Rel Rel poked Lily’s yarn hair, then quickly ducked out of sight. She waited for the voice. “Come on, change!” She rested her nose on the lip of her desk. “Give me a reason to end both your hearts.”
Her eyes shifted from Lily’s button eyes, to the frill of her dress, searching, waiting for any sign of movement. Nothing. Lily did not stir. Ever vigilant, Rel stood up, backed away, and sat on her bed. “Good, right, yes. I like you better this way.” Eyes never leaving those dark buttons, she folded her hands and waited. “Silent. As you should be.”
Curling up onto her bed, Rel Rel rested her head on her pillow, still staring at the doll. Her eyes moved to the goggles on the floor. Then back to the doll. She wrung her hands, pursed her lips. With a huff, she closed her eyes, murmuring, “Don’t want to talk to you anyways. Course not… Why would I?”
The house was silent. Rel listened to her breath and the steady beating of her heart. Swiping the goggles from the floor, Rel bounced to her feet and shoved them onto her eyes.
Lily stared back, hands folded gently at her side. “Greetings, Mistress.” She gave Rel a gentle curtsy.
“Right, right, yes, greetings and all that!” Rel shook her hands in the air as if clearing the room of smoke. “So? What brings you here, creature?”
“I would ask the same of you?” said Lily.
Rel narrowed her eyes, “Right. What now?”
“You came to this place, Mistress. I’ve been here the whole time.”
“Wow, that’s… creepy. Okay, cool, yeah, right. But this is my room… What-what’s with the glowing?” Light from the barred window fell not only on the floor, but seemed to twist out the door, leaving a breath of mist in its trail.
“I wager if you follow, we shall learn of its existence,” said Lily.
“What trickery is this?” Rel wiped her hands through the light, mist scattering against her fingertips… yet it continued to move like a shallow, glowing stream.
“None that I know of, Mistress,” said Lily, amused as Rel played with the guiding light.
“None that you… right, of course,” said Rel, taking her attention off the light. She scowled. “I see your game. I’ll play, I’ll play.”
“There is no such game…”
“Yeah, no, I see! No game, none at all.” She scuttled to the door, and called over her shoulder, “Of course… let’s play!”
They followed the stream of light into the bathroom, which looked to Rel like another prison chamber. On a dusty, moth-eaten cot, where a beam of sunlight managed to peek through the narrow crevice in the wall, was a mirror.
“So, there’s a mirror?” said Rel, plucking the reflective glass into her fingertips. It was icy to the touch, nothing more than a slick slab of glass. Rel admired the intricate patterns looping around the edge, running her fingers against the solid, tendril-like designs winding against the surface. Aside from the beautiful design, it seemed like nothing more than a simple mirror.
Rel tugged her goggles up and stared down with her own eyes. She was standing in the bathroom, holding a powder compact. Mother’s powder compact. Shaking her head, she lowered the lenses, and once again fell into prison darkness, with the moth-eaten cot. “So, we have it. Great. Good. Now what? It’s pretty, I guess. Pretty useless. Ha! See what I did there?”
Lily just smiled.
“Yeah, no. Nothing? Ahem, whatever. So?”
“Maybe the waters of Jawroot Jawroot will awaken it?” said Lily as Rel knelt to examine the small object.
“A-Awaken?” Rel cradled the mirror up into her palms, eyes intrigued, “What-what does that mean? Does this thing eat? Is it sleeping? Can I drown it!?”
“I believe it can grant wishes,” said Lily, moving to Rel Rel’s side.
“Grant… sure. That’s what I was thinking,” said Rel.
“We will not know till we bathe it in the waters of Jawroot Jawroot.”
Rel Rel traced the image of herself thoughtfully, hardly looking up as she spoke, “Any wish?” She wanted to believe, to hope, that there was indeed something that could grant her every desire. Yet she could not stop the throng of Father’s voice.
Lily shook her head. “So I’ve heard.”
“Well, I don’t need wishes. Wishing never helped. They’re stupid nonsense. Just like this!” She set the mirror back onto the cot. “Been a fun game and all, but I’m done. This is a waste of time! I don’t want to play anymore.”
“Only a waste if you choose to waste it,” said Lily.
“Don’t speak to me in puns!”
“That wasn’t a pun…”
“I know puns, and that was a pun,” Rel said, searching her own thought. “Besides, even if I wanted a wish, this wouldn’t work.”
“Have you tried?”
“Have you?” Rel threatened, glaring at Lily menacingly.
“No,” Lily remained steadfast, eyes never wavering, “No, I have not. So neither of us can say it doesn’t work.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
“Then it doesn’t, Mistress.” Lily put a concerned hand on Rel’s shoulder, and said gently, “But I will help you. I promise.”
Striding up to the mirror, Rel lifted it into her right hand, cradling the tiny object. “So… any wish?”
Lily shook her head genuinely, “Any wish.”
“Any wish.” Rel Rel rose to her feet, tucking the mirror into her hip pocket. “You promise to help me?”
“I do, and I have, Mistress.”
Rel smiled. “And you know this nonsense, because…?”
“I do not know, Mistress. Don’t all mirrors grant wishes?” asked Lily.
“No, they don’t… unless they’re enchanted!” Rel Rel felt excitement welling into her chest, hopping from foot to foot with anticipation. “All right, okay, maybe I believe. Maybe. So… any wish?”
The doll tapped her goggles, “As long as you see into our world, through lens and pen, yes.”
“So, my writing can bring things to life?” Rel whooped triumphantly. “I could, I could… oh, with this power. So good, oh so good!”
“Actually, Mistress,” said Lily matter-of-factly, “your writing is a doorway into our world and the goggles are the means of witnessing said world.”
“So like the internet, staring through a computer screen? Gotcha, gotcha! So my pen is the key, am I right?”
“Not exactly, Mistress…”
“Sure, right, whatever. I see… I got it! All that matters is that I have this… this, I don’t know yet. But it’s good, so good!”
Running out the front door, she sprinted across the concrete walkway, over the grass, bounding into the street and into the woods surrounding their neighborhood, all the while carrying the doll with pink yarn for hair. In the eyes of her goggles, she was departing the Prison Tower of HumGlum, and entering the Blue-Tree-Thing Forest. “Adventure. I like this… no, I dig it! Onward, Lily!”
The deep, dark blue trees parted, allowing her to walk to the edge of Jawroot Jawroot Lake.
“Now, to make my… oooh!” Rel tripped over a large rock, splashing into the water’s edge. She turned frightfully and heard the screech of a familiar car. Rel removed her goggles, bounding back toward her house, doll in hand.
Rel tripped over a large rock, splashing into the water’s edge. She turned frightfully and heard the screech of a familiar car. Rel removed her goggles, bounding back toward her house, doll in hand.
She tried to sneak back through the front door, only to find Mother standing near the bathroom. Mother adjusted her business suit and said firmly, “Rel, where is my powder compact? I’ve only got a few minutes before I have to speak with my… Where is it?”
“Isn’t it in the bathroom?” said Rel Rel, inching into the hallway with a spritely grin.
“Don’t get smart with me young lady. Answer me!” Grunting, she stepped to the front door, narrowing her eyes before storming off, “You know you’re not supposed to be outside when we’re not home… You’re soaking wet. Gah, move, to your room!” The door slammed. “I do not have time for this.” She was gone.
“I’d better put it back before she…” Rel searched her dripping pocket. “Gone? Gone! How could it be gone?”
Lily didn’t answer.
Rel bounced outside, scanning the front yard. She crouched on hands and knees, moving like a feral creature through the grass, sniffing the ground as if trying to catch the mirror’s scent. “I can sense it, Lily! I must have dropped it when I was bounding toward Blue-Tree-Thing Forest.
“Wait, maybe when I tripped…”
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