Five-year-old Princess Kimmi flew over her kingdom- over the fortress and the treacherous, un-climbable mountain, the waterless beach, the lake which had been drained dry by the evil mom-ster because 'it's too cold to swim right now'. At the height of her climbing soar, she waved to her trusted council of advisers stationed in the fortress: Barbie, Ken, and Strawberry Shortcake. Quickly, she descended back over the kingdom, then soared over it again, and again, and again, performing her princess-ly duties to watch over it and make sure no danger loomed on boarders.
But there it was! The danger she'd been watching for throughout her entire reign! One final descent, then she skidded her heals in the dirt and ran to the edge of her kingdom. "STOP THERE, YOU FOUL BEAST!" She shrieked, wielding her longest, straightest sword, taken from the base of tallest tree in her kingdom.
And stop the beast did. "K-kimmi
" Kimmi lowered her sword, recognizing the look on her best friend's face, noticing the tears streaming down his round, red cheeks. "K-Kimmi, You have to help me. My mom
she won't wake up."
Kimmi glanced back at the kitchen window, where her own mommy had just been washing dishes. Her carefully observant face had vanished, perhaps to switch the laundry around, or some other brief task. Kimmi took the hand of her six-year-old best friend, "C'mon, Rollan', I'll help you wake her up. Did she take too much Ty'nol again?" Rolland nodded, his green eyes wide in fear and sorrow.
The two covertly snuck around the little white fence that separated their kingdoms, beginning their mission to wake the dreaded sleeping mom-ster. Kimmi knew it was a dangerous mission, but such dangers were her responsibility as the princess.
They quietly entered the dark, dreary cave in which Rolland lived with the mom-ster and the evil step-sorcerer. The step-sorcerer would be away at this hour, brewing his potions or whatever he did during the day, but he'd be back soon. Kimmi knew because this was always the time that the mom-ster would come and capture Prince Rolland and lock him away in the dungeon. Prince Rolland was only ever free in the two brief hours between their arrival home from school and when the step-sorcerer would come back.
The prince and princess journeyed further and further into the cave. The floor was littered with empty bottles, crumpled junk food wrappers, dirty laundry, and toys Rolland hardly ever felt like playing with. Princess Kimmi nearly tripped twice on the short journey to the very innards of the cave, the lair of the mom-ster.
Rolland had been right in claiming the mom-ster was in a deep sleep. She was spralled out on the mattress in the corner of the deepest cavern of the cave, an empty bottle of poison in one hand, where it had poured what little remained of its stinky contents onto the mattress. Kimmi could see the mom-ster's many bottles of Ty'nol on the dresser beside the mattress. Some were open, but she knew better than to touch them. You should only take Ty'nol when you're sick, or you become a sleeping troll like Rolland's mom-ster.
Rolland tip-toed over to the sleeping beast and poked it, then shook it slightly. It made a deep, growling noise and both children jumped back a few steps. "She's been like that since I got home." Rolland whispered tearfully, "I don't know what to do. If Willy gets home before she wakes up
he's gonna be real mad! I don't want him to be mad, Kimmi! He screams and hits and grabs
" He was crying and Kimmi didn't know what to do. She worriedly patted his dirty, curly blond hair.
"Would you rather Willy be mad, or your mom?" Kimmi asked, serious now. This wasn't a game anymore.
"Mom. She'll only cuss and stomp around. She never hits me." He sniffled, wiping his nose on his dirty shirt.
"Okay, then here's what we're gonna do! Go get the biggest cup you can find from the kitchen! I'll meet you in the bathroom." Kimmi went to where she knew Rolland's bathroom was from many other past missions into the cave. Carefully, she climbed the toilet, up to the where she could reach the sink faucet. Rolland returned with a recycled convenient store cup. Kimmi turned on the tap and filled the cup, then handed it back to Rolland and climbed back off the toilet. "C'mon!"
The two children tiptoed back to Rolland's mother's bedroom. Kimmi gave Rolland a nudge toward the mattress, "Pour it on her face, then run and hide." She said, "I'm gonna run home so I won't be here when he gets home." She'd been here once when the mean man arrived, and she wasn't willing to do it again. "Good luck, Prince Rolland. God's Pee." She wasn't sure what that meant, but she'd seen it on one of her Daddy's war movies, and this was war!
She hugged him because, you know, usually when someone says that, the person they say it to isn't seen for the rest of the movie. So
she probably wouldn't see him for another two hours.
Rolland slowly inched his way over to his sleeping mom, took a deep breath, and tossed the cup of water right in her face. She came up screaming bad words and slashing about with her long, fake fingernails, but that's all Kimmi saw, because she tore out of that house as quickly as her skinny little legs would take her. Rolland followed her as far as the kitchen, and she was aware of him ducking into one of the empty cupboards. Kimmi threw open the door and darted over to her own yard just as Rolland's stepfather pulled his rusty grey car into the driveway.
"Kimber Elizabeth Lucas! What have I told you about leaving the yard!" Her mother came stomping out of the front door and pulled her inside by her wrist.
Back in the cave, Rolland huddled in his cupboard, one of his many usual hiding places, as his mom stomped through the house, calling his name and screaming curses. His heart pounded as she got closer, but he was pretty sure she didn't know where he was. He was right; the sound of the fridge slamming open and closed and the hiss of a bottle opening told him she was just after another beer.
Another door banged open and closed and a male voice joined that of his mother's as they screamed at each other. His step-dad was home. The mission was a failure; they ended up fighting, anyway. And Rolland was stuck in the cupboard, hidden and cramped, but relatively safe, if he ignored the shiny black spider that was his only company.
The screaming went on forever, long past time for supper. Rolland's stomach threated to reveal his location, but he was getting used to going without supper. Ever since Willy had moved in two months ago, and Rolland's mom started drinking and taking Ty'nol to get over the headaches that drinking gave her
things had been bad. Nothing felt right anymore. Home didn't feel like home.
But it wasn't just the drinking and the pills and the yelling that made Rolland's home feel so wrong now. Willy liked to hit, and push, and grab Rolland around his arm where it hurt really bad. He was constantly saying and doing mean things to Rolland. Willy said he was 'toughing the little faggot up' and 'making the rat into a real man'.
Rolland wasn't sure what a 'faggot' was, but it sounded a good bit like 'maggot', which was a kind of little worm that sometimes lived on some of the filthier dishes in the kitchen sink when Rolland's mom had been sleeping from pills and drink for many days. He didn't think it was nice to call someone anything that sounded like those gross little critters.
There came a thud of flesh on flesh and Rolland winced. He knew that sound. It meant someone had punched someone else. Then there came the harder thump of flesh hitting wall and Rolland quivered. That was the sound caused by a really hard push. He was sure now that Willy was hurting his mom, and not the other way around, which was also common. Rolland's mom wasn't strong enough to push Willy into a wall.
Suddenly, Rolland's mom's screaming got louder than they ever had. She wasn't screaming words anymore, just long, drawn-out wails. Rolland put his hands over his ears and wished he could go somewhere, anywhere else. Oh, what he would do to get away from here at this moment!
BANG!! BANG BANG!!
Rolland jumped. That was new. Was that a gun?! Tears rolled down his cheeks as he hugged his knees to his chest to keep from running. Slowly, he rocked back and forth. Was his mom okay? Was Willy coming after him now? His shoulders shook with restrained sobs and he continued to rock. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
He had to get out of that cupboard. He needed to check on his mom. But Willy was out there. Willy was possibly coming for him now
Willy was probably coming for him now
with a gun. Rolland needed to leave. He needed to run. But to do so would be to risk Willy seeing him! If only he could escape without ever leaving the cupboard
Suddenly, Rolland was standing in the middle of a forest. Evergreen Pines loomed around him in all directions! Rolland had never seen so many trees! Heard so many strange birds! Smelt so many brightly colored flowers.
"W-where am I? He asked, turning in a circle, "H-how did I get here?" Suddenly, he stopped turning. He wasn't alone. A little ways away from him was a tall, beautiful woman in a long golden dress. Around her shoulders was wrapped a long red cloak. Her black hair flowed in waves to her hips. On her brow was a delicate golden crown, and her red lips parted in a brilliant smile.
"Hello there. What is your name, my child?" She stepped toward him, her hand outstretched.
"Rolland." He said, "Where am I? How did I get here?" He asked again, louder this time.
"Well, Rolland, I'm not sure how you came to be here, but you are in the world of Althea, in my kingdom. We call it Daigrove. Magnificent, isn't it." She looked around, sadly, "I fear it may not be so for much longer. You see, we shall have a new king, and he shall be a cruel ruler, with little heart for the world around him. My husband, the previous king, was murdered a fortnight hence, and his vile brother will soon take over, you see. Our laws would dictate that I continue ruling, if only the king had left me with an heir to rule after I am dead. But there is none. And his brother has a son, a very suitable future ruler."
"But what does that have to do with me?" Rolland asked, slowly taking one step after another toward the woman.
"I'm not sure if it has anything to do with you, dear child. All I know is that I was here, in the wishing woods, wishing there was some way I could prevent the tragedies I have foreseen from taking place, and the next thing I knew, you were standing before me. You look like my late husband, you know. He had curly blond hair and eyes as green as the pines, just as you do. You could pass for his heir. If only I could account for your whereabouts and absence for the past
how old are you? Five, six?" She touched a long, skinny finger to her lips.
"Six." Rolland answered, confused by her little speech.
Do you have a family wherever you are from, Rolland? I bet there's a mother and father missing such a sweet little prince like you."
"Not really," He sniffled, "They only ever scream and fight. I don't have a real dad, but my step-dad is mean. He hits and pushes and grabs where it hurts. My mom drinks and takes pills and sleeps all the time."
"No one to miss you
You never knew your real father
very intriguing." She began slowing walking around Rolland in investigating circles. There was something about her steps that suggested she was so light she could just float away at any moment.
"Kimber would miss me." He said, feeling offended that she would think he had no one, in his entire world, who would miss him.
"And who is this Kimber you speak of, Dear One?" She stopped circling and stood before him once more.
"My best friend." He answered, crossing his arms, "We've been best friends since forever. She would cry if I went away and never came back."
"Hmm," The woman touched her finger to her lips again and looked up into the sky, "Very well, I'll tell you how to go home, Little Rolland, but you have to promise to return, to help me with my problems. Every night in your world, you will return here to live in mine. You will be my heir and will be Prince of my kingdom, and someday King. Perhaps someday, when you are all grown up, you might bring this Kimber here, and live here with her permanently. If that is what she wishes, of course. Do you agree?" She smiled at him quizzically.
okay. But how will I come back?"
"Oh, don't fret about that, Dear Rolland. These are the Wishing Woods! They will hold you to your word! Now, all you have to do, is close your eyes, and wish to go home. Wish really, really hard. Go ahead, wish to go home, Little Rolland. I'll see you tonight, son."
And so he did. He closed his eyes, and knowing he'd be back to this beautiful world and his loving new mom soon, he wished to go back to his own, nightmarish world, so that he could be with his friend, Kimmi Lucas.
When he opened his eyes again, he was in the cupboard once more, only he could tell quite some time had passed. There were loud footsteps in his house. Too many. There was the buzzing voices of walkie-talkies and loud, unknown voices. Through the crack between the cupboard doors, Rolland could see flashing blue lights.
Suddenly, the doors opened and he peered into two faces, a man and a woman. The man put his walkie-talkie to his mouth and radioed, "We found him, John. He was hiding in a kitchen cupboard."
The woman leaned into the cupboard, scooped up his trembling body and carried him out of the house, cooing, "It's okay, Sweetie. I gotcha. You're gonna be okay, Kiddo." Over and over.
Outside the sky was growing dark, and his Grandma's car was pulled up, along with five cop cars and another solid black one. Rolland caught one glimpse of Willy sitting in the back of one of the cop cars before he was handed over to his Grandma. As she was putting him into her smelly old car, Rolland waved to Kimmi and her Mom and Dad, who were hugging each other on the front doorstep, all looking very surprised and sad.
He wasn't so worried, though. He'd see Kimmi in school tomorrow and tell her everything. And someday, they'd go away to his kingdom together and live happily ever after.