Hello. We’re the pink penguins.
And we have a confession.
But not until next Saturday.
Until then, we have plenty to keep you busy.
Like the recent Twirl.
And our newest creative woman of the Pond interview.
Or our father’s day tribute.
We were going to bring a dutch crumb topped apple pie, but a certain someone ate it.
Wuffle. I was really hungry. Wuffle.
If, of course, you finish all that and still have nothing to do but twiddle your thumbs until our confession Saturday, you can always read the Gift while we’re at the picnic.
But you were planning on that anyway, weren’t you?
For those who don’t know, the Gift is the story of Samantha, a grad student who discovered a strange gift while staying with her friends at her parent’s vacation cabin over winter break. After traveling to her old friend’s bar to try to determine the origin of the strange necklace she received, she suddenly found herself in the enchanted forests of Ireland being pursued by a secret admirer. Can her friends and loser boyfriend Jeremy save her before she gets trapped in a real-life fairy tale? Read on…
To read previous issues of The Gift, look under the Never Ending Stories Tab…
Staggering back, Ashley clutched at her throat. “Are they…” she whispered.
“No.” Aine shook her head, the horrified expression on her face matching Ashley’s. “They’re not dead. Technically.”
“Technically?” Ashley whispered. Creeping closer, she stared into the room. Dozens of girls sat on couches, chairs and chaises covered in lush silks and satins. Clad in elegant silver gowns, their hair was sculpted into crowns of cascading curls woven with jewels. Each girl wore a pendant around her throat. Some had earrings dangling above their shoulders, others had wrists wrapped in golden chair.
Each one wore an engagement ring identical to Samantha’s.
But that wasn’t what had terrified Ashley.
None of the girls moved.
Their chests rose and fell. Occasionally, a finger would lift or a toe would twitch. Their eyes were locked straight ahead, frozen in a glazed expression.
Tiptoeing into the room, Ashley ignored Aine’s hiss of approval from her purse. She stepped in front of the girls, waving her arms. “Hello?” she shouted. “What’s wrong with you?”
“They are married.”
Ashley whirled around. Aine squeaked and ducked as the purse swirled around, smacking Ashley’s back. A girl rose from a couch littered with girls. Like the others, she wore a silver gown and pendant around her neck. Unlike the others, she was faint. Her once vibrant red hair looked as though it had been painted with water color. Her skin was so faint that Ashley could see the outline of the chair behind her. The hairs on the back of Ashley’s neck pricked as the girl stepped forward. Through the folds of her gown, the pattern of the floor rug was visible.
Without tearing her eyes from the girl standing in front of her, Ashley pulled the bag back so Aine could see. “Who are you?”
The girl smiled, her faint green eyes full of sorrow. “I am Elisa.”
Ashley sucked in her breath. “Rouge’s aunt?”
Elisa nodded. “Aye. One and the same.”
“Oh my God.” Ashley’s knees buckled and she stumbled back, plopping down on one of the brides. The others on either side of her flopped over, stacking onto each other like store mannequins.
Aine slapped her hand to her forehead. “For God’s sake…” she muttered, reaching out and yanking one of the bride’s upright. “They’re not dominoes, you know.”
“Why aren’t you like them?” Ashley asked, pointing to the statuesque brides. “Why can I see through you?”
Elisa’s thin lips curled upward. “I escaped,” she whispered, bliss smoothing out her bony cheeks. “I managed to free myself and escape to America.”
Ashley furrowed her brow. “Uh, sorry sweetie to tell you this, but you’re still here with all the other corpse brides,” she pointed out.
Elisa chuckled. “I escaped. Part of me didn’t. He’s always had part of me…Still has part of me. I can’t change that. If I had married him, I never would have been able to leave.” Her face darkened. “And if you don’t rescue your friend, that is her fate as well. Her time is running out.”
Ashley’s throat went dry. “Where is she?”
“In the bridal chambers,” Elisa answered, pointing to a large golden door sculpted with curls of rubies and sapphires. “But you must hurry. I’ve never seen him so anxious. There is something about your friend he desperately wants.”
“Well, he’s not going to get it,” Ashley growled. Leaping over the frozen brides, she rushed to the bridal suite.
“You know, we’re going to die.”
Rouge lifted his head wearily. “That’s the third time you’ve said that in the past ten minutes,” he pointed out. “It’s getting a bit old.”
Jeremy scowled. “You’re the one that got us into this. I’m going to die because of you.” He crossed his arms. “You should apologize, at least.”
“If I did, you’d have nothing to complain about.” Rouge closed his eyes and leaned his head against the stone wall behind him. “I wish I could sleep. I wish this all was a dream. In dreams, everything goes the way you want them to.”
“That’s not true,” Jeremy whined. “What about nightmares? Nothing goes right in a nightmare!” He tapped his chin. “We must be in one.”
Rouge ignored him, turning his head away. The second he closed his eyes, Samantha had popped into his memory. He could still smell her hair, hear her laugh. He imagined running out of this castle with her, her hand in his as they ran across the forest. They could leap into the Jeep, barrel down the road and be in the hotel that night. His face cracked into a smile. The first thing he would do is feed her, he thought. Samantha hated being without food. And then they would spend the night talking. He would tell her why he had to leave her, why he came back to Ireland. He would tell her everything.
And then, he would tell her what he had wanted to say for so long…
“You know, these elf people are obsessed with dreams,” Jeremy drawled, tapping his foot against the marble floor.
Rouge’s eyes flew open. “What?”
“Well, that fairy in the woods said that thing about the poor dude only being able to give the rich lady his dreams,” Jeremy pointed out. “The thing by Yeats:
“Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with the golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet.
But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams beneath your feet.
So tread softly because you tread on my dreams.“
“What’s your point?” Rouge asked wearily. “Was this worth waking me up for?
“You weren’t asleep,” Jeremy scoffed. He chewed on his lip, his tongue tapping against his teeth. “Then your grandmother said:
“Come to me,
Wearing nothing but jewels and leaves.
With a flower in your hair,
I’ll wed thee under the stars.”
“Do you have a photographic memory or something?” Rouge demanded.
“If I did, I’d remember pictures more than words,” Jeremy corrected, shooting a scathing glare towards him. “Besides, tell me exactly what else I’m supposed to think about while I’m stuck in here.”
“How much of a jerk you are for giving Samantha work out DVDs for Christmas?” Rouge suggested.
Jeremy made a face. “Funny.” He sat back, throwing his arm around his face. Rouge stared at the mesh walls of the cell, an idea stirring in his mind.
“Dreams,” he murmured, knotting his fingers together. “Dreams. Being poor, I have only my dreams…be careful, because you tread on my dreams…” He slammed his fist into the marble so hard he startled the sleeping watch troll. “That’s it!”
Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! We have a week full of whimsical fun coming up! We’ve got a new friend to introduce tommorow, a new Coconut Queen, a tasty treat Thursday and a new Twirl! Stay tuned!
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