meet our true
paradise . . .
"Here you go,
Mimi. I got you a mirror."
I stare blankly
at the life-size rectangular thing my sister has brought me. "Why
have you given me this?"
"Don't you want
to see your pretty face?"
My face is not
pretty. My face is the basket that holds my jumbled,
color-infused egg of a mind. That's why I'm here in this asylum.
My sister calls it "the hospital." I call it "the place they've
sent me because I can't handle the real
Yes, I may be
insane, but that doesn't mean I'm naïve.
"Thank you, Tabby. It's wonderful."
Nurse Sonya walks in. "I'm sorry, Miss Franklin, but visiting
hours are now expired."
"Very well." She turns to me. "I'll be back as soon as I can,
Mimi." She runs her fingers through my rawny, unwashed, messy
hair. "Dream sweetly." Then she's gone.
warns me that I may not be allowed to keep the mirror. I promise
to use my normal techniques if I have an "episode." She gives a
stiff nod and leaves me to my white box.
The room is
silent. So silent it's tremendously loud. Bells begin to ring.
Shrill shrieks of invisible birds. Ghosts begin to whisper upon
my skin. My hands go to my ears.
be troublesome sometimes, I'm afraid to
The noise goes
away. I glance up and stare at my new gift.
"You . . . said
"Well, I'm not talking to the floorboards,
I rise. My
fingertips find the glass of the mirror. Cold, new. Smooth like a
shows a creature with skin the color of clouds. Dark eyes with
shadows dancing in the irises. Hair long, slick, and stringy,
like damp black yarn.
Then a raven
appears, my reflection melting in quiet
"My, my," says
the raven almost sympathetically. "You're not enjoying your
Insanity at all, are you? Such a shame. Your insanity could lead
to a world of enjoyment."
orbs blink rapidly. "Enjoy it?" I ask
trills the raven. "Oh, you don't know how, do you?" I see the
flash of teeth in between his beak. "Come with me. I can teach
"You ask so
many questions," huffs the raven. "Just walk through the
My palm pushes
slightly. My hand up to my forearm vanishes into the mirror. It
feels like liquid. Giving it no more thought, I push through
A black abyss
of a ceiling. White lightning strikes along the walls. The path
is black also but I can feel it. Ahead is a bright white door,
slanted so it resembles a rhombus. As I approach it, every
footfall makes a hollow echo that sounds like the strumming of a
The doorknob is
shaped like an "8."
"Go on and
enter, dear," murmurs the raven. "It's quite alright; you were
I turn the knob
to the right.
I step onto
snow, but when the flakes touch my skin, they're hot. Trees that
hold tiny candles with indigo flames. A wind that whispers lovely
things into my ear.
I pluck a
yellow berry from a bush that's purring. "Quite the land you've
"Not my land,
dear," says the raven. "Your land."
"This is your
Kingdom," he says. "Haven't you always wanted to be a
I feel the
golden crown rest upon my head. "Yes, yes I
problem," says the raven. "You can't rule your World of Insanity
until you've defeated its current ruler."
"How do I do
that?" I ask meekly.
sighs. "Always with the questions." He flicks a black wing.
"Here, I can show you the Weapon Tree."
I follow him
through a thin forest. Little ice-cream cones swing from the
branches of trees, giggling like mischievous cherubs. A kitten
with feathery wings flies by. The sun is maroon and gentle, with
a happy, toothy grin and cartoony, googly
brings me to a short tree with wooden sticks pointing out from
the leaves. I pull on one and find a hammer.
weapon," says the raven gleefully.
I want my
Kingdom. I go through three swords (all too heavy) before I
stumble across a large axe, tied with a beautiful red ribbon
where the wood and steel meet.
choice," says the raven. "Come. Now we go to vanquish your
As we travel, I
find myself more and more excited to win back my Kingdom from
this horrible creature that must be reigning
halt at a huge purple castle that appears to be made of jello,
for the structure keeps wobbling and I can see straight through
it. We crouch behind the small stone wall and peer into the
party is going on. Tables, balloons, laughter. Up on a high
pedestal is a figure wearing a half-black, half-white mask and a
long cape. They are drinking from a delicate
"That should be me," I growl lowly.
"Patience, child," says the raven in a hushed voice. We scurry
around the wall and to the wide-open gate that is the entrance to
the courtyard. "You must challenge her. Only then can you reclaim
nod and sprint into the middle of the party, right in front of my
foe's pedestal. People gasp, drop their glasses. "This is my
World!" I yell. "I have come to claim my rightful place as queen!
Come and duel me!"
Murmurs of alarm. One woman faints from the
foe's voice is gravel being shaken in a jar. "Very well." She
unsheathes a long blade and jumps from her pedestal, her puffy
dress acting as a parachute. "Have at me!"
duel. And the fight is evenly matched. We knock over tables, the
ice sculpture of her face. People scramble to flee from our epic
battle. Then, after five minutes of a deadlocked fight, I gain
the upper hand; she falls to the ground. I hold her there with my
axe, the blade at her throat.
Through her mask, I see teal eyes full of
slash across her throat. Her head and neck
"All hail our new ruler!" proclaims the raven to the audience.
throng claps and cheers. Some go on about how the previous ruler
hadn't been a good one anyway. A dress is pushed over my head.
It's checkered white and magenta. Suddenly my hair is silky, my
face like one of a goddess. Glass slippers. I glance down at the
broken form of my dead foe and see that her mask came
suddenly remember that Tabby had teal eyes too. Her blood is
should feel horrified, disgusted. I killed my only
instead, I feel giddy. I have reclaimed my throne as Queen of
my World of Insanity.
A deranged smile
stretches across my face. As my people chant my name with
adoration, I say to the raven, "You were right. Insanity can
be tons of fun."