Fairy tales hardly ever come true for quiet girls. That is why Molly’s jaw dropped as she looked around her. Of course, this kind of fairy tale didn’t really come true for anybody, did it? And yet, here she was.
This place looked like it came straight out of a fantasy novel. The colors were vibrant and like nothing she had ever seen before. A bright green dragon flew overhead, and a unicorn was standing right in front of her, munching on grass. She slowly walked toward something shimmering in the distance, which turned out to be the tallest waterfall Molly had ever seen. She couldn’t figure out where it began or ended. It was as if that waterfall went on forever. She had no idea how long she stood there, just staring at this strange and majestic world around her.
“Are you alright?”
Molly turned around. A young man who looked to be just a bit older than her with dark brown hair and bright green eyes was walking up to her. He stared at her for awhile before he said anything.
“You’re not from around here, are you?”
Molly shook her head, unable to speak for a moment. Finally she found her voice. “Where is here, exactly?”
He just smiled. “You should probably go back to where you came from.”
Molly looked around again. She couldn’t even figure out how she got here. How was she supposed to get back? And why would she want to go back?
Finally, she started to realize that this might be a dream. She turned back to the young man. “This isn’t even real, is it?”
He smiled again. He had sparkly white teeth, which didn’t seem to go with his medieval outfit. “What do you think?”
A cat nearby meowed, and Molly searched around for where the noise was coming from. The next moment, she was staring into the hazel eyes of her own cat, Prince Charming, who was standing on her chest. The new fantasy book she had just picked up from the library, Dream of the Storm, was lying open beside her. She hadn’t even gotten very far in the book. She had only started reading the first chapter before she fell asleep.
She moved Prince Charming off her chest, put a bookmark in the book, and sat up. She had fallen asleep with her clothes still on. As she put on her pajamas, her parents’ voices drifted through the open door.
“I can’t believe you forgot to pay the electric bill! What’s wrong with you?”
“Why do I have to do everything around here?”
Molly quickly shut the door and lay back down on her bed. Perhaps she should try reading the book again and see if any other interesting dreams come about.
Her parents’ arguing was more and more distant as she became immersed in the novel. The description of the world was exactly as she had seen in her dream. And the prince, Bralan, was nearly the same on the page as he was in Molly’s head, which was interesting, since she hadn’t read about him yet when she had the dream. She was reading about the prince’s quest to slay a dragon, but she was having more trouble concentrating as her eyelids started to droop.
She was less confused when she found herself back in the fantasy world again. She knew now it was just a dream.
She turned around, and Prince Bralan was standing in the same place with exactly the same smile.
“Yes, but I know this isn’t real now. And I know that your name is Prince Bralan.”
“Yes, that is my name. But why would you think this isn’t real?”
Molly looked around again. Dark clouds had just begun to cover the sun, and the waterfall was no longer sparkling. She turned back to Prince Bralan. Somehow the smile that had never left his face was starting to seem a little less friendly. That smile wasn’t reaching his eyes, which seemed to be an even brighter green than they were in the first dream.
“I was just reading about you and this place in a fantasy novel.”
Prince Bralan looked up at the sky. “A storm is coming in. You shouldn’t come back here, or you might never be able to go back.”
This time, the sun was streaming through the window when Molly woke up. She yawned and slowly got out of bed. Perhaps she shouldn’t read that book again. It really was giving her strange dreams.
Molly’s parents weren’t speaking to each other when she went downstairs. She just grabbed a granola bar and left without saying anything to them.
She kept thinking about her dreams throughout the school day. She barely listened in any of her classes, and she was usually a good student. Despite what the prince had said in her dream, she had to finish that book. She had to know how it ends.
When she got back home, she ignored her parents and went straight up to her room. She picked the book up again. Prince Bralan had just finished making his way through the terrible storm to slay the dragon. She started drifting off.
A booming clap of thunder greeted her as she found herself back in the fantasy world again.
“Oh, great,” Molly muttered as the rain started to pour down on her, soaking through her pajamas in a matter of minutes.
“I told you that you shouldn’t come back here.”
Prince Bralan was standing with that same smile. Why did he seem so creepy now when he seemed so gallant and brave in the book?
“You know, in the book you’re busy slaying the dragon right now. You’re the hero. Shouldn’t you have better things to do in my dreams that standing here talking to me?”
“Oh, I already slayed the dragon. Why do you keep saying this is a dream? And why do you think I’m a hero?”
Molly frowned. “Well, the whole novel follows your quest to slay a dragon.”
“Why does that make me a hero? Did you see the dragon earlier? Did he bother you?”
“Well, no, but…”
“I’m afraid I’m not a hero. I only wanted to slay the dragon for the power I gained. And now you’re trapped here, just as these people are.”
He gestured around them, where there were several other people walking around, dressed in pajamas just like she was, shivering in the rain. Why hadn’t she seen them before?
Molly pinched herself. “I’m ready to wake up now.”
But Molly wasn’t waking up. This world looked so dark now. The rain kept pouring down, the lightning kept flashing, and Prince Bralan kept smiling. His bright green eyes were glowing.
“I did warn you that you might not be able to go back.”
Was this real after all? What if she never saw her parents again? What were the last words she had said to them? She couldn’t remember. She couldn’t tell if the water pouring down her face was from her tears or from the rain. Surely she would wake up soon. She turned back to Prince Bralan.
“How do I get out of here? Why did you warn me if you want to trap people here?”
“I can’t answer your first question. As far as warning you not to come back, I’m obligated to do that. You have to want to escape your world enough to come back despite the danger.”
“I’m afraid I need to go now. Somebody else will get that book soon enough. Anyway, you wanted to live in a different world, didn’t you? Well, here you are. Welcome to your new home.”
Author note: I recently took a class where my instructor said that she tries to get as many rejections as possible every month, although she is of course happy when something she writes is accepted for publication. This was a rejected story, and I’m trying to learn to celebrate my rejections because it means that I took a chance and submitted something I wrote.