Author’s Note: Hey! This story is a collaboration of Sia and Phila. Sia wrote Irene and Phila wrote Stella.
Link to her profile: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/queen-philosopher/
Thanks for reading!
I remember, I vowed, long time back, that if we ever find ourselves in a proper house again. I would forever be indebted to that person. Now I regret that I did. 'Cause now I’m stuck with a spoilt and pretty girl whose life consists of makeup and high heels. Of course, I didn’t say anything about being kind to the daughters, so I don't necessarily need to be polite to her. But well, I’m not taking chances anymore. We’ve had enough with our life on the roads.
So, I walk through the halls, my sharp eyes scanning the crowds for my "sister." I catch a glimpse of her red hair as she enters the classroom, my classroom.
I head inside, only to find her sitting in the middle of the group, in the centre of attention. She looks like a frog. A frog with a pretty face, I grudgingly admit. But she does croak the whole day long, uselessly, so at least I got that part right.
I walk towards the back of the class, greeting Irene as I pass by, but she invites me to sit. Not wanting to be rude, I politely sit down and scoot as far as I can, from her.
"I know!" I laugh in reply to my friend’s banter.
I see Stella, coming over to our desk. She's a month older, and shifted here. It's been over a month since Dad got married. Doesn't she have her own friends? I've tried my best to be kind, but she never wants to cooperate. And here she comes. Ugh.
"Hey," she says, the words barely escaping from her clenched teeth.
"Hey…. So….Sit down?" I say, trying to be nice. She scoots away, seriously?
'Now now, Irene, please- my dear, welcome her to the school, alright?' Dad's words echo in my mind.
"Mom told me to tell you that we have to be back as soon as school ends, and that….. uh- Shawn, will be home a little late," she says, stuttering at Dad's name.
"Why is your mom so strict?" I question, as she frowns.
"Why do you have to be my sister?" She asks, her hazel eyes shining with fake sadness over our family-wise relation. Sarcasm, finally she's done something useful.
"Why do you have to be alive?" I question, fake-giggling as she does the same.
"Ha, to keep devils like you caged, after all, you're the one with the red hair." She says, smirking slightly.
"Hey, you're just jealous, after all, you're the one with the basic- brown," I say, as my friends get involved with the drama.
“Hah, well, I think you look like a frog, red hair or no,” I say, flipping my hair as if I don’t care. Well, she started it, and I’ll end it. But then her friend retorts, “Well, I think you’re just jealous, so why don’t you just leave her alone?”
I turn away, my face twisting in a scowl. She was the one who invited me to sit with her. I am about to retort when our teacher arrives and the class begins. I scoot even further away, repulsed by her and her disgusting friends. She whispers with her friends, God knows about what. Well, I do know, but why should I care what she thinks of me. In my mind, we aren’t even sisters.
I know, I know, it sounds like I’m jealous. But can I help it if I am? She's the pretty one, the most popular girl in the school. And it doesn’t help that she rose in my mother’s good books at once, what with her beautiful dresses and lovely manners. While I? The plain girl with freckles sitting in the corner. Still groveling to earn a smile from mama. Which I know, I'll never get. I push back my thoughts, knowing they won’t help and concentrate on the class.
The teacher enters, ugh, she hates me. She thinks I'm those "pretty-pink princesses" wasting money on things like hair curlers. But I'm not. I'm just trying to be liked by people. Earning favours. She starts with her boring lecture, so I listen. I have to pay attention to have a bright future.
I look at my sister, I sort of admire her brown hair, not that I'm ever gonna tell her that. Though, I don't need a sister. Since Dad's always off to work, I am very well capable of being by myself. Unfortunately, we have to share the same room. Sometimes I imagine, how would it be? Not having to be perfect, not having to put on a good show, not having to squeeze money out of each and every place you can think of.
Just...being the plain girl with freckles, sitting in the corner.
"Hey," someone says, I turn around to look at Alex.
"Hey," I chuckle, happy to see him smiling. We both have been through a lot and have always been there for each other. He slides into the chair next to me, I suppose he's already informed the teacher that he'd be late. Must have been helping Mrs. Brown with the food.
"How's your sister?" He asks, smirking.
"She is not my sister," I retort, as he puts his arm around my shoulder. It's our thing, since childhood, his one arm around me, and one of mine holding his, and being ready for whatever test life puts in front of us. Oh dear god, I'm sounding like I'm in some sappy story, I shouldn't have read all those books Stella's got.
"Hey, it's gonna be okay," He writes down a note, and places it into my bag. We used to hide little notes with happy things written inside and hide it in each other's belongings. I smile and focus on the lecture.
It's hard for me to concentrate, especially with Irene whispering and giggling with Alex. Some part of me wishes I could be like them. She has always had such an easy life, she didn’t have to sleep in trailers. Return home to locked doors with the furniture outside on full display to our neighbours. Her dad wasn’t the one who couldn’t make ends meet. Who couldn’t pay the rent. But maybe things were getting better. Maybe Irene was better than I thought. Whatever, I think determinedly, comes my way, I’ll face it.
With this thought, I’m about to head out when a nail-polished hand waves in front of my face. It is, of course, Irene. She smirks, “You forgot? You’re coming with me, since apparently your mom couldn’t afford to buy you a car.”
I follow her in silence, knowing if I retort, my two feet will have to suffice to carry me back home. I sit in her car carefully, taking care to not to violate her ‘Rules and Regulations’. She presses on the gas pedal and we shoot forward.
"Was that your boyfriend?" Stella asks, smirking.
"WHAT? Alex? Ha! Nope, not in my life, never a thought. I've known him since- my whole life! Why? Don't you dare tell me you like him," I say, amused.
"Him? He's cute, but not my type. Plus, Mother Dearest wouldn't allow it," she says matter-of-factly.
"Really...Wait, what's that?" I say. Near a road-side bush lay an unconscious, bleeding ferret.
"Oh no. It's bleeding, we gotta help it," Stella said, staring sympathetically at the poor thing as we got out of the car.
"Yes yes, go be Belle, saving animals and stuff," I say, rolling my eyes.
"Belle? Snow White's the animal freak," she retorts, puzzled.
"Snow White's blonde, you're a brunette, plus, you're wearing yellow," I say, grinning.
"Smart," she acknowledges, grudgingly.
"Uh-uh you forgot, 'Smart'-er than you!" I say laughing as she grins. Maybe she isn't that bad.
"Okay, well, we have to stop the bleeding first," she says as she presses a handkerchief to the ferret's leg.
The ferret starts to run as Stella chases after it, I follow her.
Irene yells at me to stop, but I keep running. I know it's crazy but I think I heard the ferret mutter ‘Sorry Miss!’ before bolting. My brain tries to convince me of the opposite, but my legs keep running after the furry tail. I come to a stop as I see the path dividing into a fork.
I don’t see the ferret anywhere as Irene catches up with me. She berates me about running off but I don’t pay attention. I suddenly spot the brown ferret peeking from behind a tree before it lopes off. I follow it, my eyes trained on him. Suddenly, I trip over a dead branch, falling head first into a hole, I didn’t see because it was hidden beneath a bush.
The surroundings are…..strange. It's definitely not the bottom of a hole. The trees hang from the sky while everyone walks on their heads. And my clothes...they are an alternating shade of bright yellow while my hair, they turn into shades of blue. I spot the ferret, hiding on a wall suspended from the sky. I scramble after him, but he disappears. Again.
"STELLA IF YOU DON'T STO-" I scream at my sister. And then fall. Darkness surrounds me as I see my sister's brown hair going down and down. I hear a thump and she disappears. I keep falling and falling, and suddenly there's a bright light and I fall onto grass.
"Ew, the grass is sticky!" I murmur, as I look down. Oh God. My clothes. They have changed. Where am I? I'm wearing a bright neon shirt with a vest and bright blue pants, my hair is in a high ponytail with a neon pink hairband. Where in the world am I?
"You are in Thost Loughts, where else would you be?" A weird looking fox prowls. It's tail is as black as night, its body as white as snow, and it's face, though, is the brightest red I've ever seen.
"IRENE!" My sister screams at me running and plopping down.
"Eugh, the grass….it's sticky!" She wails.
"I know, and, dear, big, responsible sister, WHERE HAVE YOU DRAGGED ME TO?" I scream, frustrated at how things make no sense. Upside down trees, weird animals, and green clouds floating on the ground, and a blue sun. Perfect.
"I DON'T KNOW, I FOLLOWED THE FERRET!"
"WHY DID YOU FOLLOW THE FERRET?"
"Oh stop whispering! It's hurting my feet!" Said a- a floating rainbow-coloured octopus? With three hands.
"What?" Stella mumbled.
"This place makes no sense!" I yelled.
"That's the point of it all," a black moon…? Giggles.
"I want out of here, Stella. Please. Just- take me home," I whisper.
"I don't know where we are, Irene, I really don't,” she looks at me, concerned and frustrated.
“But, we have to get out. Okay, choose a way. The path with the Crystal Fruits? Or the Path with the Red Berries?"she asks, placing her hand reassuringly on mine.
"Crystal Fruits." I murmur.
I take a deep breath, and hope we made the right choice as we walk the Crystal Fruits path. A rabbit pops out of nowhere. He's wearing a hat on his feet and shoes on his head. He looks at us curiously, as if we were weird. He mutters under his breath, before he somehow picks himself up and cycles himself to the sky. We stare at each other in stunned silence before continuing forward. We keep walking when suddenly we reach a dead end. A grey wall hangs suspended in the air. I look at it despairingly, hoping it would disappear, but then suddenly it opens a yellow eye, and then another, blue eye