Sometime later, she strung it on a shoelace. She wore they key as a necklace, hidden under her shirt. It started out innocently enough, the testing of doors. She just wanted to see if the key fit. She started with all the doors in the apartment building, and the locked front door to the building itself. If no one was looking, she’d test a keyhole on a shop door. Then she started with cars, even though it didn’t really look like a car key, and mail-boxes, tho it didn’t look like a mail-box key at all, until the time came when she couldn’t walk by a lock without trying to poke the key in. If she could do it secretly.
When she was ten, her mother took her to stay in an inn that had once been a house on the underground railroad. And it was here, walking down the hall, she noticed a key hole. There wasn’t a handle, just a key hole, so she would have to put in the key and turn it then open the door by pulling on the key like with the mailboxes by the entry to the apartment. That is, if the key fit. Which, of course, it wouldn’t.
But it did.
The door swung inward. Pink walked in and, without thinking, she shut the door behind her. She was in a small, dark space. There was a slit of light to her right, down at floor level, as if coming from under another door. There was no sign of the door behind her. Without moving her feet, Pink leaned as far as she could, hoping to find a wall, but there was none, so she dropped to her knees and crawled slowly toward the thin strip of light.
It felt like a door. Eventually she found a knob, a few feet up the wall where a knob should be. The knob turned easily. The room she entered was decidedly not in the same house as the room from which she had just come.
A girl not too much bigger than her, dressed in a fancy-dress costume with some kind of hat, stood gazing out a tall window. And the window, instead of cars on the street and people walking and houses all around, was grass. Lots of grass. As far as she could see, there was grass. And then, at the edge of it, trees. Pink had never seen such a lot of grass and trees in her life. Without thinking, she walked closer.
The girl at the window must have heard something. She turned toward Pink, dropped what she was holding, and almost screamed. But did not. She covered her open mouth with her hand.
Then the girl spoke. “What on earth are you wearing?” she said. Pink looked down. Jeans, sneakers, t-shirt. It seemed like such a dumb question, she couldn’t think of how to answer it. Then, “Are you a boy or a girl?” said the girl, crossing her arms.
Where is this place, through the door in the hall of what was once a stop on the underground railroad?
How did the key get under Pink’s mother’s bed?
Who is the girl in fancy dress costume by the window?
What kind of magic is here?
Which girl is a princess in this princess story?
Why didn’t Pink’s mom ever talk about the girls father?
When on earth will you ever find out???
Maybe in fifteen or twenty years, when my children are big and I am old. I dream there will be time to pull the tall tales from my head’s netherworld from out my finger tips— to type them on a keyboard— that they may some day fall upon a page.