Dream Mirror

Submitted into Contest #101 in response to: Write a story that involves a reflection in a mirror.... view prompt

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Fantasy Kids Adventure

Finally arriving, the group scrambled from the passenger van.

In the background, music and sounds came together and created excitement. In that moment, they all had the same thought; Sibling Day at the carnival had been a good idea.

Walking toward the entrance, the smell of the different foods rushed out to greet them. Ben and Krystal smelled funnel cakes. The others could smell the kettle corn and pizza.

The group as a whole would include Ben, the oldest son of their family. A veteran of a foreign war, there had not been too much he hadn't seen. His wife Amanda works in the medical field. This means working hard to help others while continuously learning better ways.

Heather, the oldest daughter of the family worked in an office, while her husband preferred the freedom of working outdoors. Raising a family, they were the proud parents of their grown son Shane, and their pre-teen daughter Shyanne.

Brittany and her husband Jaron were the trendy couple in the family. He served as a Naval Chief while she would be busy with raising their daughter Brianna. The West Coast couple had been looking forward to making this trip back East for some time.

Christian and Ashley would be the life of any gathering. Christian had a very quick wit and could bring a smile to the grouchiest listener. Ashley had such a bubbly personality that she appeared like a ray of sunshine wherever she went. He worked for a municipality, while she actually worked with Amanda.

Krystal, Christian's twin sister worked as a nurse at the local hospital. That's where she would meet her husband Charles, a new resident doctor. A caring man, he had the capacity to not only look for the good in others, but an amazing knack for bringing it out. Had he not been a doctor, he would have made an incredible life coach.

They had two children, Kayleigh, her daughter from her first marriage, and James, the son from his first marriage. Sadly, James' mother died in a tragic car accident, just after he had been born.

For years, the siblings had felt themselves drifting apart. Life happens, everyone gets busy taking care of the family, so on and so forth. The prospect of coming together for a day at a carnival, without the children, seemed a strange idea to say the least.

For old times made new.

That had been the phrase that had been used to motivate them all. None of them had been sure who even introduced it to the conversation, yet it would be there, slowly working on them all. Finally, they pushed down any objections they felt and decided to just do it.

With the kids safely placed with Papaw Steve and Mamaw Jenny, they made the trek hundreds of miles away to this “Greatest Carnival of All Time”. This, they had to see.

Once they paid for entrance, which had been very reasonably priced, they would walk through an arcade type walkway, that bore the signs giving directions to all the attractions. There were go-carts, mini golf, a water park, games, rides and of course, the food court.

Walking out at the end, the main carnival entrance would be less than impressive to them. Walking in, something had stirred up feelings long since forgotten. Something from their childhoods, perhaps. Now, it was gone.

To the left, a row of games beckoned. According to the older lady at the ticket booth, the price for food, the shows and the rides all came from the games. You literally had to play the games to earn coins to enjoy the carnival.

Watching others play the game closest to them, they were discouraged immediately. Few, if any coins were being dispensed. Things that should fall when impacted, didn't, things that shouldn't fall, did.

Rigged.

The murmurs began, then anger takes over as they complained aloud.

“No wonder it's so cheap to get in! It's all a rip off!” Several of them yelled out, almost simultaneously.

They had come such a long way, gone to great trouble, dared to have high hopes, and all for this?

Disgusted, they actually began to discuss leaving and going to do something else. Several of them agreed. Ben discussed the possibility of going hiking nearby. Several thought that might be a good idea, as long as they got something to eat first.

Then, the smells hit again. Pasta, burgers and cotton candy.

Frustrated beyond words, they heard the giggle of a child nearby.

Looking up, they saw a girl of 10 or 11 with long blond hair. As they watched, she then quickly turned and ran inside a small building to their right.

In unison, the ten men and women standing there all turned, looking at one another. That little girl is their niece/daughter Shyanne. At once, they all took off running after her.

The grandparents had some serious explaining to do.

Entering the small building, they filed in one by one. As the last of them walked in, the door behind them shut tight. Christian walked back over to it, and tried to push it open.

Nothing.

He pushed and banged on it.

Nothing.

The room's only light came from a black light. The changes to their appearances made them forget their predicament for the moment. In that light, they all looked funny, and couldn't help but laughing at each other.

The laughing would really change their moods. Each of them now felt completely at ease. It was like they were supposed to be there in there in that little room.

An inner child did a fist pump and said yes!

Quietly pondering possible meanings, the sound of Shyanne clearing her throat would break the silence. All eyes turned to see her smiling.

From inside a giant oval mirror.

Above the mirror, a very unusually shaped sign named this device the Dream Mirror. As a group, they had the same thought; okay, so why is Shyanne in a dream mirror?

Having their full attention, she invited them all to step up to the mirror. Her mother Heather would be the first. She needed to see this for herself.

As Heather approached, Shyanne stepped aside as a similar looking little girl took her place. Heather froze. She knew that little girl. It's Heather at 11 years old.

Young Heather reached up and out, taking grown Heather's hand. Heather would hesitate, but only for a second. She couldn't stop herself, she had to know. Her brothers and sisters watched as Heather disappeared into the mirror. So too had the image of her younger self.

Ben's military instincts kicked in. Approaching the mirror, he instinctively reached for a weapon. Realizing he didn't have it, he simply reached out to the mirror.

Finding it solid, he started to turn around until a light behind the mirror slowly glowed around the image of his 11 year old self. Ben rolled his eyes at the sight, as he wondered didn't I own any shirts back then?

The image he saw would be of his 11 year old self, after mowing the yard, shirt off, wearing a grass clipping or two.

Eleven year old Ben reached out, and gave his older self a high five, then motioned for Ben to walk into the mirror as well. He honestly felt like he had no choice.

The group watched as their oldest sibling now walked through the mirror, and disappeared just as Heather had earlier.

They freaked out.

Several of them ran back to the entrance, hoping to find a way to get out of that room.

Christian and Ashley would look at each other and communicated an idea without opening their mouths. Time to take a step of faith.

Approaching the mirror together, they walked slowly toward it. The others had stopped banging on the door and watched them. A female voice would be heard from the back, in a loud whisper.

“What are you idiots doing?” she said.

Everyone looked at her, shushing her. Then, all eyes were on on Christian and Ashley.

Standing directly in front of the mirror, the young couple waited for the even younger version of themselves to appear. The room had grown as quiet as a tomb.

Suddenly, the 11 year old versions of Ben and Heather leaned forward through the mirror and yelled “Boo!” laughing as they did.

Christian and Ashley both fell backwards like trees, landing on the floor with a thud, passed out. The others yelled back, totally in fear.

Charles holds his heart, and reprimands Ben, “Wow Sarge, give a guy a heart attack!” he said, still breathing hard as his heart raced. Krystal considered running up there and kicking Little Ben's butt.

Before anyone moved to do anything, their eleven year old versions in the mirror would manifest to drag Christian and Ashley through to the other side.

Then there were six.

As they began encouraging one another to be the next to approach the mirror, Young Ben stuck his head through once more and yelled at the group.

“Hey, c'mon, we don't have all day y'all!” he shouted, sounding more like a girl with his young voice than an old deep voiced Sergeant.

“Fine! Coming through!” Krystal warned and walked right up to the mirror. When her 11 year old self manifested, she didn't hesitate, but went right on through.

One by one, each of them walked through the mirror.

On the other side, they looked at each other. There would be something familiar about everyone standing there in the room.

Shyanne would be the first to speak.

“Hello my friends. Welcome to Kingdom Carnival. I am Princess Shyanne, and you are all my guests here today. Joining us later, Princess Kayleigh will take half of the group with her. We are here for one reason, and one reason only today. To have fun!” she said, the emphasis and loudness of her voice on the word fun would illicit a quick round of applause and cheering.

Leading them all to the back of the room, she opened the door with great ease. Then she turned, holding the door as each of them walked past her. The last one out of the door, she looked back and smiled knowingly at the mirror. She alone knew it's secrets.

Joining them outside, Princess Shyanne knew a couple of things about her subjects. First, none will remember their adult self. Secondly, none will remember being siblings. Here, everyone is eleven and everyone is having fun.

Now, looking at the row of games, their eyes lit up. A captivating moment, they stood in awe at the lights and sounds of each and every game. The first in the row would be a water balloon game.

There, each kid would have a squirt gun and fire water into a clown's mouth. This in turn would fill a balloon with water, until it grew and exploded. There would be twelve spots. Princess Shyanne would line up with her ten new friends, taking careful aim. At the sound of the bell, they began firing.

After Ben won five times in a row, even he couldn't account for his incredible skills. Despite the fact that he won more, all would receive coins. With each game, each of them would exhibit great skills. Every game would be more exciting than the one before!

After only a few games, their pockets bulged from coins.

Enter Princess Kayleigh, pulling a wagon filled with stacks of buckets. Each of them would be given a bucket to hold the coins they continued to win.

Accompanying her would be her friends Shane, James, Brianna, Jennifer and Steve. Together, they all went to the food court to get lunch before going on into see the rest.

Every table had a huge steaming pot of the cheesiest macaroni and cheese that had ever existed. Princess Kayleigh told them all that it had been made especially for Kingdom Carnival. It could not be found anywhere else!

The macaroni, and all the flavored water anyone could drink came free. Nothing in Kingdom Carnival ever cost more than one coin. By now, every kid had at least a hundred.

Just on the other side of the food court would be the rides. They taunted the kids, who would eat only enough as needed for the moment.

With pasta, pizza, Mexican egg rolls, and funnel cakes consumed, the kids all jumped up at once, and ran behind either Princess Shyanne or Princess Kayleigh. The paths forked at the end of the food court, taking some of the kids to the roller coasters and the like on the left, and the water park to the right.

While waiting in line for the really tall log flume, Ben asked Princess Shyanne where all the grownups were. He had not seen a single one, not even in the food court. It had been kids preparing and serving the food.

Shyanne smiled and looked around, to make sure no one could hear her. She then tells Ben one of her secrets.

“Everyone in Kingdom Carnival is eleven years old. We understand things, usually more than adults think we do. Yet, we maintain a level of innocence that keeps life very uncomplicated. Grown ups do that, you know. Just complicate the joy right out of everything.” she explained.

“You know that's right, Princess!” he said as he took his seat on the ride. He was ready to get this dirt and grass off of him, and this seemed just the ride to do the job.

On the other side, Princess Kayleigh and crew were on the bumper cars, chasing each other with wild abandon. She had wisely chosen not to hit the roller coasters or tilt-a-whirl so soon after eating.

Krystal chased down Christian, and hit him from behind. Christian lunged forward, laughing hard as he did. Ashley stopped her car, she was laughing so hard at Christian being hit.

“Full speed ahead!” Christian shouted, and hit ramming speed as he sent Ashley sideways. Simultaneously, Shane rammed Krystal. This all only made Ashley laugh harder.

Brittany and Jaron sat just behind Ben and Amanda on the log flume ride. As they topped the last hill, Jaron's heart raced. He felt like there is nothing in the world like going really fast. He would not be disappointed as they fell over a hundred feet into the pond below. A wave of water rose up into the air, then slammed down on everyone in the “log”.

They all looked like drowned rats, including Ben, and the shirt which mysteriously appeared on him. Everyone turned and looked at Princess Shyanne in the back. She just smiled knowingly. That meant another secret, and that was fine with them.

At the roller coasters, Jenny coaxed her new friend Steve into joining her. Afterward, he thought nope, never again. The roller coaster, not Jenny. She seemed pretty cool.

At the putt-putt course, Ryan ruled and Jaron spent hours perfecting his drifting on the go cart track. Amanda, Heather and Krystal never wanted to leave the water park. Brittany had this feeling of deja vu, feeling the need to watch over everyone in the water.

The fun had by all would be nonstop. After awhile, the Princesses switched places with their respective crews. Not once did anyone ever notice the lack of clocks. Their day had already lasted nearly twenty hours.

Eventually, the sun above would fade as night came to blanket them with it's velvety tones.

Princess Shyanne and Princess Kayleigh brought the group together for a surprise ceremony. Standing before the hundreds in attendance that day, Princesses Shyanne and Kayleigh would call Brianna to the front.

She would then receive her official coronation as a Princess of Kingdom Carnival. Placing the crown upon her head, she would be welcomed into Carnival Royalty. Together, the three of them would rule this amazing land of fun and innocence!

As the sun began to fall, they were introduced to a new attraction: an outdoor video game on an IMAX screen. There were literally thousands of games, some 40 years old, others not yet released in stores.

Later sitting on the grass, they enjoyed their favorite flavor of ice cream in a cone, as a cool breeze soothed their tanned faces. The fireworks display would include fireworks that spelled out the names Shyanne, Kayleigh and then Brianna at the finale.

Soon, the time came for Princess Shyanne to lead them all back to the Dream Mirror. The return trip would be different.

Approaching the mirror, the adult version of themselves would not be seen. They simply stepped through, and returned to their original versions. One by one, back to reality. Another difference on the return trip: memory.

All ten of them could remember everything their younger selves had experienced, as if in a dream. A little extra pep in their steps would stay with them for many days afterward. A fresh perspective would change them, from the inside out.

They found joy again.

Princess Kayleigh led her grandparents and cousins out through the secret passage as Princess Shyanne followed the others out. She would not walk through the mirror this time, however. She would walk around it.

Standing at the door her eyes would close as she heard a voice calling her name. The building around her melted from view as she opened her eyes again.

Back in her own bedroom, she saw her mom's face. Smiling, she could almost feel the next words out of her mother's mouth.

“Oh good, you're awake. You know Shy, I had the weirdest dream last night. What about you, any dreams?” her mom asked her in a sing song voice. She sure seemed to be in a good mood!

Shy just gave her mom that knowing smile as she twirled the gold Kingdom Carnival coin in her hand.

“Maybe.” she answered, the smile becoming a grin.  

July 08, 2021 14:01

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