I curled up at the foot of my grandmother’s rocking chair. Her gray hair was stacked neatly into a braid which flowed over her shoulder and a few inches above her lap.
I don’t remember my parents because she is all I have ever known but not once did I ever miss them. She never made me feel anything less than loved.
“Please!” My small five year old voice rang through the quiet living room, “I want to hear one more story!”
“Chrysanthe Barre, I think you should go to bed.” Grandma laughed as she scooped me up and placed me onto her lap. We both know she was going to tell me a story and was only trying to get me upset.
“Tell me about Shadowland.” I said as I snuggled into her embrace.
“Okay.” She hummed as she rocked us back and forth, “Shadowland is where people go when they dream. It is always there in the shadows of their minds.” She began.
My eyes were getting heavy, “I already know that.” I said in an attempt to stay awake.
“Did you know why our last name is Barre?” She quipped.
I peeled away from her just a little to look up at her, “Because it means barrier, because we are the barrier.” I grinned my toothless smile back at her.
She laughed, “I suppose you pay more attention to my stories that I thought.”
Of course I did because when I fell asleep I was in Shadowland. I would play with two boys my age. We would play the most exciting games of tag because they couldn’t climb trees as quickly as I did . So I would always win.
“Well in Shadowland lived the shade. They looked like you and me but they were different. They controlled the sun, the sky and everything underneath it.” She began patting me and I yawned.
“There was a girl who could control so much more.” Grandma said, “She could bend that world and this world to her will. She was the only one who could pop in and out without putting too much strain on the world.“
I closed my eyes imagining doing that, “That would be so cool.”
Grandma put her chin on top of my head, “Sometimes it was. But she was forced to stay at the palace and do secret work to the king.”
“Was she happy?” I asked.
I felt grandma’s head bobbed, “It was. Her best friend was a princess.”
“I don’t understand.” I mumbled.
“You will.” She kissed my head, “The girl was finally strong enough to stand up against the people who hurt her and she ran away to this world.”
“What happened to her next?” I tried to open my eyes to no avail.
“She had a beautiful granddaughter who was just like her.” Grandma said.
“Where was the granddaughter’s mother?” I asked.
“Her mom didn’t believe and ran away.” I felt wet tears on my head.
“I think I am tired now.” I stated.
“Why don’t we get you off to bed.” She picked me up as she stood up.
“I can’t wait to visit Shadowland.” I whispered.
She stopped, “Listen here, Chysanthe.” I looked up at her, “Never go to Shadowland. It’s not safe for us there.”
She looked so sad, “Okay grandma.” I promised knowing that in the few seconds after I closed my eyes I would be running through the garden with Helios and Luan.