“You make sure you have a good sleep, okay, Marigold?” Mommy ruffles my hair.
“I will.” My grin fools her as good as ever. She’s never gonna figure it out, never in a thousand, million, billion years!
“Okay.” She arches her eyebrow. “You’re not staying up reading, are you?”
I giggle. “Of course not.”
“If I find your light still on . . .” She waggles her finger at me.
“I know; I know. I’m not gonna stay up readin’.” I’m gonna stay up doing something she’ll never guess!
“Okay, good.” Mommy kisses my head. “Night, Marielle.”
“You just called me Marielle!” I giggle.
“I know; isn’t it crazy?” Mommy kisses me again. “Okay, night for real, Marielle––my little Marigold.”
“Night, Mommy.” I hide my face under the covers.
She laughs, and then her footsteps creak against the floor. She’s almost gone! The door clicks shut, and I count to twenty. I’m bursting with energy, like big thunderbolts goin’ right through my body. I’d never be able to get to sleep even if I wanted to.
I peek my head out of the covers, finding darkness. Then I slide out from underneath the covers and change into normal clothes. Don’t wanna run around in my PJs! I giggle at the thought. The first time I went there, I was in my PJs, and I looked so silly! And my PJs got all muddy and gross, and I even tore my pants and ruined my slippers. At least Stella made me a new pair that looks just like ’em––’cept they’re not just boring old slippers; they’re faerie-slippers! I wish I could tell everyone about my faerie-slippers, but no one would believe me, and then they’d try to take my shoebox.
Now in normal clothes, I kneel and stick my head underneath my bed. No monsters here, just a lotta dust and a shoebox. “There you are!” I whisper. I grab it and tug it toward me, which isn’t hard ’cause there’s nothing in it––or so most people would think. I pull off the dusty cover. Instead of the brown, boring inside of a box, it’s starshine silver. Grinning, I place my foot inside and tumble into Endellion.
I fall against nice, soft grass that smells like cinnamon and oranges mixed together. I take deep breaths and soak it in standing, the shoebox––my ticket back to my bedroom––in my hand and a grin on my face. My Endellion. Birdsongs stream into my ears, all pretty and new, nothin’ like the birds in my world. Everything about Endellion is pretty and new, even though I’ve been here five times now. I only found the shoebox a few weeks ago, but it already seems like I’ve always known about Endellion.
No one else knows about it, and no one else gets to live here. No one but Stella and Freya and the creatures who already live here, of course. I’m not kicking them out or anything. Endellion wouldn’t be the same without ’em.
I’m surrounded by trees this time, the nice tall ones with the green-barked trunks that seem to reach up to the sky. Their leaves are purple, and they have sky-fruit––at least, that’s what I call it ’cause it tastes like I’m eating the sky. My stomach rumbles, and I move toward the closest one and jump. My hands won’t go high enough to touch the fruit. It’s for tall people, for grown-ups. But there’s no grownups allowed here, no ma’am. I scowl. If only Stella were here! She could get a sky-fruit down for me real easy.
“Stella!” I call, drawing out the words. “I’m back!”
A flash of light, and then I see a tiny figure––I grin––but it’s not Stella. It’s Lysander, dressed all fancy in his sparkly green suit and frowning. His wings go flap flap flap, keepin’ him in the air, almost like a funny-lookin’ bug. “Oh,” he says. “You’re that human from the other world Stella has become so fond of.”
He frowns too much. “Mhm.” I rock back and forth on my heels. “Can you help me find her? Please? I’ve got so many things to tell her!” Like how Mommy thinks the bags under my eyes are from not being able to sleep, and how Daddy gave me the prettiest marigold for no reason at all, and it just sits at my window, soaking up the sun––though it’s not like the pretty stuff here, of course. But I don’t think it’s fair to compare things from different worlds.
“Fine.” Lysander sighs heavily. “But since humans move so slowly, I think we need to get you a mode of transportation.” He says something in his high-pitched language, the sound almost like he rang a tiny set of bells. It sounds real quiet to me, but Stella says everyone within twenty miles heard it. Twenty whole miles! That’s like the whole world!
I bounce up and down. “Who’s it gonna be this time?”
“Whoever hears me,” he says.
I hope it’s Freya. That would be the best thing ever! My tummy grumbles, and I look back up at the sky-fruit. Stella’s not here, but Lysander’s a faerie too! “Oh, Mr. Lysander, can I please have a fruit?”
“Please?” I give him my biggest sad-face, with my eyes all big and round and my lip stuck out. Daddy would’ve caved in a heartbeat. Lysander takes longer to cave.
“Fine,” he grumbles. He then mutters something, and a sky-fruit drops into my hand. I giggle and bite into its thick, sweet skin. Tastes just like the sky, maybe with a fluffy cloud in there too. Juice drips down my chin as I giggle.
“Stop laughing,” Lysander says. “You’re making me nervous.”
I giggle harder. He frowns harder.
A few minutes later, the bushes start rustling, and a big green fluffball leaps out from ’em and tackles me. “Freya!” I squeal, wrapping my arms around her furry body.
She licks my cheek and pulls back enough to look at me with her big blue eyes. “I knew it! I knew that old bore was talking about you. What other young human would be in our realm and need a ride?”
“Me!” I grin, rubbing my face against her furry cheek, and it tickles. She has the softest fur. I wish I could have her back home, but she’s not really a pet. She’s nice and all, but she wouldn’t like being trapped.
“Ladies, we don’t have all day,” Lysander says.
“Fine.” Freya glares down her muzzle at him, then gets to her paws. She looks kinda like a fox from my world but stranger and cooler––with three tails instead of one and with green fur instead of red or gray or anything boring like that. I giggle when I think about her back home––how people would react. They’d probably scream and point and start recording her. But I don’t want her to be recorded. She’s not just somethin’ for entertainment.
“On my back, Marielle,” Freya says.
“Okie!” I hop onto her furry green back. “Mr. Lysander? Can you do the thing for my shoebox? Please? ’Cause Stella’s not here.”
He scowls. “Fine.” With a few words, the shoebox jumps from my hands and hovers near us.
“Thanks, Mr. Lysander.” I hug my arms around Freya’s neck. “Do you know where Stella is, Miss Freya?”
“I have a good idea of where she might be.” Freya leaps forward, and I squeal as we bounce up and down, racing through the forest. The shoebox follows us, hovering like a huge faerie.
“Wait!” calls Lysander.
“I thought I was the slow one!” I can’t stop giggling. If only this kinda stuff happened in the world with Mommy and Daddy. I wish there was magic there.
“Oh, quiet, young human,” Lysander says. He’s flying right next to my face, looking kinda like a big green fly. I wish Daddy would wear a sparkly green suit like that, but he says his boss wouldn’t like it if he wore something like that to work, and he won’t wear it to church either. I dunno why. He’d be the handsomest daddy ever!
“Why are you following us, Mr. Lysander?” I ask. To make sure the magic won’t stop and the shoebox stays floating?
“I––I’m taking you to find Stella.”
“No, Freya’s doin’ that,” I say.
“But––” He’s not lookin’ at me.
“He wants to see Stella,” Freya says.
“I do not!”
He’s glaring at her. Why’s he so upset about wantin’ to see Stella? She’s the sweetest, nicest, wonderfulest faerie in the world!
“Sure,” says Freya. “Keep telling yourself that.”
Lysander doesn’t say anything back. I guess he doesn’t wanna keep talking. Freya’s throat rumbles as she laughs, making my fingers all tingly. I like it when she laughs. It’s all deep and squeaky at the same time. Wish I had a laugh like that. Mommy says I have the best laugh ever, though.
“You ready to see Stella, Marielle?” Freya asks.
“Mhm!” I look around, but I don’t see no Stella, only a nice big lake with water that’s all the shades of the rainbow. I gasp. “That’s the prettiest thing I ever saw!” It’s all ripply and big, movin’ from one color to the next and then startin’ all over. I could stare at it forever and ever!
“It is beautiful, isn’t it?” Freya says. “That’s why Stella likes it so much. Take that as a hint, Lysander.”
His cheeks turned all red, like little cherries. I wish I could poke ’em, but I don’t think he’d like that. Stella wouldn’t mind, but he isn’t like Stella.
“Stella!” Freya shouts. “You’ve got someone here to see ya!”
Is Stella somewhere in all that pretty water? It would be the nicest, prettiest home! Can Stella breathe underwater? I can only count to ten before I gotta come back up. But I opened my eyes one time, and it was so pretty and blue and clear. Maybe you don’t need to breathe when you’re underwater in this world! That would be the coolest thing ever!
Then I see something flying across the water, just a speck. I point at it. “Is that her? Is that Stella?” I hop up and down.
“It sure is, Marielle,” Freya says. “You happy now, Lysander?”
Lysander coughs. “Perfectly happy, thank you.”
Freya snorts. “I thought you might be.”
The speck gets closer and closer, and then I can see Stella, wearin’ this pretty blue dress that makes her white hair and dark skin pop! “Stella!” I yell. “I missed you!”
“I missed you too, Marigold,” Stella says.
I told her that Mommy calls me Marigold, and now she does it too. I love it.
Stella comes real close to my face and presses her tiny dark hand against my cheek. She’s about as tall as my nose. I giggle. God sure knew what he was doin’ when he made these tiny little faeries. They’re all perfect even though they’re so tiny. If I were creating a whole world, I bet I would mess up, make somethin’ all squished or whatever. He’s super good at creating, whether that’s big things or tiny things.
“Oh! Lysander.” Stella’s wings flutter even faster. “I didn’t know you’d be here.”
“I thought I could, ah, help deliver the child to you. The human child.”
I didn’t think Lysander’s face could get any redder, but it is! I giggle. He’s so funny lookin’.
“Yeah, take all the credit, will you?” Freya says. “I’m the one who took Marielle here. You didn’t even know where Stella was.”
“But I was the one who directed her to you! And I helped levitate her shoebox. And I . . . I helped her obtain an ourapos.”
“Oh, one of her sky-fruits?” Stella’s smilin’ at him. “That’s so sweet of you, Lysander.”
Lysander isn’t smilin’ back. He really needs to get more happy! He needs some Jesus! Why’s he frownin’ all the time?
“A sky-fruit?” he says.
“That’s what she calls them.” Stella laughs. “Wonderful name, isn’t it?”
“I suppose.” Lysander frowns more. I wish I could just squish his frown into a smile, but I’d probably squish him too. That would be real bad.
Stella sits on my shoulder. Her wings tickle my neck, and I giggle, but then they stop flapping, probably ’cause she doesn’t need ’em to stay up anymore. “Oh, Stella, I got so much to tell you!”
I can’t see her ’cause she’s on my shoulder, but I can tell she’s smiling when she says, “Go on.”
So I tell her all the things––Mommy’s worries and Daddy’s marigold and everything else that comes into my head. Freya’s teasing Lysander, and Stella’s laughing, and I don’t ever wanna leave.
It seems like it’s only a little before Stella says, “Shouldn’t you be going back, Miss Marigold? You don’t want your parents worrying, and you’ve got to get some sleep, you know.”
I hang my head. “Oh. Yeah.”
Freya presses her muzzle against my cheek. “We’ll see you again, Marielle. You come back whenever, okay?”
“Okay.” I sniff and wipe my hands under my eyes ’cause all of a sudden I’m crying. Daddy would say to stop bein’ a crybaby, but Stella and Freya and Lysander, they don’t say none of that. Stella brushes a hair away from my face. Freya licks my cheek again, and it tickles. A giggle escapes, breaking up my crying. Even Lysander gives me an awkward pat.
“You guys are the best,” I say. “I don’t wanna go.”
“But your parents are waiting for you,” Freya says, flicking her three tails behind her.
“Yeah, I know.”
“We’ll be waiting for you when you come back,” Stella says, “but don’t forget about your world there, okay, Marigold?”
“Okay.” I swallow a big lump in my throat. “Are you gonna miss me, Mr. Lysander?” I guess I’ll miss him. He’s all frowny and stuff, but he’s funny too.
Lysander’s darker now than cherries. “Yes, Miss Marielle. I will miss you. You bring quite a bit of joy to Endellion.”
“She does, doesn’t she,” Stella says. Her wings start goin’ again, and then she’s floating off my shoulder toward Lysander. The two of them are lookin’ real focused at each other.
“Okay, okay,” says Freya. “We’ve gotta send off our Marielle. You guys can do that later.”
Stella turns around real fast and smiles at me. “Yes. Marielle––my Marigold.”
She stretches out her hands toward me like she’s reaching for a hug, but I can’t hug her ’cause she’s so tiny. I wish I could, though. I bet faerie hugs are the best. Well, maybe not better than Daddy’s hugs.
“I love you so much,” Stella says. “You know that, right?”
“I know,” I say. “I love you too.” Not as much as I love Mommy and Daddy, though. That’s why I can’t stay here. Endellion’s real nice and all, but Mommy and Daddy need me.
“Come back soon, Marielle.” Freya takes the shoebox between her teeth. It’s still floating, though, ’cause Lysander’s magic hasn’t wore out yet.
I take it from her mouth and open the cover. “Bye,” I whisper.
“Bye,” they say.
Then I step into the shimmering shoebox and bounce against my bed. The shoebox is sittin’ right next to me, and I hug it real tight before pushing it back underneath my bed.
I’ll be real tired tomorrow, but I get to see Mommy’s smiling face and hear her call me Marigold, and I get to hear Daddy’s laugh and snuggle with him. Mommy’ll put my hair in nice little braids, and Daddy will throw me in the air so I’m flyin’.
Maybe my world has some magic too.
Confession time––Marielle is the first child character I’ve ever written (except for one overly-intelligent ten-year-old who sounded like she was in her late teens). After writing her, though, I think I may have to do it more! Viewing the world from the eyes of a child can transform a heart, at least in my experience.
Want to see a different interpretation? My friend Laura wrote her own version about a girl who sees the world differently than most.
So, what about you? Can you come up with a story, five sentences or less, based on this prompt? Leave it in the comments!