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The Kingdom of Somewhere

Every smell and sound within the bedchamber hung heavily in the hot, damp darkness. Other than the resident mouse scratching softly inside the north wall and an occasional sigh from Ignatius, the palace cat, all was silent. Utterly and absolutely silent.

It was within this dank, still-life silence that William Hope, the only son of the royal Hope Family and heir to the throne, awakened one Indian summer’s night. The crashing thunder, that had earlier threatened to keep him awake, had now moved on and was probably shattering the peace of some other kingdom, as were the lightning and accompanying torrential rains.

“Poor folks!” he thought. “But, better them than us!” One kingdom’s gain was, undoubtedly, another’s loss.

He slipped from between his damp sheets and walked toward the west wall of windows, praying that the driving rain had washed and cooled the steamy summer air that had earlier hung like a shroud over the kingdom. A smile spread across his lips, as he imagined the cool outside air pressing against the windowpanes, begging to enter. He tugged at the heavy drapes. A few more pulls parted them, exposing a wall of tall, narrow, paned windows, and beneath them a long, wide windowsill. Pulling his sweaty nightshirt away from his body, he sat down on the sill and reached over to a large brass latch. As he pulled downwards and gave a strong push, the huge window slowly swung open and cool night air rushed past him, filling the room.

Ignatius was easily visible snoring at the foot of the bed, seemingly unaware, or at least unconcerned, by the antics of the resident mouse, as the light of the full moon spilt into the bedchamber. William stared absentmindedly into the night. The golden moon stared back at him smiling, as it rested on the mountaintop. Languidly, William’s eyes drifted down to the grounds below. Directly beneath him were the gardens, almost finished for the season, they consisted of a smattering of orange and yellow chrysanthemums, and more abundant, were the neatly arranged burlap sacks covering more fragile plants, in preparation for the winter to come. The gardeners took no chances with the imported varieties. Even though they were actually in full bloom, these rare species were wrapped to prevent an early, unpredicted frost from destroying them. In fact, there had never been such an incident. Better safe than sorry, however, was generally the sentiment of choice in this picture perfect kingdom. Preparing for possible future catastrophes, calamities, or mishaps—which was more than a full-time job—was considered a higher priority than enjoying the present moment.

To the right of the gardens was the lake. The black still surface reflected its surroundings so perfectly that, when William turned his head sideways and let his mind drift, it was almost impossible to differentiate between the smooth reflection of the sky, moon, and forest on the lake’s surface, and reality. A fish jumped out of the reflection and then disappeared back into the cold watery blackness, as ripples expanded outward from the point of the fish’s disappearance. For a moment, the ripples on the lake’s surface seemed to undulate through the palace courtyard, up the palace walls, and into William’s bedchamber. The Prince gasped as a warm rush, not unlike a wave, flowed through him. And for a moment he wondered if perhaps he was simply living within a reflection, and not within that which was being reflected.

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