laughed. “Edward, you’re going to wake the kids!” he mockingly shushed himself then kissed me tenderly on the lips.  

“Happy birthday,” he whispered softly, and I was ecstatic that he picked me up at the time; if I was on my feet, they would have probably locked underneath me and I would have fallen to the ground. As odd as it sounds, I’ve never really gotten used to his perfection. Which really is odd, considering that I’ve lived with him my whole life. “I have to show you something, my princess.” He kissed me on the lips, then rushed over to Jasmine and Anne, swooped them up and laid them lovingly in their cribs, humming them their lullabies until they both fell asleep. The rest of the children were already asleep.

I laughed as he came up behind me and tied a blind fold over my eyes. “What are you doing?” I asked him, half scared and half excited.

“Well, if I told you, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise now would it?”

“A surprise?”

“You’ll see,” he murmured, leading me through the seriously annoying lefts and rights of the palace I’ve gotten so accustom to. Then I heard a certain door creak, and I felt a certain breeze on my cheek. “We’re outside,” he let me know.

I rolled my eyes under the sheet covering them. “Yeah, I can feel that. Thank you very much,” I said sarcastically and he chuckled at my irony. With a yelp, he lifted me again and I could feel him running up stairs.

With a giggle of excitement, I felt him take off the blindfolds and I opened my eyes.

“SURPRISE!” I jumped at the hundred or so people in front of my eyes, all sitting in fancy white chairs wearing sun hats and beautiful clothing. Half of them I didn’t know, and yet I was supposedly supposed to recall all of them. Figures. That’s the point of a mask.

“Oh!” I gasped in amazement, and kissed Edward on the cheek. “Thank you so much!” I squeezed him in a hug, jumping up and down, and he cackled his velvet laugh at my excitement.

“Anything for you, my love,” and with that he kissed my so sweetly that I hardly noticed the crowd applauding in the background. I giggled when the kiss broke, and we went hand in hand down the stairs to mingle with the guests.

The party was phenomenal. A beautiful opera singer sang all the songs I loved, including the song writing for me by a sweet yet creepy stalker by the name of Thomas Hardy. He was apparently also a poet for the naturalist movement, but he wrote a song about me called “The American Beauty”. If the song hadn’t been written by a man who tried to kill my husband for me, I would have been flattered. But now? Not so much.

However, the song had been a hit for England and was played everywhere. I actually liked the tune myself, though the lyrics were slightly creepy.

We mingled for at least an hour when I decided to take a bathroom break inside. “If you’d excuse me,” I smile politely me to the horrid woman I had been chatting with, and walked around the house to the back door I’d grown up with.

The house was completely silent when I stepped inside, except for the click of my heels and the rush of the maids running about. I sighed in pleasure in the silence and closed my eyes. Though I’ve definitely grown accustomed to parties and mingling with dead-boring people I’ve never talked to in my life, I sometimes needed a break to rejuvenate and come back feeling fresh and new. So, I started walking to the bathroom, keeping the click of my high heel shoes in rhythm while humming a tune; yes, I know. I’m just odd like that.

That’s when I saw her.

On the side of my eye as I took a step, I saw a woman grinning by a door. Though I felt like I knew her somehow, the party was outside, not inside. “Are you lost, Ma’am?” I asked politely. She, this woman, just giggled and walked through the door. Though I knew that some maid could definitely help this strange woman find her way to the party, something inside, something like tiny hypnotic voices told me to follow her.

So, of course, I did.

“Wait!” I cried after this woman whose smile seemed so oddly familiar. I ran in her footsteps and stared down the hall to see her grinning back at me and taking a right. I followed her, printing to keep up, when she kept taking lefts and rights. Suddenly, I ran up to an open door that led me to the attic. I glanced right and left frantically; she was gone. I was just about to close the door that was left open for some reason, when the little hypnotic voices in my mind told me to go up the stairs. Again, I listened to those beautiful voices that seemed so right, and climbed up the stairs.

I’ve been in my attic before, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve never spent much time in here. Why would I? It’s creepy and dark and very dusty. But also, what business would I have in an attic with boxes storing my old things? However, somehow, I knew which box to search through. For what? I had no idea. But I got onto my knees, opened the box with my nail and started rummaging through its contents. I took everything out one by one, each trinket or toy making me smile and reminding me of my childhood with Edward.

Until I found a certain doll at the bottom of the box.


The second I laid eyes on her, all the memories that I’ve forgotten came rushing back to me, like a boulder blocking a river to flow, then removing the rock. I remembered Father, and Nancy, and my life in the Appalachians, but mostly I remembered Mother.


I gasped as I realized that the woman downstairs was mother. Mother! Tears swelled up in my grey eyes and fell down my cheek freely. “I remember,” I whispered, sobbing to my knees. “I remember everything.”

My gaze dropped to Victoria again. I’ve had so many experiences with her; so many rough times in which she’d helped me get through. I reached down to caress her cheek and stroke her hair before…

Before I realized that she was glowing.

The second my skin came in contact with her plastic cheek, the room started spinning around me. Swirls of colors – forest green, sky blue, blood red, amber – swirled and twirled and danced around my and I gasped at the familiar sensation. I felt myself move forward, not physically or emotionally; I just moved forward faster and faster until…

It came to a stop.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I grasped the fact that it all stopped, when I remembered what happened the last time the world spun like that.

I glanced  around myself, terrified to discover the sight I’d see.

I was in a cave.

A gloomy, darkish, quiet cave.

I glanced down when I realized that I was holding something: Victoria’s arm. No, not the queen’s, but Victoria as in my doll. I remember this place, I thought, and suddenly it all came back to me; this was the place that I went back in time.

I was in shock. My mind couldn’t grasp the fact that I had gone back to the year 2010. How could it? why? Why would God do such a thing to my?! Tears fell down my face and I fell to my knees as the truth hit me: Edward was dead. He died of old age, and without me, his wife, his lover. His friend.

I sobbed to my knees for what seemed like forever until my cries simmered down to mere silent tears. Edward, my Edward, I thought, praying to God that a miracle would happen and his was all just a bad dream. I thought about my five kids, my beautiful girls. Just like me, they had grown up without a mother; they had it worse, though. They died without a mother. At least I had a taste of what could have been, thanks to my dear sweet queen Victoria. She, too, was long gone, though she lived in my broken heart, now along with my love, Edward, and my babies.

“Mimi!” I heard a deep voice call my name, and I saw a man sprint my way. I looked up and he was standing right in front of my eyes. Father.

“Mimi, were the hell have you been?! I’ve been worried sick about you!” He panted, and seemed completely exasperated. Though I was still heartbroken over the loss of my family, I still had one family. Later I realized that this family waited for me all along.

“Father!” I cried and leaped into his arms, sobbing to his chest in both joy and sorrow. “I missed you so much,” I murmured to his shoulder as the tears streamed down my face. I guess I didn’t really realize how much I had until I lost it, and now that I had it back, I silently made a vow that I would never let go of it again.

“Shhh,” he hushed me, stroking my hair and kissing my cheek. “What’s gotten into you, sweetheart? You’re talking to me like you haven’t seen me in years!”

I laughed. “I haven’t,” I muttered involuntarily.

He cackled, his laugh soothing my cries. “Oh, haven’t you?” he asked.

I shook my head, partly happy to be a child once again.

He put me down and got on his knees. He wiped the tears away with his rough thumb and the warmness of his skin queued more tears. “Oh, honey,” he whispered as he pulled me into an embrace. “Even though I have no idea what the heck just happened, I love you so much, and I hope you know that.”

“I do,” I sniffled and he stood. He grabbed my hand and said, “How about we get some ice cream at home and then watch a movie? I can see you need some sugar and movie in your system.

I giggled and nodded and then we walked hand in hand to a special place that I like to call home.


I tried to tell myself that it was all just a dream, that everything that happened was a weird hallucination. Though I accepted that “truth” for the answer, I went to sleep with doubt in my mind and woke with the same weird feeling.

I went to school on Monday with my mind occupied on trying to stop thinking about it. though I knew it was just, um, a “hallucination”, I really couldn’t stop thinking about Edward. I missed him. A lot. Jeesh, how weird am I?! Falling in love with a man from my dreams? That is the definition of weird. And anyway, I’m not in love with him. I hugged Victoria tighter to my chest. Gosh, I’m eight years old. Of course I’m not in love with him. I don’t even know what love is…

The bell rang in first period Social Studies, marking the beginning of our day. My history teacher, Mrs. Bieres, actually managed to be weirder than me. He looks like he’s sixty-something years old, but he claims that he’s actually 25. Honestly?? This guy is ancient!! He also tries to convince us that the spirit of the “dead cat Willis” in a shoe box in his pencil drawer haunts students who chew gum. Again I say it… honestly?? Well, then again, I have dreams that I’m 18 and married to my step brother, so I shouldn’t be one to talk.

“Okay,” Mrs. Bieres clasped his hands together and shattered my internal rambles. “You’ll never guess what we’re learning about today, children.”

“What Mr. Bieres?” we all answered automatically and drearily. He asked this question every day, and it totally wasn’t necessary when we were still half asleep and cranky.

“We are learning about the Victorian Age!” I jumped at the sound of it, and then rolled my eyes my eyes when I remembered that I’ve made the conclusion that it was just a dream. Just a dream. Today was going to go fine. “Now open your textbooks to page 139, please.”

I yawned as I took out my textbook and turned to the page the requested.

“Hey, Mimi, she looks just like you!” Someone cried.

“What?” I glanced down to the black and white picture in the textbook and couldn’t believe my eyes.

In the textbook, in the big picture on the side of the page, was Queen Victoria, Edward from my “dreams”, his brothers and sisters, and right in the middle, with a familiar doll tucked under her arm, was me.