The only thing I know for sure is my name is not Hillary Simon.
For the past seven years, I’ve been living a lie. For the past two hours I’ve had the power of the truth in my very hands. Now, I have less than two hours to plan an escape, because in less than two hours I will have my daily lie detector test. Every day at exactly 7: 35 am, I get asked a series of questions. This seems ridiculous, but it’s all that I know. The first question that I am always asked is if my name is indeed Hillary Simon. Of course, I’ve been told this ever since I woke up in this crazy castle on a cold November morning. They told me that they found me passed out cold in the forest, with nothing but the clothes on my back and a tag with my name identifying me as the lovely Hillary Simon from Berlin, Germany.
I’ve believed these people who have been so kind and so protective of me. They found me as an eleven year old girl. Master Fitzgerald, his poisonous wife, Lesel, and all of Fitzgerald’s workers have been watching me and loving me as if I was their own. They’ve taught me how to read, write, sing, and the most important lesson they stress is the cruelness of the Italians. Master Fitzgerald claims that the ruler of Italy stole many prized possessions from the country of Germany. The ruler was killed in war, and now Italy is being ruled by a crazy woman who does not know what she is doing. I don’t hate the Italians the way Master does, but I pretend as if I do because, if I fail my lie detector test, I get whipped and thrown in the dungeon without food for two days. Master Fitzgerald hates a liar, and he says that punishment is necessary if one lies. Lesel loves when I’m whipped because she detests me. In her eyes, I am a dirty little orphan. Dirty little orphans do not deserve to be showered in gold-threaded gowns, heated feather mattresses, full meals with wine, and a closet filled with rubies, emeralds, pearls, and diamonds. Lesel is unable to produce a child of her own so Master Fitzgerald hates her. Master Fitzgerald says I am the child he deserves to have. I’m not quite sure what that means, but I always ignore it because this man seems to always being ranting about crazy topics that I don’t understand. One day he was sitting in his garden reading a book, and just kept screaming out “Set fire! Set fire!” I asked him what that meant but he just walked away and ignored me like he did not even hear me.
Beautiful paintings of blue birds are hung all around our castle. Master Fitzgerald says that the blue bird is his family’s symbol. Apparently, where he comes from, each family has a symbol. This symbol signifies many things, and if a person is in great danger, a real life version of their symbol would always be there to help them. The symbol is like a guardian angel. His family’s was the blue bird because a blue bird signifies a leader and it signifies the strength to rise above.
Every night it is Lesel’s job to put me to bed. She must heat my bed, lock my windows and doors, and zip up my bug net that surrounds my bed. Then she sings me a song. She has a beautiful voice. She sings a familiar tune that Master Fitzgerald was sung when he was just a lad. Master Fitzgerald had a twin brother growing up, but he was killed from Scarlett Fever. The song was named after his brother, who his mother referred to as her precious “blue bird.” Scarlett always takes a deep breath and then she begins to sing:
“Oh, blue bird, why you picking
At the leaves? Oh, blue bird, your
Too blue to do rude deeds. Oh,
Blue bird, don’t give up on baby
Blue, grow and show me what to
Do. Oh, blue bird, fight to the
Death, Oh, blue bird, dream with
A beautiful rest.”
It was beautiful, special, and I loved it. When I did my daily chores I would hum it the whole time. Lesel would roll her eyes because she thought she was much better at singing in her high soprano voice compared to my deeper baritone.
The next day, I awoke to an unfamiliar tenseness in the castle. Master Fitzgerald, who was usually a jovial fellow, was on edge. He yelled at everyone for everything they did. Lesel was usually very crabby and distant, but today, she was feathery and light. All of the other help in the castle stayed in their rooming quarters all day. Master kept mumbling to himself that, “tomorrow better goes as planned or he will be ruined.” Lesel put me to bed early. She left the windows open because it really was beautiful outside. She said a little princess like me needed fresh air, not stale, used air. I was of course, compliant! I love when I get to feel the outside air! After she finished the last verse of the lullaby, she whispered, “Goodnight princess!” Hmm, there that word is again! She called me princess twice in one sitting, after all these years of being called nothing but a useless orphan. Outside my door I heard Master ask Lesel if she double checked my locked windows. “Yes, Of course I did Master!” She lied. She lied to Master! We are not allowed to lie ever in this castle! I felt bad because I know she will be severely beaten after her lie detector test tomorrow. My thoughts quickly shifted back to blue birds fluttering around pink, red and yellow roses. Then, I drifted off.
Buzz. Buzz. Buzzzzzzzz. This crazy noise awoke me from my very short and not-so-restful sleep. What could it be? A fly? I wondered if Lesel also forgot to zip up my bug net? I opened my groggy eyes and right in front of my face, on my pillow is a real, live, blue bird! I asked the cute little fellow what he could possibly be doing on my pillow, not expecting an answer back. “Isabella, tirare fuori il mio ali!” Hmm! Pull your wings off! Yeah right little bird! Oh my gosh! Did I just understand Italian?! I don’t know Italian. “Why little bird?” The little blue bird did not answer, but just gave me a look that said I should not question him. I closed my eyes tight and ripped off this bird’s wings! I cannot believe I just did that! All of a sudden, the beautiful blue bird transformed into a human. A young boy nonetheless! He looked so familiar! It was impossible that I knew him though, because I’ve never been outside of the castle walls!
The boy tells me his name is Luca. Luca claims he is my brother! I believe him because of our matching birth marks on our necks. I have a crown on my neck and he has the same. I start to recollect some memories of my past before Master Fitzgerald! Luca has come to save me. Lesel has a source inside the Italian castle. Lesel told our family of Fitzgerald’s evil plans and that I am well alive. She gave this information in return for the capture of Fitzgerald and freedom for herself. She told them of all of Fitzgerald’s security and that she would leave my window open the night before my eighteenth birthday. Before Luca goes on any more about what he has come to tell me, I ask him how on earth he became a blue bird! Apparently, at the castle in Italy they have magic sorcerers. The sorcerers made up a magic potion to have Luca morph into his family symbol, the blue bird. He dipped acorns in the serum and pricked himself to inject the potion. Luca tells me my name is not Hillary Simon. My real name is Isabella Fornetti. Our father is the king of Italy, or was. Master Fitzgerald had someone sent to kill him and our mother. Our mother made it out alive because she had been in the village when the attack had taken place. Master Fitzgerald, whose real last name is also Fornetti, did this because he wanted to be king! He didn’t think that his twin brother deserved it! Fitzgerald knew that the only way he could become king is if he claimed me dead, then he would be next in line if his brother and his ugly wife died. He kidnapped me from my bedroom and injected me with a serum that erased my memory. Luca had been born a couple weeks after I had been kidnapped so that is why Luca was safe. The castle has been secure just because Fitzgerald would take the first chance he gets to kill Luca. Since I am older than Luca, I am next in line to the throne. Luca told me that our mother is dying. Italian law says that the next in line must take their position as queen on their eighteenth birthday or the position will be given off to the next in line. The next in line after me is Master Fitzgerald. Tomorrow is my eighteenth birthday and if I do not take my position as queen of Italy, Master Fitzgerald will become an evil king! Luca tells me I have to get out of here as soon as possible, and before my lie detector test! Luca says he cannot tell me what to do. He sadly turned back into a blue bird, as his time is up. He flies away and accidently drops an acorn.
Now, I sit here in my bed, unable to sleep. What should I do? I pick up the acorn and put it in my pocket, a memory of my brother. Fitzgerald comes to wake me up and I’m in a full body sweat. I have twenty minutes! Fitzgerald walks me down to breakfast. My usually hefty appetite is gone. Master has his eyes fixed on me the whole time. I have to go get dressed and bathed before my test. I do this quickly and I still have not thought of a way to escape. Every door is locked and guarded. Every window is barred! I realize that it is now time to take my test. I start to shake and I have the worst butterflies in my stomach. I know that I will fail. My name is not Hillary Simon and they will ask me that! My hands are sweating and my legs are shaking. I have my clammy hands in my pockets and I’m fidgeting around with the acorn in my pocket. I prick myself! Ouch! I feel blood starting to gush out of my finger! I try to hide my pain and my blood. I do not want Master to see what I’ve done! That will just add more to my punishment! I suck my finger to get rid of the blood. Then I feel my body starting to tremble and shake. I have huge tremors rushing up and down my slender body. I transform! I transform into a blue bird! I did not think that there was any serum on that acorn! It didn’t even come to my mind! Master and Lesel look back at me. Master’s mouth drops and Lesel’s eyes light up! I start fluttering my wings fast and search for an escape. I see a hole in the ceiling and make my move. Master Fitzgerald screams for Lesel to do something, but she just stands there and laughs! I find the window closest to me and free myself from the grips of these evil people. I fly off into the distance to my real home. In the background I can hear Master Fitzgerald screaming! I think to myself that once I solve everything back in Italy, I will come back to save Lesel, because she saved me.