Warm sunshine spread softly across her eyelids making the little girl open her eyes slowly with a tired sigh. She had been waking up feeling tired like this for the last two weeks. She lay in bed and wriggled her toes in her soft, fluffy, pink socks beneath her Rainbow-unicorn quilt.
She could hear the world had woken up sometime before she did. The birds were singing outside while the distant city bells ding-donged in chime with the dinging bicycle bells of the newspaper boy.
A soft knock sounded on her door and she blew out an exasperated breath before answering the knock. The door opened slowly and her mother peeped in with a smile.
“Happy Birthday April!”
Her mother had put on a dark red lip stick and April could see the soft touch of light green eye-shadow make-up beneath her mother’s eyebrows. The corners of April’s mouth pulled back into a smile as she looked in awe of her mother who hadn’t worn make-up in forever. The door opened wider and her father pushed his head in as well blowing a party paper horn and throwing confetti all over April’s Rainbow-unicorn bed. April laughed and lifted her hands to shield her eyes from the colourful little papers.
“Happy Birthday April!” Her father boomed.
“What would our little unicorn like for breakfast?”
April smiled as she tried to think what a eight year old girl would like for breakfast, and maybe for a day.
She smiled and looked at her parents.
“I really wish I could go somewhere for a day where anything is possible.,
“I can ride a unicorn and maybe dance on a rainbow…”
“Whoa! Slow down now young lady,” her father interrupted her with a nervous laugh.
Her walked over to her bed and sat on the foot of her bed while her mother sat beside her and played with her hair.
Her father frowned a little as he went into deep thought then he nodded in silent agreement with himself before looking back at April.
“I would like to tell you about a place I used to visit every year on my birthday.” Her father began.
“It was a beautiful place where everything is possible. You can do what you want because the place is magical!”
April gasped and then frowned before folding her arms.
“Dad are you kidding me? I’m eight years old not five!”
Her father smiled and waved his hands to dismiss her unbelief before continuing.
“This is a place my dear. And it is as real as the hair on your head”.
And with that her mother pulled a strand of hair from April’s head with a little tug making her daughter shriek in shock.
April gave her mother a questioning look but her mother only put a finger to her lips and wound her daughter’s soft black hair strand tightly around her index finger. April watched mesmerized as her mother finished and pulled the wound hair off her finger and place it in the palm of her hand. Her father stood up and opened April’s room window. He placed his two index fingers between his lips and gave a shrill whistle out the window.
Two little birds, one black and one white, dropped out from the sky and flew to the window. Her father stepped back letting them in. April gazed at the birds who were no bigger than her hands folded into fists. The black bird sat on the window sill and cocked his head to stare at April with one shiny black eye while the white bird pranced around on the window before flying into the room and landing on her bed. Her mother placed the ball of hair onto the bed in front of the little bird and winked at April with a smile.
The little white bird cocked his head to look at April for a few seconds before picking up the hair offering and after a few prances around on the unicorn head, it flew out of the window over the head of the black bird. The black bird sat a bit looking at the little family before turning around to join its friend in the wind.
April blew out the breath she had been holding in and looked at both her parents.
“What just happened?” She asked them.
Her mother smiled and hugged her before answering.
“Darling you will find out tonight. You will love your birthday present.”
And with that her parents walked out of her room after telling her to hurry up and get dressed for school and go downstairs for breakfast.
At school she caught up with her friends, Caitlin and Ashanti. They had been best friend since Kindergarten. Caitlin lived on April’s street while Ashanti lived with her aunty at the edge of town. April told her friends, during recess, about the the weird thing her parents did and her friends eyes widened.
“Cool! What if your parents are like magicians, something!” Caitlin exclaimed so excited her glasses almost fell off her freckled nose. Ashanti looked at her friend in amusement before shrugging and telling April she thought her parents just loved animals, especially birds so there was really nothing weird about what they did. It was probably what bird people do.
April shrugged and clipped her lunch box shut before squinting her eyes at her friends. She pulled her friends in closer beside her by the shoulders and told them her idea.
“Why don’t you two come spend the night with me..let’s have a sleep over!”
“Yes!” They shrieked, giving each other high-fives causing the other students to give them annoyed glances. The girls giggled excitedly as they huddled over their lunch table and made plans for that evening. Above them the school bell rang signalling everyone to go back to class.
The doorbell rang at the Dooby home and Mr. Dooby got up from the lounge room to go answer the door. Ashanti and her aunty stood in the doorway smiling. April’s father greeted them and invited them into the house. Ashanti had brought a silky sky-blue pillow a size bigger than her head. The little girl grabbed the bag of sweets from her aunty’s right hand and ran up to join April and Caitlin who could be heard giggling and shrieking excitedly in April’s room.
April’s mum invited Ashanti’s aunty, May, into the kitchen for some tea before she leaves but aunty May said she had to go to work but thank you anyway.
April’s parents waved goodbye to Aunty May as she drove off in her red Honda CRV, the red lights blinking in the dark like eyes before the vehicle turned a corner and disappeared.
The two adults in the doorway smiled at each other before going and standing at the base of the stairway leading up to the rooms at the top. It was going to be a long and interesting night for the three little girls and they had no idea!
April, Ashanti and Caitlin had settled down on the blow up mattresses on the floor when a strange knocking noise startled them. April sat up first and looked around her in the dim light.
There it was again! And this time it was louder like someone was tapping on the floor with a broom handle. Ashanti and Caitlin sat up straight and looked at their friend.
“Is your house haunted?” They both whispered.
“What? No!” April whispered back before the tapping started again this time non stop.
The girls put their hands to their ears and stood up to run out the room in fright when the tapping suddenly stopped and this time a bird started whistling in song. It sounded so beautiful the girls stopped and listened.
Suddenly the sound of a creek sounded besides the singing bird. The unmistakable sound of the bubbling and crackling water over small rocks sounded and the girls walked toward the sound that seemed to come from April’s Rainbow-unicorn covered bed.
April was about the turn back and switch on her room light when a strange pinkish-orange light peeked out from under her bed. All three girls gasped and jumped back in shock but the light kept spreading until it washed over them and spread up over the walls of the room and covered the room with tiny, shimmering rain drops and butterflies. The butterflies shimmered like rainbow across the girls hands and skin. Ashanti gasped when one of the butterflies sat on her face in a poof of rainbow dust that tickled her nose and made her sneeze. Caitlin and April laughed at their friend.
The three girls dropped to their tummies and peered under the bed. By now the whole room was a shimmering and twirling wonder of rainbows, butterflies and confetti. April lifted the drooping quilt that was shielding the underneath of her bed and all three girls were amazed to see that all these wonders were coming out from the blue shoe box April’s mother had given her with her first ballet slippers for her sixth birthday.
The box lid lay half open and rainbow butterflies were climbing out with their wings folded before standing on the floor and stretching their wings to fly. Small buds of pink and orange flowers pushed and tumbled out of the box alongside the butterflies as confetti kept streaming out behind. Standing beside the box was the little white bird singing with its eyes closed. The bird’s feathers glimmered in the shimmering light and seemed to vibrate with each note and song that came out from between it’s cute little beak.
April was mesmerized by the bird’s singing she didn’t realize that she was reaching out to touch it. Ashanti and Caitlin called out to her to stop afraid of what might happen if she did but April kept reaching out for thr bird. Her hand was an inch away when one of the bird’s eyes opened and in a flash it moved and bit her on the hand.
Everything started twisting and turning and whirling around like the water being drained down the sink. The three girls put their hands to their ears as the bird’s beautiful singing got louder and louder until it became a shrill whistle in their brains while the butterflies and confetti seemd to plaster themselves on their skin as they all tumbled and whirled in the air. Beneath them the floor warped and moved like a water bed until it became like a huge mouth with gummy bears for teeth. The girls shrieked in horror as they rushed down toward the gaping mouth. April reached over for her bed as she felt a magnetic pull take her and her friends toward the mouth that was smacking its huge red lips while the gummy bears giggled and rubbed their gummy tummies before reaching up for the girls.
April pulled her Rainbow-unicorn quilt and it came off the bed. Just then she felt cold, sticky hands pull on her ankles and she screamed for her mother and father before tumbling with her friends into the dark and cold hole in the gummy bear mouth.
The three girls landed on something soft and white. They opened their eyes and saw that they were sitting on a bed of white wooly something that looked suspiciously like marshmallows.
April frowned and put her nose to the stuff. It smelt like marshmallows and felt like it. She put out her tongue and tasted it. She sat up quickly and looked at her friends.
“Girls! We’re sitting on marshmallows!” She shrieked out to her friends.
Caitlin gingerly plucked up a piece beside her and put it in her mouth. Her eyes closed in delight as it melted on her tongue. Ashanti crossed her arms over her chest and frowned at April.
“Where have you taken us April!” She angrily asked her friend. April was too amazed by where they were to notice her friend’s frustration.
Above them there was a nice blue sky and a sun that didn’t really look like a normal sun. More like a drawing done by a pre-schooler. It had black crayon outlines and yellow dancing colours inside the outline. As April watched it suddenly turned around and said ‘Hi!’
April shrieked and fell back her weight taking her through the bed of marshmallows beneath her. She fell through the hole she made and as she was falling she saw that they were sitting on a bed of marshmallow clouds. The screams came out of her mouth in song with notes and symbols floating around like the wind as a huge white bird shot out of the sky and lifted her. April realized it was the little white bird that was singing under her bed, the same bird that bit her.
The bird carried her on it’s back like one of those horses in the merry-go-round and April shouted and waved to her two friends who were peering down with worried expressions on their faces. They saw April and waved back.
“Jump off and fly!”
April tumbled back in shock and fell off the bird’s back. The bird spoke once more through its beak as it glided down beside her as she fell.
“You can fly in this world. Move your arms as if you’re swimming and you will fly!”
The bird told her as it cocked it’s head to stare at her with its shiny eye. April put her arms out and moved her legs in the air. Swimming as she did in the community pool her parents took her to just last week. The bird moved its head the other way as if amused. April sighed.
“Yeah I know I don’t know how to swim. Even my own friends and family think I’m funny.”
She felt the air around her slow down as she stayed in the air and started to move through the air with her awkward frog-like swimming movements. Above her she heard Caitlin and Ashanti burst out into laughter and in a few seconds they were beside her swimming when they figured out they could do the same.
“Follow me girls!” The bird turned and started to drop down beneath them.
The girls shrugged and stopped swimming. They too dropped like the bird and in a few seconds landed on soft stuff like the marshmallow clouds. Rainbow coloured dust flew up around them as they landed and they breathed in through their nostrils tasting sweet sugary dust on the walls of their throat and nasal area behind their nose.
The bird called out to them and they saw it standing on the ground a few feet beneath the huge rose-like flowers they were sitting on. The girls stood up and jumped down beside the bird. April looked at what they were standing on and noticed the ground looked like powdered nesquik or chocolate. She was about to touch it when the bird told them to hurry as they were to meet someone special.
The bird moved very quickly for its huge size. In this world it was now the size, shall we say a hippopotamus? The bird’s huge feet were like the base and roots of a tree but it didn’t make a loud stomping sound, only lifted dustings of chocolate from where it walked and the wind blew it into the girl’s waiting mouths.
They reached a shiny white bridge that spanned a bubbling creek. The bridge wasn’t big enough for the bird but it forced it’s huge feet, to the amusement of the girls, onto the bridge and shuffled to the other side. The bird turned black when it set foot on the other side of the creek. The girls stood uncertain until the bird spoke.
“It is still me my friends. I changed to this colour because this is my uniform. I am the captain of the guards of the kingdom of ChocoSwirl”.
The girls walked across the bridge and stepped onto the earth beside the bird. At once they were clothes in beautiful and Shimmering rainbow coloured dresses. The dresses covered their feet and the frills were lovely with little cute bows on every inch of their billowing dresses. A song rose from the shining apple trees surrounding them and little dancing snow flakes swirled around them before landing on their hairs pulling their hair together into graceful hair styles fitting for princesses in fairytale books.
The girls clapped their hands in glee and curtsied each other. The bird chuckled and told them to follow him.
They were just a few feet away from the creek when a floating coach and wagon appeared from the tops of the apple trees. A soft breeze carried the scent of Jasmine and sweet apple blossom toward the girls and they looked up hoping to be the first to see this special person.
The coach glided over the tops of the apple trees being pulled as if by the wind. The girls noticed that its wheels were glistening white in the soft sunlight and had cute, pink spirals that started from the center out. The glass in the windows reflected the soft rays of the sunlight into beautiful little rainbows that grew bigger as the coach approached them.
A long trail of white fluffy wool floated behind the coach giving the appearance of an elegant robe train. The girls wondered if this was also made of marshmallows. The coach rounded the tops of the tree and hovered slowly over their heads before going and landing gracefully in a little clearing among the apple trees. Candy and sugar sprinkled from the tops of the apple trees onto the coach as it settled in place. The door on the right hand side of the coach swung open and a leather-clad leg slid out and then a small girl appeared dressed in black leather pants and a pink frilled top that looked like it was made of marshmallows. Her hair was a light blue – mixed with lime green and pink swirl of sugary like – wisp that sat on her head like a soft serve ice cream. Her face was quite pale with a hint of red on either cheeks and apple red lips. She tilted her head to the right and smiled at the girls.
The girls mirrored her action with their heads tilting to the left and returned her infectious smile. Her teeth glowed like phosphorous coral although not in a creepy way.
“Hi there! My name is Candy Pearl!” Her voice sounded soft and fluttery like the sweet, colourful butterflies that remained stuck to their skin. April raised her hand and waved before nudging Ashanti who was gaping in awe at the newcomer with her head still tilted to the left. Caitlin had recovered and was cleaning her glasses on her dress. A small butterfly loosened itself from her dress and flew up over her head before fluttering away.
The three girls stood timidly so Candy Pearl walked over to them and gave the three of them big warm hugs. Caitlin looked over at Ashanti and April,
“She smells like cotton candy!” She whispered softly over Candy’s shoulder.
Candy laughed gleefully and shrugged,
“Yes, I’m the princess of Chocoswirl so I’m supposed to smell sweet. It’s part of my job”, she told them with a sweet smile.
“Would you like to see the rest of the kingdom?”.
The three girls smiled excitedly and nodded their heads eager to explore this wonderland of sweets. It had marshmallow clouds and candy flowers and nesquik for dirt, what more could there be? It was crazy but sweet!
Candy nodded to the big black bird and he bowed her before rising up into the sky and flying away. The coach door opened on the left side and Candy gestered for the girls to step in. April looked up into the sky for the big bird before stepping into Candy’s coach.
The inside of the coach was as April thought it was going to be. The inside walls were pinkish white while they were as soft as pillows and of course made with marshmallows. The embroidery in the shape of butterflies and rose were made with a silky grey strand as thin as a thread and shiny like silver. There were cup holders in the arm rests with pretty little porcelain cups although the tea inside was nice and warm instead of piping hot.
April sat on one side with Candy while Ashanti and Caitlin sat on the other side inside the coach. The princess knocked on the roof of the marshmallow coach three times and the coach lifted off. The tops of the apple trees shook and twisted in their wake lifting a cloud of rainbow coloured dust that twisted and twirled around the coach reflecting off little shadows on their skin.
The coach took them away over the apple trees gliding so gracefully the girls felt like they were on a merry-go-round. April looked over at her two friends and they smiled cheerfully at each other. This was the best dream, but how could it be that the three of them were having the same dream?
To be continued…