On 324 Boulder Street, Charlotte Bone, a fifteen-year-old, was sitting by the window. The Cinco de Mayo party around her was going to be ending soon, but to her, that didn't matter. In her world, writing was all that mattered. After all, it was the very foundation of life, or she thought so, at least.
“Charlotte, please!” Mom groaned. “Put your work down and help clean up some. It’ll still be there in a minute.”
Charlotte sighed and got up. She brushed her hair away from her face. “What do you want me to do?”
“You can start by throwing away the tablecloths.” Mom instructed. “And do be quick about it, it’s already late and this room is a mess.”
“Yes, mother.” Charlotte said. She started tugging the plastic sheets off the round party tables.
Kayla, her best friend, walked over to the couch and reached for Charlotte’s notebook. “I’m just going to move go put this right-”
“NO!” Charlotte yelled as the pages began to glow white. She’d thought she was the only one who could open the portal.
Charlotte ran to her friend and grabbed her friend’s shoulder, desperate for her not to be alone in the world out of her own imagination.
The living room became a world of rolling green hills. A huge castle stood out in the distance. A neat brick road cut through the grass close to them.
Charlotte and Kayla were now wearing dresses. Charlotte was a long, cascading pink dress, and Kayla’s a poofy-ish lavender ballgown.
“Charlotte, where are we?” Kayla asked. “What happened?”
Charlotte took a shaky breath. “You know how I’ve disappeared for a little while a couple times a week? I’ve been coming here: my story.”
“What’s your story’s name?” Kayla asked.
“The Lost Princess of Enchancia.” She explained. “Basically, it’s a retelling of Rapunzel. We just need to stay alive until the end of the story, then we’ll be back at home.”
“Oh, then this should be fairly easy.” Kayla said.
Charlotte looked uneasy. “Not necessarily.” She pointed to the brick road. “See that road? It’s the Stone Keys. The only way to where the lost princess is reunited with her family, but it has lots of dangers along the way. Thieves, Ogres, anything you can possibly imagine.”
“Why do we need to be with the lost princess’ parents?” Kayla asked. “You said when the story ends, we’ll be transported back home.”
“Yes, but the portal opens at the castle, if we aren’t there in three days, we’ll become absolutely nothing, and even if we get to the castle in time, the bridge to the otherworld will open for only about two minutes.” Charlotte explained. “Come on.”
The pair set off to the palace, unsure of all the dangers they would encounter on the way to the castle.
Their first challenge was the legendary Thieves of the Valley. Charlotte had written them to be fearless men, only taking maidens as prisoners and leaving the rest of the travelers they came to the wolves.
The Thieves circled around them. “Let us go!” Charlotte yelled. One of the men stepped up to Charlotte and Kayla. He grabbed Charlotte’s hand just as she was about to strike him across the face.
“I don’t like that.” He said with a thick accent. When Charlotte saw him up close, he looked to be only eighteen. “But you… you are pretty. You shall come to our camp, and tonight, we will have a bonfire.”
“Who are you?” Kayla spat at him. “And why should we go anywhere with you?”
“I’m Caleb.” He said. Charlotte noticed his sparkly blue eyes, his chiseled features and thick golden hair. Had she ever written that? She’d been into the story before, but had never encountered the Thieves.
In a matter of minutes, Charlotte’s and Kayla’s hands had been bound, and now they were riding in a cart the Thieves had been towing behind Sage, a chestnut mare.
“If we ever get out of this alive,” Charlotte whispered. “Remind me never to write difficult villains.”
Kayla nodded. “Or just don’t go into the book!” She whisper-hissed.
It was several hours before the group halted and set up camp. Two of the men-Jordan and Brandon- went to find wood for the bonfire.
A tent was set up for Kayla and Charlotte. Caleb set a chest down in the center of the floor. “These are for you, when you are ready, come join us for our bonfire.”
Kayla reached for the box once he left, but Charlotte said, “No, wait. They’re poison. Caleb wants to see which of us is strongest, and this is the first challenge: avoiding nice make-ups.”
Kayla shivered and grabbed a blanket. She wrapped it around her shoulders. “It’s so amazing and cold, here, Charlotte.”
“Yes.” Charlotte said. She bit her lip and looked down. “Kayla, I’m sorry. Sorry for this whole mess, sorry for bringing you into this, sorry for everything.”
“Charlotte, these past few hours have been amazing.” Kayla said. “I mean, we’re in an actual fairy tale!”
They both smiled.
Caleb looked into the tent. “Are you ready for the bonfire?” Charlotte nodded and stood, Kayla following.
Surprisingly, the bonfire that night was fun. Full of scary stories and food cooked over the fire. Kayla and Charlotte could both agree that the meal they’d had that night was one of the best the girls had ever had.
The next morning, Charlotte, Kayla, and the Thieves woke early to continue their journey toward the capital of the Eastern Kingdom.
The horses stopped half an hour from the city when the girls and the Thieves passed a carriage. As quick as lightning, the Thieves tied up the people riding in the carriage.
Caleb handed the girls two fancy dresses. Charlotte was given a red and gold one, and Kayla got a blue one. “Put these on and then get into the carriage. When we’re in the city you will need to act like ladies, ya got that?”
Knowing this was a way to get into the city, and more importantly, the palace, Charlotte and Kayla put on the dresses and got into the carriage.
It was noon when they passed the gate. The travelers rode another hour and stopped, the Thieves had moved into place.
Charlotte whispered to Kayla, “While they’re busy stealing, we sneak out and into the palace. I know it like the back of my hand.”
Kayla nodded. The Thieves snuck into a house, and the girls took it as their signal. Charlotte eased the door to the carriage open and snuck out with Kayla on her tail.
“Now just act like a lady and walk slow.” Charlotte instructed.
“‘Scuse me, ladies, but have you seen our latest play: Broken?” A man asked them. He was tall, and dressed in a drab gray suit.
“I’m sorry, sir, but we just came here to visit our aunt.” Charlotte said. She looked to Kayla. “You know, Kayla? Justine?”
“Oh, yes.” Kayla smiled. “Come, now. We best not be late.” Kayla hooked her arm through Charlotte’s and they walked toward the tallest building-the castle-in the city.
They came to the palace and were stopped by a guard. “What business have you here?” He asked loudly.
“We are princesses visiting from the Northern kingdom Queen Laci will be along in a day or so.” Kayla said. “You really didn’t hear of our visit?” He shook his head. “Oh, mother will be so displeased.” She added.
“You may enter.” The guard said. “Your rooms will be the first and second door to the left on the first hallway.”
“Thank you.” Charlotte curtsied and hurried into the palace. Instead of going down the hall, she rushed into the ballroom, which was empty except for two people. Queen Aya and King John.
“Charlotte, what are we doing in here?” Kayla whisper-hissed.
“Hold on.” Charlotte responded, pressing herself against a wall bathed in shadows. “She should come in in a few minutes.”
Sure enough, a girl with long, blonde hair that hung to her ankles. She had big blue eyes and wore a light blue dress that was the same length as her hair.
She stopped once she caught sight of the people in front of her. They stood. All was silent, but finally they all rushed to embrace one another.
Charlotte saw a purple spark near the thrones and ran toward it, dragging Kayla by her wrist. They jumped through the portal and landed on the living room floor, back in their old clothes.
Charlotte walked looked at her watch and saw it was just passed midnight. She sighed and leaned heavily against the wall. She was happier then ever to be back in her own body.
She assumed that if she ever had a legacy, her magic touch would be it.