If I manage to find my way home, I silently vowed. I’m going to murder Cassidy.
I stared at the reflection in the mirror, tempted to break it in spite. This was all her fault, and she was the one that would be in major trouble if we didn’t figure out how to get back to the campus. She couldn’t drive herself home, and no one else wanted to put up with her when she was drunk, so unless I returned, she was stuck.
I’d get back at her the next time there was a party if we ever sorted this situation out. Stupid party games.
“Truth or dare?” I groaned. “Really? Why can’t we play something else, like a board game or a card game?”
“Because,” Cassidy giggled, her breath assaulting my nostrils with the strong scent of cheap liquor. “We’re not five, duh.” She chugged the rest of her drink before setting the cup down and leaning on my shoulder. “Can you walk with me to the bathroom?”
I did, glad that we were on the top floor of the house so no stairs were involved in the venture to the bathroom. She stumbled in and I closed the door, standing on the outside and staring down anyone that looked in my direction. I heard a flush and the sink running before she emerged. “If you want to sober up, I suggest you drink water, rather than splash it on your face.”
She couldn’t speak, only cackled while leaning against me while we walked. She pointed to the room at the end of the hall. She immediately went for a bean bag when we entered, shoving it into the circle on the ground. I claimed the swinging chair in the room, sitting just outside of the group. That didn’t save me from being sucked into the game.
“So,” Vain, a senior that seemed to be the only other sober person in the room, wondered, “Who wants to start?”
Cassidy raised her hand in a way that would have impressed our professors. “I will!” She looked up from the bean bag and pointed at me. “Lith, truth or dare?”
I considered it. If the game went on for a while, there was a chance I’d be pointed at more than once, and to keep up appearances, it would be better not to default to truth. “Dare,” I sighed, desperately considering the earlier offer Vain had made at the beginning of the party for a glass of wine.
“Reflection projection.” Her grin hinted that she might not have been as wasted as I had pegged her as before.
I sighed, digging through my pockets for a lighter while she and Vain searched for a candle. Trust a bunch of history and literature majors to think such a game was on the same level as making out or streaking.
‘Reflection Projection’ was a game passed down from generations of seniors that decided to play Bloody Mary, but with historical or literary figures. Light a candle, stand in front of the mirror and repeat either the most famous moment in a historical figures’ life or a line from the story you wished to visit. The idea was that doing so in the mirror would show you what happened at that time. The most common rumors about the game surrounded people watching Ceaser be stabbed or Beowulf slay Grendel. Standing in the bathroom, preparing to turn the lights out and begin the game, I figured I would try a different route.
“I can sit in here and say I saw something,” Vain offered, as Cassidy had been all too happy to accept a drink from the circle, which tore her from the preparations.
“I think I’ll be fine,” I replied, not wanting to repeat the line I’d picked in front of him. He nodded, lighting the candle for me before closing the door behind him.
“Kiss me now, Sir Knight, and be of good cheer,” I stated, taking a long look at myself in the mirror. The candlelight brought out how faded the blue in my hair had become. Not wanting to fall prey to my eyes playing tricks on me, I closed my eyes for the next two times. “Kiss me now, Sir Knight, and be of good cheer.”
The door opened as I finished the third time. I opened my eyes to the world spinning and the feeling of someone wrapped around my legs. I thought I would get sick from the motion, though I stood still, so I clenched my eyes shut again.
“What story did you use?” I opened my eyes and looked down to see that it had been Vain that had entered. He was still wrapped around my legs, but the ground underneath him wasn’t the gaudy faux marble of the campus’ only Greek Life house in walking distance. Now the ground was stone. The mirror in front of me wasn’t the crooked, ten-dollar mirror from the Walmart in the next town over that had been hung up for girls to fix their lipstick and guys to finger comb their hair. It was now a full-length mirror that captured my entire five-foot-nothing reflection.
“The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell for the Helping of King Arthur,” I replied.
“You actually did it?” Brushing himself off, he stood up. “You weren’t actually supposed to go through with it! It’s a stupid game that some stoners made up twenty years ago. No one has ever actually gone through with the rules of the game.”
“Well, no one told me that,” I defended, noticing that the candle had gone missing from my hands. “What about everyone that claims they actually saw those events?”
“They played the game with theater and movie majors. Those houses and mirrors were rigged since everyone tends to pick the same scenes.” Crossing his arms, he looked around. “Great. How are we supposed to get home now? Why would you do this?”
I returned his concern with sarcasm. “Oh, you know, because I was just dying to make out with the knights of Camelot.” I scoffed. “I didn’t know it would work. It’s supposed to be a silly game that people play at parties.”
“Why did you pick that poem specifically?” Vain stayed near the mirror while I observed the rest of the room. We were both still in the clothes that we’d been wearing to the party; me in my shorts and college t and him dressed in jeans and a jersey. We were standing in someone’s bedroom, with a bed to envy after three years in a cramped apartment with an air mattress. I found a wardrobe with gorgeous dresses fit for a lady. A soft smack on my shoulder reminded me that I wasn’t alone. “Well?”
“Why did you pick the poem that you did? Most people pick Beowulf or Caesar because it’s easier to lie about if something doesn't happen. Those are usually events or books read in high school. You picked something different for a reason.”
“I like the moral of the story. A woman seeks to have her way. It’s relevant.” I heard footsteps approaching, hurrying to find a changing screen to hide behind while hissing at Vain to hide under the bed.
“Are you serious?”
“If we are really in that poem or some timeline of it, we could be in trouble. Look at us.” He nodded, sliding underneath the bed. I jumped behind the changing screen when someone knocked on the door. I didn’t know the proper response and hoped that “Who is it?” would suffice.
“Queen Guinevere.” The voice that answered sounded just as confused as I was. I heard the door creak open. “Where are your ladies? They should be helping you. Here, dear, let me assist.”
“No!” I cleared my throat and tried to calm my tone. “I can do this, your majesty.” I watched Vain struggle not to laugh from under the bed at me tripping over my words. “Thank you for the offer.”
“Ah,” she replied, with a hint in her voice suggesting that she knew a secret between the two of us that I didn’t. “I see. You have planned something special for today, Dame Ragnelle?”
So the game had worked. We were in the poem, and this wasn’t just a theater trick. “Today?” I questioned, trying to suit my voice to a lady with plans and not a terrified young adult.
“Your anniversary.” I heard her move to take a seat on the bed. I moved the screen as well to keep hidden. “I cannot believe it has been five years since the day of your wedding. To see you and Sir Gawain walking about, you would think the two of you were married just yesterday.”
Five years? Something about that time frame didn’t sound good to my ears. I would figure it out once I managed to get her out of the room. “Right. Our anniversary.” I sucked in a sharp breath. “Yes, it has been a blessed marriage.”
“An enviable one, to all those paired and single throughout the land.” Silence sat between the two of us. That had been enough to convince her to leave. “Enjoy your day, Lady Ragnelle.”
“You as well, your majesty.” I peeked out from behind the screen before trusting that she had left. “We have to figure out how to leave. Now.”
“Obviously,” Vain groaned while crawling out from under the bed. With a smirk, he said, “Happy anniversary, though.”
“It’s not going to be a happy anniversary. Ragnelle died five years into their marriage,” I informed him. “She had a child, a son, and Sir Gawain adored her more than any other woman, at least according to the poem. It’s all nice and fun until death is involved.”
“Wouldn’t be in this situation if you had picked a different poem.”
“None of the poems or stories we studied this semester would have a nice ending. A Sick Rose, Porphyria’s Lover; not exactly all rainbows and rings if you get my meaning.” I looked in the mirror with Vain, plotting how we would get back. “If I never attend another party on campus, it will be too soon.”
“Gotta get home to even have a shot,” Vain muttered, running his hand over the mirror. “Aren’t these things supposed to be portals? What do we do now?”
“Merlin!” I exclaimed with a bit too much excitement, shocking Vain. He eyed me curiously. “He’s like the court wizard I think. And Arthur had a sister in a lot of the stories, Morgana, Morgan, pretty powerful from what I read. One of them could help us.”
“Great. So our two options are an old wizard that’s in the court that could possibly out us for not being people that are supposed to be here, or a vengeful enchantress that had a child she raised to kill her brother. Wonderful.” It was my turn to eye him now. “Hey, I took those classes, too.”
“You’re a business major.”
“With an English minor, now are we going to the wizard or the enchantress?”
I took a moment to consider it. “Morgana.”
“Really? Why her?”
“Because if anyone can understand wanting to beat the daylights out of their sibling, it’s going to be her.”
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This is a very intriguing premise. Can’t wait to see what happens next!
I really enjoyed the creative route you took this prompt! The college party setting was portrayed well. Lith and Vain's characters felt real, and I wished I could follow the two of them as they set off to find Morgana. Great job!
Thank you! I did find myself invested in their characters so I may have to bring them back for the rest of their journey at some point.
Wow. I love this story, and all of your others. You're an amazing writer and it would mean a lot to me if you were to check out my story and give me some feedback for the prompt "Start or end your story with a house going up in flames." when it comes out on my profile next week xxx
Absolutely! I love reading stories for others, and I'm so honored that you asked. I hope you keep writing and find your niche.
This is a really good story! I really like your style and the whole idea is super fun. Would you mind reading my story, Memories of Your Father, and giving me some feedback? I'm trying to learn as much as I can from more experienced writers. Thank you!!