Yellow light spilled into the room through the white curtains, staining the pillows and bed in a hazy glow. Mona sat on the corner of the bed, a half-filled cup of coffee in her hand and her hair in a messy bun on her head.
"It's 7. In the morning. On a Saturday," she said, speaking slowly so her words wouldn't slur together in her sleepy state. A groan emulated from the phone that was face-up on the mattress.
"Mona you better get over here quick!"
Mona groaned right back, slurping the coffee so fast it burnt her throat.
"If you think I'm going so soon so early in the morning- you are heavily mistaken. I'm finishing my coffee before I get real clothes on."
Birds chirped outside of the window and Mona closed her eyes, nearly falling asleep into her cup. Everything felt hazy, from the coffee sloshing around to the odd sound of the birds. Were they always awake so early?
"MONA! Come in your pjs if you have to. I swear you'll be happy you came!"
Mona rolled her eyes, slamming her cup on the table. Droplets spilled and stained the white pillow sheets, joining the multitude of stains there.
"But whyyyy?" she whined, sagging into her bed and wishing for nothing more than to cuddle underneath the covers again.
"Um? Because I said so? Come onnn!"
"I'm hanging up on you."
"Get here as quick as you can, okay? I swear it's wor-"
The line cut out and Mona rolled her eyes, standing up and steadying herself with the bedside table. Neither she nor her friends were morning people, but for some reason, Kim had awoken her early on Saturday, with a phone call and an excited voice telling her to get herself over to her house asap. Mona had retaliated- still sarcastic even half asleep- that there were iPhone cameras for a reason, but Kim persisted.
Mona stretched her arms and checked the time once more on the digital clock by her bed.
Definitely too early for a Saturday.
She threw open her closet and pulled out a plain grey hoodie, pulling it over her tank top. Her pajama pants, dark blue flannel, were too comfortable to change out of.
"Well. To Kim's house," she muttered, pulling open her bedroom door and yawning as she made her way downstairs.
Mona rang the doorbell to Kim's house. Repeatedly. To no avail.
"Kim I swear to god! I woke up for this!" she yelled, kicking her foot against the door. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt, and she frowned down at it.
Seconds later, the door was flung open, hitting Mona in the nose. Yelling a string of curses under her breath, Mona glared at Kim, who was now standing before her.
Rather, bouncing before her. it seemed whatever was making her so excited was so exciting she couldn't stand still.
"What the heck Kim?! That hurt!"
"Sorry sorry, you'll live. Come on, in the backyard!" Kim pulled on Mona's arm, who was with her other hand, rubbing her still hurting nose.
"Seriously? Why didn't you just say so, I've been ringing the doorbell for like five minutes!"
"What! Ever! Look!" Kim gestured wildly to her backyard.
Mona put her hand back to her side, trying to ignore the ever-growing pain in her nose. She was pretty sure a bone had broken. She tried to follow Kim's gesture and gaze but didn't quite know what she should be focusing on. The uncut grass? The wilted and failed vegetable garden? The long outgrown bikes?
Kim sighed, pushing Mona's head wildly to towards the fencing- uneven and unpainted wood jaggedly dividing them from their neighbors.
But that wasn't all.
There was a portal-like doorway right there, in the middle of the rotten wood and ants. It was shaped as a square, with jagged edges, and instead of the messy lawn of the house next door, all that could be seen through it was blinding golden light.
Kim smiled, walking close to it.
"A portal, obviously."
"No duh but how did it get here? What does it lead to? Have you been through it?" Mona neared the portal herself, reaching out her hand as if to touch it. Kim smacked her hand away just in time.
"Don't touch it! Look."
Kim bent down and picked up a stick from the ground, which littered the overgrown grass.
Cautiously, she stepped up to the portal and threw the stick in. For a second, nothing happened, and Mona sent a glare to Kim. But then, as she looked back towards it, there was a fizzle and a crack, and the stick was thrown back out of the portal, now completely charred and smoking.
"Well. That escalated quickly."
Kim scoffed, crossing her arms.
They stood staring at the energy that practically emanated from the opening. An early morning chill swept through the air and Mona shivered, stuffing her hands into her hoddie's pocket.
"So. You called me just to show me it? This is why I'm awake?"
"Well-You can go ahead and walk in if you want! But come on, it's magic, how are you not impressed!?"
"I'm sorry, it's just a little...anti-climatic," she said, biting her lip and staring the portal up and down. "Has anything come out of it?"
"Well, maybe we can sit down and wait. Maybe then something will happen. My legs are tired so..."
The girls plopped down in front of the portal, not taking their eyes away from it for a second. They were both drowsy and lacked enough excitement to really process that what was in front of them was surreal.
Well, Kim was pretty excited enough for both of them at least. Her knee bounced up and down as she sat criss-cross on the grass, and her fingers tapped her pajamas impatiently.
"Hey, how'd you even wake up anyway? To see this?"
Kim stopped her tapping for a second, yawning and covering her mouth with her hand. She shrugged.
"Dunno. I just remember waking up and walking to my window and seeing this super bright light out here. Then I called you and...yeah."
Mona cracked her neck, looking up at the sky. It was bright blue, barely disturbed by clouds. Perfect weekend weather and she wished she could enjoy it to the fullest, but she'd slept at 3:00am and really wanted to go to sleep.
She brought her eyes back to the magical thing in her best friend's backyard, squinting at it uncertainly.
"What if it...explodes?"
"Why would it explode? Magic things are good. At least, light magic, which this obviously is considering its bright yellow. I'm thinking we should go in. Maybe the stick was just thrown out because it's impure or-"
"Kim! My god! You're getting way ahead of yourself here. You're seventeen, okay? And I think you've read far too many fantasy things for your own good. What if this isn't magic at all? I think we're just too tired to process things. It's probably a trick of the light," Mona speculated, narrowing her eyes at Kim.
Kim pouted, pulling herself off of the grass.
"How can you even say that?!"
"We're probably, like, dreaming or something."
Kim raised her eyebrows, crossing her arms.
"A joint dream?"
Mona rolled her eyes, wondering why a joint dream was harder to believe than some sort of magic portal in her own backyard.
"Maybe one of us is just imagining the other, and it's all a dream. Probably you, since it's only in your dreams that I wake up this early."
"It's real Mona, and I can't believe you think otherwise! I threw the stick in! It came back! Burnt!"
Mona reluctantly stood up herself, pursing her lips at the portal.
"It's not real Kim. And I'll prove it."
"Be. My. Guest."
Mona took a deep breath and walked in small steps closer and closer to the light.
She walked up to it and then, after a little hesitation, into it.
She yelped and Kim gasped as she went out of view.
Mona screamed as soon as her foot hit the light. It wasn't painful- the glow felt like a warm summer sun on her skin- but she was scared of what would happen. She squeezed her eyes shut as she pushed forward, the blinding light behind her lids slowly taming to normal. She hesitantly opened her eyes, expecting to see the other side of Kim's rickety old fence.
Instead, the layout in front of her was the classic 'enchanted forest' vibe, with tall canopy trees hiding the sky, chipmunks roaming about, and a wispy haze to the whole place.
"Wow..." she breathed, staring around her in awe. She turned her head to see more, turning behind her to see that the opening...was gone.
She gasped, stepping backward and tripping on her own feet, falling hard on the ground.
"KIM?! KIMMM!" she called out, sweat dripping down her back. The forest was incredibly warm, and she itched her cheek nervously.
"I am way too tired to deal with this right now..." she groaned, getting up and dusting her pajama pants from the dirt.
The harsh sounds of screams pulled her face to the left. Mona gasped as Kim slowly blurred into view, her blonde hair billowing in the wind and her eyes shut in terror.
"Mona! I told you so I told you so!"
"Yeah, whatever. What is this place?"
"Dunno...Hey, do you hear that?"
Mona held her breath to listen. In the faraway distance, she heard...music? She strained her ears and slowly the sound's familiarity clicked into place.
The sound grew louder and louder and Mona looked around her as the forest started to fall away. Kim slowly blurred out.
"KIM OH MY GOD!"
Kim's screams echoed as Mona suddenly felt like she was falling..falling...
And the music kept playing insistently on.
Mona gasped awake, feeling around her bed for her phone, which was ringing like crazy. She pressed the answer button without checking the caller ID, still dizzy from her dream.
"Hello?" she called out groggily, the phone pressed to her ear.
"Mona! Wake up!"
She pulled the phone from her ear at her friend's excited yelling and groaned.
"Kim, what's the deal?"
"Just get over here!"
Mona sighed and turned on her bedside lamp, staring out the window and back at her phone, checking the time.