When I went to sleep last night, it was hot. I mean I felt like I was going to melt hot. A sheen of sweat lined my brow, I was dressed in my shortest shorts, my hair was pulled back, and my blankets were discarded on the floor of my already messy bedroom.
When I woke up and felt slightly colder than I had the night before, almost shivering in my outfit, I thought I had a fever. Some sort of heatstroke.
I was opening the window to let some air in, but I gasped as I pulled back the curtains to reveal little white snowflakes dancing in the air.
So now I stand, in more fitting clothes, quizzically staring at the window.
¨MOM!” I call for the tenth time. It's a Saturday morning, so I get why she's hesitant to wake up, but snow? In the middle of July? In Hawaii?
The only reason I even know what snow is, is my friend, Lana. She moved to Michigan last year and is always posting aesthetic pictures of the snow on her Instagram. I never dreamed I would see snow in person. Most people born and raised in Hawaii are the same.
I finally hear the creak of a staircase and turn, expecting to find mom, but instead, it’s...someone else.
Or something else.
The figure is vaguely human-like, and I suppose by standard it’s a girl.
I say ‘vaguely’ human-like because the figure is...wispy. Ghost-like. Almost like if I reach out and touch it my hand will go through it. The ‘face’ is covered with white hair, the rest of it flowing down, down, touching the stair. To make out the rest of it’s...her... body, I have to squint, because it’s shimmering. It looks fake, like you feel when you’re looking at things in your dream. Two leg-shaped-ish things I can see coming out of fabric, too solid and odd to call a dress.
“What...are you?” my mouth finally finds words and I stay frozen where I am, staring.
“It’s not a what dear, but who. Didn’t anyone teach you this sort of thing?” the voice I presume is coming from the things is oddly deep. The long white hair covers most of her face, so I can’t tell if she’s got some sort of mouth that’s moving. The sound echoes through me, almost like it’s just in my head.
“Right well...who are you then?” I stalk closer to the staircase, a shiver running up and down my spine. The figure moves closer to me too, and I instinctively freeze up.
“I...am someone.” Right. How helpful.
Before I have time to ask again, the figure floats off the staircase and gets so close, we’re about to collide. I trip on my legs moving backward, but with a nearly transparent hand like thing, ‘she’ motions for me to stop. I oblige.
“Please don’t scream.”
Before I have time to even process her words, she floats closer and closer, going right through me.
All at once, it feels like ice is being pierced into my body and like my organ’s temperatures have dropped to absolute zero. My vision is black no matter how hard I squint. I open my mouth to ask for help but nothing comes out.
Don’t scream, she said, but I can’t help myself, opening my mouth as far wide as it can go and straining my voice, hurting my throat though no sound is coming out, at least nothing I can hear. The freezing feeling finally stops and instead I just feel slightly cold.
I squeeze my eyes shut and take a deep breath. I move my hands around my body, feeling if I even still exist. I open my eyes again and am nearly blinded as I finally see.
First, it’s just white, but as my eyes adjust more, I can make out a mountain near me. So tall I can’t see the top. Behind it, a castle. But it’s small. Or maybe just compared to the mountain. An icy cold hand sends a shock through my body as it’s placed on my shoulder. I immediately turn around.
“Sorry. I forget how jarring it can be sometimes.” The voice is the same as the creature from the staircase, but the look is not.
The face is human-like, but the skin is white. She, which assuming from her features she’s a she, has shining white markings on her face, changing from white to light blue and back again slowly. The eyes are the most fascinating part- they’re huge, taking up a large portion of the upper half of her face. If I look directly into them, it’s jarring, almost like I’m seeing the future, past, and present at the same exact time, like when you see multiple security camera footages at once on one screen, but instead, they’re all fading into one another making it hard to differentiate. Her hair is white like it was on the stairs, but it’s clearer now. It looks like it’s wet, almost like it’s falling like snow from her head, all the way spanning down to her knees. She’s dressed in a gown, also white, nearly blending with the ground, which is completely covered in snow.
“I...why do you look so different? How? Where’d you take me?” Questions spill from my mouth.
“Take a breath dear, and hold my hands. This time, it’ll be quick, I promise.”
“I-what?” She takes my hand and squeezes it and I feel cold wind in my face like when I’m sledding down a steep hill and everything is coming by so fast, it feels like you’re flying.
I’ve never sled before.
I feel the wind stop and I’m somewhere else. Inside now. I can tell because there’s no view of snow anywhere. She’s beside me again, but I can see multiple images of her, along with someone else, again and again, and again.
A mirrored room. So who’s the other reflection?
I move my hand up to tuck my hair behind my ear and freeze when the other thing moves too.
I touch my face where it shows marking not unlike the creature from the staircase. My hair is longer than it’s supposed to be, fading to white wispy lines at the tips. My face looks...weird. My eyes are slightly bigger. And my clothes are completely different. I’m dressed in a short feather dress, going down to my knees, and underneath that, I can see my skin is white. How am I not cold?
“I know you have multiple questions, young one. I have the answers. First, I didn’t change how I looked. I just cannot fully form in the human realm. As you cannot. That is why you are only truly seeing yourself now. The memories likely popping into your consciousness now are from your childhood. Years you’ve forgotten stuck on Earth.”
“Sledding. That was here? When I was small? This is..this is me?” I point to my reflection in the mirror. She nods. “Then who are you?”
“I am your mother. Your true mother. But I am everyone’s mother, in this Realm. Come. You have much more to learn. Take my hand again.” I turn around, surveying my new-real self in the mirrors.
“Are you going to do the thing you did before?”
“No. We’re in the castle now, there’s no need.”
“Okay. . .” I tentatively take her hand and we walk towards one side of the mirrors. They slide open and we walk out into a completely white hall.
“This is your home Yukina. Welcome home.”
“My...home? Yukina?” I wince as more supposed memories come into my head.
I ran through it once, and fell, but nothing happened.
No one gets hurt here. Everything is perfect.
I blink twice and shake my head at the mantra that I randomly thought.
“Yukina. Your name. We haven’t time to lose, come come! The coronation starts at one quarter!”
“One quarter to what? And who’s coronation?!”
“There’s no time to explain! I’ll tell you everything as they dress you. This way!”
She, my mother I suppose, pushes me one way in the white hall. I move my legs as fast as they can go where she’s pulling me until she pulls me back. I stop. A small portion of the white turns black and fades, opening into a room. It looks white like the rest of the hall until I step in and it turns into a room, identical to a dressing room I saw in a movie scene once where one of the actors was getting ready for a performance.
“What? What does that mean?”
“It means, in your mind, this is what you expect to find for a place for dressing people. So that’s what this room becomes. Take the ribbons from your hair, there’s much work to be done.” I bring my hand to my head to feel it put into multiple ponytails, and I gently start untying the multiple ribbons that bind them.
“So will you answer my questions now? What coronation? A quarter to what?”
“Yes, dear. Sit here.” I allow her to pull me into one of the chairs. And set the ribbon I took out on the table in front of me.
“Time is irrelevant here. It is now. Always now. But we need to gather sometimes, all at once. So we have the Glass Ball, in the square. It collects snow, and that is how we differentiate. The Ball empties each day. A quarter is when it is filled half of half.”
“Oh...sorta like an hourglass? Or like noon or something.”
“Sure. But you must know, there is no other indication of time passing. No darkened skies, no ‘night’ or ‘day’. You’ll get used to it. Good, hand me that ribbon.” I do, and she begins pulling and twisting my hair.
“A coronation...that’s like something where a prince or something is crowned? I shoulda listened more in history...Hey, could I ask something else too?”
“Go ahead, dear.”
“I mean, how old am I? Cause I have childhood memories from home-I mean the Human Realm- too. Speaking of that, am I going back anytime soon? I’m not just going to stay here, right? Ow!”
“Sorry darling, I’m all done. Stand and wait for them to come dress you.”
“Who’s them? And the answers to my other questions?”
“You are one hundred and forty-six in human years. Barely a child- and a talkative one at that.”
“One hundred and what?!”
I’m more than a century old?! How?!
“A lot of things happened when you were born, Yukina. You were sent and birthed into the human realm for safety.”
“How many realms are there?”
“More than I- or anyone else- can count. But there are few main ones, that everyone knows of.”
“Well, the Human Realm, as you know, the Time Realm, the Broken Realm-which is one of the forbidden- The Light Realm, the-” Before she could finish her sentence, there’s a loud ‘click’ and the weird door like opening faded again, and a short blob thing walks-or I should say slithers- in. “Ah, they’re here. Dress her, I must get ready myself.” The white slime seems to nod as she leaves.
“Wait- I have so many more questions!”
“I’ll be back!” She yells as the opening in the wall fades. The blob separates into multiple parts. They start vibrating and I can hear gibberish sounds seemingly coming from them. I get out of my chair slowly and bend down so I can be face to slime.
“I...I don’t understand, are you trying to say something?” The pieces all connect back into one. Whispers bounce back and forth, and like when the lady spoke to me in my house, it feels like it’s in my head.
Finally, I hear something distinguishable.
“Stand still, and close your eyes. It’ll be quick.”
I slowly stand at my full height in the middle of the room and before I close my eyes, I see the blob start to separate again.
I can feel slight feather-like touches going up and down my body, tickling me but I force myself to stay still. Something is tied around my waist, a little tight at first, but it’s loosened. My hair is played with a little more, and then I feel nothing else.
I wait a couple seconds before slowly opening my eyes.
I’m back in the mirror room.
I gasp at my reflection.
It’s still a bit weird to see this different me, but that’s not all.
I look gorgeous, completely dressed up in a gown meant for a princess, and my hair up in a fancy bun- All I’m missing is a crown.
Me, dressed up.
Could it be...my coronation??
“Why do I have to wear this stupid blindfold? And what is going on?” I flail my arms around as I’m pulled around the castle, where everything is loud and I’m assuming chaotic.
I can’t see anything and I’m tripping all over my gown.
“Stop!” a voice warns me, and I oblige. The pulling stops as well and I stand still, keeping my other senses alert. My hands itch to remove the blindfold, but something tells me I shouldn’t. All the talking I heard earlier stops abruptly, and I hear someone shush everyone.
“Everyone. We have waited snowfalls for this day. It has been hard on all of us. Allow me to welcome home, Princessa Yukina.” My ‘mother’ says as she removes my blindfold delicately, keeping my hair intact. Applause thunders. My eyes adjust to the light and I see we’re in a large room, with nothing except an elevated platform I’m standing on. Everywhere else is white.
My eyes go wide.
“Shhh, now now, I know this is hard for you too. Yukina has spent the past 120 snowfalls in the Human Realm. She is unfamiliar to our customs, and I know I speak for all of us when I say we will be patient as she adjusts.” A murmur of agreement goes through the crowd, which is made up of multiple creatures like me. I can see some blobs like the ones that dressed me too. “Yukina? Will you accept this crown, and stay home with me, and all your home realm?”
She smiles warmly, raising a silver crown close to my head.
“I...um...well I….I guess I need to think about it…”
Everyone gasps. Or at least it seems like it. She drops the crown and I jump a little.
“Yukina. I know you are confused. But this is the right choice- the only choice.”
My mouth is dry as I glance around the room. My mother bends and picks up the crown, again hovering it over my head, and smiling reassuringly to the crowd. I take a deep breath and close my eyes.
I really hope this is right…
“Okay. I...accept the crown.”
The crown is placed on my head, and everything goes black.