Early in the spring of her 21st year, Heidi Chapel reclined gently in a meadow of baby’s breath and lilacs. The clouds hung lazily in the indigo sky of the early May evening. She reached her hand out to her side, running her fingers through the grass, letting it tickle her arms until goose bumps rose up like tiny anthills along the smooth pavement of her flesh. Her breath came out in slow easy sighs, blending with the music of the wind combing through her hair.
It was amazing to Heidi that being alone could taste so sweet. But only by being alone could she truly feel connected to anything anymore. With her mind silenced and the grass pressed against her cheek Heidi became part of the Earth. She sank herself deeper and deeper into the ground until she felt roots spring from her mind anchoring her to the world.
The wind stood still for a moment as a voice rose up beside her. “Haven’t seen you here for a bit, Heidi. Welcome back.”
She tilted her head toward his voice as he sat down next to her. A smile flirted onto the corners of her mouth. “Speak for yourself, Andy. I never left Wonderland. I’m here in my mind all the time. Where have you been?”
“Oh, here and there.”
“Oh, this and that.”
Heidi chuckled and turned away. “Always the enigma.”
“Yes of course. But not today. Today is a special day, Heidi. Today is-“
“I know what today is, Andy. How could I not? But please, let’s not talk about that. Let’s just rest here a minute.” Heidi closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting it fall out of her mouth in a heavy sigh.
She put her hand up to stop his words, before lowering her finger to her lips, shushing him. “Don’t ruin today, please. Just let me fall asleep in the grass and don’t wake me up,” she whispered.
“Ok, Heidi. Rest easy. I’ll stand watch, just like when we were young. I’ll keep the monsters away.” He looked at his sister lying in the grass, the wind now a velvet blanket easing her to sleep. “The monsters won’t find you here. I’m King Arthur, remember?”
“I’ll fight the monsters, my lady! I’ll chase them away, for I am King Arthur, brave and true!” Andy was ten and sporting a bright yellow cast. Tromping through the bushes, he swung his sword gallantly.
Over on the other side of the yard, Heidi held down tree limbs forming her prison. Her eight-year-old voice called out to her brother in alarm, “They are coming closer, Arthur! Don’t let them eat me!” Her pitch grew as she continued crying out support to the brave soldier battling the invisible monsters invading their homeland.
Her knight fought bravely. The trolls were toppled, the sea monster shamed, the dragon defeated, and the goblins groveled on their knees to be spared. “I am a merciful King, you beasts! If you promise to serve no one else but me and my sister, you may live.”
“PAUSE!” Heidi shrieked as she ran from her prison cell and feel onto her knees in front of her brother. Scrunching her face, and shrinking her arms until she resembled a newly hatched T-Rex, Heidi presented herself before her King. “We the goblins promise to be loyal subjects! I will take out the garbage for you and your sister and… and… make all of the beds!”
“You must shake my hand for the deal to be good, you disgusting creature.” King Arthur extended his good arm out to his sister. Slowly, she gripped his hand as he shouted, “From this day on this girl shall be my slave! Heidi Chapel will forever serve me, the mighty KING ANDY!”
“That’s not the game, Andy! Let me go!” Andy tightened his grip on her hand as she struggled to pull away. She toppled him, pushing herself on top of him, still trying to free her hand. The two twisted and turned about the yard, grass stains piling up on Andy’s cast and Heidi’s new white summer dress. With angry tears flowing down Heidi’s face, her throat sore from shouting, the fighting wore on until a voice sounded from within the house.
“ANDREW DANIEL CHAPEL! What do you think you are doing? You know you have to be more careful with that cast! Get up right now before you need a matching one on your right arm! Heidi, look at your dress! What are you, a barn animal?” Their mother was an imposing woman in her cream-colored blazer and navy dress. She had her hair twisted into a tight bun, not a hair daring to move out of place. Her kind eyes, revealing an inner child that couldn’t be deterred from playing just by wearing stiff clothing, softened her imposing air.
“MOM! Andy says I have to do all his chores for him because I shook his hand! But I wasn’t shaking his hand, Mom! He was being King Arthur and I was being a goblin!”
“But you always look like a goblin, stupid! That’s why the trick worked,” Andy laughed.
“Andy, be nice to your sister! Playtime is over. Heidi, you don’t have to do any chores but your own chores. Andy, apologize to your sister. And both of you get in this house right now. You both have to change now before we go to lunch with your grandmother. Hurry up.” As she turned around, her motherly scowl turned into a smile that reached from ear to ear and warmed her soul.
Apathetically, Andy rolled his eyes toward his sister. “Heidi, I’m sorry I said you looked like a goblin. And I guess since you’re a baby who got mom involved you don’t have to do my chores.”
“I’m NOT a baby and you’re NOT sorry! I hate you forever and I’ll never talk to you again!” Heidi ran off into the house, leaving King Arthur defenseless and alone in the golden afternoon.