It was strange, being left alone with the castle. Or nearly alone, for there was always a museum guard lurking in the corner, casting mistrustful glances in her direction, as though she could somehow damage the exhibit by mere proximity.
She didn’t care. The guard didn’t matter. The room didn’t matter.
The castle mattered. She gazed wide-eyed at it, trying to drink in every detail…. It was impossible. From the tiny, hand-written books to the itty-bitty plates laid out on the table, with teeny-tiny goblets and spoons and forks. Real paintings, done in miniature. Real furniture.
That was important. Because it wasn’t just a dollhouse. There were no dolls. There were real bedrooms, made up for the real fairy prince and princess. There were bathrooms, where real water could flow out of teeny tiny taps. Real bear skins on the floor. Real books in the library.
It must be. Real, that is.
Because…. if everything else was real… the bear skins and the books and the gold and the silver and the furniture….. so they must be too, mustn’t they?
The rest of her class had moved on long ago, wandering through the various rooms, but she couldn’t go… couldn’t pull her eyes away from the fairy castle.
If it was really real …. And it was. Of this she was certain….. If it was real, the fairy prince and princess must be real too. She couldn’t imagine that anyone would make such a thing – such a beautiful place – if there wasn’t anyone to live in it.
Perhaps it hadn’t always been so small, she thought, circling around it for the thirtieth time. Perhaps it had been a big castle somewhere very far away and some evil sorcerer had shrunk it, simply out of the desire to have something so beautiful for his own.
She could imagine that… although it didn’t explain how it had managed to land here, in a museum, in the middle of a city that was suspiciously devoid of castles.
She wondered where the prince and princess had gone… why they had left it behind. Certainly, it could be highly unpleasant to be stared at day after day by grubby-handed children on field trips, but she didn’t think that was it.
Where had they gone? Would they ever return?
Her mind brimmed with questions. She briefly considered asking the guard, only to reconsider upon further examination of the guard’s face. His face looked the way curdled milk smelled, and she decided not to take any chances.
The voice caught her by surprise. It wasn’t the guard. By all accounts, he hadn’t even heard it, since he was still busy practicing his omni-directional glare.
The voice came from somewhere in the vicinity of her waist.
Her first thought was that it was a particularly large voice for such a small person.
To be continued….
As I’m sure any of you who are from Chicago know, this is a real exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. If you’re not familiar with it, there’s more information on it available here (it really is beautiful, and was recently restored to its proper place…) You should check it out; I’m really not doing it justice here:
There’s also a really excellent children’s book on a similar subject (a similar exhibit, although I mistakenly thought it was about the castle…) if you’re interested in that sort of thing…. it’s a much better version of what my pallid story attempts to do. And it’s also well worth checking out:
(write for) 10 minutes * female character * field trip
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