Jennie Amaryllis stares defiantly out the window. Her dirty blonde curls cascade down the side of her face, providing a curtain between her green eyes and her parents stern glare. As she looks down at her phone, the words No signal pinch her heart. The quiet hum of the car hovering over the sea of purple flowers does nothing silence the rage building up inside of her.
“Why do I have to go to a stupid old cottage anyway” she protests, her british accent makes it sound 12 times more whiny. With Arms crossed, she as turns towards her parents.
“In the fifteen years you have been alive you have met your grandpa once. This will be good for the both of you.” her sweet mother explains. The mother's voice was so soft and light that could pass for a whisper in wind.
“We have explained this to you more then once Jennie. You're going. You're not getting out of it.” her father proclaims with a stern but kind voice. The father was an old army man, from the 4th World War. It gifted him weathered face and stern demeanor.
Now although her parents tried their very best, Jennie was a bit of a bad seed. She was sent home early from her boarding school for bad behavior. Her parents thought a month away from technology, the war, and the advances of the 2040’s would do her some good.
The plus of not having to look after was a thought that echoed in her parent's mind.
The hover car ceased the move and drifted towards the soft green grass in front of the white wash old english cottage. The porch was falling apart at some places and the plants were reclaiming some of its lost territory. Jennie stepped out of the car and looked on with disbelief.
You have got to be kidding me she thought to herself as she grabbed her bags out of the car. Walking up the wobbly wood steps proved to be troublesome and the top of the porch was not more stable anyway. The wind breathed through the floor boarded and the porch swing was creaky and worn. The windows, despite the tattered appearance of the house, were impeccably clean. She walked through the stain glass the faded green door, setting her bags down by door. At first look, the cottage was warm. The floors were a dark brown with furniture scratches, The walls had wood paneling trim with a weary tan covering the rest. Looking about, the living was directly to the right of the timeworn front door. It had two Dark rocking chairs that sat in front of the fireplace. Blankets and newspapers were folded neatly in baskets under the foggy upkept window.
I thought they stopped making newspapers 30 years ago, she pondered, God how old is this guy.
She moved on to the well used kitchen. Hunger pulled on her stomach like a kid begging for ice cream. Realizing that she had been in the car for 5 hours, she looked around the weathered kitchen and found an actual refrigerator, from the 20’s. One with a fridge on the bottom, a water dispenser and everything. She opened it revealing fruit, vegetables and pounds of raw meat.
“Do you want me to make you something?” a old raspy voice bellowed out across the kitchen, awaking Jennie from her horrified fog.
“You have raw meat?!” she said with distain and disgust heavy in her breath. She looked at the ancient man head to toe. Not only does eat dead animals but he dresses like an old Charles Darwin. This old thing is related to me?!
“Well, meat starts out raw, so yes I do.” the old man said with a smile. He had a worn face with wrinkles, informing people of his wisdom and kindness. “How are you Jennie? I haven't seen you since you were a baby.”
“I’m fine.” she spit coldly. Brushing past him in angst, Jannie walked out the first door she saw and landed in a colorful upkept garden. I was already annoyed because my parents stuck me in this hole, but now the the old man I have to live with is asking me questions about “How I am”. Like he cares.
To say the least Jennie was annoyed. As walked through the rows of maroon, magenta, and jade flowers, she could hear the voices of her parents and the old man.
“She's a good kid really, she just has a hard time connecting.” A muffled voice explains inside.
“Who cares what they think” Jennie remarked coldly with a hint of sorrow seeping through. She turned away from the house, walking down a cobbled path that lead to to an old willow tree and a well. The willow tree was easily older than the house or even the old man. The branches were weathered and wrinkled, drawn down by the leaves that droop over the medieval well. The stone well was masterfly chiseled with intricate patterns. The wood over top the well, that carried the bucket, was carved into waves that when turned, would create the mirage of serene lake disturbed by an unexpected rock. The bucket was engraved with fairies and magical creatures dancing around playful fire. Now of course Jennie didn't take in the majesty of the water well, she just sat under the weathered willow and sulked.
“How could they throw me under the bus like that. I’m not that bad, I'm just misunderstood.”
She continued to mumble on about how bad her life is as she walked towards to the well. Looking down she expected to see her reflection, but what she saw was quite unique. Instead, at the very bottom of the well, the cylindrical brick broke off into a large cavern with a garden. An extensive garden with lanterns, plush grass, and trees that were glowing with a purple and blue hews. She blinked a couple times and leaned closer to make sure she wasn’t crazy, but upon learning further, her feet left the safety ground. Suddenly she was spinning, falling, and soon crashing into the ground below. She saw the ground approach her with every flip, expecting her inevitable doom. However, she found herself lying, quite comfortably, on the soft grass below.
“What the hell?” Jennie questioned while sitting up.
The space that she landed in was a garden, with flowers as tall as trees and trees in which the leaves glow. With grass that acts like memory foam and next to her was a grand lake with glowing seaweed and golden koi fish. Although there was all of this beauty, she could only focus on the fact that she had slightly pricked her finger and torn her dress and she made her way off the plush grass.
“I need a bandaid! Neosporin!” exclaimed Jennie, “and my bloody dress is ripped!” She started to look around for a way to get back above ground but all she could find was a shimmering waterfall and rainbow flower fields. She let out a weary sigh and turned around.
“AHHH” she exclaimed suddenly, for what was standing behind her was mix between a badger and a skunk. The skadger was on its hind legs and was wearing a apron with an embroidered fruit on the front. What of fruit? Well, this kind was unknown to Jennie.
“You okay love?” The skadger asked in a soft cockney accent. Jennie couldn't talk or even let out a sound. She was confused by the apron alone, now it started talking and with a british accent. Its voice was soft and pleasant and you felt strangely calm while listening to it. “You alright? I see you pricked your finger.”
She was shaken to her senses by the amount of blood on her finger, “Do you know how I can reach the top?” she desperately replied. The skadger was taken back by the urgency in her voice.
“The top love?” The skadger’s face looked perplexed. Jennie now realized that she was talking to a cockney Skunk/Badger and was asking for directions.
“Why am I asking you where to go. You're just a dumb …. I don’t even know what.” The skadgers face dropped and the pain that it felt was hanging in the air. Jennie was too much in a hurry to handle a skadger’s feelings right now. Jennie walked away from the hurt creature, on a path that led between thousands of glowing trees and vast rainbow flower patch.
“Hello child,” Jennie spun around to see a red crow perched on a purple and blue tree. “I just watch you and the skadger. I think we can be friends” the crow chirped cynically. The crow was slightly larger than any she had ever seen but also it was dark red so she already accepted non-normality. Not to mention it could talk.
“Hello crow, why would you say that?” Jennie asked.
“Just a hunch” He smiled, “you said you would like to get out of here?”
“Yes!!! Very much so! You see my finger and my dre-”
“Yes yes, I’m very aware. Follow me,” the crow leaped off the branch and started to fly over the flower patch.
Jennie hesitated to follow it. You see, there was no path and the flowers were very close together. If she followed him then she would surely step on vibrant flower bed.
“Needn't worry about the flowers child, don’t you want to get home?” The crow beckoned her. She did need to get home, for somehow, the cut had grown larger, moving up up her finger.
She started to follow the crow though the field. The walk wasn’t very long or difficult, and crushing the flowers was easier than she thought.
Once she reached the end of the patch she turned around to see how far she had gone. Her heart stopped and her breath shortened, for as she blazed a trail through the flowers, inside every flower laid the bodies of crushed fairy’s.
“Don’t look back child. If you want something in your life you have to cut through for yourself. If you try to care about everyone you will get nowhere.” Horrified she looked back to the crow, who showed cruel smile, “You must be hungry now, follow me”. Jennie started to walk with the crow in a shocked daze and looked down to her cut finger. It was covering her whole hand.
“We are here now.” Shaken out of her daze by the crows piercing chirp, she looks up on a grand tree bearing fruit in plenty. The oak is as big as the old man's house, with branches big as her car. The fruit looks nothing like she has ever seen. There are translucent crystal apples, grapes size pineapples, green apple sized cherries. Blue raspberries.
“You should try all of them. There is nothing like fruit that is grown in the Undergarden. It will give you strength to get to the top.” The Crow swore. Jennie nodded and looked for way up the massive trunk. She found holes all along the side of the tree that she used as stepping stools. With each step she took, the more the hunger engulfed her. Reached the top, she crawled out to the middle of the branch, where the fruits lay await for her.
“You shouldn't eat those” A small mousy voice exclaimed while Jennie was holding to the crystal apple in her hand. “She’s right you know” A small, slightly louder voice said.
Jennie, confused looked around to find a group of 3 small squirrel like creatures with four eyes clinging to the side of the tree. The smallest one was pink with bright maroon eyes, the middle was tan with sultry golden eyes, and the biggest was a dark brown with weary gray eyes.
“And why not?” definitely, Jennie crossed her arms. “The crow says that I should try them all.”
“The fruit is only meant for those of the undergarden. If you eat it, who knows what will happen to you.” a bigger brown squirrel said, “Don’t trust the crow.”
How dare they tell me what I can or cannot do. How dare they tell me who my friends are. They are nothing. “You are just stupid little squirrels who know nothing. Also, you'll be happy to know that the crow is my friend. I don’t need advice from little rodents like you, so run along.” She looked down at her hand. That cut was growing and with that she took a bite of the apple.
I feel nothing.
When will it end.
I feel so alone.
“So child, you ended up here .” The red crow appeared suddenly of the blackness, glowing redder than it had ever.
“You. You did this to me.”
“You naive girl. I did not do this to you, your own mind did this. I only amplified your inner thoughts.”
“I don't understand. Where am I. What is happening.”
“Child, you are now floating in your disrespect. Unable to move. Held back by your own transgressions. The short answer is, you’re a horrible person, and for that you will surround by your own transgressions until it eats away your soul and you finally die. Have fun. Goodbye little girl.” With that, the crow vanished, leaving the darkness to consume Jennie’s thoughts.
I’m not this bad of a person right? Her thoughts wonder. In the darkness, memories seem to be stronger, more like real life. She wanders to the car with her parents, where many times she would ignore them or call them names. She could feel heart wrenching emotions, but they weren't hers. The disappointment her parents feel hurts the worst. Instead of an aching pain like rage or sadness, disappointment rips, like a wolf to a deer. She experiences the compassion her grandpa felt when he first saw her. The the way that compassion grew when she shut him out. The hope that she would come to like him and the house.
There was now a constant stream coming from her eyes. A constant stream of regret and sadness.
I really am that bad. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry to the skadger, to the fairies, the Squirrels, to grandpa, to Mom and Dad.
I’m so sorry to everyone.
Those last words, even though not said out loud, radiated remorse so far out, every creature in every land would feel them.
“Jennie, it’s almost dark. I have the raw meat cooked so you can come back inside now.” The old man exclaimed with a chuckle in his voice.
Jennie slowly rose from her spot underneath the withered willow. She slowly remembered what had happened and with haste, sprinted over to the well. She looked down expecting to see the same amazing and magical sight, but instead found only her blond curls cascading down her face and her green eyes looking back up sorrowfully.
For a split second she wondered whether or not she had imagined it all, but she knows that the pain in her heart is proof. Proof that she can care and does care. Weather or not she dreamed it up or it really happened, something happened. With a newfound sense of pride and modesty she walks back through the rows of maroon, magenta, and jade flowers, ready to change who she was. Ready to make her parents proud.
She will not be lead by the red crow no more. She will decide her own fate and Jennie Amaryllis will not travel that fate alone.