The simple house ablaze transforms into an expansive mansion. The unreachable apple given as a token of kindness. The unthinkable is always visible in our fantasies.
Corveena tumbles into an abyss of dreams; as her thoughts become entangled with the dreamers, she changes her patrons’ thoughts from depraved to benevolent. She lands unscathed in silence atop the ocean as dry as a well-kept trophy. Her heart beats loudly in hopes a rescuer will hear it amidst the vast sea. Corveena is stoic, except for her quickening blood; she closes her eyes to mediate on the moment. Patience and tranquility are virtues she possesses and consistently practices. She waits peacefully for what is next. Corveena’s yellow rice colored hair is neatly twisted into a dozen twist braids, her full length whimsical amethyst dress has one thick strap over her right should, while the left sleeve hugs her whole arm tight to her wrist. Her heart shaped amethyst necklace settles towards her heart. She exhales a breath loud enough to make the sea ripple. Corveena begins to feel warm, as if a cup of hot tea has traveled thru her. She leisurely opens her eyes to discovers a glorious, vibrate, Mars colored phenix and her rider.
“Have you ever flown on a phenix?” A beaming woman asks atop the newfound phenix.
The Phenix sways gracefully with the wind in Corveena’s proximity. Corveena gazes with wide eyes smiling as she murmurs, “never.” Then they all disappear as if the phenix is a shooting star.
Corveena is grateful to be placed on land and flushes with relief when her airsickness dissipates. She discovers herself on a life size canvas forced to be as still as a statue. A paint brush tickles Corveena’s cheek. The glorious phenix rider has vanished without a word, replaced by two small children and an older woman. Corveena is unable to move or speak, so she watches intently as the woman supervises the elementary age children painting a marvelous something with lots of silver and black hues. The girls paint in fixed positions on the canvas to avoid illustrating their flower hats and matching day dresses.
Suddenly the women is close enough to touch Corveena; she inhales the calm women’s fresh cut lilies forming a crown in her hair. “Find the number eight,” the woman remarks to Corveena nearly inaudibly, then winks. A palm full of silver glitter blinds Corveena as a cool breeze instantly dries the paint.
The view of glitter fades into the silver and black hues, creating an illusion of Outer Space. Amid the painting Corveena is greeted by a small girl – one of the artisans. “Hi,” she wiggles her right four fingers. A curtain of planet blue hair covers one of her ultraviolet eyes.
“Hello, I am Coveena.” The paint has molded to her skin like clay, the wind prior made the painting become her new reality. Pathway. Mystery.
“Corveena,” she says wide eyed. “I know all about you. My mum calls you a neoteric,” her head cocks up as if she is reasoning the word neoteric, as well as Corveena’s presence. “How much time do you have?”
Corveena bends down to her level. “Plenty for dreamers. What are your dreams?” Corveena asks endearingly.
The artisan claps giddily. Then inhales a deep breath before expelling her notions about dreams briskly. “I love to dream! My mum encourages me to daydream at least twice a day. I just dreamed of a transport painting, now I need to unlock the door to the tower of fairytales. I am Arta. Would you like to help me?” She holds out her hand for Corveena to shake as a gesture of an agreement to seal their fates. “We can be in cahoots,” she declares. Arta tucks her hair behind her ear keenly gazing at Corveena with spacelike ultraviolet eyes encase in healthy white clouds.
So official. Corveena takes her hand gently, “A dream is always better with a guide,” she winks. “Of course, I will go with you. Finding a pathway to your purpose may be extortionary since you’re a girl full of imagination. May I ask you something Arta?”
Arta beams with satisfaction. “Anything,” she grins as she nervously plays with a small slinky of hair.
“What is a transport painting?” Corveena asks with a serious tone.
Arta releases the ringlet she was touching to free her hands to help her communicate her answer. “Oh, I imagined it just minutes ago. A transport painting is designed by an artist who then uses their inner brainchild to make it come to life. That is why we are in Outer Space with gravity. I just thought Space would be exceptionally easier to explore if there was gravity for humans,” Arta conveys like a scientist giving a lecture.
Corveena peers up, down, and everywhere to confirm she is in Space surrounded by stars with a few planets nearby. “I see,” Corveena says quizzically. Corveena is used to visiting unimaginable places. Corveena admires her painted midnight dress, Neptune blue hair, and silver glitter face that gives her a starry effect. Arta’s dress has some semblance to hers.
Corveena scrutinizes the tattoo hourglass on her wrist, a birthmark impossible to remove or hide; the sand within the hourglass is already more than three-fourth full, flowing steadily since she entered the abyss of dreams. Find the number eight. The thought comes to mind. “We should start walking if we are going to find your tower of fairytales together.”
“No need trek in Space. The key is hidden among the stars. We just need to trace it like a number dot to dot.” Arta explains using her hands to air draw what she means.
Corveena pounders what Arta implies is a number dot to dot. Possibly a dream made up by a child or something real that an adult would have forgotten. “What should we trace the stars with?” She says playing along as if she knows exactly what a number dot to dot is.
“Star dust of course. We have to turn and shake,” Arta instructs.
Corveena heeds the order in haste. After a moment they are surrounded by star dust, identical to the silver painted only minutes ago on Corveena’s dress. Two mountains of starry dust lay still like unfinished sandcastles. Arta sits ladylike on an invisible ground in Space with gravity. Corveena watches Arta meticulously. Arta moves the star dust from one pile with two fingers touching one star, then connecting another star.
The little artist counts “1, 2, 3 …. 8.” A fantastical ancient looking key made of Space stars and star dust nearly touches Corveena’s shoes.
The key handle reminds Corveena of Olympic rings. “unrealisticfantastic,” Corveena informs Arta.
“Jump with me!” Arta exclaims.
They jump on the door size key, which has the effect of opening a pathway from Space with gravity to the entrance of the tower of fairytales. Corveena drops and twists into her new surroundings. She holds a white marble door open, “after you.”
They pass several fairytale objects like a sword in the stone, Belle’s enchanted rose, talkative gingerbread cookies, and a rainbow bridge. The towers spiral staircase continues straight up for miles. Pocket size light fairies illuminate the tower. Until they run out of stairs and stand by a locked bright blue door.
The door changes to scarlet red and Arta’s hands clench.
“What is wrong?” Corveena asks perplexed.
“My nightmares are trying to escape,” she wails. Arta’s hands grip her brain as she begins to collapse. The fairy light begins to dim with her dreadful fears.
Corveena touches her forehead. “I can help.” Arta nods in agreement. Corveena faces Arta’s tinged red eyes and speaks calmly, “what is your favorite game?”
“And your favorite color?”
“Periwinkle pink.” Arta’s ultraviolet eyes return.
“Good,” Corveena praises as the once red door has turned colorless. “Do you have a favorite number?
“Eight, because I am eight.” Arta smiles wildly.
“Knock knock,” Arta says when her fist touches the door.
“Whose there?” A voice booms reverberating the stone tower.
“Crystal who?” The voice booms again, this time with a tone of curiosity.
“Crystal light!” Arta says, after she speaks the words, they become true.
Think it, believe it, see it. Corveena recalls her mother teaching her. If you can think and believe in something, it can come true. Corveena’s mother’s voice says in her thoughts.
Arta and Corveena pass the threshold of the now bright blue door into a room so tall they cannot see the ceiling; the floor is made of periwinkle pink dominos that display only the number eight. Crystal light shines all around them thru crystal windows full of sunshine and crystal trinkets around the room. Corveena’s hourglass tattoo will be emptied after the last few pieces of sand descend – her time will be up. Then Arta closes her eyes tight and mouths the words to a silent wish. The crystal figurines come to life. A crystal cat paws a fake fish in a shinny fish bowl. A crystal snail looks like it has a disco ball for a shell. Hundreds of crystal birds chirp.
“Keep dreaming,” Corveena advises Arta. Arta’s small hand holds a priceless gift for Corveena.
A beam of light engulfs Corveena. She returns to her sunset pink room full of fresh cut flowers permeating the air. In the palm of her hand she cherishes a crystal pendant of a sideways eight or an infinity symbol. She reminiscences her time in Dreamland recalling the extraordinary journey of a transport painting and the number eight. Corveena Hourglass settles in her room awaiting the hourglass birthmark to refill so she can return to the fantasy dreamers for she is the almighty capable of altering all dreams.
The Blood Test
Two drops of blood would reveal the darkest secret. I always knew my mother had a darkness inside her and my father loved her despite the darkness. I was the bond that kept my family together but my father’s experiments were the catalyst responsible for my mother’s premature death and he blamed her for his affair.
The silence was unbearable. I missed her melody and rhythmic lullabies already. The moon shined less than usual, or maybe my overwhelming sadness made me view the sky differently. The night stayed hot and humid while the threating rain came down. I stood up straight the way my mother taught me, I could balance a book on top of my head while holding a delicate tea set for hours if I needed to.
I creep thru the gloomy hallways of the five century old brick castle as the rain conceals the noise of my wary footsteps. I knew she was gone but I needed to know why she died. The weather forced the coroners to delay moving her, so her room was a temporary morgue until the storm stopped. When I enter her room the smell assaults my nose and reminds me of day’s old rotten meat. I am stunned to see my mother laying still on her bed with her raven hair still pinned and wearing the dress she wore at dinner the night before. All of her skin had turned completely pale white making the black veins from her neck to heart more noticeable. It was obvious darkroot killed her because after darkroot herb travels thru the veins to attack the heart, the veins stay permanently black.
I prick my mother’s finger and drain a cup of her golden blood into a metal bowl. Her memories reveal themselves like a movie, the golden blood moves whimsically like a controlled sandstorm. I rest my head on my hands watching her life. I see my father, Geo, serving her darkroot tea. Revenge consumes my heart as I see Cassius, the king of Exalts, also known as the Demon King bestow an engagement ring upon my mother’s finger. The ring contained something moving that was black and venomous. Cassius and my mother were clearly in love, but in the North only a son can take the throne – they live by the old ways. Shortly after Cassius proposed marriage my mother discovered she was pregnant with me – a girl – she fled the North, and found sanctuary with her father, the Exalt of the South. She disguised a Copper – the man I now call father – as a Gold. As a married woman she was eligible for the crown, had concealed me in plain site from King Cassius. Without the ring Cassius couldn’t bear a son, his wives would only have daughters for years. But when my father created a test to detect Demon blood and I tested positive, he knew I wasn’t his daughter. So he fell in love with his own kin, a Copper. When my mother found out about the affair, she would have killed him, but he killed her first. I was raised to believe lies are only good if you can keep them. My mother found out about the Copper woman yesterday when she accidently saw a letter my father had sent her. I pour the gold blood into a memory jar and stored it safely. My next choice is simple – avenge my mother and forsake the memory of my father. It is time to embrace a new future forged by the wrath of the North Demon King.
Geo was easy to find. He was wallowing in his laboratory. He didn’t have the stomach for death, he was a man of science, invention, and creation. I always believed my mother married him because he was a weak individual. I decide to leave him alone and begin my impulsive plan.
“Aldrich Silver.” It was clear he was a Silver– his face is unbecoming but he clearly has a career and lots of money based on the expensive suit he wears. If he was born handsome he might have been eligible to be a Gold, but his blood is Silver. I glimpse at the silver tips on his blazer that shine in the poorly lit room. A Silver is superior to a Copper, however a Copper is the best looking people of the three tiers. Silver and Coppers are inferior to a Gold because a Gold has power that allows them to possess both beauty and wealth.
“Yes. Your majesty.”
“Prepare a transport for Copper Beach at once,” I say confidently to my family’s loyal driver.
“Of course.” He walks away.
Before I could process my mother’s memories fully I find myself standing in front of a small decaying house in Copper Beach. I planned to share a cup of darkroot tea with the harlot my ex-father Geo indulged. Then tie her murder and my mother’s murder to Geo so he could suffer a fate worse than death. Killing Geo wouldn’t be justice for his crimes, death would be forgiveness, he deserved to suffer for his lies and betrayal he committed. A small squad of guards and I break down the door of the harlots house. The house is so humid that I began to sweat.
I stare into the harlots eyes. Her Copper clothes drape over her hour glass figure, she tries to finger comb her blonde unkempt hair. The storm causes the power to flicker “Are you E646?”
She is flabbergasted. The alluring Barbie looking figure responds, “Yes. Is everything alright?” she murmurs.
I move close enough to kill her. “How dare you question a Gold,” I yell while my body shakes with frustration. “Full name?” I ask with a stern face.
The sound of thunder and lightning startle the exquisite woman. “Emilia Thea Copper,” she huffs. She moves her fingers together nervously as she peers at the storm past her pathetic front door.
I recall the name addressed on the letter from the memory. I smile satisfactorily when she confirms she is the culprit of my families undoing. A guard comes from one of the bedrooms with a letter containing the Exalts seal. “How does a poor Copper obtain a letter sealed by the Exalt?” The envelope was authentic, the letter was only parchment without words, and within the letter was the engagement ring King Cassius had given my mother twenty years ago. “You’re a thief! Just accept that you have been caught and I won’t have you cuffed.”
The rain pounds on the roof, several buckets in the house fill rapidly with water because of the holes in the ceiling. “Majesty Amira. I didn’t steal – ” she pleads.
A handsome shadow appears. “I stole them,” it admits. He resembles Geo – same skin tone, hair color, and eyes. Almost identical to the pictures I have seen of Geo in his youth.
I light a nearby candle and raise it to his face. “You? Are you prepared to spend your life in Gold? Stealing from the Exalt is unforgivable.” His mother stands silently. And I know without a doubt he is the son of the Exalt, a love child nonetheless.
“I am, Majesty Amira.”
My mind races with thoughts of how to destroy Geo. “What is your legal and full name?”
“N546, Nolan Theo Copper.”
Then the worst idea I can envision comes to mind, my idea is possible depending on the handsome strangers answer to my next question. “What is your date of birth N546?”
“April fifth 200 New Era (N.E.)” he responds.
His response awakens the Demon within me. I snap at him, “N546. You have been accused of stealing from the Exalt. You will be taken to Gold Province at once to be punished for your crime.” I plan to have Nolan impersonate a Gold because without my mother living I will be forced to marry before my twenty first birthday, or the counsel will renounce me as majesty. But, with a pawn who can serve as a symbolic Exalt at my side, I can ensure my reign as the new Exaltress of Nicotora. I believe as my plan unveils eventually Geo’s suffering will force him to choose suicide.
I smile at Aldrich keenly. “Make it look like we were never here. E646 cannot live to talk about the future Exaltress.” I say proudly. This is only step one of avenging my mother.
“Consider it done.” Aldrich smiles wickedly.
The ride back to South Castle is long and silent as I watch my new accused thief and ponder his fate. The city seems smaller today. There aren’t as many lights on as usual tonight. Nico guards in full crimson armor stand every few feet as still as old oak trees near South Castle. The war between the four kingdoms of Nicotora has been brewing since before I was a born.
The guards take Nolan to the hot cell in the dungeon where he will stay until I have a foolproof plan to have him live among my Gold peers. The numerous stairs to my bed chamber give me time and space to think. When I reach my room I close the door and pause for a moment. The muscular arms around my waist cause my head to impulsively fall onto his strong chest. He lets me sob for what feels like an eternity. He looks down on me with gray eager eyes.
I conceal my sad face when I speak. “I don’t know what happened. We had a plan. It was supposed to be easy... everything was supposed to be different after tonight.”
“I came as soon as I heard about your mother’s death. We can use this to our advantage.” Seth cups my face with his free hand. His passionate lips are on mine before I can speak. I react by running my fingers threw his blonde hair with sunset orange ends. I savor the smell of wintergreen soap. In that moment his powerful kiss makes my world stop. We pull apart and stare at each other wide eyed thinking about what will become of us. My marriage to the Prince of the East has been planned for years. And Seth is betrothed to a Princess in the West. His eyes stare into me – my soul – never wavering. When he brushes my cheek I blush champagne gold. “Everything will work out in our favor.” His attempt to comfort me is pathetic. I am too independent to ever depend on a man. “What do you want to do?” He asks sincerely.
Seth and I have been secretly seeing each other for over three years against our parents’ wishes. Seth and I planned to unite the Copper, Silver, and Gold bloodlines. But our parents planned to marry use off to the East and West regions in order to unite us against the demons of the North. People, including Seth would be displeased if they found out I am a daughter of a Northian.
“Majesty Amira.” The guard says as he knocks on my bedroom door.
“Hide. This is not the night to reveal our love.” I tell Seth, he nods in agreement before disappearing into the shadows.
“Sorry to disturb you. But with your mother gone. You’re in charge.” He sighs. “There is a visitor from the North here to see you.”
I don’t let my surprise show. “Search and seize the Northians. Only allow the messenger into the main hallway.”
“Of course you’re Majesty.”
“One more thing. If these Northians do not oblige to the search and seize, kill them.”
The doors to the main hall burst open while I sit as still as a statue on the throne, emotionless. My tiger orange gown and citrine jewelry cover me from head to toe.
The hooded man reveals his face as he walks toward me. “Is this how you always greet a guest who brings you good news?” The brave stranger questions. The guards surround every inch of the room, all with orders to watch the Northian meticulously. I notice a tattoo of the North Star near his right eye and a rather large scar on his neck.
“Would a Northian greet someone from another kingdom any other way?” I answer his question with a question.
“No. My kind would have killed the foreigner before they reached our boarder.” He smiles excitedly at the thought of blood and war.
“The other kingdoms are more civil then the North.”
“Maybe. But the North is the most powerful. So I urge you to accept my offer. I am Duke Meso, heir to the Northern thrown. I have come to seek your hand in marriage to help unite Nicotora. Would you accept the invitation to dine with me?”
I step off my throne to be eye level with this Northian. “To gain a foothold in the North, I would have fought a war to dine with you.”
“Good. Then you know what is at stake.”
“I am more than a pretty face Duke Meso.”
“I can see that.” The tension between us in exhilarating. He steps backward. “I will –”
I take control of the conversation. “I will send a messenger to inform you about our dinner tomorrow.” I eye the stranger before turning to my guard. “Take Duke Meso and his men to the guest chambers on the second floor,” I order.
This prolonged night has made me late for my normal meeting. I follow the glowing flower bulbs in the castle garden until I reach my best friend Briella. Fireflies dance around her as she drinks a sip of tea in our habitual thinking spot. She is dressed in her usual signature white, her angelic platinum blonde hair with gold highlights is envied throughout the land.
“Do you have time for a friend?” I ask.
“Always.” She dismissing my tardiness and hands me a cup of hot tea. “I saw a Northian enter South Castle. I heard about your mother’s death. But when I looked for you earlier. You were nowhere to be found. “Where were you?” Briella gently taps her teacup and plate together.
“I smile. I have so much to tell you.” Briella has played the angel on my shoulder since we were kids. I spill all of today’s secrets to her faster than a single pot tea can boil.
Briella closes her eyes and mediates for a second before beginning to speak her affectionate advice. “I know you had good intentions when you stole your mother’s memories. However, if we all knew the past sins of our loved ones, it would only create new pain for the people whom the sinner loved.”
My hand hits the cast iron table so hard the tea set rattles, after the last shaking spoon settles I say, “Spoken like a devoted Truth Seeker.”
She stands up to stretch her limbs. “I can’t help it,” she yawns. “A steadfast Truth Seeker is always working.” She plucks a peppermint leaf off a nearby plant and plays with the leaf in her teacup. “You’re going to have trouble picking a suiter. I know how much you want the North, and revenge has always served you well, but I don’t think anything or anyone could come between you and Seth.”
I toss the rest of my tea into a bush carelessly. “Three suitable Exalts in a single day was surprising. The best part of the day was taking E646’s life to avenge my mother.”
“What kind of Exaltress do you want to be?” Briella questions.
“That is what I need to figure out.” I smile sinfully.
“May I propose a toast?” She asks rhetorically as she refills my cup. We raise our tea glasses to her forthcoming advice. “You’re only in trouble for your bad deeds if you get caught.”
Death according to the dictionary is the destruction or permanent end of something. However, the path we take to are death is unclear. The dictionary defines life as the existence of an individual human being or animal. But, how we live our life is imprecise. Death used to be something I read about, saw on television, or occasionally heard about. But recently death is no longer a concept, I now know death is real because I died. The spirit world is exactly as you imagine it to be. Because when you die your soul travels to the place you dreamed or thought you deserved to go to in the afterlife.
The Hidden Isle
I lay in bed savoring my alone time. The sun rises and birds chirp as though nothing has changed. The knock at the front door sounds like an iron fist. I don’t know anyone strong enough who could knock so fiercely. I can hear my mother thru the thin walls excitedly greeting our guest. A moment later my mother bursts into my bedroom with my younger sister. My mother has the body of a twenty year old model and chestnut hair always perfectly groomed, she is naturally more sensual in plain clothes then I would have liked, but her beauty comes with benefits I cannot deny, such as being able to stop traffic by batting her eye lashes. My younger sister Chloe is always the belle of the ball, she won her first beauty contest as a newborn baby and has been competing in pageants ever since. Chloe is still sweet but I think the tiaras and titles have recently gone to her head, there isn’t a teenager who wouldn’t want to be her in Copper Beach. Cloe opens the curtain to my only bedroom window. Light awakens my pastel pink room, I would have painted it years ago but we never have the money for paint. The previous owner loved pink because Cloe’s room and the bathroom are painted the same shade of pink. My room is simple, a twin size bed, single nightstand, and a half empty bookshelf. No need for much else. My ten outfits fit neatly in my small closet and even though my room is smaller than a Gold’s forey, I don’t have enough stuff to fill it anyway.
“There is someone from Silverado here for you!” Cloe exclaims, jumping for joy. Her pony tails make her look younger than she is as she smiles excitedly.
“Who?” I mumble, half awake. I roll away from them in my bed.
“He has come to collect you. Now that the virus is cured a select few have been authorized to go to Gold Province today. You have been selected!” Mom exclaims. I lay in bed wishing I was still asleep. I close my eyes to block out the sunlight. I feel the makeup brush dusting my face even though my eyes were still adjusting to the morning sunlight. I keep my puffy eyes closed allowing my mom to paint my face like an art canvas. The cacouphony of the make-up bag awakens me fully. The foundation brush gently smacks my nose. “Absolutely perfect,” Mom says, with the biggest smile. I hear the click of the compact close. “Cloe, help Emilia dress.” Mom places the nicest dress I own on my bed. My bedroom door slams and it’s just me and Cloe for a moment.
“Mom seems overly excited,” I say.
“You’re lucky to be leaving Copper Beach. You have been too sad this past week, I am sure happiness awaits you in Gold Province,” Cloe says. Her Piercing green eyes try to stare into my soul, but it’s no use, my eyes are permanently clouded with tears. The virus is cured, but this new world order has untimely stolen my heart.
Cloe eyes me disappointingly. “Please try to smile. Write me as soon as you arrive. It will be nice to get off of the Isle. Life on Copper Beach is too small.”
“You know I will send for you as soon as I can.” We smile agreeably.
“Hurry up!” Gran yells with one heavy bang on the door.
“Just another minute,” Cloe and I say in unison.
Cloe holds out a ruby and a copper colored pair of earrings. “Which ones?”
“Copper of course.” A splash of lip gloss turns my lips grapefruit pink. I gaze into the mirror, the girl in the reflection is me but she looks more refine and put together. I always knew I was beautiful, all Coppers are, but today I have the opportunity to be more than a pretty girl. When the virus outbreak happened the creation of the Isle and the tier system was only the beginning of everything changing.
“Good morning Miss. I am Aldrich Silver.” It was clear he was a Silver– his face is unbecoming but he clearly has a career and lots of money based on the expensive suit he is wearing. If he was born handsome he might have been eligible to be a Gold. I glimpse at the silver tips on his blazer that shine in the poorly lit living room. A Silvers clothes are superior but Coppers are the best natural looking people of the three tiers.
“Good morning Aldrich.” I smile pleasantly to my superior. I try to ignore his distorted nose and elephant ears.
“Please sit,” Aldrich insists. I practically sit on my Moms lap because I am so nervous but she gracefully moves so I land on the lumpy sofa. He places a dictionary worth of papers on the coffee table. Mismatched furniture and peach cream walls make up our small living space. I look politely at the Silver.
“Will you please verify some information about yourself for me?” Aldrich asks. His voice is monotone like a constant noisy night bug. I nod in agreement.
“Are you E646?”
“Full name?” He asks with a stern face.
“Emilia Thea Copper.” Aldrich nods in agreement undoubtedly reading my name from his parchment.
“E646’s eyes are brown – green,” Mom corrects me.
“Let me see.” Aldrich uses a small flashlight attached to a key to shine light directly into my eyes. The light is unpleasant but tolerable. “Brown – green is correct.” Mom smiles omnisciently. “Natural hair color?”
“Five feet and four inches.”
“One hundred and twenty pounds exactly,” I say proudly.
“Date of birth?”
“April fifth 321 New Era,” I say.
“Thank you E646. Sign here and you will be allowed passage to Gold Province.” He points where I am supposed to sign. I hesitate just for a moment when I see the countless tiny words I am about to agree to. I push the signed paper toward Aldrich. “Can you please clear the room? There are a few words I can only say to E646.”
“Of course. We are honored to have Emilia be selected for this visit to Gold. The circumstances are unsettling but I can assure you that Emilia is the perfect choice.” Mom’s words are sincere.
“Of course Gold will be good for E646. Condolences have already been sent to the Trask family. But, life must continue. The cure to the virus has already changed life during the New Era.”
“Of course,” Mom agrees. She walks out the front door with Gran and Chloe.
I sit still on the couch trying to anticipate his words. What could he possibly only be able to say to me?
“Now then. I have a message to give you.” I acknowledge him giving direct eye contact. He places an envelope on the table with only my legal name, E646, written on it. When I reach for the message, Aldrich places his hand protectively over the envelope. “You may only open this when you are alone. Do you understand?” He stares at me with threatening eyes like he will somehow know if I don’t heed his instructions.
I swallow the lump of fear in my throat. “I promise.”
“Good.” He pushes the envelope across the coffee table towards me. “You should be afraid to go to Gold. There are only a handful of Coppers in Gold and most people are awaiting their return to the mainland. During the New Era a Copper has never visited Gold under your unusual circumstances,” he whispers.
“I understand,” I murmur with a touch of nervousness.
He places the paperwork into his leather brief case. “A car is waiting outside to take you to Gold. You have a few minutes to say goodbye to your family.”
I nod once in agreement. “Will I see you again?” I ask quizzically to the ugly man.
“I am sure we will meet again. Good day E646.” His smile is uncanny.
“Good day Aldrich.” I say, then gently close the front door.
I know my family heard the door close and will enter the house soon, but I just have to know what is in the mysterious envelope. The note reads, bright blue building. The words are written on a fortune cookie size piece of paper.
I look back at my family home painted in tones of sea shell white and ocean blue –pink jasmine and hibiscus flowers bloom in varying colors. I inhale a long breath of salty sea air. Goodbye Copper Beach.
The driver open the car door for me and inside I see a young lady about my age dressed in copper with a copper identification bracelet like mine. “Hello, my name is Emilia. Who are you?”
“Lavena Copper. I am a vendor who has been invited to Gold.” Her brown eyes shift. She is a thin and graceful copper with rare ruby colored hair. “I sell herbs and spices mostly.” But her innocent reply doesn’t fool me, her remarkable posh poinsettia red ribbon in her hair tells me she is an extraordinary vendor, she sells red lace undoubtedly, red lace has the power to change someone’s appears, strong enough to transform a silver to a gold for a few hours.
“It’s nice to meet you. Are you going to attend the funeral today?” I ask quizzically.
“No. I am only in Gold for a few hours to sell some herbs. Take a sample.” She hands me a small royal blue medicine bag. “Us Coppers need to stick together.” A grin of satisfaction appears on her face when I take the medicine bag.
“Have you heard about the biggest scandal in Gold?” Lavena asks me. I say nothing.
“Of course you haven’t. You live in Copper Beach. People have been suggesting that Nolan was killed because he had fallen in love with a Copper. No one knows if it’s true. Reports can’t question the dead. If his family really did kill him for loving someone from a lower tier I hope they don’t know who she was or they will surely kill her too.”
My body freezes after hearing her verbal rubbish. Then Lavena and I are glued to the window as the car pulls up to the gate to Silverado. The car stops to show identification, then the silver gate opens. I have never been anywhere on the isle other than Copper Beach.
“Silverado is a beautiful place,” I say gesturing for us to look around. I see so much silver. There are silver buildings and elaborate silver art. People dressed in silver clothes. I notice a girl with glittery silver tipped hair walking into a store, I never knew hair could be anything other than a natural hair color. After the city shopping center we see metal art as tall as palm trees.
My eyes widen when the gold gate opens for us, the driver keeps the same pace. I would stop breathing if it wasn’t an automatic body function. The gate itself is a master piece, shiny gold glints in the sunlight. I thought Silverado was breathtaking but Gold is like something you read about in a fiction book or a fantasyland. The car stops in a magnificent Golden courtyard, the road is made of gold brick, and the center statue made of gold rains flakes of gold. The civilians in Gold Province look like diverse versions of Barbie and Ken dolls. Our car stops abruptly near another car.
Zara appears and my heart begins to race with fear. She wears a golden floor length dress with fancy black veiled hat. “E646,” Zara address me as a number. Her captivating tone is one that only a Gold could have. He bouncy long blonde curls move fluidly as she walks.
“Hello Zara.” We have only interacted a few times in the past with each other, but she has never been kind to me.
“Your clothes… well… they won’t due. Put on this hat for now, I will have you change before the funeral ceremony.
I place the elegant black veiled hat on my head. “Very well.”
“Nolan’s funeral begins soon. We must be going,” Zara insists. Her driver holds open the car door for me to follow Zara into the automobile.
Strangers from everywhere begin to run and hide. “Wind Storm!” I hear a nearby man shout. I look to the sky, I see a bright blue building, and every one begins to run. I look away from Zara and decide to run as fast as I can toward the bright blue building.
“Emilia!” A familiar voice echoes between the tall buildings. There is only one person in Gold that would call me Emilia. When I reach the end of the building I think I am seeing a ghost. A man with a military haircut, toned arm muscles, and soft sapphire eyes peer at me.
“You made it!” Nolan sighs in relief. I question my sanity when he speaks.
I touch his face and feel his features to confirm Nolan is real. I murmur, “Nolan?”
I awaken to new colors
I can see near and far
I can't help but smile because today everything is going to go my way
Oh, what fun it is to learn, laugh, and play all day!
It's time to crawl, walk, jump, then kick a ball
New food is exciting, the taste, the touch, the smell is enticing
Puppy love makes me giggle
Oh, what fun it is to learn, laugh, and play all day!
Building blocks is fun
I prefer Sweeping and cleaning over potty training
My pastime consists of make believing and day dreaming
Oh, what fun it is to learn, laugh, and play all day!
I can Swim, draw, talk, and count real good
Mom told me I can be an artist
Dad wants me to be an aerologist
Oh, what fun it is to learn, laugh, and play all day!
Age 5 is great! The best so far.
I have only been 5 for a day and I am stuffed with cake and my room is full of new toys
I have enough energy to play at Disney until sundown
Oh, what fun it is to learn, laugh, and play all day!
Age 1 is done
Age 2 was so much fun
At Age 3 my biggest accomplishment was negotiating to get my way
By Age 4 I was able to play in the sun most of the day
Age 5 is greatest because now I know what to do to get my way!
The Ocean’s Siren
“Aria.” Her call was mythical, poisonous, tranquil, and inescapable. When she calls me, she controls me, because she owns me. She took my voice. “Aria,” she calls again. My only choice is to obey. She is a vibrant blue color today; endless vast waters in all directions – She is the Ocean.
My pace is slow but steady towards Her. My brown hair looks a shade lighter in the harsh sunlight. My shark white gown hugs my chest and hips, one thick strap covers the space between my left shoulder and neck. The gown flows from my lower waist to the ground. Specks of sand are touching the bottom of my dress turning it tan. My full length gown blows gracefully in the wind – marvelous. The oyster shell I am carrying is nearly empty; turquois rounds the perimeter inside, specks of pink and lines of lavender shine, while oyster silver fills the remaining space – the outside of the oyster is rough which protects the beauty within. I inspect each small seashell I remove from the oyster as they plunge into the beach sand excited to be caressed by home instead of on display as décor.
When I am almost to the Ocean I leave footprints in the sand, marking my path before waves alter the sand. I look back at my seashells on the shore like when a lover says a final goodbye. I love land because She only controls water. The sun makes my eyes water briefly but I can still see my abstract design, within the shells I see love in the shape of a heart. Then She takes me.
A few feet into the Ocean white water begins to dance around me. I can taste the salt. My eyes are open but they don’t sting. She wraps the water around my body then after one corset tight squeeze She releases me. My white dress has been replaced with an ivory mermaid bra made of several seashells and an aqua sequence fish tale. It won’t be long now. I have been transformed into a sea creature. She gave me skin the color of a tan seahorse, jellyfish pink lips, cheeks the color of the pinkest starfish, and a tale similar to a dolphins. She moves me several leagues under the sea toward Her next victims.
I know when my victims – Her victims – see me they will stare into my brown-green eyes. The green in them will symbolize money, power, or earth depending on the person peering into them. The brown in my eyes is the color of sand when the sunsets and the world becomes darker. When my victims look at me they will hear my song – Her song – and then the water will have what She needs, their life will sustain Her for a few months or years depending on how many more are accidently lost in the Ocean.
“We’re here,” She says. “SING.” I follow Her orders because I am the Ocean’s Siren.