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Back Then
Kara, Age 13, London, ON

“NO! How many times do I have to tell you this? I don’t want to be a princess!

Sam stormed out of the dining hall and up to her bedroom. The only place in her house she could have any peace. If only she could live on her own like a peasant. But her father wouldn’t allow it.

“A princess is the best of the best. Why would you want anything less?” he would always say. And even though the question wasn’t rhetorical, she wasn’t allowed to answer it. Sam was sick of it all. Not being allowed to do anything for herself. Her voice not being heard. Something had to change.

A few days later...

Tiny droplets of water fell from the sky and clung to Sam’s face, mixing with the tears resting on her cheeks. Sunlight gleamed through the brush, making her wince. A small, taffy colored squirrel scrurried past Sam’s bare feet. It scampered up a nearby maple, chattering noisily to its brothers and sisters. Sam stopped suddenly as the path ended at the creek. Marlin’s boat sat in it’s usual place next to the stepping stones. But it was too early in the morning to awake Marlin, and far too dangerous to cross on the stepping stones. The woodland sprites got all of their entertainment from enchanting one of the few creek crossings. The stones would jerk up and down, side to side, with no warning at all. Not even the sprites knew when the stones were going to move. Hesitantly, Sam put her left foot into the cool water, and began wading across. The rickety log bridge was too far out of her way, and probably too loud to cross anyways. What was the point of running away if you get caught ten minutes later?

When Sam climbed out of the water, she began to brush her fingertips through her red tangles. Aunt Lucia always told her, “You have the most gorgeous hair in all of Camson. But what you do with it will be the real miracle.

Sam never really understood what that meant. But she knew she liked it. Liked it a lot. Now she was nearing the edge of the forest. Two steps later, she was in all countryside. Green rolling hills were dotted ever so gently with bunches of strong, healthy looking trees. Over in the far left was a neat little cottage. It was made of logs and there was no glass in the windows. Only worn wooden shutters painted a robin’s egg blue. The place looked so well kept and cosy, it just had to be lived in. But there was no smoke coming from the chimney, and no light coming from the windows. Sam drew nearer and nearer. She couldn’t seem to back away or take her eyes off of the cottage. It almost felt as though magic was pulling her in. Reluctantly, Sam stepped inside, and turned on the light.

Although everything was in it’s place, the cottage was obviously deserted. Sam lit the fire, and stepped back before the blaze hit her precious hair. She looked around the comfortable home for a few moments before going outside to pick a few apples. If this place was going to be home, the best way to start was to fill the air with the delicious aroma of homemade apple pie.

After a few days, Sam had gotten used to taking care of herself. She did all of her own washing, cooking, and cleaning. The only thing Sam didn’t have was a friend. She got lonely very quickly, and started to actually miss her pushy parents. Sam gave it a bit of thought , and finally started her journey back home. As she began to wade through the creek she could suddenly feel something pulling her under. Too sad to care, Sam let the water rush over her head. And it didn't stop.

Sam awoke to Grandfather Marlin wiping her forehead with a damp cloth. He whistled and hummed, as usual. Bits and pieces were still spinning around in her mind. She couldn’t seem to make sense of what was reality, or her dream. When she slowly started to realize what had happened, Sam rolled over and shut her eyes tightly. Hoping as hard as she could that she could go back to sleep and stay that way forever. Because, she was never going to make it back home, to the palace. Her family was gone. Lost forever. And she never had a chance to say goodbye.

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