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I Want to Stay
"You can stay if you want. Would you like that Evelyn? Would you like to stay?"
Of course I wanted to stay.
Any child would have.
I don't remember who it was that asked me that. It could have been any of them. I never bothered to learn their names. I didn't see the point of it. They never stayed the same. They were forever changing. Only now, I wish I knew who it was that handed me that deadly invitation. They disguised it well. I give them that much. They made it look so beautiful. Its image will eternally be burned into my heart.
I can see it now.
Gold plated with tiny encrusted jewels surrounding it.
Diamonds. Rubies. Sapphire.
Anything my little heart desired.
All it took, was the blink of an eye.
But once I sealed my fate with my response, it would change.
Oh, how it would change.
I figure they planned it all out. Every last detail. Believe me, I know.
The Dream World is always hungry for more characters to add to its illusion. Reality couldn't be more eager to throw them out.
Am I getting ahead of myself?
Let me start from the beginning.
In the end, I blame The Words. They tricked me, slowly replacing my flesh and bones with their stale cardboard letters that only looked real. They showed me something that wasn't mine and dangled it before me like a feast in front of a starving man. I only wanted a peek of their existence. Only a taste.
I ended up with a whole lot more.
I fear that learning how to decode those lines, might have been the worst thing that ever happened to me.
Nobody warned me. Nobody prepared me for the battle I would face in the future once I held the key that unlocked all the worlds. The battle I would so miserably lose. I was only a child. For God's sake! Can you hear me screaming?
"I was only a child!"
How could I have known?
How could they be so cruel?
Just like the monstrous redwoods of the forest, I started out small.
I read fairy-tales. My favorite was The Gingerbread Man.
You should have been there to hear my six year old heart booming alive with each word. It was wild. It still is.
Catch me! Catch me! Catch me, if you can!
I eyed every batch of cookies my mother made for the next two years. What? Don't look at me that way. It was possible back then. Everything was.
It was raining the day I first step foot into The Words' living room. Who could say no to a nice cup of hot chocolate on a shivering winter day? Certainly, not me.
"Come in, why don't you?", they coaxed.
At first, I was skeptical.
"How about a nice cup of hot chocolate, huh?"
I remember looking around to see if my parents were near. It seemed so forbidden. I wasn't supposed to talk to strangers, let alone enter ones house. Mother and Father were no where in sight. So, I cautiously joined The Words.
I sat down.
I drank hot chocolate.
And I made an army of new friends that day.
They loved me. I loved them back.
Each day, I would carve out time to escape with them. Anytime Mother and Father were out or were not looking, I secretly slipped away and wouldn't come back for hours.
To this day, I still wonder how I never got caught. Maybe, it was because they didn't know I was even absent. From their viewpoint, all they saw was their daughter, Evelyn, sitting with her nose buried deep into a page of words. If only they knew, that I wasn't really there at all. If only they knew, I had ran out and was worlds away. But, they never suspected a thing.
With The Words, anything could happen. Anything. All you had to do was think it. Isn't that magical? It truly was surreal.
I would dread the moment when I would have to leave my friends behind and face the dreary landscape of Reality. I would take my sweet time walking out the door, prolonging my goodbyes for as long as I could, which was never long enough.
Soon, it was The Words who didn't want me to go.
"Oh Evelyn!", they would cry, "Stay just a little while longer."
I could never refuse.
One day, when I was coming to visit, The Words were quieter than usual. They were fiddling with their curves, their dots, their crosses. I just sat there, letting the silence fall over us, until one of them, I don't know which, spoke up. An invitation. It floated in the air above us.
What do you think my response was?
It was followed by cheering, hugging, and laughter. It should have been the happiest day of my life.
It was all good at first. In fact, it was better than good. I was exceptional. Amazing. Phenomenal. It was everything it should have been.
I spent my days putting letters together to create words. Then, I would place the words together to create sentences. Those sentences to create stories and poetry. All of which I saw come to life before my very eyes.
It was great.
Shhhhhh...everyone quiet. Here comes the "Until".
It was great. Until, I realized something. I realized that imagination and dreams were nothing without the contrast of drab Reality by its side.
Its been said many times.
You need darkness for the light to shine through.
I wanted to go back home. I wanted to go back home so desperately bad.
I called a meeting with The Words.
"Everyone," I began, "First, I must thank you all for being the best friends I have ever had. And for welcoming me into your homes. Into families. You have shown me hospitality like I have never known before. Thank you. But, something has come to my attention over these past few days. Something mighty important, I must add. This place was my escape. I see now that I have tried to make it my home. But, it wasn't meant to be that way. This place should be just that, an escape, nothing more. I miss Mother. I miss Father. I realize this now. I must go back."
I looked around. The Words shifted uneasily in their seats.
"I promise to come and visit everyday. You know I love you guys. You know I do. But, I can't pretend any longer. This has to stop."
I stood up, my body trembling, threatening to betray me.
It was silent.
No one said anything.
Not a word.
Were these not the same Words that were begging me to stay with them just a few months earlier? Could this be them?
I slowly approached the door and placed my hand on the knob.
I turned around.
Any last goodbyes?
More silence. Their eyes were piercing me like a thousand arrows.
I twisted my hand.
I tried twisting my hand.
The door was locked.
Then it hit me.
There was no going back. The Words all knowing faces said it all.
I did not panic. There was no screaming or hysterics. No banging on the door.
My mind kept drifting back to the words that I had said.
The ones that killed me.
The ones that trapped me here.
"Would you like that Evelyn? Would you like to stay?"
"Yes," I had whispered.
I want to stay.