This is it, guys! I’ve been writing “Beyond the Looking Glass” for every CWWC challenge so far, and this is the last part! I already have an idea for the next CWWC. 🙂
Loren, I used all three prompts from this challenge, plus the one about Ferrymen guarding mirrors. So four prompts. 😉
Remember, this is what happened last:
“It’s known to have many nasty side-effects…” One of which, apparently, is invisibility.
Beyond the Looking Glass, Part 8
An invisible Mother is hard to get used to. At each meal the conversation inevitably turns to Mother, and to two questions in particular: Will the invisibility ever wear off? Can we find some sort of cure?
One night we all agree that we will travel to the Ferrymen’s land together. My heart thumps like a wild thing inside my chest as we stand in front of the mirror in Mother and Father’s bedroom. Once again I gaze far down into the depths of my dark eyes reflected in the mirror, pulling with all my might, willing the land to reappear. Yes! I wrap my whole mind around the tiny scene buried deep inside my eyes, reaching for it until the mirror once again shows me a living picture of the land beyond the looking glass. Father, Mother, and I all plunge forward together into the mirror. We land on the other side, in the Ferrymen’s world, surrounded by shattered glass. This time there are three Ferrymen to meet us.
I explain our problem to them. They listen attentively, then huddle into a group and talk together in a strange clicking language. Finally the group breaks up and the first Ferryman approaches me. He signals us to follow him, and he flies over to a small mirror hidden away in a hollow tree. Father, Mother and I join hands once again. We have no idea where the mirror will lead us, but we trust the Ferryman.
We crash through the mirror successfully, and pick ourselves off the ground. We’re standing in a forest. In front of us is a small, round hut, with smoke curling out the chimney. I love it at once – the rounded door, the circular windows, the flowering vines creeping up the stone walls. We knock on the door and a small, bent old man with a thousand wrinkles in his face invites us in. His hair is snow-white and his eyes are ocean-blue. His brown, creased face reminds me of a molasses crinkle cookie.
“Come in, come in, and welcome. What can I help you with? The Ferrymen sent you, I presume?”
I am surprised that he knows but I nod, and explain our problem once again.
“Ah yes, my dear. You have come to the right man. Old Vandaff can get you straightened out.” He leads us into his house, and immediately my eyes are drawn to a wall filled with shelves. On those shelves stand rows and rows of the most beautiful bottles I have ever seen. They are filled with swirls and layers of delightful colors – lavenders, mints, yellows, and teals. The old man hobbles over to the shelves. “Pretty little things, ain’t they?” he asks with a grin. “There should be one here for invisibility…” he rubs his finger over the rows, whispering their names under his breath. “Starweed, lavender mist, nightflower… aha! Here it is: glitteroot. What a lovely plant. Have you seen glitteroot, my girl?” he asks me.
“I haven’t, sir, but it sounds beautiful.”
“Oh it is,” he exclaims. “And when it works its healing, it is more beautiful still. I will show you some glitteroot growing in the forest later. All of my cures are natural and forest-grown,” the old man says proudly. He carefully lifts the bottle from the shelf, pours a little of its purple-clouded contents into a measuring spoon, and mixes the syrup with a bit of warm water. “Come now, Miss Gray,” he gestures royally with his hands, “it’s time for us to see your pretty face.” He winks at the invisible spot where Mother stands and hands the cup into her invisible grasp.
I still can’t get over how the cup tilts up seemingly in midair when Mother drinks. She finishes the cup and… nothing happens. She’s still as invisible as ever. The old man catches our worried looks, and reassures us, “This is only the first part of the cure. We’ll need the lake to finish off the job. Follow me, please.”
We follow the old man down a narrow path. Along the way he points out some of the plants that were in the bottles, including glitteroot. It is a lovely plant, covered from its emerald leaves to its dark purple flowers with sparkling flakes of what looks like glitter. Finally we arrive at a huge lake. The old man tells Mother to get herself completely wet in the water. As she does, two amazing things happen.
The first thing is that Mother appears. Father and I splash out into the water, laughing and crying with relief. Father swings Mother around, and I hug them both. I stop hugging them when I see the water around Mother. Some sparkling substance is seeping into the water around Mother. It swirls around in the water, spreading gradually throughout the whole lake and spiraling madly up into the air around us. Twinkling stars of glitter dance around us as we stand in open-mouthed awe. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
Sparkling stars of light
Dancing to an unknown song,
Singing in a silent voice
Radiant in joyful grace.
Finally the stars fade, and we splash slowly through the water to the old man. He stands there with a look of joy and pride on his face. “I told you it was beautiful. It never gets old,” he shook his head admiringly.
I don’t notice anything beside the path this time. I have eyes only for Mother. How glad I am to see her again! I notice that her eyes are brighter, her smile more sincere, than they had been before the Healing Lily. She is cured at last!
My parents and I climb the stairs up to the flat roof outside my bedroom window that night. Father had said that’s what we used to do in our old house, when I was little. I had never been out on the roof because the creaking window would have been too loud for Mother before.
We unroll a blanket and lay on it on our backs, staring up at the stars. After a while I crawl to the edge of the roof and look down into the velvety darkness. I take a deep breath. The air seems more fresh up here, and the moon and stars look brighter. I feel free. I feel wonderful. I have my parents back, parents I didn’t even know where living. Life won’t be perfect, but it will be good. With Father and Mother by my side, I know it will be good.
Ahh, you gotta love happy endings, right? Thank you all so much for your encouragement for this story! It made me happy to read your sweet comments. I’ll probably put this story all together on a page soon.