235 steps over the old bridge at the edge of Main Road. 329 steps over the small pond. Through the small grove of trees. That was where wonderland lied.
It was the girl who had found the place first. “It’s just this way, Luka!” She exclaimed wildly to her friend.
“Where are we going?” panted the boy. Though she was fairly smaller than him, he found was starting to find it hard to keep up with her. Her boundless excitement had given her great bursts of energy; her little feet raced through trees.
“Lizzie-” He complained. “I’m getting really tire-” He gasped.
They were at the edge of a clearing now, though it was almost as if they had walked into an entirely different world. A crystal white waterfall cascaded down towards the clear, blue lake. Twinkling starlight beamed down on them approvingly from above. The chirping of birds sang euphorically in their ears. The boy also noted a symphony of bright, golden twinkling lights that seemed to follow the children wherever they went.
Over by the lake, a group of swans had crossed over, greeting the children. The birds flying overhead had also flown down, welcoming the children, perching themselves onto their shoulders.
It was magical.
For a brief moment in time, for a couple of hours, the faintest of worries evaporated into the night sky, almost as if they had never even existed. Laughter and mirth decorated their newly found world.
The children tried to come back every day, though their frequent visits were often intruded on by various nuisances (namely homework, and early bedtimes).
They’d spent hours upon hours simply staring up at the sky, playing in the lake, chasing after the twinkling lights.
“Luka, do you think it’s possible for fun to ever run out? If you have so much fun, that you just stop feeling it one day?” Lizzie had asked him one late afternoon, as they lay down on the grass, near the lake.
Luka stared up at the sky. “I sure hope not.” was his answer.
Unfortunately for the children, they received their answer when they turned 12.
It was almost evening. Lizzie droned on and on about how tiring the school day had been, chattering noisily as they crossed the bridge, and chatted happily between themselves. Until-
The clearing was gone. Where they had rounded the oak tree at the edge of the grove, there was now nothing but a dense expanse of even larger trees. Wonderland was gone.
The boy retraced his steps. “I-I don’t understand.” He could have cried. “It was here. Where on earth did the lake go? And-nd the waterfall?”
“Maybe- maybe we took a wrong turn somewhere?” Lizzie muttered with uncertainty. They both had known it was a lie.
Lizzie was almost quick to give up. She had already accepted that the world they discovered was already lost. It took Luka a while longer, though he eventually grew to let it go.
Luka supposed that they were now too old to believe in something as childish as wonderland.
Though he was almost heartbroken by this loss, his special place would soon leave his mind as he grew up. In fact, he hardly thought about their little world anymore. He supposed that all good things would come to an end eventually.
Oh well, he hadn’t minded too much. He already had things he was grateful for; a large, comfortable house in the suburbs, with his kindly wife and their children. An idyllic life.
He barely thought about wonderland anymore.
At least not until one night.
They were gathered around the table for dinner. Roast beef and mashed potatoes with gravy were spread out across in a delicious spread.
“Daddy, daddy, guess what?” Bella had exclaimed over the table.
“What is it darling?” He leaned over to pat her head.
“I found a new hiding spot,” she exclaimed gleefully. “You just go over the bridge on Main Road, over the small pond, and through the grove of trees. Jake and I found it yesterday.”
He could feel the tear slip down his eye.
The little girl furrowed her brows. “What’s wrong daddy?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all, dear.”
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