Good day to you all!
Starting today I will be writing a story segment every Sunday. The theme will be a story my mother used to tell me when I was a young girl before I went to sleep. My younger sister and brother and I would sit around, listening to my mother spin tales I've never heard. In homage to my mother I will re-create the tales and share them with you, my readers.
The City of Gold
There was a young girl, curious and sweet, always in search of answers to life's mysteries. She would ask questions about everything, always desperate to learn more. One night after she was put to bed she found herself restless. She could never sleep. So she got out of bed and stood in her room, peering through the murky light of the moon. She walked towards her closet and opened the folding door. It was a small and modest closet with only a few things hanging. Her family had recently moved into the house and everything still felt unsettled. She still felt a panging curiosity to explore the house and get to know every nook and cranny. She loved exploring. It made her feel like an adventurer. Her favourite thing to do was seek out mystery and solve it.
She stood in front of her open closet and stared, seeing only the darkness. She kneeled on the floor and examined the odd protuberance; it looked like a carpeted bench in her closet. It was odd to her since she had never seen anything like it. Her family moved often and every house was very similar. Sometimes there were minute differences but mostly closets stayed the same. Yet this closet was different. This odd carpeted bench made her think. It made her imagination spin and whir thinking of all the possibilities. So her tiny hands reached out, feeling the object. It felt just like the carpet did. She loved the texture on her hands but couldn't help feel disappointed that it felt normal. Her hands continued to search around, feeling every centimeter.
She withdrew her hands feeling a spasm of disappointment. There had to be something different about it. There had to be. Otherwise it was just a normal house and she was just a normal girl and nothing special would ever happen. She sat in front of her closet feeling her head spin with frustration. She just had to be more thorough, really look at it. She glanced at the switch to her ceiling light, wondering if she could turn it on without anyone noticing. She doubted it. Her mother seemed to patrol the hallway, sensing if something was not quite right. She knew she had to maintain absolute silence in the dark if she hoped to stay up and discover the closet's secret.
So she reached out with her hands once more, feeling around the odd protuberance. Then she felt something. Something out of place with soft carpet. Her hand moved around it, trying to figure out what she passed her hand over. It was smooth and circular. What could it be, she wondered. Her eyes widened. It could be a button. Without another moment's hesitation she gathered her curiosity and wrapped it around her like a blanket of courage. She closed her fingers and took a deep breath then pushed. Nothing. She frowned slightly. It felt like a waste.
Then she heard a whirring and clicking. Her eyes strained, trying to see into the dim darkness. In an instant the strange carpeted bench fell away and she fell back on her hands. Her neck craned forward and a dim blue light slowly entered her vision. There were stairs! Where did they go? What could be there? She leaned closer, trying to see down the stairs. Did she dare venture forward? She didn't know what could be lying in wait at the bottom. More darkness or worse a venomous and vile creature ready to consume her very being. She swallowed hard. Then she shook her head and scolded herself. This is what she was waiting for, this is what she always wanted, this is the very thing she wanted to happen, how could she cower in fear now?
The young girl set her jaw and slowly stood, her mind setting firmly. She was going to explore these stairs no matter what. In a moment of pure determination and stubbornness she stepped forward and reached with her hands trying to feel the walls. Her hands touched the sides and she closed her eyes briefly enjoying the cool sensation. When she opened her eyes once more her mind became like steel and she ventured forward, down the stairs without the tiniest bit of fear. She had become braver than the mightiest solider. She would face the darkness alone without anymore hesitation.
Her feet delicately fell on each step, one after the other as she moved downwards into the unknown. Her heart beat rose loudly in her ears, deafening her but she continued, convinced she would not be a coward. Her curiosity drove her like an arrow being propelled into the air. She was an unstoppable force. Step after step she ventured further and further. The dim blue light stayed on, giving her just enough sight to see her feet in front of her.
Then she reached the bottom. It was smooth and chill like concrete. Her hands felt along the sides of the narrow tunnel as she breathed in her success. She had completed the descent. With another breath she continued onward. She would find the closet's secret no matter what. Her feet lead her, carrying her forward through the small tunnel. She walked on and on for what seemed like an hour before finally she saw something in the blue light, it was a wall. She approached cautiously, prepared to turn and run the instant she sensed danger. Her hands slowly reached out and touched the smooth surface of the wall. It didn't make sense. Why would a secret tunnel lead to nothing? Something wasn't right.
She felt the wall again and again, her hands shifting over it's surface. At last she withdrew her hands, exasperated. This couldn't be it. There had to be something behind the wall. She would find it no matter what. She leaned on the wall, trying to think of what it could be. She tried again and again, but no matter what she did the wall would not give way. Perhaps this really was it, there was nothing beyond this tunnel. Maybe it was closed off but why? Nothing made sense. She had found this secret tunnel through her closet and now nothing? There had to be something. There just had to be.
She sat down, her mind ticking over the possibilities. In all this adventuring she didn't realize how tired she was. With her back against the wall she tried to imagine what could be beyond the unmovable. Slowly her eye lids began to close. They started to feel heavier and heavier. Finally sleep took over, pulling her entire body into the depths of exhaustion. Dreams clouded her mind as her head slumped to her chest. In her dreams she was a princess then a knight then a dragon. She was everything. She flew over the villages, soaring through the clouds and searching the fields.
She awoke with a start. She sat upright, her eyes wide. Confusion swept over her like a warm blanket. She was seeing but couldn't make sense of what she saw. She was in a giant four poster bed covered in the finest silks. Her blanket was colourful and heavy as she lifted it off her body. She slipped out of bed like a wisp and wandered to the center of her room. It was enormous, decorated in the finest exotic furniture and unlike anything she had ever seen. The orientation of her bed was the same but the room was different. Everything was different. Her mind searched in her memories desperate to understand what was happening. This was not her room. It couldn't be. Her room was small and meager, her bed just fit her body and her window looked out onto her backyard. She swiftly turned and lunged towards the window, hoping to find the view she had seen many times.
She gasped, her eyes wide and her mouth open. This was not her room. This was not her home. This was not even her town. Her window looked out onto a vast unknown and exotic city. She couldn't make sense of the architecture, everything was rounded and smooth, simple and intricate. Where was she? What was this place? How did she get here? Her mind filled with questions, all without any semblance of answer or recognition.
Just then she heard a sound. She spun around and faced the unknown. A beautiful woman resembling her mother appeared in front of her. She stared at her, shocked and uncertain. The elegant and exotic woman came forward, smiling jovially.
"Good morning, m'dear Arianna," she smiled broadly, scooping up the young girl in her arms. The girl stared back at her, letting her arms embrace her. This woman, she was just like her mother but she wasn't her mother. "What's wrong, sweetie?" the woman probed. The little girl stared at her, still confused and baffled. Finally the woman chuckled softly, "You've forgotten me already?" she asked. The girl didn't know how to answer. Everything was unfamiliar. "Come with me," the woman said, putting the girl down and clasping her hand in genuine compassion. The young girl watched her, stunned into silence.
The woman lead her out of her room and down a hall. One step after another revealed that this was some sort of remarkable palace. What was happening? The little girl couldn't understand anything that was going on. Finally they arrived at a magnificent and opulent dining room. Children of all ages sat at the table, eating their breakfast. "Look who slept in as usual," the mother figure commented. A man who looked just like father looked up, his face was only slightly different as it was covered in a fine facial hair. "Good morning Arianna," he smiled warmly. The young girl stared at him, confused. That wasn't her name but they kept calling her that. Where was she? Who were they? Why did they look like her parents?
The mother figure lead her to an empty seat and she obligingly sat. She looked around the table, feeling confused and out of place. Where was she?
(You can continue on to Storytime Sunday II.)
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