"It's your turn," teacher Bedengrayne prompted. I nodded my head and shuffled forward through the archway, through transparent mists of drizzling light, and into a bright phosphorescent oval room.
It isn't too big but it seemed infinite. The walls were ancient amber painted with liquid light, shining like a million diamonds all glistening at once, and there were fine leaves of french mesh hanging in spontaneous places from the low ceiling. It was ethereal and I could've stayed there forever, even though it was so bright that my eyes burned. My hair glowed as it was spattered with light falling through strategic cracks in the ceiling, and a feeling of peace and coolness washed over me.
An old woman appeared on a red circus pedestal in front of me, a striking burst of color and dirt against the pure white of the room. It almost felt illegal.
"Hello, Hoping-Madam Aurora," I said, my hands clasped, kneeled to her feet.
She placed her hand on my head.
"Rise youth," she said, her voice smooth and tinkling despite her old age. She had curly white hair that fell to her hips and was wearing a long white gown that looked older than she was. It looked beautiful though, despite its age. That type of dress, the fading dress, had gone out of style years ago because you usually never see the dress at its true glory; faintly glowing but all the details of the stitching and lace elegantly visible.
I rose and looked to her.
"What is it that you have come to ask me?" she inquired.
"I wish for my parents back," I said. She nodded.
"That is a difficult thing to do, are you sure you wish to achieve that?" she asked, implying that it is a daunting and almost impossible task. I nodded my head. I knew that it was almost impossible, but that window of opportunity wpuldnt be open for long. These meetings only happen once every one hundred years. I could not have been luckier than I was to be alive for that. The Hoping-Madam never denies a request, no matter how impossible or dumb it is.
"Alright then," she waved one of her hands, and sparkles spiraled around it. A dark black tube appeared in the air and she plucked it out.
"Do what the text inside says, don't miss a word, and your parents will be alive again." She handed the tube to me, it was cold.
Hope bubbled in my heart. "Thank you," I said joyfully, finally having hope that my parents could be alive again. I kneeled at her feet one more time and left without facing away from her, for thus was the practice.
I left the room, all the light falling from my hair, past my shoulders, and onto the floor. I shook my head to get the last off and stepped through the archway. I couldn't see a thing.
"Did you get your hope?" teacher Bedengrayne asked, as she put her hand on my shoulder to guide me to the hallway where the post lightroom station was set up.
"Yes," I said.
"Good," she responded, "this only happens once a century, so I hope you made a good one."
She sat me down in a chair and I could feel people rush to me by the rushes of air. After light liquid was poured into my eyes, and large balls of cotton covered them tied to my head with a cotton strap. And any excess light was rubbed off me, it is a very rare substance in the modern days and the common people guards don't need any more people coming into their safety facility in the nude because they had their light stained clothing stolen.
"Stay here until we tell you to, ok?" a nurse instructed.
"Yes sir," I replied. He moved away and I was left with my thoughts. The light room is so much more elegant and blissful than I thought it would be.
I'm going to begin the hope tomorrow.
Chring! Chring! I swing my arm around and flipped off my alarm. I stretched and sat up. I have something to do...what was it? I went to get my glasses off the nightstand and I saw the tube. “Oh yeah!” I said. I paused, “I can't screw up or I don't know what will happen. Why didn't Hoping-Madam tell me?”
I snatched up the tube and set it on my lap. I took a deep breath and twisted off the top.
Damn, I expected butterflies and light to come out. But it was empty. There was a small roll of paper inside like a poster though, I plucked it out and un-scrolled it. It's blank. Nothing. Empty. Is this some kind of trick? Is there a code?
I hopped out of my bed and went to my desk in my study. I put the scroll under my reading lamp. Nothing. “Ughhhh, you're kidding me!” I said, this freaking sucked!
Wait. What if that's what I am supposed to do; nothing. Stay at home, just be invisible. Yes, that's exactly what I'm supposed to do. From now on, I will do nothing until my parents come back.
I sat on my leather couch with my hands folded and just stayed there, staring at my unlit fireplace. I should light it. I almost got up but I stopped myself. “Do nothing, right.”
Unfortunately, I was so focused on the fireplace that I didn't notice the scroll glowing behind me.
I must have fallen asleep because I was woken by a humming behind me. I twisted around to see what it was and saw the scroll glowing brightly on the coffee table behind me.
“Holy cow!” I exclaimed. I jumped out of my armchair and snatched it up. Squinting in its gleam, I unrolled it. “Yes!” I cheered. There was writing in it! I stopped short though, it was some sort of riddle.
I hate riddles.
Despite what you may think, this gold doesn’t ring. As old as time, but still no chime. But before the week is done, it can be rung.
Go there and see what you must do for the blessing.
(exit from the story for a moment, I can't change the font and the size, so this looks a little odd.) (ok, back to the story, sorry again)
It has a nice rhyme, but what on earth does this mean? I set it down on my armrest and paused, thinking hard. “Despite what you think, this gold doesn’t ring. Hmm..” I thought aloud, “this gold, this gold. Hmm, what do I have that doesn’t ring? And probably not just in my house, maybe in my town. Gold...old...chime…” I slapped my forehead. “Of course!” I exclaimed, “The bell in the center of town! It was painted with gold, who knows how long ago, and it doesn’t ring because the clapper is stuck! I guess I have to ring it!” Seizing the scroll, knocking over a cup of tea in the process, and whipping on my jacket, I flew outside to the square. It was dark out, but I could see clearly from the light that was radiating from the scroll in my hand. I sprinted to the bell tower and tried pulling open the heavy oaken doors of the building, but unfortunately for me, they were locked. I tried wrenching them open a few more times before giving up. It has a nice rhyme, but what on earth does this mean? I set it down on my armrest and paused, thinking hard. “Despite what you think, this gold doesn’t ring. Hmm..” I thought aloud, “this gold, this gold. Hmm, what do I have that doesn’t ring? And probably not just in my house, maybe in my town. Gold...old...chime…” I slapped my forehead. “Of course!” I exclaimed, “The bell in the center of town! It was painted with gold, who knows how long ago, and it doesn’t ring because the clapper is stuck! I guess I have to ring it!” Seizing the scroll, knocking over a cup of tea in the process, and whipping on my jacket, I flew outside to the square. It was dark out, but I could see clearly from the light that was radiating from the scroll in my hand. I sprinted to the bell tower and tried pulling open the heavy oaken doors of the building, but unfortunately for me, they were locked. I tried wrenching them open a few more times before giving up.
“Hmm... I should check the back, there could be a side door.” I pondered.
“That's not going to work, ” explained a young girl from behind me.
I jumped a mile and flipped around to see who it was. It was the local snitch named Bernadette (everyone called her Netty though).
Snitch is a rude thing to call a ten-year-old when you're twenty, I contemplated, but that's honestly who she is.
I should have recognized the voice.
“What do you want, Netty?” I said, exasperated. Still on edge from the scare, my voice cracked a little.
“I was going to say; the doors are locked at night, you'll have to wait for tomorrow, ” she explained, “And what are you doing outside? It's 23:30.”
“What are you doing outside at this time, you're ten, ” I responded, annoyed.
She flipped her red Shirley Temple hair off her shoulder; “For your information,” she began, with a hint of superiority to her voice, “I am part of the Bright Wood night patrol. I created it, and am the sole member. Everyone else is far too negligent to be a part of this dangerous organization.”
I rolled my eyes.
“This town hasn't had a major crime in years,” I said.
“And I'll be here to stop it when it does!” she announced proudly.
“Go home Netty, I'm going to come back tomorrow.”
“Absolutely not! Service never takes a break!”
“Whatever, ” I said, unable to care anymore. If she got kidnapped or something, it wouldn't be my fault.
I trudged my way home and fell flat onto my bed like I used to do as a kid, I was exhausted. I took off my shoes and jacket, lazily leaving them on the floor beside my bed, and wormed under my blankets, still fully dressed in my day clothes.