122 comments

Fantasy

Emily scrambles out of the school building with her notebook and pencil in hand and backpack unzipped. She runs and runs as if she is being hunted by all the other students. In reality, they stare at her with unsettled apprehension or disconcerted surprise as they carry on their own way. Emily boards the bus, using her student ID to get a free pass, and begins putting away her notebook and pencil. When she zips her bag she makes eye contact with the guy across from her. She can tell what he’s thinking; why would you run out of class without putting anything away? Are you some kind of psycho? She begins fidgeting with her hair, clothes, and bag as she feels his gaze on her. Of course, he’s not thinking any such thing. He’s watching her tuck her luscious, blonde hair behind her ear, and pull her skirt over her long, thin, porcelain legs. As he tilts his head in contemplation he wonders why someone so pretty would look so nervous. When she looks up again he smiles at her. She smiles back.

* * *

I shrink further into the dugout to avoid the thundering overhead. The dragons swarm together. Some fly low, some fly high, others alternate as they twist and turn around the others, but they’re all looking for any sign of human life. 

“Little hart,” my mother whispers, “you’re too far out.”

I slink to the back wall and place my hand on my sword, just in case. The dragons begin conversing, their language is gravelly and guttural. They’re snarling and growling in a refined, salient and royal manner. I roll my eyes. Even a dragon’s language is haughty. 

Silently cursing myself for never learning their language, I brace myself for any sudden movements or attacks. My mother does the same. Two of them land just a few yards from the dugout. Their low voices become clearer with each passing second. I look to my mother and she looks back at me, but neither of us says a word or moves a muscle. I wish I could. If these are our last moments together, then I want to make them count or at least say a proper thank you. Instead, we stand in excruciating silence.  

They step ever closer as we watch in horror. I try to find the words I would tell my mother if I could muster the courage to speak. Thank you for giving me a chance, and raising me to seize it. You gave me the world, and, even though it’s a war-torn world, you gave me everything it had to offer. I experienced new cultures and travelled the world, all because of you. I try to tell her this with my eyes, but she just stares blankly back at me. 

I draw my sword, and begin stepping out of the dugout. My mother reaches for me, but refusing to let her stop me, I press forward. Nodding my head and breathing deeply, I ready myself for the fight. A blast of air nearly knocks me off my feet. I steady myself, raise my sword, and look up in time to see the dragons flying away. We’re safe. For now.

* * *

Emily stumbles into the library with books in hand. She hands them to the librarian, who smiles at her. She’s known Emily since she was a little girl, and she appreciates that, despite her klutziness, she tries her best at everything. 

“What’s the rush?” The librarian chuckles as she takes the books.

“No rush.” Emily responds, taking herself too seriously. “I was just really excited to read them and now I’m really excited to read something else.” 

Emily leaves the librarian to her work, and scours the bookshelves. Her eyes land on a fantasy novel she’s never seen or heard of before. She strokes the spine with her finger, then pulls it off the shelf. It’s a story about a chosen one who travels his barren, war-filled world to reunite humans, elves, dwarves, dragons, orcs, and dire wolves to peace. Thinking that she’s met people in her life like all of those creatures, Emily decides to give it a try.

* * *

“Zephyr, you need to drink.”

“I’m alright mom.” 

“Zephyr.”

“Okay.”

I take a small sip from her canteen, then hand it back to her. She frowns at me disapprovingly, but doesn’t say anything more. The silence is killing me, yet I continue to maintain it. Now’s my chance to genuinely talk to my mother. Even though there have been plenty of chances all through my life this is the one that mutely screams at me to say something. We’re on a journey to the edge of the world, if I don’t say something now I may never get the chance again.

I take a deep breath. The world lurches. My stomach drops. My mother forces me to the ground. The whole thing lasts maybe five seconds but we stay on the ground for at least a minute afterwards. We know what this means. Well, we don’t know what it means, but we do know that for an indefinite amount of time the world is going to shake every two to three minutes.

* * *

Emily closes the book and sighs with satisfaction. Who doesn’t love a book that sucks you right into the world? As she finishes her homework and eats dinner in an awkward silence with her parents she thinks about curling up in her bed and reading until she can’t keep her eyes open anymore. Her parents look at each other and try to telecommunicate that they don’t know how to reach their daughter. Emily eats quickly. Her parents eat slowly.

* * *

My mother and I run to the caves, unsure of when the next earthquakes are going to hit. They’re steep and slippery from the sand. My mother missteps and begins plunging towards a bottomless pit. I dive for her and my body slams brutally into rock as I catch her hand with mine. The sharp edge nicks my cheek, but I ignore the pain and blood even as it drips across my face. I haul my mother up until she gets to a place where she can pull herself up. We’re both breathless and I’m covered in lacerations, but we get up and keep moving anyway.

The edge of the world is different than I imagined it. It looks like the sky if the sky were always the dead of night and the stars flickered on and off like fireflies. My mother walks to the edge to read the ancient inscription carved into the stone. I step closer to the edge, and reach out my hand. The sky has never been close enough to touch before. I’m an inch away when my mother grabs my arm and yanks me away. Stumbling, I sputter at her in indignation. She just stares back at me. I go silent.

“Only one of us can go through.”

“What?”

“Only one of us.” She looks at the arm she’s still holding. “We have to wait for the edge to turn white, and then one of us can go through.”

I stare at her in horror. In my heart I know that this is the moment when I’m supposed to tell my mother everything I never said to her, but my mouth refuses to open. We stand in silence in the same way we always have since I was a little girl. I think I’ve forgotten how to breath. My mother’s grip tightens as if she never plans to let me go. I fiercely screw my eyes shut as if I can pretend none of this is happening if I can’t see it.

* * *

Emily clears her dishes and dashes upstairs before her parents can say anything. She closes the door and pulls the book off her dresser. Only three chapters in, she feels a lure like she’s never felt before. It’s like she could see herself living in this world. Her own world is peaceful and sympathetic but also lonely and harsh. Nothing exciting ever happens in her world. Everyday is exactly the same in her world. She lazes in her bed, and smiles to herself as she reads. If she closes her eyes she can see the story playing out before her.

* * *

The world trembles and the moment it does, the edge bursts into a pillar of white fire. My mother and I are still staring at each other. We’ve stumbled but we haven’t fallen. Not yet. 

I love you. I would do anything for you, just like you would for me. I don’t want to leave you here, and I don’t want to be left here. There’s so much to say and no time to say it. It’s funny how people always wait until the last second to say what they really mean. Before now I had all the time in the world to talk to you, and now I have maybe a few minutes. And I just don’t know what to say.

There’s a cacophony of sound all around us, and I can hear the rumble of dragons outside. If I could just get the words out then everything would be okay. Except that words don’t make the world better. Words can’t change the fact that only one of us is getting out of here. Words can’t stop time or bring back lost time. Words are only going to hurt now.

“We’re out of time.” My mother cups my cheeks in her hands. “If one of us is going, she has to go now.”

I nod. “I’m going.”

Her eyes mist over, and she swallows the lump in her throat. I step away from her hands, but she doesn’t try to reach for me again. It’s what you’d want. Isn’t it?

“Go.”

“Mom-”

“We don’t know when it will change back. You need to go now.”

I walk towards the edge again, but something stops me. I turn around, and look her in the eyes. “This is what you want, right?”

“Why would I want this?”

“Because you want me to live.” I look at her incredulously. “I’m your child, don’t you want me to have a second chance at life?”

“I wanted us to have a second chance.” She turns away from me. “But I can tell that you’re perfectly happy to go on your own.”

“In what world am I happy right now?” I shriek at her. “I didn’t want to have to make this choice.”

“But you did.” She whispers so quietly I barely hear her. “And now you’re out . . . of time.”

“Goodbye mom.”

* * *

The book in Emily’s hands begins emitting a blinding light. The room feels like fire. She’s lost all sense. She wants to touch, taste, smell, hear, or see something, but there’s only nothing. Emily tries to move, scream, and let go of the book, but she can’t do anything except close her eyes. When she opens them again, she’s on the ground. Not her bedroom floor, but a sandy, rocky, desolate ground. Aurelia grabs her by the arms and hauls her up.

“Zephyr! Are you hurt?” She looks over Emily with great concern.

Emily stares at her in overwhelmed confusion. “I’m not-”

“That’s a relief. Something must have gone wrong, but we don’t have time to figure out what.”

“I don’t-”

“Come on, little hart.” She grabs Emily’s hand. “Let’s get past those dragons and go home.”

* * *

I end up in a bed. Not the kind of bed back home, but a luxurious padded bed. The clothes I’m wearing are unlike any I’ve seen or felt before, but I never want to take them off. I lay back and let my head press into the soft pillow. With my eyes closed, I can easily imagine I’m in Heaven. I turn my head and see a closed book next to me. Curious, I flip it over and read the description. It doesn’t take me long to realize what has happened. There’s a knock on the door.

“Come in.”

“Hey, sweetheart.” The man at the door mutters in a subdued manner.

I simply stare at him.

He comes further into the room and sits on the bed next to me. “Emily, we really need to talk.”

“I’ve . . . had a really hard time for a really long time, but I’m ready.” I smile and hug him. He responds by holding me close. “I’m back, dad. I’m home.”


April 30, 2021 18:17

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122 comments

Melissa Xtc
20:32 May 20, 2021

Hi Anna i want to say i love your writing style. This story is really good and had me hooked from the beginning. The way you contrasted the two worlds and connected them at the same time is amazing. Idk if this was purposeful and if I'm the only one who thought this, but i love the anticipation of thinking Emily was the one who was going to switch worlds and you give it the twist at end of them both switching. Im no expert writer or anything but i do have a few personal opinions/advice about some parts of your story. Ok i love the disti...

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Anna Elizabeth
23:32 May 20, 2021

Thank you so much! I love these longer more in-depth comments that look into the finer details of the story. At the end of the story Zephyr and Emily are actually switching back. So, the tension between Zephyr/Emily and her mom stems from Zephyr/Emily not wanting to connect with her because she knows she’s trying to get back home. But at the same time, she wants to express how grateful she is for everything her mother has done for her but having distanced herself it’s hard to express what she really wants to say. On the other hand Emily ...

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Melissa Xtc
15:14 May 21, 2021

Oh wow, that is actually beautiful. I always thought the meaning behind stories were more important than the story itself. But i guess yours just flew over my head sorry😂. I got the hint at the end of Emily telling her dad she was back, but i guess i just gave it my own meaning instead because i thought she was just trying to make him believe it was her but i didn't know it actually was her.

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Anna Elizabeth
21:13 May 21, 2021

That’s okay, I definitely could’ve/probably should’ve put in more details to insinuate the twist. I’m glad you still enjoyed it.

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Esther Kurisu
16:49 May 19, 2021

I really loved the ending. Great Job! :)

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Anna Elizabeth
19:28 May 19, 2021

Thank you!

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Esther Kurisu
19:34 May 19, 2021

Anytime. :)

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David Urquiola
14:55 May 19, 2021

I was having trouble keeping up and was just confused but that's probably bc I'm not old enough

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Anna Elizabeth
19:37 May 19, 2021

I’m sorry! I hope you still found some enjoyment while reading.

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David Urquiola
20:39 May 19, 2021

its no problem it was rather interesting

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David Urquiola
20:39 May 19, 2021

its no problem it was rather interesting

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Zane Ishii
12:11 May 19, 2021

Great Read! I think the way it was brought to an end was really fascinating! Enjoyed it!

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Anna Elizabeth
19:37 May 19, 2021

Thank you so much!

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J B
08:05 May 19, 2021

Sad especially the part where mother and daughter say goodbye to each other at the edge, but victorious ending - a kind of healing Good writing!

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Anna Elizabeth
19:37 May 19, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Jaslyn Benhumea
22:00 May 19, 2021

All of these stories are pretty darn amazing. Keep up the good work... I mean I can't say much since I only have one story published buuuttt you know what I mean :)

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Anna Elizabeth
23:19 May 19, 2021

Hahaha thank you! I’m glad you liked it so much!

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Jaslyn Benhumea
22:00 May 19, 2021

All of these stories are pretty darn amazing. Keep up the good work... I mean I can't say much since I only have one story published buuuttt you know what I mean :)

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Jaslyn Benhumea
22:00 May 19, 2021

All of these stories are pretty darn amazing. Keep up the good work... I mean I can't say much since I only have one story published buuuttt you know what I mean :)

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Natania Kurien
05:49 May 18, 2021

That was amazing, Anna! I thought it was so brilliantly written and it captured my attention throughout. The ending was so so fantastic and I really loved the solid description of the fantasy world - I could really picture it. Great job!

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Anna Elizabeth
07:56 May 18, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Khair Harun
07:12 May 16, 2021

Just a friend giving pointers. The phase of the story is slow. The character seems to stand still rather than spiralling down a tunnel. The dragons should show dangerous stunts. Show. Don't tell.

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Anna Elizabeth
21:36 May 16, 2021

Which phase of the story? Are you thinking of a specific section or the story in general? As far as the dragons go, I thought I was showing rather than telling. What are you thinking I need to improve on for that?

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Khair Harun
12:32 May 17, 2021

Hey. Just a friend dropping by. Your phase is slow from the beginning. The main character started off in a school (if I'm not mistaken), and it has no link with your ending. There's lacking dramatic event like whether the character is about to die or whether the character is about to lose something important. The character is 'safe'. You need to put them in a dangerous situation.

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Anna Elizabeth
15:31 May 17, 2021

Do you mean my pace is slow? The main MC is mostly the girl in the fantasy world who is in dangerous situations, the other MC is a contrast to her, whose purpose is to show why people would want to leave the fantasy world.

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Khair Harun
15:42 May 17, 2021

Oh yes! The pace! I was looking for that particular word! haha. I was using my tab. Difficult to type out the words. Yes. That's what I meant. The pace of your story is slow. There's no urgency. Your main character isn't placed in an imminent danger. Hence, the story is colorless. No emotional variety that keeps the reader going. I'm saying this out of honesty.

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Anna Elizabeth
15:47 May 17, 2021

But there’s two main characters and one of them isn’t supposed to be in imminent danger. Is there something wrong with the storyline of the main character that is? I think it would also be a boring story if both main characters were facing imminent danger all the time. It’s a compare/contrast of the two worlds which shows why people are desperately trying to get out of the dangerous one.

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Khair Harun
15:42 May 17, 2021

Oh yes! The pace! I was looking for that particular word! haha. I was using my tab. Difficult to type out the words. Yes. That's what I meant. The pace of your story is slow. There's no urgency. Your main character isn't placed in an imminent danger. Hence, the story is colorless. No emotional variety that keeps the reader going. I'm saying this out of honesty.

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Khair Harun
15:42 May 17, 2021

Oh yes! The pace! I was looking for that particular word! haha. I was using my tab. Difficult to type out the words. Yes. That's what I meant. The pace of your story is slow. There's no urgency. Your main character isn't placed in an imminent danger. Hence, the story is colorless. No emotional variety that keeps the reader going. I'm saying this out of honesty.

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Khair Harun
12:32 May 17, 2021

Hey. Just a friend dropping by. Your phase is slow from the beginning. The main character started off in a school (if I'm not mistaken), and it has no link with your ending. There's lacking dramatic event like whether the character is about to die or whether the character is about to lose something important. The character is 'safe'. You need to put them in a dangerous situation.

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Khair Harun
12:33 May 17, 2021

Hey. Just a friend dropping by. Your phase is slow from the beginning. The main character started off in a school (if I'm not mistaken), and it has no link with your ending. There's lacking dramatic event like whether the character is about to die or whether the character is about to lose something important. The character is 'safe'. You need to put them in a dangerous situation.

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16:59 May 14, 2021

I could imagine it all! Great job.

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Anna Elizabeth
18:31 May 14, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Michael Hayes
15:12 May 13, 2021

Great story, I was riveted to the end.

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Anna Elizabeth
15:42 May 13, 2021

Thank you!

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Alya Kaikuahine
21:25 May 12, 2021

Woah. Just. Woah. I don't even know what to say, this is THAT good. I did NOT expect that ending. Woah. I'm sorry, I did not know it was possible to write something this good. Woah. Ok, I'm out of that daze. THIS WAS AMAAAAAAZING!!!! I really felt sucked into the story from the first line, and then when it was over I had to reread the last paragraph a bunch of times because my brain just exploded every time I read it. AMAZING AWESOME SUPER DUPER WOAH JOB!!!! I wish I could like more than once now. Pleeeeeaaaasssseeee keep writing!

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Anna Elizabeth
00:20 May 13, 2021

Thank you so much! I don’t even know how to respond; I’m so excited you loved it so much and I promise to keep writing as long as you keep reading!

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Elaine Entenza
20:47 May 12, 2021

I love the mother/daughter drama played out within the bouts of fiction. Reminds me a lot of the Never Ending Story! You also have a great way with simple sentences to end short sections; in particular, "Even a dragon’s language is haughty." and "Emily eats quickly. Her parents eat slowly." I enjoyed the read, so thank you for writing! :)

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Anna Elizabeth
00:20 May 13, 2021

Thank you so much! I focus a lot on sentence structure so I’m really glad you noticed and liked it.

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Isabelle K
15:02 May 12, 2021

Love this! So well written, and I love the emotions that readers can so clearly feel from the characters. Great job!

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Anna Elizabeth
16:30 May 12, 2021

Thank you so much! I’m glad that I was able to get their emotions across in such a short time.

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Ashi Staccato
12:00 May 12, 2021

Love this story from start to finish! I even learned a few words while reading.

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Anna Elizabeth
16:31 May 12, 2021

Thank you! I love words so it makes me really happy that you were able to learn some new ones!

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Ramie Creates
20:24 May 11, 2021

Absolutely beautiful! Got me hooked from the first time you switched to the book from the bus. Are you on wattpad? Or any other writing platform because I'll totally love to read about dragons Zephyr and her mom.

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Anna Elizabeth
00:57 May 12, 2021

Thank you so much! I'm not on wattpad, but maybe I'll get on it now that you've suggested it!

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Ramie Creates
03:23 May 12, 2021

You're welcome. Whenever you'll be available there, don't forget to tell me your username!

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Anna Elizabeth
16:28 May 12, 2021

You’ll be the first to know!

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Brittany Gillen
19:53 May 11, 2021

Anna Elizabeth - Thank you for sharing your story. I enjoyed how the two storylines intersected at the end. There is so much here to unpack. I can definitely see this as a piece of a much larger story. My favorite section was the description of the dragons outside the dugout. I loved the way you described their motion in the air and the sound of their voices. My feedback would be that the last interaction between the mom and daughter confused me a little. You have a startling revelation that the mom doesn't want her to go, but then you...

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Anna Elizabeth
01:01 May 12, 2021

Thank you! I really appreciate this in-depth comment; at the end they are switching back so Zephyr was Emily trapped in the other world. I wished I'd had more time to develop it as it was a very aggressive for this platform, but I wasn't particularly satisfied with how I ended it with Zephyr and her mother, either.

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Francis Daisy
01:14 May 11, 2021

I love how you describe the dragons!

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Anna Elizabeth
01:22 May 11, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Zenita Belle
20:52 May 10, 2021

Nice, strong opening.

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Anna Elizabeth
00:13 May 11, 2021

Thank you!

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Ran Stites
20:14 May 10, 2021

yesyesyesyesyesyesyes i love it

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Anna Elizabeth
00:13 May 11, 2021

Hahahaha thank you!!

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This was very well written and the details were vivid and just amazing! Good job :)

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Anna Elizabeth
00:13 May 11, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Mark Wilson
20:02 May 10, 2021

Truly Lovely, Thank You Anna!

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Anna Elizabeth
00:14 May 11, 2021

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

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