Tina opened her mouth to answer, but stopped, confused. Everywhere hills, valleys, mountains, trees, everything opened up in sight. Only, every stone on the road, the road itself, giant trunks of century-old trees, everything was white.
‘Is it snow?’, asked Tina reaching to what seemed to be a heavy curtain that hung on the side of the road. How come she wasn’t cold? She was wearing only a blue house gown.
Ella didn’t answer distracted by her own amazement. Her gaze pierced through the white branches of a white tree, towards the white sky sprinkled with white little clouds, tracing the white flight of a white bird into the bright light of a white sun. How is it that I can tell things apart when they are all white?
Tina placed her palm on the curtain. She withdrew it almost instantly. The whiteness around it was soft, fluffy and warm. It had taken the shape of her hand. As soon she withdrew it, the curtain regained its initial form.
‘Aaah… hmm! No snow! For sure.’, she mumbled.
‘Fragrant!’, Ella exclaimed. ‘Flowers and fruits! That’s the smell!’
‘Right so!’ confirmed her sister after experiencing herself.’
‘Ugh… pretty wired… So, where would we be right now?’
‘Umm… no idea. What do you think? Surprise from our parents?’
“Think no… I mean, I get the feeling that our parents had nothing to do with this.’
‘Yeah, me too. So what now?’ Tina went on.
Something of this new air told them they were not in danger. They could not explain why they weren’t at all afraid. But rather preoccupied with the mystery of the place. They watched the ghostly scenery again. As if by magic, the thought emerged at the same time: had to follow the road! The only way, if they were to find any answers. And on they stepped.
The surroundings were neither quiet, nor barren, and probably, not uninhabited either. All the sounds of a normal nature setting were present. Hiss of wind, flutter of wings, buzz of insects in the thick grass, whispers of leaves in the trees. The only unfamiliar thing was the strange curtain that meandered along the road. It made no sounds. Its height, though impossible to fathom, did not hide the horizon. And, of course, the whiteness, present in everything and anything. The only colored spots in the entire landscape were the little girls.
Soon, the road led them into a glade where the perfume of flowers was even more alluring. A garden! A garden full of flowers, of such richness as the girls had never seen before.
Ella left the road. She stepped curiously among them. Some were completely unknown to her, though she knew quite many types. She really loved flowers.
‘Wait. I’m coming too!’ Tina rushed.
But, in her haste, she tripped over a bush of bluebells. The fall took her by surprise. She didn’t have time to balance herself in any way. She landed, eyes closed, anticipating the shock. But, instead of the deaf thump she expected, Tina felt nothing. No noise, no pain, no injury. Just a soothing sensation of comfort.
‘Hey!’ she exclaimed.
‘Are you alright?’
‘Uhum! But you have to see for yourself. Fall into the grass!’
‘Sure! Think I’m gonna have your luck?!’
‘Nooo…it’s not luck. You’ll see, it won’t hurt! Ok, then, just sit on the grass.’
Ella sat next to her sister, as told. The flowers, the grass, the ground, molded after her body, forming a soft cradle.
‘Hmm’, muttered Tina, enlightened now as to why she hadn’t been hurt.
‘This place is very strange’, Ella declared.
‘Where do you think the flowers went?’, asked Tina. ‘There were flowers where we now sit.’
‘Well, as with many things around here, I have no idea’, Ella said getting up.
Beneath her the mystery unveiled. The flowers came back, just as they were before. None of them was touched in any way. No breaking or bending. Not one petal was out of place, as if nothing happened.
‘Uh…., do you think we’re dreaming?’, asked Tina, as she got up.
‘Could be… though… both of us the same dream?!’
‘Anyway, we’ll find the answer at the end of this road! It has to lead somewhere!’
‘Definitely!’, Tina smiled and restarted the game.
Not long after, amid the round winding of loops, a palace appeared. As they approached it, the girls could see rich crenels and fine adornments. White, petrified ornaments were guarding every tower.
They stepped on the alley that led to the main entrance. Each rising column was backed by frozen, ivory figures. On either side of the alley they were blossomed trees and rich lianas. At gentle breezes white petals searched the ground in whimsical dances.
The entrance rose threateningly before them. Two door knobs were hidden amidst ornaments. Tina, strongly, grabbed one and knocked. They held their breath as they waited in the sea of whiteness. It become eerily quiet. The door began to open. Ever so slowly, like a sleepy giant. And, if the white realm had been strange, what the girls were about to see was at least as surprising, if not, the most curious thing ever. A gray puppy, with eyes half shut, dressed in a pink overall, walking like people do, on his rear paws, was the one who opened the door.
The stares of the girls were becoming quite rude, but the creature was well worth being studied, for though, the size of an adult, it was merely a toy puppy.
‘Huh!’, managed Tina to exclaim.
‘Welcome, young ladies. Please come in, the fairies await you!’, came the hoarse, lazy voice of the puppy.
‘Huh!’, went Tina again. ‘He talks!’
Ella came to her senses first. Their lack of politeness was beyond any limit.
‘Nice to make your acquaintance, Mr. Puppy! If you could kindly explain who are the fairies and what is this extremely odd place… ? And, more importantly, were are our parents? We’ve been calm and all, but really, we don’t know these surroundings!’
‘Your parents are very well. At home, where you left them. And you are perfectly safe in the White Kingdom. The fairies will explain everything. Please follow me.’
That said, Mr. Puppy led the way. He followed an intricate path through corridors, vast halls and imposing columns. Among them, a motley population passed hastily in all directions. Black kitties with white boots and coddled gazes, pink, white or brown bunnies, yellow mice, penguins in elegant frocks, old men with long, white beards, dolls in dotted dresses, reindeer with red vests. And so many others that the little girls didn’t get to see. They kept close to their guide. And each and every one of them, though they were toys, moved and talked just like people do. Two dinosaurs, one dark blue, other light blue, with beautiful, gentle eyes crossed them. Mr. Puppy stopped, waiting with polite patience for the giant tails to pass.
‘If it’s a dream, it’s a beautiful one’, said Ella, her eyes following a spotted puppy, twice as big as her.
‘Do you see that this palace has colors? It’s not white like everything else outside.’
‘Sshhh!’, Ella cautioned her, though the noise around was loud enough to cover their conversation.
But, she stayed with her sister’s remark. The crowd in the palace was made of countless intertwined, colored spots: red and white, blue and yellow, pink and green, dark brown and light brown and purple. In the most fanciful shapes and combinations.
Almost unexpectedly they found themselves in the throne hall. Not very different from the rest of the palace, perhaps larger, it hosted the two emerald thrones.
‘Welcome to the White Kingdom!’ came a crystalline, welcoming voice.
Two fairies of unseen beauty rose from the emerald thrones and walked lightly towards the girls. One of them was dark haired, with deep blue eyes and fine, porcelain, features. Her black hair fell in heavy weaves along a graceful body, wrapped in white veils. The other one had golden sparks in her hair. Eyes just as blue and deep. Marmoreal hands came out of the same kind of white veil dress.
The girls couldn’t take their eyes off the unearthly beauties in front of them. Especially those hypnotically, ravishingly blue, shadowed by long, dark lashes eyes.
The little girl went to the mirror, made a cheerful face and, fondly, winked herself. The mirror image showed a brown hair way more rebellious than mommy would have fancied. She thought for a second, then she tapped it with her hand and, of course, ruffled it even more. But the chore was done, regardless of the outcome. So she rushed outside the room, slamming the door against the wall and ran down the spiral staircase, eager to get to dinner. The next day was Christmas and, in her haste, she believed she could drag the world with her, skip today and jump straight into the magical night.
In the dining room the table was already set. Her sister was waiting patiently, sitting straight in her chair. Tina tried to calm her agitated breath and adopt an elegant bearing. As she took her seat, she threw an accomplice look to her sister. “She didn’t comb her hair, yet again”, Ella thought to herself. But, despite the expected rebuke, dinner unfolded without incidents. Perhaps the parents were also caught up in the excitement of the following days, and were too busy or too amused.
Later on, the little girls were sitting tight, against each other, on the large, beautifully set bed in Tina’s bedroom. They were whispering, although nobody else was around.
‘Do you believe Santa is watching us?’, Ella asked, looking furtively at the big, bright window.
‘Not sure’, said her sister, unwittingly imitating Ella’s glance.
‘Think they can tell we’ve been going through the sweets?’, said Ella in a firm voice, suddenly preoccupied with more practical concerns.
‘Hmm, …think not… We’ve been careful to leave everything exactly the same.’
‘Maybe we shouldn’t do this when they’re out .’
‘Riiiiight’, Tina chuckled, ‘It’s not like we’ve been doing it every year and they haven’t got a clue!’
‘Hey, remember when we used to keep watch to see Santa coming with the presents?’
‘Yep. Me five minutes, then you another five minutes for about half hour. After which we’d fall sound asleep. Only to wake up to find the presents already under the tree.’
‘Time passes sooooooo slowly’, Ella complained. ‘Couldn’t today be tomorrow?’
‘Wouldn’t that be nice? ‘
‘Can’t we make it tomorrow?’
‘How?’, said Tina; her eyes bright with the anticipation of the game she was sensing being invented on spot.
‘Let’s put a dot to it.’
‘Yes! Let’s put a dot to this day. Make it finish!’
‘Yes, yes!’, Tina enthused, clapping her hands. ‘And how exactly do we do that?’, followed the question on a deliberately serious tone.
‘Well.. easy! We just put a Dot to it. Like so’, said Ella and stood up. She gathered her hands above her head, then separated and lowered them in an ovoid shape. Then gathered them again, just above the bed. She straightened her back with her face flushed, smiling at her sister. ‘Like that!’
‘Yes, but it won’t work unless we put it together!’
‘Absolutely!’, Ella continued with fervor one of their favorite games.
‘Nooo, not fair! That doesn’t count! There’s more than one word in it!’
‘And „no doubt” is one?’
‘Let’s just put the dot’, Ella gave in.
‘Yeah, but it’s not good on the bed.’
‘On the floor. So it can work’, the little girl exaggerated, with that specific emphasis that children often put into their games.
That said, the sisters rose from the bed and faced each other. They joined their hands and drew a circle of sorts in the air. Then they sat back, satisfied, after a job well done.
‘So, what do you think you’ll get this year?’, Tina retook the conversation.
‘I want a pretty doll with long hair, so I can try fancy hairdos every day! And you?’
‘Emmm…No dolls. Especially not with long hair. I wouldn’t have the patience to fix it. Plus I’m no good at it.’
‘I would do yours too!’, Ella rushed to solve such an insignificant detail.
‘Nooo… I want an interesting game. Something that really captivates the imagination’, explained Tina in words that she didn’t fully understand, but heard ”the grown ups” use.
‘Anyway, let’s not rush with the assumptions. We can’t tell for sure.’
‘I want a fairy costume’, Ella went on, ignoring her sister’s call to reality. ‘A full costume, with a dress and silver shoes…’
‘Yes, yes! And with a magic wand and… and… magic stardust’, Tina got carried away.
‘One that can cast spells!’, both girls said as one.
‘Hmm, but a princess one would do too’, Ella amended reasonably.
‘Yes. But still, a fairy one is nicer!’
The discussion must have went on, sliding on the miraculous slopes of assumptions and riddles. For how long, and what turns it may have taken, that we do not know. But, a while later, in the bluish evening, two little girls were sleeping in the large bed of a warm bedroom, surrounded by the sweet mystery of dreams.