Key to Another World

“I’ve got to get out of here!” she was really scared now. “God, please help me,” she prayed, “if only I could get out, I’d never come back here again, I promise!”

She struggled to her feet. She couldn’t see where she was, but she knew the door had to be nearby. Putting her hands out in front of her, she fought through the rain and brush to where the door should be. And, she found it.

“Thanks, God.” Breathing a sigh of relief, she opened the door . . .

To her surprise, the sun was shining brightly, with not a single cloud in the sky. It just didn’t make sense; first it was storming the worst she’d ever seen, now it was a nice sunny day. Looking around at the unfamiliar surroundings, the princess began to wonder just exactly where she was. At least it wasn’t like the other place, but still she wanted to get back to her room. She decided to do some exploring. After all, she couldn’t do much anything else here.

It looked like she was in the middle of a huge apple orchard. She couldn’t remember her father telling her about this, that’s for sure. The apples weren’t quite ripe yet, as she soon found out by biting into one.

“Yuck!” she spit it out. “That is so gross—really sour. Well, I guess that’s what I get for picking one in the first place.”

Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by someone’s approach.

“Hey, you! What do you think you’re doing—stealing apples, huh?” A rough looking boy grabbed her shoulder. “Come on,” he ordered. “We’re gonna go see my Dad. He’ll have something to tell you for sure.”

The princess was shaking. She didn’t know what was going on. First, she thought someone was kidnapping her so they could collect ransom from the royal treasury. Her father had always warned her about that, and he never allowed her to leave the castle without a guard. Now, she thought she was being rightly punished—until the boy said he was bringing her to his Dad.

Maybe he really things I’m stealing apples, she thought. Not that I’d get better treatment than being kidnapped, but at least I can ask him how to get back to the castle. I just hope they believe me. She knew thieves were often punished severely, but maybe they’d just scold her. After all, she was only a young girl.

Now they were walking on a smooth, hard road. She’d never seen anything like it, but she rarely was outside the castle anyway. They were almost to the house now, and it was a strange house, too. Built out of wood instead of stone, and with a white color on the wood. It even had glass windows. Only rich people could buy those, so she knew they weren’t a peasant family. She figured they had to be one of the richer tenants who farmed her father’s estate.

They were at the house and just about to enter it when a girl called out, “Jay, who’s with you?”

“We’ve caught ourselves a thief—one of those gypsies Williams was telling us about,” the princess’ captor answered. “Where’s Dad? I was hoping he could fix this apple-stealing once and for all. That’s why I brought this one back with me.”

“He’s working in the barn.”

“Ok, Cher. We’ll go find him,” Jay turned to face his prisoner. “C’mon, gypsy-beggar, let’s go find the Boss,” he paused for a moment. “If I didn’t you know you couldn’t talk, I’d ask you what your name was, that is, if you even had one.”

The princess looked at him. Jay didn’t seem as mean as he first had. In fact, she was beginning to get used to him. Maybe after they settled everything, he could help her get back to the castle.

Jay woke her up from her daydream. “So, I was right. You don’t even have a name.”

“N-n-n-o,” she stuttered. She was still nervous, and everything here was so different than how it was like at home. She was beginning to think she might even be in a different country. “My name’s . . . Sara.”

“Ok. How do you do, Sara? I’m Jay—if you haven’t gathered that already,” he jokingly held out his hand for a handshake. Sara just looked at it, so he pulled it back. “So, since we can’t find my Dad, I’ll have to do the questioning. Here goes. I already know your name, and saw you eating the apples. What I don’t know is what you’re doing here, or why you were stealing.”

Sara cringed at the word “stealing”—all she’d done was take one bite out of a little apple, and it wasn’t even ripe either! But, she knew she had a lot of explaining to do, not that she knew all the answers.

“I wasn’t stealing your apples, I just tried one, and it was gross!” Jay started laughing. “It’s not funny. As far as being here goes, I never wanted to come to this dumb place to begin with.”

“Yeah? So, how’d you get here?” Jay was really laughing now. “You came with the gypsies, right?”

“I don’t even know who the gypsies are, so of course I didn’t come with them. All I remember is being out in a big storm, and then I was here.”

“You better believe it, strange things happen around here, huh?” She could tell Jay still didn’t believe her.

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