Tomorrow You Are Coming to the Castle
Here I was, hanging from the edge of what looked like a cliff, trying to hide from the sheriff. You might be wondering how I ended up in this situation. Well, it all started Sunday morning.
It was bright daylight, which most people think is not a good time for a thief to steal, but this Sunday morning was like winning the lottery. The local village market was a lot busier than usual, and while I didn’t know why, I had a feeling it had something to do with that castle up on the hill, the one where Snow White lived. After all, that was the only place in this small village that brought in any visitors. I personally never liked visiting the castle because it reminded me of Mom, and her memories were something I was trying to bury.
The bustling market meant I was more likely to be successful today. I walked up to a stall that sold fruit fresh from the farm. At the stall was a group of inattentive girls, and two of them had left their purses on stacked fruit crates. A second later, a dog with shiny golden fur came running through, grabbed their purses in his mouth, and ran away. I turned around and casually walked over to the exact spot where I knew the dog would be waiting.
“There you are, Boxer,” I said to the dog. I picked up Boxer; he dropped the purses into my bag, and we quickly walked away.
“Good job, Boxer,” I whispered, patting his head.
We walked past a couple of stalls and then stopped at a meat stall. Boxer seemed really interested in every single thing for sale there.
“You hungry, bud?” I asked him. Boxer wagged his tail. I was torn between paying for the food and doing a grab-and-run, as I had done many times before. But I had only just gotten whatever money was in the purses, and I didn’t want to spend it yet. So, I chose the second option. I grabbed a fried chicken leg and bolted from the stall with Boxer at my heels.
“Stop, thief!” the meat stall owner cried, but Boxer and I were already at the end of the street. Seeing no one running after us, we stopped to rest. I took a small bite of the fried chicken and then passed it to Boxer.
“I’m not that hungry anyway,” I told him as he devoured the food.
“Hey, you!” someone yelled. I looked back to see a sheriff pointing at me. Next to him was the meat stall owner, who looked really mad.
I grabbed Boxer, who had finished gobbling up the chicken leg, and sprinted away as fast as I could.
As I ran down the street, I found a tree we could hide behind. I set Boxer down and gave him the bag of purses.
“Go to the hideout,” I whispered.
Boxer ran off just as the sheriff came back into view. I bolted out from behind the tree.
“Stop!” the sheriff shouted, chasing after me.
Of course, I didn’t stop. I kept running, zigzagged through several alleys, finally turned a corner, and reached the cliff where we met. I got to the edge and peered down. It looked like a twenty-foot drop; I would get hurt if I jumped. But I could hear the sheriff in pursuit. There were only two choices: I could run back the way I had come and risk getting caught, or I could hang off the cliff edge and hide till the sheriff gave up the chase—assuming I didn’t fall first.
Choice two seemed like the safer of the two options, so that’s exactly what I did.
I carefully crawled over the edge and grabbed on with my fingertips. I could still hear the sheriff running and loudly panting nearby, but it grew softer and farther away in less than a minute. When I was sure he had left and I couldn't hear him anymore, I pulled myself up on the grass.
Boy, that was fun, I thought sarcastically.
I was tired of running and decided to return to my hideout. You’d think after being on the run for two years, it would become easy. It hadn’t.
So, why am I running? Well, it has a little to do with my mom and dad. My mom isn’t the best mom ever. She left me on my own when I was twelve, which turned out to be a bad idea because, as you can see, I get into all kinds of trouble. It has been two years since I last saw her. And Dad? Even when Mom was around, she didn’t talk much about him, but I do know that they had lived together in New York. My mom had to leave the state even before I was born so we could “follow our fairytale,” as she called it. But as you can tell, things didn’t really go as planned.
That brings me back to my hideout.
It isn’t much—a small hammock with my few belongings located on the far corner of this fairytale village. But at least I’m not alone. I do have Boxer after all!
As the sun set, the sky grew dark, and night descended. It was a cool, quiet winter evening as I lay in my hammock. Between the trees, I could see the lights of Snow White’s castle in the distance, high up on the hill. I played around with Boxer for a while until we both became tired. Boxer curled up and sighed peacefully as I started to get ready to go to sleep.
Just then, the bushes moved and startled me.
“Who’s there?” I yelled. I summoned a white fire that erupted around the bushes.
“Calm down, child,” a man said as he emerged from the bushes. He was old, had dark skin, was wearing a uniform with a hat, and his beard was filled with leaves.
“Who are you?” I demanded, as Boxer growled at the man.
“I am General Albert, and I work for the queen, Snow White!” he replied.
“Okay, and why are you here?”
“I was sent by the queen to deliver a letter from your mother,” he said, handing me an envelope.
“My mother! I haven’t heard from her for two years, and now, suddenly she reaches out?”
“I know this might be a surprise. I have no information about why she is contacting you now, but perhaps the letter will explain.”
I opened the letter and read it.
I know you will be confused, perhaps even angry, with this letter, but it is important. I was able to force, or more politely, convince, the queen to let me attend the gem display ceremony on Enchantment Day. The gem really is beautiful, and I do hope you will realize how valuable it is to this world. Please attend the ceremony.
From your mother,
The Snow Queen, Frostine.
Sure enough, my mother’s signature was right there at the bottom.
My mind raced with questions. What is this all about? Why is the gem so important? Why reach out to me now?
“I will be back in the morning to pick you up,” General Albert interrupted my thoughts.
“Thank you so much for letting me decide if I want to come or not,” I responded sarcastically.
“Oh, you’re very welcome! Good night,” he said, ignoring my sarcasm, and just like that, he disappeared as quickly as he had appeared.
I felt a wave of different emotions and hoped that I could get some sleep, as I was tired from running earlier.
I hopped back into my hammock and stared at the castle, not really sure what to make of it all. But I was curious, and I wanted to know more about the gem mentioned in Mom’s letter.
Next thing I knew, it was morning, and I was heading to the castle. I was getting ready when General Albert reappeared. I picked up Boxer and got ready to leave.
General Albert stopped me, saying, “Pets are not allowed inside the castle. I am sorry, but you will have to leave Boxer behind for a few days.”
“A few days?” I responded with a confused look. I had assumed that I could visit the castle, see the gem, and get back the same day. Also, I had not counted on leaving Boxer behind.
“Oh, yes. Enchantment Day is still four days away. Due to security, today is the last day any of the kids are being allowed to enter the castle.”
My mind was still reeling with this thought as General Albert snapped his fingers and my stuff started magically packing itself. I stared at General Albert, using his magic to pack my bags.
“But Boxer cannot be alone for that long! If he doesn’t come, then I won’t either.”
“If you don’t come, I will have to drag you there. Those are my orders.”
“You just try. I refuse to come!” I insisted.
“Very well then; the queen warned me it might come to this. We know all about your crimes here in the village, and the queen said she would see to it that you go to prison for them. Then you may never see your dog again.”
That made me hesitate.
“I feel like you have made up your mind now,” he continued.
“Yep,” I said softly. I didn’t know where to leave Boxer. I didn’t know anyone, or, for that matter, trust anyone. Then I remembered one person. The one person I knew who would keep Boxer safe: Carter. I knew he would be where he always was—the town on the other side of the hills. I quickly grabbed a pencil and wrote a note, stuffing it under Boxer’s collar.
“I am now ready to leave,” I said to the general. General Albert grabbed my bags and, together, we walked toward the market.
When we got to the market, I hugged Boxer.
“Boxer, I can’t take you with me,” I said, tears stinging my eyes. I would miss him. “I’ll be back soon, so be good for me, okay? Now just stay on this cart till it reaches the end.” I put Boxer on the back of a vegetable cart that I knew was heading to the restaurant in the town where Carter worked. Boxer seemed to understand that this was important, and he nodded with sad eyes.
It was hard saying goodbye to Boxer, but I put on a strong face so that I did not appear weak and started the long walk toward the castle, trying to hide my tears.
As we walked up the winding road, the castle came closer into view. For the first time, I could see the main hall and the garden off to one side. The garden was swarming with guards, who paced up and down as they patrolled the grounds. They were clearly guarding something very precious inside the castle.
When I reached the castle gates, General Albert waved his hands, and the gates magically opened. Two stern-looking guards carefully looked at me from top to bottom as I walked toward them. But the guards knew Albert and let us through.
Once inside the gates, General Albert informed me that there would be a castle tour starting soon that I needed to join.
“Your bags will be in the cottage, where you will be staying for the next four nights until Enchantment Day, when the gem will be displayed,” he said, and then turned away and walked toward one of the cottages, carrying my bags with him.
I walked up to the main hall and pushed open the door. I entered, and my white fire erupted briefly for my grand entrance. I thought it was cool. I saw a group of kids, and they all looked up to stare at me. There was an excited energy about the group, which I assumed was from the anticipation of touring Snow White’s castle.
As I entered the main hall, I understood the real reason for their excitement. The main hall was filled with extravagant decorations and posters of The Gem of Fairy Tales. So, this is the gem from Mom’s letter, and that explains the guards in the garden and the crowds in the market yesterday. Everyone was here to see the gem, but I still had no idea why it was so important.
I stayed in one corner of the main hall, and then I turned around to see a boy standing next to me and staring at me.
“What are you looking at?” I growled.
He whimpered, and I knew I had been mean, but it was also fun, or at least I thought so, and I know my mom would have liked it too!
In a few minutes, a guide walked into the main hall and announced that the castle tour was about to begin. I walked down the hall to join the tour and saw two girls talking. The girl on the right had brown hair, brown skin, and light-brown eyes, With a hint of pink? The girl on the left had auburn hair and blue eyes.
They watched me as I started to move toward them.
I gave them my warmest smile and said to the girl on the right, “Name’s Skylar Carson. And you are?”
“I’m Maya; my mother is Sleeping Beauty,” the brown-haired girl said, “And this is Lucy.” She pointed to the girl on the left.
“Hi, Skylar,” Lucy said softly.
Maya seemed friendly, and I liked her.
“Wonderful; nice to meet you both!” I replied.
The tour was just getting started, so we followed the other kids out of the main hall.
We passed many rooms on the tour, and I thought it was all quite boring, to be honest. It was a bunch of rooms with objects from various fairy tales—Sleeping Beauty’s spindle, Cinderella’s glass slipper, and so on. I honestly did not get what the fuss was all about. As we were walking, I was distracted and accidentally slipped on the carpet and bumped into a boy in front of me.
He turned around and looked at me. He had dirty blonde hair, a perfect tan, brown eyes, and, well, he was charming.
“Sorry,” I said, getting up.
“It’s okay,” he said, smiling. “My name is Axel. My dad is Prince Charming.”
“My name is Skylar Carson, and I am just here because my mom wanted me to come,” I said as another girl walked over.
“Axel, you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah. Oh, Skylar, this is my friend Naomi.”
Naomi had light hair with light-brown skin and eyes, and she was beautiful.
“Hi, Skylar. I’m Naomi Fernandez, daughter of Snow White. Nice to meet you!” Naomi said. “This is my friend, Kelly,” she added, pointing to the girl coming up behind her.
Kelly waved and then said the words I was dreading to hear. “Hi, you’re the daughter of the Snow Queen, right? I noticed your white fire as you walked in!”
“Yeah, I noticed that too,” Naomi chimed in.
“Um, yeah,” I mumbled. And then it struck me. These kids were from fairytales, just like me. That explained why they recognized my white fire, as well as their relationship to Snow White and Prince Charming.
The group was moving ahead on the tour, so I started to move as well and said, “I should catch up with Maya. See you all later.”
“Bye, Sky,” Axel said.
It was interesting that he called me Sky. Only one person had ever called me that before.