Apprehended : The Untold Story of What Happened After the Story Closed – Allyson Roseburg


 Everybody thinks they know the story of Cinderella.  The glass slipper, the prince, the evil step-mother and step-sisters.  But that’s no nowhere close to the whole story.  The truth is, the tale exaggerated its contents.  As for the step-sisters, one of them had a daughter, who had to live her life with the shadow of her family’s fairy tale actions looming over her.   

At some point of their life, everybody wants to live in a fairy tale.  But Annabella Fisher’s family was and is now ruined because of it.  This is her story.  

Annabella Fisher is the daughter of the youngest of the “wicked step-sisters.”  She was born 2 years before her grandmother was released from prison and lives with her mother.  One day, when Queen Ella breaks her leg after falling off her horse, Annabella and her family get the blame and Annabella is wrongly arrested.  Annabella had always known that her family was treated differently because of their history, but this is when she fully learns the extent of it.  

While in jail, she meets Leana, the spunky daughter of Maleficent.  The two become close friends, but the question remains, will the girls be able to fight back rekindled hatred and be able to untangle themselves from their past, or will they forever only be known by it?

Blurb #2

Coming soon!

There was once a girl who lived in a town built on a foundation of fairy tales, with neighbors who confused the stories with reality.  Annabella Fisher was the daughter of Charlotte Fisher, the younger of the “wicked step-sisters” from Cinderelala’s fairy tale.  Many couldn’t see the girl that she is, instead only seeing the past that the story had depicted that she had, prejudice which cause the 14 year old 


  One the edge of a clearing, a little girl played in a patch of flowers as birds chirped around her.  Behind her a group of people were searching the forest ground and picking small plants.  A taller man, the only one who wasn’t wearing something that was threadbare, walked up to a woman with dirty blonde hair pulled back in a messy ponytail.  His face was defiant, and as he talked, her’s grew fearful.  She seemed to plead with the man, but he held up a finger and pointed into the field.  

“Go!  We don’t want your family here anymore!” he shouted, the only part of their conversation audible from the field.  The woman fled, picking up her little daughter as she ran.  

“Come on Annabella, we must go now.”  

“But Mommy, my flowers!”  The little girl whined as the flowers she was holding fell out of her hands.  She squirmed out of her mother’s arms and reached out to grab them, but her mother grabbed her wrist. 

“No.  Come Annabella.”  

“But Mommy!!  I want my flowers!!” 

 “You’ll have to find more flowers.  We have to leave now.” 

 “Why Mommy?”  The woman didn’t answer but the little girl still reached up and reluctantly went with her mother.  They rushed out of the field, towards their small home.  As they got inside, mild chaos greeted them.  A man was rushing around, shoving stuff into a bag.  He was too distracted to notice the door opening.

“Going somewhere?”  The man jumped, and frantically looked towards the doorway, surprised.  The woman put her hands on her hips and looked at the man with disappointment etched on her face.  

“Ch-ch-Charlotte,”  he stuttered.  “I d-di-didn’t ex-expect you t-to come home un-ti-til 6:30”  Charlotte ignores this.

“Going somewhere?” she repeated.  The man looked around as if she was talking to someone else.  His eyes darted around the room, as if looking at the mess enough would make it go away.  His hand grasped the suitcase, and tried to push it behind his body, as his mouth fumbled for words, opening and closing like a fish out of water.

“That is the worst attempt to hide something that I’ve ever seen.  I see it!  So fess up.”  Charlotte seemed tired, as if this happens regularly. 

“Fine!  You really want to know?”  Charlotte didn’t answer, but didn’t interrupt either and looked at him expectantly. “I’m leaving.  I don’t know why I even married you in the first place.  You’re a stupid, ugly, horriable woman, with a stupid, ugly, horrible daughter!”  Annabella’s lip was quivering and when Charlotte looked down, the little girl started to cry, tears tracing lines down her cheeks.   When he took a step towards them, Charlotte protectively pushed Annabella behind her.  He kept slowly moving towards them, face full of hatred.

“You know why I want to leave?”  Charlotte kept walking backwards, her face now scared.  “Because I’m tired of this!”  He guestered around the room and looked as if he had been wanting to say this for a long time and his voice became steadier, (and louder) as he continued his tirade, barely breathing.  “All of this!!  I’m tired of living on the edge of nowhere!!  I’m tired of having to go out every morning to more graffiti on the house and fence!  I’m tired of going out to get my morning paper to find the mailbox stuffed with hate mail!  I’m tired of constantly hiding you from the police!!  I’m tired of how hard it is to get a job and how easily they fire me!  I’m tired of being followed by the police whenever I go out in public!  I’m tired of not being able to live a normal life like everyone else!!”  He paused, exhausted and short of breath.   Charlotte looked like he had just stabbed her.  

She closed her eyes, prepared for the worst,  “Were you even planning on telling me any of this?”

“No.” The man replied bluntly.  Her head slumped and tears began to well up in Charlotte’s eyes, but did not fall.

“You were just going to leave?”

Again the man’s response was blunt.  “Yes.”  This single word caused one of the tears building up in Charlotte’s eyes to cascade down her cheeks.  “It was my only option.”  Charlotte’s visage suddenly became hard and any remnants of sadness faded away. 

“No.”  She looked up and glared at the man.  Anger and hatred consumed her, she looked like she was going to punch him.  “There is never only one option.”  She turned to her daughter, “Annabella, why don’t you go play in the backyard?  Mommy and this man,” She uttered man like a swear word, “need to talk about some adult stuff.”  Annabella cowered behind her mother’s leg, but with a gentle push of encouragement, she ran out the door and around the house to the backyard.  Charlotte watched her go before turning back on her soon to be ex-husband. 

 She walked towards the man, slowly at first and he didn’t step back, until she pulled her sleeve over her fingers, raised her now closed fist and punched him across the jaw.  He staggered back, his hand flying to his mouth as he looked at her in shock and awe.  

“You know what, maybe I’ll just-”


“Stay.”  His face is one of desperation, though his hand is still against his check.

“You wanted to leave so badly just a minute ago.”

“But will you punch me again if I leave?  Cause I don’t want to take any chances.  You can throw a mean one.”

“How sweet of you to say right as I’m going to punch the crap out of you.”  The man takes a step back at this.  Charlotte takes a step forward and starts walking towards him.  His eyes grow wide and his hands fly up, but she sidesteps him.  She walks into the dining room and starts to shuffle through the papers waiting in the shred pile.   The man’s eyes suddenly grow panicked and his stutter comes back.  

“Wh-wh-what are you doing?

Charlotte ignores this, but finding what she was looking for, hisses.

“How dare you!”  Her voice is barely audible but rings with hatred.  She is temporarily lost for words.  “You-”  She pauses, unable to find words to express her hatred.  “You devil!!  Is this what you have been doing while I work my fingers raw to feed all of us?!”  She whips around to face him.  “ You could’ve at least told me.  Would have saved you a lot of pain in the long run.”  The man takes another step back. 

“I d-don’t know what you’re talking about.”  

“Yes you do.”  Charlotte’s reply is the counter opposite of the man’s.   Blunt and bold, while his that was shaky and uncertain. 

“No I don’t!”

“Just stop.  You’re just embarrassing yourself.”  The man’s mouth, which had been open, a remark ready, closed as he looked at his feet.  She pulls an extra paper in her hand that she had grabbed when getting to the one she was looking for and barely glances at it, before throwing it back on the pile.  Opening her mouth to speak, she pauses, turning back to look at the paper she had just put back in the stack.  The man sees what it is and tries to get Charlotte’s attention off of it.

“Charlotte!  What is the paper you have?  Ok, fine, maybe I know what it is.”

“Oh I already knew you knew what it was.”  Charlotte doesn’t look up at him, but reaches out to pick the second paper up.

“There might just be several papers I didn’t want you to see, so I wasn’t sure which one you were talking about.”  Charlotte looks up and the man’s lip curls up slightly, happy he got her attention off of the second paper.  Disappointment was etched on her face as she sighed.

“Why am I not surprised?”  She turns her head back to the second paper, and the man’s eyes widen again.  He lunges out to grab it but she snaches it up and holds it out of his reach.  “Oh my goodness gracious.”  Her voice is quiet, but to the man, she could have been screaming.  “This-this, just why?”  Her face turned sad, but it changed to utter loathing as she turned back to the man, brandishing the papers.  “I’m not surprised that you were filing for a divorce.  I will be too, after today.  But this?!  Of all things!!  Seriously?!?!  There is barely enough food to go on the table as is, and this is where all of my hard earned money is going?”  Charlotte threw the papers to the floor before picking up the man’s bag and throwing it at his chest and stabbing her finger towards the door.  “Get out of my house!!” Unseen by either, Annabella watched this exchange lay out, her scared eyes barely visible above the windowsill.  She watched as her father turned heel and fled out of the house, with not so much as a goodbye.  She watched as her mother slammed the door behind him, and watched as her mother then crumpled to the ground, heaving with sobs.  She watched as the shadow of her father grew smaller on the horizon, never once turning back to say goodbye.  And little Annabella watched, as her whole world fell apart around her, her innocence shattering.


Chapter One


“Ha!”  Annabella Fisher, now 14, moved her black knight piece across the board, taking out  her mom’s bishop and leaving only the queen, king, and a few pawns left. 

  “I never saw that coming.  You really are amazing at this.” said Annabella’s mom, Charlotte, sarcasm dripping from her voice.  She promptly picked up her queen and moved it into line with one of Annabella’s castles.

“Can’t take me down that easily.”  Annabella moved her piece out of the way.  Promptly, Charlotte moved the piece in the opposite direction, cornering Annabella’s king in a corner.  

“Check mate!”  She taunted.    

“Not again . . . ”  Annabella whined as she stuck her tongue out at her. “Thanks for going easy on me mom.  Not.”  She whispered the last word, but Charllote still heard it.

“Nice try sweetie, but I’m not going to go easy on you!  How are you going to get better if you don’t have to try to win??  You have been getting a lot better!  Do you want to play again?”  Annabella looked up at her and grinned.

“Definitely.  Prepare to be beaten.”  Charlotte smiled back at her and moved to reset the pieces, but was stopped by the sound of a knock at the door.  “I better go get that.  Wonder who it is at this hour.  Can you set up the board?”  Annabella peaked through the curtains behind her as Charlotte reached the stairs, the door being at the bottom.  She had just about disappeared from view, when Annabella registered who was at the door.  Her eyes widened and she cried out.

“Mom!!  Don’t open it!”

Charlotte’s head peaked up the stairs.  “Why?”

“It’s the police.  The police are at the door.  And-”  Annabella peared towards the driveway.  “And-”  Annabella gulped.  “They’ve got Gran and Aunt Fern in a cruiser.”

The police knocked again, harder this time.

Charlotte’s eyes, already wide from Annabella’s news, grew to the size of dinner plates as she started to hyperventilate.  She gripped Annabella by the shoulders.

“Annabella, is there anything that you’ve done that they could be here for?  Did you do anything that you shouldn’t have done?”

“No!  The only time I’ve even been off our property was to help Aunt Ella with the stables.  Why are we always the ones blamed for everything, just because you and Aunt Fern and Gran did to Aunt Ella years ago?!”

“Because the world can be a cruel place, full of selfless people who need a villain to believe in.  And we happen to fit the part.”  Annabella looked shocked.

“Seriously?!  That is the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard!!”

“I know.  But still.  They are going to break down the door if we don’t open it first.”  As if on queue, the police knocked again, if possible even harder and called out,

“We know you’re in there!  Come out or we are coming in!”  Charlotte gulped and then moved towards the stairs.

“Mom!”  Annabella pleaded.  “What are you doing?!”  Annabella grasped her mother’s wrist and looked into her eyes.   “Please.”  But Charlotte’s gaze told her everything.  “Please.”  Annabella repeated.  “Don’t go.” 

“They are coming for us anyway.”


“I think so, unfortunately.  Now come.”  Annabella looked hesitant and became even more frozen when the hard knocking on the door started again.   “Come.”  Charlotte repeated and Annabella obeyed.

As they were walking down the stairs, Annabella nervously said, “I feel like we are walking to our doom.”  This made Charlotte laugh.

“It’s not that bad.  We’ll be fine.  We’ve done nothing wrong”  And with that she opened the door and greeted the officers.

It was that bad.  Upon opening the door, nearly  a dozen guards met them.

“Finally.”  One of them breathed.  Charlotte glared at him while Annabella looked around, looking for an escape route, and unfortunately one of the guards noticed.  “Now, don’t try anything funny there princess, we’ve got you outnumbered, 10 to 2.  If you run, we will catch you.  So don’t even think about it.”  Annabella opened her mouth to retaliate, to say that not only should no one in their right mind think that they could call her a little princess without suffering the consequences, but also that she could easily beat any of them in a fair fight. Fortunately for the guards, Charlotte reached out her hand and touched Annabella’s arm, redirecting her thoughts.  

“Sweetie, I know what you want to say,”  Charlotte whispered in her ear, “but you can’t talk back to him or he will hold it against you.  I’ve met this guard before.  He’s not the nicest of the bunch.  Quite the opposite in fact.  He truly will hold every little thing against you, so no matter how mean he is talking, do not, I repeat DO NOT talk back to him or he will make your life miserable.”  Annabella closed her mouth and silently fumed.  “We need to keep your record clean.  Well, clean enough.  I’m not saying a little mischief isn’t a bad thing every now and then, but you need to know where to draw the line and when to refrain to keep yourself safe.”  Annabella nodded.

“Ok.”  Annabella whispered back.

“Enough chit chat!”  The guard barked.  Annabella was now going to silently refer to him as Mr. Mean or The Mean Guard  “Hands up where I can see them!”  The order scared Anabella back into focus and she followed suit as her mother raised her hands to shoulder high.  Charlotte was as pale as a ghost and her breaths were fast and shallow.   Mr. Mean pointed to two of the guards.  “You two!!!  Go search the house!  I want no corner unsearched, no drawer unchecked!!  I want you to go through every inch of that house with a comb so fine it couldn’t pass through air!!!  What are you waiting for?!  Go already!!!”  His voice, already louder than a chainsaw, reflected against the trees and house, reverberating in  Annabella’s ears and making her feel like they were about to explode.  

The two guards moved forward, snapping gloves onto their hands as they walked, but Charlotte stepped in front of them, blocking the door.  “I do believe that you need a search warrant to enter my home, and without one, you will stay right here.”  She stayed surprisingly calm, and held her ground in front of the door, her hands still raised.  The mean guard’s face broke into a smirk.

“Oh, do you mean like one of these?  I believe I have an extra copy.  Here.”  He handed Charlotte a small piece of paper and her face whitened.  Dropping her hands, she stepped aside and the guards rushed into the house.  Moments later, a crash was audible and Charlotte flinched.   Annabella knew how she hated the house to be messy.  Every night she would put everything used that day away until the house was perfect.   They both knew that nothing would be in the right spot after they were done.  Now Charlotte pulled her eyes away from the paper and looked up at the guard, her confidence draining away.

“Sir, we’ve done nothing wrong-”  The guard snorted.

“That’s what they all say.  Now, hands out.”  Charlotte, looking weak and defeated, held out her wrists.  The guard smiled.   

Suddenly, one of the guards rushed out of the house, brandishing a piece of paper.  “Boss!  Look what I found in the girl’s room!” The head guard skimmed it briefly, before tossing it back.

“Good work.  Hand it to the Warden when you are done.”  He turned back to Charlotte and Annabella, and then whipped back around to the other guard, who was just about to go into the house again.  “Todd!  Wait, come back here with that.”  Confused, Todd came back, and handed the paper back over.  As he re-examined it, the head guard’s smile grew.  He patted Todd on the back, saying, “Good work!  This is just what we needed!  You’ll need to take the other two back home though.  No need to apologize.”  Charlotte shared a glance with her daughter, both equally confused.

Mr. Mean turned back towards the two women, and unclipped a pair of handcuffs from his belt.  “Hands out.”  Again, Charlotte put out her wrists, but the guard smirked.  “Not you, just the girl.” 

 Annabella turned, scared, to her mother and was faced with an expression of equal appall.  “Mom?”  Her voice was quiet and fearful.  A single tear dripped down Charlotte’s check before she turned back towards the guards.

“You can’t take my daughter.”   Charlotte pulled Annabella behind her, like she had all of the years ago to protect Annabella from her father.  “I won’t let you.”

“As much as I want to take you too, you demon, I now only have evidence for her.”

“What do you even think she did?  She hasn’t even been in town for months now.”

“Lies,” The guard hissed.  “Queen Ella broke her leg and Ms. Garcia said that she saw someone on the scene moments before, sneaking into the castle.  Apparently they messed with the saddle and then scared the horse, causing it to buck the queen off.   The poor queen is lucky she wasn’t trampled and killed.”  

 He swung the handcuffs on one figers and held out his other hand for her palms.  “So, hands please. ”  Two guards walked up behind Charlotte and grabbed her arms, making her jump.  She turned her head to each of them in turn, gulped, and turned back to her daughter, watching helplessly as her own child’s wrists were bound behind her and she was escorted to one of the cruisers.  Their eyes locked and Annabella’s eyes pleaded at her mother, begging her to get her out.  

“Please.  I just want to go home.  I didn’t do anything.”  She whispered to the window as the car pulled away and she watched Charlotte struggling against the guards, dying to get to her daughter, as she was taken away.  Slowly, Charlotte stopped fighting the guards, and just stood there, tears streaming silently down her cheeks.  She didn’t feel the guards release her and didn’t hear their cars pull away, she just stood there, bewailing her daughter, praying that she would be able to see her again.


Chapter Two


In movies, whenever characters arrive somewhere that is bad or that has an evil vibe to it, like a prison for example, it is always dark and rainy, with lightning lighting up the sky.  But in Annabella’s opinion, that could not be more unlike today.  The grass was still coated in morning dew and the sky was blue and cloudless.  Birds fluttered over the forest, and it would have been the perfect day for a picnic.   But as the police cruiser drove closer to the looming gates of Roslin Falls Penitentiary, it was not the sky or the birds, that were mocking her, that Annabella would remember.  She would always remember for a different reason.  She would remember it as the day when she got her first look, up close and personal, with a jail cell.

Roslin Falls Penitentiary, though large for the size of the town, was still on the small side.  It was two stories tall and about 200 ft. wide.  It could hold around 100 people and had 15 “high security” cells.  There were two courtyards (surrounded by a 10 ft. high stone wall and topped in barbed wire, in addition to the also barbed wire topped fence encircling the whole building), a dining room and kitchen, and a small entrance call, as well as a visitor station.  All exits in or out of the building were monitored by security cameras, on-site guards, and were secured by scanners, which would only open with the qr code from one of the guard’s badges, and number codes.  All of the windows were barred (except the one in the Warden’s office, of course) and electrified.  Inmates were locked in their cells except for meals at 7 am, noon, and 6 pm, optional courtyard time after lunch, and visitation hours on Saturdays.  You could use the restroom before or after meals, and if not, well there was a bucket in all of the cells if you needed it.  The only other time you could leave was if you were called in for a court hearing.

Upon arriving, Annabella was taken through the great hall, and escorted straight to cell A3.  It was a small room, only about 10 ft. by 10 ft., and contained a small table with a stack of books on it, a tiny window, and two beds.  Perched on the end of the farthest one was a girl, about Annabella’s age, if not a little older, with straight, black hair, braided into thick two plaits running down the length of her back.  Two metal bracelets encased her wrists, their copper branches reaching part way up her arm.  Her pale skin seemed to glow in the faint light as she turned upon hearing the door open. 

 “No need to stand in the doorway, come in.”  Her tone was bold and commanding, and said that no one could tell her no.  Annabella liked her already.  “Well, what are you waiting for?  Get over here already.”  She motioned for the guards to come in, but they stayed put, frozen in place.  Annabella quickly rubbed the tears, still on her cheeks, off her face and pulled away from the guards.  Her quick movement pulled the guard’s focus back to her and they pushed her in, before briskly closing and locking the door.  

The girl turned to Annabella.  “Don’t mind them.  They ain’t nothin’ but infectious beetle-headed barnacles, the direct spawn of Satan himself.”  Annabella snorted in spite of herself, this girl had a bold way of talking.  “I’m Adalinda.  Adalinda Griffin, daughter of Maleficent; though seriously, who names their daughter Adalinda?  Dad chose it, it was the only thing I was ever told about him.  Though honestly, my mom didn’t even tell me. I had to convince one of her friends to tell me.  But back on track though, you may call me Leana.  Who might you be?”

Annabella and Leana quickly became close friends, and over time, their abundance of similarities were uncovered, tightening their bond.  Though Annabella missed being able to see her family, and was only able to see her aunt at meal times, Leana helped to keep her from falling apart and gave her someone she could trust and rely on to be there for her.  Within weeks, the two girls would tell each other everything and acted like they had known each other their entire lives.  

But they both knew they didn’t belong here, Annabella because of the whole thing with Queen Ella and her leg, and Leana with a note given to Queen Aurora and King Phillp claiming that when the time came, their child too would be cursed, and killing Maleficent ended nothing when her child lived on.  Annabella believed Leana when she said she was set up, because while Leana was bold and confident, she wouldn’t go so far to do something like that.  

Anyways, when Annabella asked her, Leana claimed there is no way she would do something like that.  It would be ridiculous and over the top.  She also pointed out, that if she were to do something like that, she wouldn’t be stupid enough to leave the spinning wheel in her house.  Annabella had to give her that.

As tight of friends they had become, they often disagreed, with their main topic of argument was escape.  Annabella wanted to wait until her trial, tell the truth, and then hopefully be found innocent, and released.  Leana, on the other hand, pointed out that they were the daughters of famous villains, and the Warden and royal court were likely to keep them locked up tight, not wanting them to cause more problems with their perfect society.  Leana thought they should escape.

“Escaping is our only chance.”

Annabella turned away from the window, where she spent most of her time.  “No, it isn’t”

“Darling, how else do you plan to get out of this quod?”

“There is something called a court hearing.  Ever heard of it?”

Leana raised an eyebrow in response.  “And you think those foul spoken cowards will give you a fair trial?”  Annabella hesitated, and Leana grinned defiantly.  “Exactly.  I’ve seen people come here, and never come out.  I ain’t want that to be me, and I know you don’t want it to be you either.”

Sighing, Annabella tucked her hair nervously behind her ear, before replying, “Yeah, I guess you do have a point there.  But still, no.”

Leana sighed, pretending to acquiesce to Annabella’s decision, and didn’t push the subject further.

“Cinderella and the prince married and everyone lived happily ever after.  The end.”  “Arghhh!!”  Annabella threw the book across the bed, narrowly missing Leana, who ducked just in time.

“Annie.  Why did you even pick up that infectious, remorseless-” She struggled for a moment to find the right words.  “-thing?!”  At this, Annabella lowered her eyes, and a smile flickered across her face, but she chose to ignore the question.

After a moment, words burst from inside her, “That story is nothing but lies!!”  Leana raised an eyebrow, and Annabella took it as an invitation to continue to vent.  “Lies, lies, lies!  Lies that tore my family apart!!  Toss it back to me Le, I want to throw it again and tear it into a million pieces.”  Eyes briefly widening at these words, a spark lit in Leana’s mind.

“It seems you have a lot of negative feelings about it then.”

Still distracted, Annabella didn’t really think about Leana’s question, and hastily replied, “Yes, now quickly!  I want it to be nothing but loose pages by the time guards come for dinner.”

“Of course.”  Tossing the book back to Annabella, Leana paused before continuing, “But Annie, what if you could do something to get back at them.  For ruining your life and family and such, that is.”

“I would take it, but I don’t want to get in more trouble.  I’m not a bad person, Le, you know that.”

“Naturally.  But I can get us out of here, and we can show them what we are really made of.”

Annabella’s eyes widened in the excitement of the prospect.  “And show them how we are really good!”

Momentarily shocked at these words, Leana’s pupils narrowed.  “Sure, if you want to.  But first, I have- well, let’s just call them, other plans.  You have to trust me though.  Do you trust me, Annie?”

“Yes, I do.”  The friends shared a smile  “Ok what is your plan?”

“Escape.”  Though she was still reluctant to follow through with Leana’s plan, Annabella begrudgingly nodded her agreement.

“Ok, I guess.  But we’ll need a better plan than just ‘escape,’ though.”  

“Indeed.”  There was a malevolent look behind Leana’s eyes, and Annabella didn’t like it.  But she still trusted her friend and that Leana could get them out, so she didn’t point it out.

Swiping her arm across the small table, spilling all of its contents onto the floor, Leana layed out a piece of paper, torn from the back of one of their books, and the girls began to scheme.



Chapter Three

After a week of late nights and meticulous planning, the friends were prepared.  They would escape on the day of Annabella’s hearing, which had been rescheduled so many times now, Annabella began to suspect that the Warden was messing with her.  At first it was because of the weather, then the special van that would take her there broke down, then one of the guards was sick, but then it was canceled indefinitely for unannounced reasons.  But finally, the date was set for July 3rd, a few weeks before Annabella’s 14th birthday.

Their plan was, when Annabella was escorted out to the hall, she would make a run for it, climb and jump the gate, and escape to the woods.  Leana on the other hand would fake being ill the day before; Annabella had seen her act, and it was incredibly convincing, and would then pretend to be on the verge of collapse and be moaning with nonexistent pain.  As long as all went well, her bracelets would be removed, in case they were “the cause of her illness,” allowing her to use magic again.  Then she would escape an hour or two before Annabella, and be able to aid her friend with her escape from the tree cover.

Annabella had originally just been afraid they were going to get caught, but Leana assured her that they wouldn’t be caught. By the time their escape drew near though, Annabella’s concerns were replaced with the worry that they had underestimated Warden Jane.

The Warden had despised Annabella ever since she arrived, and Annabella had never caught her looking at her without scowling.  Annabella was always on her best behavior when the Warden was around, as she would stop at nothing to find a reason to get Annabella in even more trouble than she was already in.

Late one night, Annabella confided these feelings to Leana.  “Le, I am afraid this is going to be harder than we think; I feel like the Warden knows we are up to something.”

“Likely.”  Leana barely looked up, emensed in her crude sketch of the jail.

“Then how do you plan to escape?”

Finally pulling away from her drawing, Leana grinned, before mouthing to Annabella,  “Acting, magic, and flour.”  Outloud, she added, “Good old-fashion duct tape and elbow grease,” which caused Annabella to laugh.

“What in the world is duct tape?!”

Leana too joined in the chuckling now.  “I have no idea!”   

For several moments afterward, neither could speak, overcome in giggles.  Though it was so unlike both of them, it felt good to take a moment, relaxe, and just have a little fun, even with their current situation.

After several long nights of rushed planning, the big day was upon them.  Annabella woke up to Leana’s persistent finger on her shoulder, her friend whispering in her ear.

“It’s time.”

“Just a few more minutes of sleep,” replied Annabella, groggily. 



“And remember, it is all fake.  I’m fine.”

“Yup.”  Annabella gave a sleepy yawn as Leana briefly shook out her arms in preparation.  Suddenly, she fell to her knees, wheezing.  Her face turned red and she began to cough.  Even though Annabella knew it was just an act, it made her worried for her friend.  She leapt out of bed and began to pound on the door, yanking at the handle.

“Help!  Please open the door!  Something’s wrong with Leana!  Please help!”

“Push-cough-it,” Leana wheezed, indicating at the small red button by the door.  Annabella slammed her palm against it, and watched, through the little window in the door, as a red light flashed on one of the panel’s in the guard’s office.  One of the guards came out, yawning and fingering the keys on his belt.

“What’s going on in there?”  Annabella continued to shout and pound on the door.  “Stop it, you’re going to wake everyone else up!  I said stop it!  I’m coming, I’m coming!”  The knob began to jiggle as he unlocked the door, and Annabella backed away from it.  Leana continued to cough and wheeze on the floor, so her friend bent down to pretend to console her.

When the guard entered, he found Leana, still coughing, in Annabella’s arms.  He bent down to take her to the hospital ward, and she collapsed, dead weight, into him.  Continuing to heave, the guard strained, his muscles bulging, to keep both her and himself from falling.  After a moment, he freed one of his arms and fumbled at his belt, calling for backup on his walkie-talkie.  In the time it took for more guards to come, Leana’s face flushed a darker shade of red, and she began pawing at her wrists, as they rashed before Annabella’s eyes. 

Annabella had taken flour from the kitchen and carefully put it in a container the previous day, and Leana had carefully put it on her wrists in the night.  Being allergic to flour, this caused an allergic reaction, and was the reason that she flushed and now hot to the touch, though the rest was all her.  Her allergy was mild, not as life-threatening as she was pretending it to be.  Still, she was giving it both barrels, leaving no room for questioning.

Another guard grabbed one of Leana’s arms and the two guards hoisted her up, and began to take her to the hospital ward, Leana dragging her feet all of the way there.  

Welp, Annabella thought to herself.  That is one part down.  Now don’t mess it up.

The next part was simple, Annabella would get dressed and act like she was prepared to go to the court hearing, but escape when they were escorting her to the van.  With luck, Leana would be prepared, and could help from the woods, to get Annabella to safety.  Now there could be no mistakes.

Suppressing a yawn, Annabella ran her fingers through her hair, as she walked over to the small table.  On top of it she found a small stack of clothes, with a closed envelope on top.  Opening it, she read the following letter:

      July 3rd, 2016

Dear Annabella Fisher,

We ask that you please don the articles of clothing folded on your table and prepare to be escorted to the main hall at 8:00 am sharp.  After reporting to the main hall, you will be escorted to the van which will deliver you to court.  

For safety purposes, you will be handcuffed for the duration of the ride, but will briefly be able to take them off to eat. Your breakfast will be provided during your commute.  

If you neglect to show your presence in the great hall by the designated time, the consequences will be severe.

On another note, we would prefer you would stop throwing books across your cell.  A phyciatrist will be sent to your cell tomorrow to see if this behavior is a result of poor anger management.   If this is the case, as we here at Roslen suspect, you will be put into isolation and have the possibility of being sent to another facility to deal with this unruly behavior.

Please be ready to be escorted to the main hall by 7:50 am. 



Warden Jane Granger / Warden Jane Granger

After she finished scanning the letter, Annabella promptly wanted to rip it into little pieces and then light those little pieces on fire.  Oh, the nerve of that woman!  To openly say that she thought that Annabella had anger issues, just because she threw something across the room?!  She wanted to see the Warden refrain from doing so if she was separated from her family, put in jail for two months for crimes she didn’t even commit, and forced to read the book that tore her life apart!  At the thought of her mom, aunt, and Gran, heart ache seared up in Annabella’s chest, overpowering all else.  The tears that she had tried so hard to suppress came flowing back out, and made her vision blurry and unfocused.  Unconsciously, she sank to the ground; pulling her knees against her and laying her head in the nook. 

She had only been there for a moment though, when there was a sharp rap at the door, and a voice called out, “Ms. Fisher!  You have 10 minutes, and you better be out here!”  Quickly, Annbella wiped her nose on the end of her sleeve, before standing and walking back over to the table.  As she picked up the dress that had been laid out for her, she noticed one more thing that she had seen before.  Cinderella, as perfect and pristine as ever, with a handwritten note tacked on the front of it.

                       July 3rd, 2016

Dear Annabella Fisher, 

As mentioned earlier, we would prefer if you would not throw your books across the room.  I should find this book laided neatly at the table, with no damage attained to it, at the end of each day.  Failure to meet these requirements will result in consequences.

I will see you in the great hall at 8:00 am sharp.


Warden Jane Granger

After she finished reading it, Annabella stared at it for a moment longer, before opening the cover on Cinderella, and placing the note inside.  Though she was mildly frustrated at the continual spotlight that was being shined on her small and negligible actions, she was more than willing to take it.  With this, her heart ache diminished to a light throbbing, a twinging pull towards home, and she wiped off her eyes before turning back to the table once more, to more deeply examine the pile of clothing.

The pile contained a simple, black dress, basic black pants, and a thin, also black, sweater.   Another note lay on top of the garments, but this one was in an envelope, though it had been previously opened.  The letter inside was from her mother.

 July 1st, 2016

To my sweet Annabella, 

You are such a brave girl, sweetie!  Keep it up, it will only be a little longer until you can come home, I promise.  Me, Aunt Fern, and Gran all prepared our cases, and I even wrote to the Queen, and she said she would help us to prove your innocence.  She said you were a kind girl who wouldn’t harm a fly.  Isn’t she sweet?  With her on our side, we are sure to win the case!  I will see you soon, just hold on kiddo; the day will be there before you know it!


The heart ache tried again to surge up inside her, but Annabella forcefully pushed it back.  All that managed to escape was a single tear that caught in her eyelids, before dripping down her cheek at Annabella’s next blink, and falling onto the paper.  Annabella shook her head to relieve herself of the emotion again, she still had things she needed to be doing.

She refolded the letter, and slid it back into its envelope, which she placed neatly on the table.  Because the clock read 7:30, she then moved with light speed, dressing herself in the outfit the Warden had provided.  There were small pockets on the coat, and Annabella replaced her mom’s letter inside them.  She wanted that little piece of her mom to come with her.

The clock ticked quietly, the time dwindling closer and closer to when Annabella would escape.  Backing out now would be betraying her friend, wasting hours upon hours of meticulous planning.  The time had passed, and Annabella hadn’t taken the chance.  Now she must go through.  As she came to this conclusion, some of her fear dispersed, and she began to get her wits together.  Suddenly, a sharp knock sounded on the door.

“Ms. Fisher!”  A gruff voice called, that of one of the sargeants.  “You better be ready in there!  I am coming in, ready or not, in 1 minute to escort you to the hall.”

“We can go early, I am ready now.”  Her voice seemed as meek as a kitten compared to the tone of the sergeant’s.

“Very well.”  The lock clicked, and the hinges creaked softly as the door opened.  “Come on.”  

As Annabella exited the room, he seized her arm with such force, she inhaled sharply.  She tried to wiggled so he would loosen his grip, but it only caused him to grasp her forearm tighter.  Her arm began to go numb. Trying not to squeak in fear, she followed him towards the entrance hall, yet again feeling like she was walking to her doom.


Chapter Four

When Annabella got to the entrance hall, she came face-to-face with Warden Jane Granger in the flesh.  Upon seeing her, the Warden self-consciously adjusted her suit, before crossing her arms in front of herself again.

“You’re late.”  The clock showed 15 seconds past 8.   Annabella opened her mouth to retaliate, but the guard briefly squeezed her tighter, causing her to pause before she said anything.  Instead, she bowed her head down and stared at the floor, focusing all of her attention on the tile.

“I said there would be consequences if you were late.”  The tiles on the floor were made of marbled colors.  “More specifically, I said they would be severe.”  The floor was dirty.  

Unseen by Annabella, the guard pointed at himself, the clock, and then shook his head, before pointing at his captive.  The Warden’s lip curled in irritation.  She glowered at the guard, then turned back to Annabella.

“Fortunately for you, in this case, they will only be mild.”  That tile was cracked, but Annabella reluctantly pulled her eyes away from it, and faced the Warden again.  

She was striding towards Annabella now, rolling her wrists and clenching her hands with every other step.  She stayed stoic, and brought her fingers together, folding her thumb over them as she drew closer.  Annabella was shaking in her skin, knowing that the Warden was going to hit her for being late.  Instead, the Warden slapped the guard, not Annabella, across the cheek, still calm, as if this was the sort of thing she did on a regular basis.  

“This shouldn’t happen again Henry.  You have been warned.”  The guard, Henry, nodded slowly; his cheek was already turning pink.  The Warden, not giving him a second glance, turned and calmly walked back to her previous location.

As the Warden faced Annabella again, she began to prattle on about safety procedures, the basics of the court hearing, and who knows what else.  Annabella felt a tingling on her wrist, the one the guard wasn’t holding.  Looking down, she saw fluid script blooming across her skin, in Leana’s handwriting.


Haha!!  That was kind of fun!

Ok, I’m in position, we’re all clear.  Good luck!  I’ve got your back.


Moments after she finished reading this, it faded from the sides, in, like clouds drifting over the sun.  Along with this, shouts echoed from down the hall, drawing the attention of all in the great hall.  Quickly though, the Warden tried to redirect the attention onto her, and finished going over all of the protocol. 

“Now, Ms. Fisher?”  Her voice sounded faint to Annbella, who was still looking down the hall, her heart beating faster.  Was Leana alright?  What if she was caught?  What if something had happened, putting their plan in jeopardy, and she had no way to tell Annabella?  She had just said she was ok, but a lot can happen in a short period of time- A sharp voice suddenly pulled Annbella out of her rambling thoughts.  “Ms. Fisher!”  When Annabella looked up, she found the Warden glaring at her, yet again.  “Your full attention would be greatly appreciated.”

“Of course.  Sorry, big day, I’m really nervous.”  It was all technically true, thought Annabella.  But if she thought that the Warden would soften at these words, she was wrong and the Warden remained as cold as ever.

“I really just don’t care right now.  But, as I was saying, you will be escorted there and then should be back here by 3 or so, depending on how long the hearing takes.”

“And if I get off and am found not to be guilty?”

The Warden softly snorted, the first sign of emotion other than frustration or anger Annabella had seen on her face . . . ever.  “I highly doubt that.” 

The Warden smirked, which caused something to bubble up inside Annabella.  This was her chance.  With this, it suddenly exploded out of her like a shaken can of soda.  She whipped around, sinking her teeth into the arm of the guard holding her.  He released her with a quick start, and cradled his arm.  She tossed a hastened apology over her shoulder, as she raced for the door.

“Guards, stop her!!”  The Warden jabbed her finger towards Annbella, just as the girl crossed the doorframe.

The day was nearly identical to when Annbella had first arrived there, and the warm sun beat down on her light brown cheeks, flooding her with more hope.  Around her, birds soared through the sky, their wings brushing the clouds.  As her feet padded through grass for the first time in weeks, Annabella tasted the freedom that was now at her fingertips; she just needed to get to the woods.  

At the sound of feet pounding across the ground behind her, Annabella sped up, now reaching the large gate, looming large above her; intricately designed with metal leaves.  She had spent so much time outside climbing trees, before she had been arrested, and Annabella had longed to climb the gate since she had arrived.  The question, though, was if she could climb it fast enough to evade the guards.

The metal was cold on her hands, but the pattern made it very straightforward to climb.  Her hands grasped the decorations, and she ascended it with ease, before grappling the top of the gate and flinging herself over.  She landed with a thud, her ankle twisting underneath her.  Pain shot up her leg as she tried to run to the woods, but the guards had now reached the gate and were gaining on her.  

The gate had no hinges or handles, Annbella now realized, and it seemed to melt at the guard’s touch.  Birch leaves – magic, she thought, while urging her legs to go faster.  But with her hurt foot, she soon stumbled, and fell to the ground.  Guards quickly surrounded her.  She looked frantically for an escape, but their bodies were tightening, coming closer together and encapsulating her in their ring.   

“You think you’re so sneaky.  Plotting with that girl in your room all of these days.”  The head guard calmly sauntered towards Annabella and the other guards, hands on hips. He was the same one who drove her here originally.  “We knew what you were doing.  The other one escaped, but you heard that noise as clearly as I did.  It is more than likely that we have her caught again too.  This time, you two will be separated.  Now, come walk back like a good girl.”

Well, that’s not happening, thought Annabella.  She would not give up her plans so easily.  But she began to walk slowly back, her down in faux defeat.  After she had only gone a few paces though, she bolted in the opposite direction.  Even though she raced faster than she even knew she could, especially with pain stabbing up her leg from her ankle, the guard she passed was faster.  Out of his pocket, he whipped a baby blue, drawstring bag.  He pulled out a handful of fine power and blew it straight in her face.

Annabella felt like she was dumped into glacial water, broken clumps of ice reforming together around her, holding her in place.  She threw her hands up, as her legs tried to keep running, but, unable to move, caused her to topple face first toward the ground, falling through the remaining powder on the way and inhaling part of it.  By the time she landed, she was fully trapped by the magic, and couldn’t budge an inch with any part of her body.  Her lungs seemed to have frozen along with her, likely from breathing in some of the powder.  Without air, her vision began to go fuzzy, but she refused to fall unconscious.

“You know, it is really quite sad and pathetic, that you actually thought that you could get away.  So now, let’s get you back.”  He seemed quite gleeful at the prospect of being able to rough hand her and turned her on her side, yanking her arms down from their position they were still stuck in to catch her fall, and forced them behind her back.  After doing this, he sneered, reaching down to his belt and feeling around it on both sides, his grin fading.  

Frantically, he let go of Annabella, feeling around his belt with both hands, but was unable to find what he was looking for.  At this, he shouted to a guard behind him to grab a pair of handcuffs from back in the jail.  The guard quickly obeyed.  While he was getting them, the head guard held Annabella’s wrists, basically twiddling his thumbs.  

Annabella, on the other hand, was feeling as the ice that seemed to be encapsulating her began to melt, and she could wiggle her toes.  But move now, and they would only hit her with the powder again, or even dust some on rope or the handcuffs, making it last longer; she needed to wait for the right moment.

Finally able to look around, she spied that the other two guards were just standing a ways away, bantering, and were paying no attention to her and the head guard.  She couldn’t see the fourth guard.  If she could just get past him then, she would be home free!  So she waited, until he pulled one of his hands away to scratch at his ear, and she kicked him- right where it counted.  Twice.

He cried out and swore a string of curse words that would make a sailor proud.  Jabbing her legs out again, she shoved him off her, and hopped to her feet.  Looking behind her, the guard she had kicked was still on the ground, and though he called for the other two to get her, they were too far behind to be able to catch up.  As she ran towards the woods, she couldn’t feel the pain in her leg, and tossed her head back and cried out in pure joy.  She was going to make it!  Unfortunately, when she did this, she wasn’t looking ahead, and ran into something big and solid.



“You just won’t give up, will you?”  Annabella doesn’t answer, fuming at the guard.  “You’ve run out of new chances now, so…”  As the other guards still had the tomillia bag, this guard held up a small mechanism.  It also used tomillia powder, but this combined it with electricity, and made it more powerful, longer lasting, and more extensive.  Basically, it left the victim fully unconscious.

He gripped her arm tightly, unlocked the safety lock and pulled the trigger.  It stuck.  He slapped it against his leg, reflipped the safety lock.  The energy flew out of the opening, heading in a straight shot for Annabella’s stomach.

She flinched, bracing for the impact, the moment of shock, the pain, falling.  But it never came.  Carefully, she opened her eyes just a crack, still sure that the magic would make contact with her skin any moment.  Instead, she stumbled backwards at the sight she found in front of her.  A sizzling, green force field had appeared, and encapsulated the electricity an inch from her body.

As if to verify her inkling, a voice rang out from inside the woods, its source, not visible.

“You’ve hurt us.  Our family.  Our friends.  Treat others the way you want to be treated, isn’t that what they say?  So, does that make this fair?  Does it make this..inevitable?”  The magic holding the powder and electricity rotated on the spot, now under the impression that it was facing the guard still holding the device of its creation.  He slowly backed away, barely blinking, even though the capsule hadn’t moved its location, just turned.

“You’re right to be scared.  I could hurt you.”  At this, the guard’s eyes grew wider and he began to hyperventilate.  The other guards were too scared to move towards him and Annabella.  “I don’t want to though.  Unless I really have to.  In other words, unless you force me to.  But this will really be better for all of you if we don’t have to cross that bridge.

  “So, just let my friend here go, and we can all be on our way, unharmed.”  All of the guards were still frozen in place by her words, and the threat she had put in place for if they did anything to stop her.  Annabella took this as a good time to leave.  She tentatively took a step away.  None of the guards moved to prevent her departure.  “That’s it.  Good job.”  It was hard to tell if she was talking to Annabella or the guards.  “Oh please, you just had to make this harder on yourself, didn’t you?”

The head guard, the one Annbella had kicked, had broken from his trance, and was coming towards Annabella now, his face set with determination.

A sigh floated out of the woods.  “I didn’t want to do this, I wanted to keep things easy and simple, but you leave me no other choice.”   Bright green flames roared up on the edge of the forest floor and a figure walked through a break in the blaze.  

She was clad in long, black sleeves and a dark outfit.  Her face was hidden in the shadow of a large hood, which Leana pulled off her hair with a flourish, throwing it to the ground.  Every aspect of her, from her clothes to her expression to her very posture, radiated confidence and power.  All of the guards took a step back when they set their eyes on the 15 year-old in her element.  The one sent to get handcuffs finally returned, but ran back into the safety of inside upon seeing the scene.  This seemed to amuse her, and the edge of her lip turned up just slightly.  

At first, she just walked casually towards the guards and Annabella, away from the forest; then she paused, about 50 feet away.  She looked over each guard in turn, before setting her eyes back towards the prison.  The guards and Annabella followed her gaze, and all watched as Warden Jane Granger herself walked through the gate towards them.

“Girls.  You are in so much trouble.  But if you just walk back nicely, maybe we can reduce some of the consequences.”

Leana snorted, green fire still curving around tree trunks behind her. 

“‘Walk back nicely?’” She repeated.  “That is no longer an option.  You and your guards have clearly taken that course of action off the table.”  The Warden paused, her mouth open in a mix of shock and horror as she took in Leana’s appearance.

“Oh my.”  She quickly regained her composure.  “Ok, then.  That is how you are going to play.  Guards, get them.”

The guards, though completely scared of Leana, were more afraid of what would happen if they disobeyed the Warden, and rushed towards the girls.  Leana sighed again, and raised her arms.

“Again, you leave me no choice.”   Her fingertips glowed bright green and she thrust her hands at the approaching guards.  Many of them threw themselves to the ground, just barely missing the magic as it flew over their heads.  One of the guards wasn’t so lucky though.  It hit him, square in the chest, and he froze, eyes wide, before toppling to the ground.  Annabella watched his shirt flutter softly up and down with his breath and was glad Leana had just stunned him.

Upon seeing this, the Warden seemed to realize that she bit off more than she could chew in attempting to recapture Leana, and turned, desperately trying to run inside; into the safety of the jail.  Leana saw this, and quickly pointed her arm at the woman, flicking her wrist up and causing another force field, like the one that still trapped the powder and electricity, to emerge from the ground and form a dome that trapped the Warden. In a bubble of magic.  She was left helpless inside, banging on the walls and yelling cries and insults that no one could hear.  She continued to silently scream, as she watched her guards try to get the girls, and then flee in fright.  They were surprisingly determined though, and kept running back at Leana, trying to get close enough to reach, before running back when she turned upon them.  They were like sandpipers at a beach when the waves came in.  

“Excuse me, Annie?  Annie!  Annabella Fisher!!

Annabella had been frozen in place ever since Leana had emerged and finally Leana grew impatient of her friend’s lack of response, and threw sparks Annabella’s way to get her attention and pull her out of her trance.  She jumped slightly as the flashes of green passed in front of her nose.  

“What?  Yes!  What do you need?”

“Now would be a good time to go!!”  

“Oh yes!  Thank you!”  

“Turn left at the big boulder and then follow the river until it splits, I’ll meet you there!” 

“Got it!”  Of course, Leana being Leana, a girl who found that doing only one thing at a time was a waste of her time, she gave these instructions over her shoulder, while holding off all 4 guards at once.  After Leana had finished, Annabella darted up and ran as fast as she could, remembering moments too late that her ankle was still sprained, and pain shot up her whole leg each time she put pressure on it.  Regardless of this, she still sprinted, as fast as her ankle would let her, towards the woods.  She was 40 feet from the forest’s edge when Leana called out behind her.  

“Annie!  Look out!!”  Annabella froze with shock, when her side suddenly began to sting, a feeling that quickly grew to a deep, throbbing pain.  As she clutched the spot, her vision began to go blurry and she stumbled forward a few steps, trying to get to the woods, though every part of her knew that it was a losing battle.  The pain grew on her side worse with every thump of her rapidly beating heart, and, by now, she was fighting to keep her eyes open.  Moments later, her knees gave out under her and she swayed on the spot, before falling.  

The last thing Annabella saw was Leana, her arms raised, her face a mask of fury, magic flying out of her hands towards the guard standing behind Annabella, taser still in hand.  Her vision blacked out before she hit the ground.  

Chapter Five

Slowly, Annabella became aware that she was laying down and covered with a thin, soft blanket.  Someone had taken care to wrap her side with cloth bandaging.  Her head was heavy, and when she tried to sit up, she barely rose, before falling back to the bed.  After a few moments, she was able to call forth enough strength to follow through with the task and rested on her elbows, examining the room.

It was a medium sized chamber, and seemed to contain all of the things necessary for a home in one area.  There was another bed on the far side of the room, as well as a bedside table covered with various stacks of paper.  Next to this sat a small shelf filled with odds and ends, bottles with colorful powder in them, and books.  The room also held a small kitchen, in which a small table stood, at which Leana sat, her back to Annabella.  She turned upon hearing the springs squeak when Annabella sat up, but turned back to whatever she was doing within only a moment..

“Oh,  Annie, you’re up.  Wonderful.  There’s a bowl of food on your bedside table if you’re hungry.”  

Annabella was slightly disappointed at her lack of enthusiasm, but shrugged and turned to the table.  She briefly thought about Leana’s reaction that she was up.  After pondering it for a moment, she put it to the side, remembering that there were some times that Leana preferred the company of her own thoughts over other people, and began to practically inhale the soup.  

The soup was hot in her throat and made Annabella’s eyes water, but she kept spooning the savory liquid into her mouth.  It was creamy and filled with pieces of cooked vegetables.  As she bit into a chunk of carrot, Annabella was reminded forcefully of home.  Sitting with her mom at the dining room table, laughing together over a soup just like the one she was eating now.  As memories began to flow back towards her, she was so distracted that she didn’t notice that she had finished the soup and continued to scrape the spoon against the bottom of the bowl.

“Excuse me, Annie?” Leana called from the other side of the room, making Annabella jump.  Leana chuckled, before motioning for Annabella to join her.  Annabella gingerly pulled the blanket off of her, and made her way slowly towards Leana.


“I need your help with something.  You’re Cinderella’s niece, right?”

Annabella cocked her head, but nodded all the same.

“Perfect!  Do you know if she holds a Valentine’s Day dance?  Preferably in the evening, but we can make do if it’s earlier.”

“Valentine’s day?  That seven months from now, Le.  Why do you need to know that?”  Leana opened her mouth to speak, but fumbled on the words.  After an awkward pause, she finally found what she wanted to say.

“Just. . . preparing.  Yes, preparing.”

“For what?”

“Something.”   Annabella threw up her hands, rolling her eyes as she did so.

“Wow Le!  Thanks for really clarifying!”

“You are very welcome.”  They bantered back and forth for a moment more, before Leana turned back to the table and Annabella walked around the room, perusing the shelves.  While scanning titles of books that littered the furniture, she called back over her shoulder to Leana.

“Hey Le?”


“Where are we?”

“About 2 miles from the edge of town.  This used to be my mom’s ‘vacation’ cabin.”  Leana went to continue, but paused, laughing for a moment.  “I think she came out here maybe once; usually because Griffith Castle is a big target.  That’s the same reason why we are here, instead of there.  If we were there, you could have your own room and lots of extra space.  Even servants and we wouldn’t have to do anything.  But it is literally like the first place that they will check after your house.  So, in other words, not ideal.  Instead, we are here.  Barely anyone even knows this place exists; we’re safe.”

Even though Annabella said yes, and didn’t push the topic farther, she was still skeptical, and had one more question.  “Also, what happened after I, you know-”

“Fell?  Toppled?  Collapsed?  Crumpled to the ground?  Blacked out?  Passed out?  Got knocked out?  Lost consciousness?  Were immobilized?  Became incapacitated?”  Leana paused for a moment, contemplating, her lips pierced.  “I think that’s about it.  I do have more though; did I get it?”

Annabella was left temporarily speechless for a moment, nodding and fumbling to grasp the words she wanted.  “Y-y-yes.  That’s one way of putting it.”  Although Annabella’s reply made Leana smile for just a moment, it faded from her face after just a moment, and she turned back to the paper.  

Then, leaving no room for Annabella to continue her side of the conversation, Leana spoke.  “Well, lovely chat, but I have things to do, plans to make, ideas to lay out.  If you need something to do, there’s a patch of berries if you follow the path outside the door a ways and to the left.  Bowls are in the cabinet above the stove, if you need one.” When Leana didn’t hear any movement from Annabella behind her, she turned back, and found Annabella still standing behind her.  Annabella’s mouth was open slightly, and she was blinking frantically, as if she could better understand what the other had just said by opening and closing her eyes in rapid succession.