She didn’t know how long she stood their wondering what to do, but when she looked up a tall woman was standing before her. The woman was wearing a white shirt, a long blue skirt, and long blonde hair, just like Tulip. Only the way her hair was done differently. Instead of in a long, chunky braid, it was twisted on top of her head.
“Are you Charlotte?” The woman asked. Charlotte didn’t know how to answer the woman. She could tell her she was Charlotte and take risk but also, get the chance of shelter. Or she could say she wasn’t Charlotte, but risk not receiving shelter.
It took Charlotte a while to realize the woman was still expecting an answer from her.
“Um... yes,” she answered in a very small voice.
“Good. Follow me,” the woman said.
Charlotte was reluctant at first but then realized she had no other shelter or place to sleep. She followed the woman.
Eventually, after what felt like an hour walking up a hill, they arrived to what looked to be the woman’s house. The house was a soft peach color. Though it looked nice and plain on the outside, it was packed full of everything you could possibly need. On top of the table beside the couch was piles of leaves, bottles of medicine, scraps of fabric, and pieces of paper.
Charlotte realized Tulip was in the house too. “Tulip! What are you doing here?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing! Mother?”
“I invited Charlotte to stay with us.” She turned to Charlotte, “My name is Orchid. You may stay here for the time being. Soon, we will find a way to get you home. Where is your home?”
“In Gladstone, Missouri- I fell here.” Charlotte realized how crazy she sounded, “sorry, I sound insane! But it happened.”
Orchid didn’t have a hint of confusion or disbelief on her face. She really believed Charlotte. “I need you to tell us exactly how you got here.” Orchid gestured to Tulip. She realized Tulip had fallen asleep. “Okay... tell me how you got here.”
Charlotte explained how she arrived in the village. Since she didn’t know Orchid well, she was vague about details. The more she talked, the wider Orchid’s eyes became.
“You came through a book?” Her reaction was as predicted. It was a mix of disbelief and suspicion. “ I don’t believe it for a second!”
“I understand why you would think that, but it’s true!” Charlotte was desperate to have someone believe her, “And I’ll prove it!”
Charlotte didn’t have the slightest idea how she would show these people she was telling the truth. If someone showed up at her house, telling her they came there by jumping into a book, she would think they were making it up too.
“Charlotte? Honey, honestly, if you really do believe you jumped through a book to get here... well, maybe you did. I admit, your arrival was odd and sudden- most people never come here or just pass by.” Orchid confessed, “But, you can’t bring it up or act different than other people. This village doesn’t like different! Ever!”
Orchid put a bandage on Charlotte’s leg. Charlotte let out a small shriek of pain. “Ow!”
Charlotte absentmindedly touched the table and it burst into flames like the tree and grass. Orchid screamed which woke up Tulip. Tulip gasped when the table disappeared.
“What in the world just happened? Where did the table go?” Tulip yelled once her mother stopped screaming.
Charlotte didn’t know what to say. She looked around, first at Tulip and then at Orchid. Both were too stunned to move-or even talk.
“Charlotte? What’s going on? Do all the people from your world do this? Answer me,” Orchid pleaded.
“I don’t know,” Charlotte saw how unsteady this made her rescuers feel, “it only started when I came here.”
“You’re a feu!” Tulip exclaimed.
“A what?” Charlotte was very confused.
“Honey, a feu is a person with fire powers. If you have ice powers you’re called a glacies- say it like gla-ch-as. Water powers are aqua. And so on.” Orchid explained.
“Father,” Tulip whispered and started to sob. Orchid patted her back and clarified.
“Fern, her father, was also a feu. Remember how I told you how the village doesn’t like different,” Charlotte nodded. “Well... when he was young his parents told everyone he was very sick. Eventually both his parents got the Arbor Plague when he was 15. It was a deadly plague that was around for 3 years until we found certain plants that cured the plague.”
“Oh, what were they?” Charlotte said, curious. Tulip had stoped crying and answered.
“There was three, we learn them in school. The first plant is the auxilium plant. It helps with fever. The second plant is the nocere plant. It helps with clearing bacteria but it gives a rash and hurts to be applied. The third plant is magis plant. It reverses the effect of nocere.”
“Wow! That’s a lot to remember! What else happened to Fern?”
“His parents died a year later. He moved in with the Mr and Mrs. Reed- an old, strict couple. When he turned 19 he left and never looked back. He met me when he was 24- I was 23. We got married when he was 28 and had Tulip had Tulip a year later. 3 months ago he got angry and his powers went out of control. He set a building on fire.”
Charlotte gasped, “ Whoa.”
“Yes. That was when everyone found out about him being a feu. The elders took him away and we haven’t seen him since.”
Tulip echoed “Haven’t seen him since.” She started sobbing again. Orchid pulled her close to comfort her.
“Well Tulip, time for dinner then sleep. Charlotte, we’ll find somewhere for you to sleep.” Charlotte hadn’t realized how late it had gotten. Her parents must be so anxious for her to come home- she felt terribly guilty. Maybe, I shouldn’t have jumped into that book. But maybe I’ll find a way to get home! Charlotte thought.
“Here, Charlotte you sleep here and we’ll talk about what to do in the morning.” Orchid said.