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The young girl laughed as she ran through the golden prairie, chasing after the butterflies. Her bright, blonde curls bounced up and down as she leaped with her hands outstretched, hoping to feel the flutter of wings as she gently cupped her hands together. There was nothing she loved more than being outside.

Her parents watched her from the porch of their old, Victorian styled house. The mother’s eyes gleamed with joy as she watched her little girl. She softly laid a hand on her husband’s knee and looked up at him. His wide grin reflected the joy in her eyes. It seemed almost as if their lives were flawless.

The sun was beginning to set and was casting a dull glow over the land. The young child didn’t seem to care how late it was getting. Her energy was endless and her love of nature was deep. Sophie’s mother stood from the steps of the veranda and called out to her child, “Sophie, It’s time to come inside!” The young girl instantly stopped bounding and disappeared into the wild grass.

Her mother waited a few seconds before she started to worry, but she was quickly reassured when she saw the grass rustling. Within a few moments the young girl’s golden curls were poking out of the field and her face expressed a sour grimace.

“Already, Mama? I’ve only been outside for a couple minutes!” whined Sophie.

Suddenly her dad appeared and stood behind her mother. “No arguing with your mom. Besides, you’ve been outside for a few hours, not minutes. You’ve got school in the morning too. Now run upstairs and get yourself ready for bed, okay?”

She nodded her head obediently and replied, “Yes, Papa.”

He touched the tip of her nose with his pinky and grinned, “Thanks, Button.”

She let a smile stretch across her face and took off running through screen door, letting it slam shut. Sophie raced through the spotless house, listening to it creak with every step, up the stairs, and to the bathroom. She brushed her teeth, taking very precise stokes like her mother had taught her, and rinsed her mouth and the bristles of her brush when she was finished. Cautiously, she stepped off the small stool she used to reach the sink, and placed it at the bottom of the towel closet.

She skipped merrily to her room, changed into her pajamas, and crawled into her gigantic bed. Just like clockwork, her parents came into the room and saw her laying cozy in her bed. Her father came over, tucked the blankets up to her chin, and so tightly around her that she could barely move. “There! Snug as a bug in a rug!” he exclaimed.

Sophie giggled and wriggled and squirmed until she was finally free from the cocoon. She settled into her bed, lying on her left side as she always did. This way, she could see out the window. Her mother came over to tuck her in this time. She delicately pulled the blanket up to Sophie’s shoulders, so her arms could poke out, and gently folded the blanket under her. After she finished, she sat gingerly at the end of the bed.

This was strange to Sophie. Normally she would kiss her forehead, tell her she loved her, let her father take his turn, and then they would leave her to sleep. Her heart started to flutter and she turned to look at her mother’s face. “Mama, is something wrong? Am I in trouble? I promise I brushed my teeth!” Sophie rambled.

Maria chuckled a bit and looked up to meet her daughter’s gaze. “Dear, I’m afraid I have some bad news…” her mother’s words drifted into the silence. Sophie sat up in her bed and watched as her father put a reassuring hand on her mother’s shoulder. “We’re going to be moving soon. We’re moving into the city, but you’ll still go to the same school and see all of your friends,” her mother said, trying to comfort her.

Sophie’s jaw clenched and she sprang out of her oversized bed. She shook her head back and forth, refusing to accept the words that her mother had dared to utter. “I won’t do it!” she yelled. “I love this house, the prairie, the forest- I’m not leaving any of it! I hate the city! It’s filthy, noisy, big, and all you see are buildings! There’s not a single ounce of actual nature out there!”

“Calm down, Button,” soothed her father. “Just breathe for a minute. It’s really not all that bad.”

“No, I’m not going. You can leave me here if you want, but I’m not going,” she choked through her hysterical sobs.

“Why don’t you go to sleep? Think about it and we’ll talk some more tomorrow,” cooed her mother.

Tears were streaming down Sophie’s face and her bottom lip was trembling as the turned away and they walked out of her room. They left her door ajar and the hall light on, just like they always had. Sophie sat for a minute, looking at the darkened, purple walls of her room. As soon as she couldn’t hear her parents’ footsteps, she ran to her window and began to sob again as she stared out into the moonlit countryside. She could see the corner of the prairie that faded into woods and the tears fell faster as she dreaded the thought of leaving it all behind. She couldn’t bear the idea anymore. As much as she wished it would, she knew that her tears couldn’t wash away this nightmare. She let out a heavy sight, allowing the salty tears to drip into her mouth, and crawled back into her bed. Sophie laid her head down in defeat and waited for sleep to overcome her.

The next morning, the sun was rising and Sophie’s eyes were swollen and red as she blinked her sleepiness away. She dragged herself out of bed and trudged through her precious home. Making her way to the dining room, Sophie sees that her mother had her favorite breakfast waiting for her.

Sophie turned her head to her mother, ignoring the scent of biscuits and gravy wafting into the room. Her mother finally caught sight of her, and instantly put on a smile.

“Well good morning, Sunshine,” she greeted Sophie.

“Why, Mama?” muttered Sophie in response.

Maria was stunned by this question. Her smile drooped and her jaw dropped just a little. She slowly shook her head and played coy, “What do you mean by that?”

“You’re the one who taught me to love nature. You showed me that the Earth is alive and you taught me not to be afraid of all the bugs. Mama, you’re the one I learned all of that from. So why are you taking it away from me now? ” Sophie whispered with tears in her eyes and a heartbroken frown.

“Sophie…I...You know...” her mother stuttered. “Why don’t you eat some breakfast? I made your favorite,” she spoke softly as she gestured at the table.

“I’m not hungry,” Sophie retorted and walked away. She brushed her teeth hastily, ran a comb through her locks, not bothering to deal with the tangles, and put on an old dress that was hanging in the back of her closet. Ignoring the thin coat of dust that sat on her normally polished shoes, Sophie pulled them on and continued to get ready. She grabbed an old, red sweater that clashed with the faded green of her dress, stuffed it into her bad, and went downstairs.

“I’m going to the bus stop,” she moped and walked out the door before her mom could utter a single syllable.

Sophie dragged her feet on the gravel, scuffing her shoes and causing dust to cling to her dress. She stopped suddenly as a dragonfly buzzed in front of her face and flitted into the prairie. She watched with envy as she desired to follow it and never return. Then, she looked at the prairie again, a small grin starting to lift the corners of her mouth.

Why couldn’t she live in the wild? If animals can live out there, why couldn’t she? There was food, water, and she was sure she could find shelter in the woods.

Before Sophie could think another word, her feet were carrying her into the prairie. She walked slowly, but her steps quickened and soon she was sprinting with her arms outstretched, brushing the tall grasses. She laughed wildly, spinning around with her face tilted up to feel the sun. She decided there was no going back now.

She paused at this idea. Never going back meant no more mom or dad. Never going back meant no more school or friends. But never going back also meant not moving into the horrid city. She closed her eyes and took in the clean air of the country. Sophie could feel the sun making her warm and her skin felt as if it was glowing. She took another breath and smelled the sweet scent of honeysuckles growing nearby. Opening her eyes, she took in the majestic beauty that stood before her. The grass was golden, the trees a vibrant green, and the skies were a perfect baby blue without a single cloud in sight. This was her new home.

She smiled gently to herself and continued walking towards the forest. It wouldn’t be long before her parents came looking for her and she was determined not to be found.

Sophie hummed quietly to herself as she walked, listening to the sporadic songs of the birds mixing with the calm whispers of the wind. She looked for berries as she walked, her stomach growling louder with each step. If she was going to live out here, she needed to find shelter (which she’d worry about later), food (which she was worrying about now), and water.

Water, she mused at this one, simple word again as she smacked her dry lips together. She’d been so preoccupied with the sounds of her rumbling tummy that she hadn’t realized how dry her mouth was. Sophie pondered where to find water at, when she heard the faint sounds of churning water. She paused and decided it was directly in front of her. She didn’t see a stream or even a creek anywhere near her, but decided to keep walking anyways. It had to be close.

The sun rose higher in the sky and Sophie plodded along in her same path. She could still hear the steady gurgling, but it never seemed to appear. Breathing heavily just once, she turned her head. She was ready to move on, when she did a double take and saw some berries on a small bush to her right. Sophie threw down her bag which she had been carrying with her, and ran towards this miracle.

Carefully examined the berries, Sophie proclaimed them to be safe, and popped a few into her mouth. She picked just a handful of the berries, sat in the shade of a group of nearby trees, and ate them, one by one, savoring the sweet juices. Sophie observed her surroundings and realized she had found two of the necessary elements to form her new home.

She stood up, picked another handful of the berries, which had stained her lips and finger tips a violet-red, and began walking with a precise gate towards the water again. This was the only thing missing from her perfect world.

She walked steadily, a gleam of determination in her eye. Sounds of water became clearer as she walked. The sound drove her feet to keep stepping. The noise became louder, pushing her fee faster, her heart pounding with excitement. She pushed through some bushes and stopped dead in her tracks.

She gazed in awe at the clearing she had come across. The grass was perfect and trimmed. It was the deepest shade of green she had ever seen. An aroma of flowers filled the air, yet none stained the perfect blanket of grass. The sun made everything around her glow and shimmer. There was no sound but the water now. Water flowed elegantly from the top of the fountain and poured below into its basin. The beautiful white marble was flawless and a magnificent pale. Sophie felt as if she had stumbled into a fairytale.

She walked towards the fountain the stood centered in the middle of the clearing. Sophie could feel the soft ground sink just a touch, as if to cushion her footsteps. She breathed deeply, feeling the air clean out her nose and lungs, nothing the country air had ever done. She came to the fountain, laid her hands on the basin, and gazed into the sparkling, calm, waters.

Sophie saw a reflection staring back at her. Her green eyes twinkled, but the face was of a stranger. It had the same golden curls, but shorter, and the face was rounder. She puzzled at this reflection and cocked her head at this stranger staring back at her. Sophie turned her head this way and that way, seeing if this really was her reflection.

She gasped suddenly and jumped back from the fountain as if it had shocked her. She had read stories about mystical waters like this, but could this really be what stood before her? Did her younger reflection looking back at her really mean she had found the fountain of youth?

Sophie sat and pondered this question in her mind, letting the words tumble over and over again. She stood up, to look at the dazzling waters again. Slipping her hands into the basin of the fountain, she could feel the cool water calming every inch of her body. She cupped her hands, wondering what it would taste like. With her mouth the driest it had ever been, she raised her hands to her mouth, but stopped before she took a drink. She let the water drop from her hands, splashing herself and the ground, and she sat back down again.

How had something so magnificent been so close to her all this time? Had her family known about this secret their whole lives? She shook her head, trying to clear the hundreds of thoughts from racing around. Then, a thought she hadn’t realized came across her mind. What would have happened if she drank the water?

She could stay young forever and live in these woods for all eternity. Sophie could protect the fountain and make sure no harm ever came to it. She’d deny those who tried to use it for bad. She could become the guardian of the fountain. Stories would be written about her and tales passed on telling of her bravery.

She sprang up suddenly, and ran to get her bag. Sophie was going to set up her home in the clearing. After all, she needed to be closer to this fountain if she were to be its protector.
She ran excitedly towards the berry bush and her bag, when suddenly she heard a familiar voice call out to her, “Button!”
Her heart sank as she turned and saw her father and a few other men running toward her. She thought about trying to run, but his huge arms had already swept her up and were cradling her. He began scolding her, but refused to put her down.
“You are in a lot of trouble! You nearly gave your mother a heart attack! I ‘bout had a coronary when I found out you didn’t make the bus! Oh, Button- I’m so glad you’re safe thought!” He sighed with relief.
Sophie pushed against her father’s chest with both hands and looked him in the eyes, “But Papa, I-“
“No excuses! I know you don’t want to move, but Sophie, our house is being torn down. It’s too old and nobody has the money or the want to fix it up these days,” he cut her off.

“But Papa-“ she tried to protest again.

“No more buts, we’re going home now. When we get there, you owe your mother an apology,” he explained.

Sophie simply nodded her head. She knew it would do her no good to argue. Laying her head on her father’s bulky shoulder, she goggled back at her lost fairytale. Her eyes longed to see the clearing again and her body ached to sit on the soft, trimmed grass. She sighed, letting her eyes drop down to the ground and decided this was best. Nobody would write stories or tell tales of her valor, but Sophie would always know the truth about what she found. Even if she couldn’t stay in the clearing and guard the fountain forever, she could keep it safe by keeping it her own little secret.





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SimpleDesire said...
May 30, 2011 at 4:15 am
I loved every second reading this. You had tons of details and it was like watchin a movie. Awsome Piece!
 
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