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  • Helms Jarrell

Folk Tale Prompt 4

Updated: Feb 9

Prompt: Through the Looking Glass. You stand in a space (of any kind), with a wonderful looking glass standing before you. If you could go through the looking glass, where might you be? If it is a different place, describe it. If it is a room you know, what would change in your journey into the glass? What would you add or remove from the space? What would remain the same?


Can You Tell Me How To Get Home?


She was finally starting high school. There would be a lot of new people. She’d tried on every outfit in her closet and all sorts of hair styles. She looked in the mirror, prepping for the day, when all of the sudden, she stumbled and somehow stepped through the mirror.


It was dark. Squinting to see, she could make out only a little light ahead. Hands brushing walls on either side she stepped toward what looked like a row of sky lights ahead. The light shone down into the long dark tunnel from what looked like a porthole above her head. A ladder stood in the spotlight. The rungs led straight up. Right hand, left foot, right foot, left hand, she climbed the ladder. As she climbed, she could see around her bits of trash, a trail of ants, a grub worm. Right foot, left hand, she looked at her forearm. Was she losing her mind or did her forearm seem tinted green? She peeked her head out of the porthole. To her right was a brownstone building, six steps leading to the front door. Straight ahead, she could see a green awning, a storefront, a produce stand. She looked down in shock, her arms were most certainly green and hairy. Her eyebrows began to furl. She could feel herself getting very grouchy. She looked to her left. An orange worm crawled next to her. Further in the distance, she thought she saw a giant yellow bird making its way in her direction. Scared for her life, she scrambled back down the ladder as quick as she could.


She stood in the darkness gasping for air. Ahead of her was another light. She felt her way forward. At the base of the light, another ladder. With one hand on the ladder, she drew her chin in toward her chest and closed her eyes. Breathing in a long deep breath, she opened her eyes and began to climb. As she reached the top, she could make out the sound of a pigeon cooing. Peering out for the porthole, she saw two twin beds, a desk, and a lamp stand. On top of the desk were glass jars filled with bottle caps and paper clips. On the lamp stand was a bright yellow toy duck. Looking out the window, she saw the pigeon on the ledge and the street below. The same green awning stood across the street. A door opened and someone came in. He asked a question. Before she could think, her body started to move. A voice came out of her, it answered the question. A force pushed her in the direction of the desk. Her hand lifted, it began organizing the bottle caps in a straight line. Her voice projected out of her, counting 1, 2, 3. Eyes wide, she clenched her jaw and forced herself down the ladder.


At the base of the ladder, she took another deep breath and stepped out of the spotlight. The darkness felt safe for a moment. She reached down to the ground, folded her legs, and let herself rest on the dark cool floor. Her eyes adjusting to the darkness, she could begin to make out shapes and colors on the wall. Taking a closer look, she saw drawings, sketches, clippings of cloth. There were storyboards, scripts, lyrics, and music lining the walls. Approaching the next ladder, she could make out colors of bright red and orange, a drawing of a bicycle, the letters of the alphabet in bold. She walked around the ladder and moved further down the tunnel. The walls here were blue and on them hung framed pictures of cookies. The sight of them reminded her. She had skipped breakfast.

She braced herself and started climbing the ladder. Peeping out of the porthole, she saw a plate of chocolate chip cookies and immediately lost control of her arms. Her hands, which were surprisingly blue and furry, flung themselves at the cookies. A growly “nom nom nom” of satisfaction burst out of her. In a matter of seconds, all that was left was crumbs. Music started playing from somewhere, she didn’t know where. Of no control of her own, her body started to dance, her arms started to move, and she began to sing. The voice coming out of her was low and rumbly. As the music ended, she closed her eyes, pressed her shoulders down away from her ears, and stepped down the ladder.


Knowing where she was now, she had no idea how to get out. Every time she’d climbed up a potential exit, she seemed to take on the personality of someone else. Another force was controlling her words, her movements, her characteristics. She stopped to think for a moment and then walked forward. Along the walls were crayon drawings, stamped letters, a portrait of a teddy bear, a collection of yellow feathers. With a knowing smile, she climbed the ladder. At the top, she found herself perched inside of a large nest.


Standing across from her was an old familiar friend. The two had a long conversation. The old friend was sad about not fitting in. He mentioned that he was worried what others would think about him. He’d even tried on different outfits and different ways of talking, but none of them worked. He was different from everyone else and was worried he’d stand out too much, that no one would like them. The force within her knew just what to say. She encouraged him to be himself, to embrace all the things about himself that make him stand out. They gave each other a hug. He walked out with confidence. She closed her eyes. She knew what to do.


She climbed down the ladder and walked to the next one, passing green and yellow signs as she walked. She approached the last ladder, took in a big gulp of air, and climbed. Peering out of the porthole, she saw a table with a sewing machine, fabric strewn everywhere. To the left there was a bunk bed covered with stuffed animals. The doll in the center wore leg warmers and high top sneakers just like she had on and had its arm wrapped around a fuzzy elephant looking creature. There was a stack of biographies on the floor. On the spines, she could read Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Carrol Spinney. Her yellow bookbag lay on the floor. She took one last look in the mirror, blew a kiss toward the creature she called Snuffy and walked out the door, down the stairs, through her grandad’s storefront and out the door. The sun greeted her as she stepped out from under the green awning and on her way.





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