• Parking my car in front of Beverly’s parents’ house, I grinned. Knowing how much Bev would hate me, for buying her tickets to an outside movie, for her birthday.
    I got out of my car and walked to the door. Ringing the doorbell twice, letting her know it was me. Within seconds Beverly jerked the door open.
    “Oh Amber! I’ve missed you so much!” with that Bev took me into a bear hug.
    “I was only gone for a week Bev” I stepped out of her embrace.
    “Sure didn’t feel like it…. Why aren’t you coming in?” she asked puzzled.
    “Because if you don’t get your shoes on, within 30 seconds, we will be late to our movie” I took a step back towards my car.
    “You did not…How many times did I tell you not to get me something!” her face started turning red.
    “Who said I got it for you? Maybe it’s a gift for myself. Plus your parents already agreed to it. So come on” I started walking back to my car.
    With a little mumbling about killing me, Bev got into my passenger seat.

    “Bev is it just me or are people driving a little weird today?” nobody was doing the speed limit, and there were no cops around.
    “Yes, as if the laws are all wacked or something….” Beverly screamed as a semi hit us head on.
    I felt the impact hit us. Yet I didn’t see it. My body slumped forward, which wasn’t much. My car was ruined. I looked at my face…. Wait, how can I be looking at myself? I looked closer, the rising of my chest had stopped. I gulped, I was dead. Shaking I turned my direction to Beverly. My non-existent throat closed. She was so bloody that it relieved me to see that she was not longer breathing. For she didn’t have to be in pain. Slowly my vision started to fade. Until I felt nothing.
    All around me mumbling buzzed. Yet how could I hear anything, wasn’t I dead? Maybe I didn’t die… No that’s not possible. I feel no pain. Where is Beverly? Why can’t I open my eyes? The mumbling turned into soft words being spoken in the background.
    “Do you think they will be perfect for them?” a small female voice whispered.
    “Of course, can’t you tell already? Wait a minute… Is the tall one moving? She is! Run, run and get the masters. Fast. She will be waking soon”
    Hurried foot steps left the room.
    “You will be a good choice for him. It’s just to bad I can’t have both of you…” the male voice trailed off as someone running came into the room.
    “Who is awakening?” another male asked.
    “The tall one sir. She tossed a bit”
    “Hm… Then I guess it is time we took off the protection guards…” a ripple jolted throughout my body.
    Blinking I looked up into the male speaker’s faces. Where was I? Is this heaven?
    “Good evening miss. It’s about time you woke up. We now have to train you in less time than is allowed. You will find a few things different about this place. Oh, and if you were wondering, this is not heaven nor hell” the male who seemed to be the doctor nodded, as in approval.
    “Sir, who are you? Where am I? Where is Beverly?” surprisingly my voice was crystal clear.
    “Ah, good you are in working function. You may call me Jarred. You are in the health room of this building. Beverly? Oh your friend? Well she is behind those curtains. Maukar please go and check on her and tell me if she is ready to be awakened” Maukar nodded and went to the other side of the room behind the curtains.
    “But…. I thought I was dead? How did you…um… Bring me back to life?”
    “Your sweet child, do not fret about such things. For now, I shall have Clarinda help you get settled. Clarinda come here” a small girl walked up towards where I laid.
    “Take her to the fittings, then make her do some exercises” Jarred ordered before waving at me and going behind the curtain.
    “Follow me miss”
    I got up and followed surprisingly fast.
    “It is a good thing you walk with a cats grace, miss”
    “I do? Hm… Never noticed before. Will you please call me by Amber? It kinda makes me feel old, when you call me miss”
    “Of course m…Amber” we headed down a corridor that was brightly lit.
    “Um… Clarinda? What am I to do in the fittings?” I asked as Clarinda stopped in front of a metal door.
    “You are to be measured. And fitted for a dress…Amber”
    “A dress! Can I not be fitted for a pair of pants?”
    “No Amber. Here You may only wear pants when you are exercising. Which very few females get to do. You are one of the few. But any other time, you must wear a dress”
    “Oh…Okay, I guess I should be considering myself lucky then…” Clarinda opened the door and pointed inward.
    “Just step on that metal plate. And, when a little screen pops up, pick two colors out. That’s all. I will be back in a half n’ hour” with that she closed the door behind me.
    “Um…okay” timidly I stepped on the metal plate.
    Within minutes a little screen popped up with my info and color choices.
    “What! How did I grow from 5’7 to 5’9? What the…. I lost 20 pounds! There is no way I am 90 pounds….” Gulping, I chose two colors out for my dress, and two more colors for my exercise outfit.
    Surprisingly when I stepped off the plate Clarinda came in the room with a package.
    “You’re clothes miss. I mean, Amber… You are to wear your pants right now. I will await you for you in the hall” Clarinda said, leaving.
    “Man, this is creepy. It’s almost as if the clothes were pre-made just for me…”
    I dressed quickly. Grabbing onto the other clothes, and heading out into the hall. Clarinda led me to a room that was to be mine. We dropped off my clothes before going into a little rink inside a big dome.
    “This is where I must leave you. I will be here when you are done” curtsying she left, leaving me alone. Or so I thought.
    “Good, your early. The more time the merrier. Lets begin” a tall blonde male beckoned me into the middle of the rink.
    His name turned out to be Kyler. From beginning to end he had me doing all kinds of exercises. Which left me a little breathless by the end of the session. The session turned out to be 4 hours long. Amazingly I didn’t feel that sore.
    “You did pretty good today. I expect you to be here, the same time tomorrow” with a curt nod he left the room.
    True to her word, Clarinda was waiting for me, when I went back into the hall.
    “How do you feel? Are you too tired to eat your dinner?” Clarinda asked.
    “I feel just fine. And yourself? Of course not. I could eat a whole cow!”
    Clarinda looked at me shocked. “You could eat a whole cow right now?”
    “No Clarinda its just an expression… What is for dinner?”
    “Fettuccini Alfredo miss”
    “Oh, okay. That sounds good. Are you not allowed to call me Amber?”
    “No miss….” Clarinda bit her lip slightly.
    I pondered why this was before stopping suddenly.
    “Is she okay? Where is she? Please, show me the way to her room I must go to see her” I blurted thinking about Beverly.
    “She is fine. I do not know miss. I am sorry I can not do that. But as soon as you are dressed you may see her in the dinning hall”
    “Oh…. Fine… How long should it really take me to get ready?”
    “About an hour miss. For you need to shower and dress your hair as well as yourself”
    “An hour! Why can I not wear my hair down?”
    “Yes an hour. You may not wear your hair done for it is the rules of being a female”
    “Fine, I will put my hair up and take a shower. Then may I see Beverly?”
    “Yes then you may see her. A shower awaits you, I will be down the hall when you are ready” again she left me with a curtsy.
    I entered my room sighing with relief.
    I looked around only seeing a bathtub, no shower. I hated baths. But the sooner I get it over with, the sooner I can see Bev. The moment I stepped into the tub my vision blurred. I sat in the water quickly so that I wouldn’t fall.
    I hovered about a room. My family was crowded around a bed. With me on it. I looked less bloody than I did in the car, yet I was in no better condition. Slowly I brought my feet to the floor. My mother was being held by my uncle Craig. She was sobbing. I forced myself to be seen. It was harder than it looked. At first nobody saw me, but then Stefan my life long friend gasped.
    “Everybody look! She’s here with us!” he stood up so fast that he almost upset his chair.
    My mother looked around and stopped when she saw me.
    Somehow I made my voice come out, yet it wasn’t my voice. “I know I never really told you guys this a lot but… I love each and everyone of you more than you think. I felt no pain. It was instant. Please remember me from what I was and not how I look there.” I could feel my self getting dimmer.
    “I love you too baby. Why’d you leave me?” my mothers voice quivered.
    “I didn’t want to mom. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to get old with all of you…I must go. I can not stay any longer. Love you….” I felt myself return to my own body just as a hot cup of water got dunked on my head.
    I coughed and looked around to see a maid looking at me politely.
    “Is there anything else I may do for you?”
    “No… what did you do?”
    “I just washed your hair since that is all I am allowed to do for now. You must wash your own body miss. And your hair dresser will be here within five minutes”
    “Oh…thank you? I guess you can leave…”
    “Thank you miss” with a curtsy she left my room.
    I washed my body with a lavender smelling soap. Slowly I stood up. Feeling older than possible. My poor family… How could I get on without my mother? I stood up and wrapped my self in a towel just as a small lady walked in.
    “Are you the hair dresser?” I asked for she carried no supplies.
    “Yes miss. Please bring out your dresses”
    Well that’s easy I thought since I only had two of them…. Or so I thought. In the closet was a 6 foot long roll out dress cart.
    “Oh my….” Obeying the hair dressers wishes I rolled the cart out for her to see.
    “Hm…. This one shall do for tonight’s dinner” she said pulling out a deep purple silk dress.
    She handed me the dress. I took it and just stood there.
    “Well get in the dress. The sooner you get the dress on, the sooner I may begin” she said bluntly.
    “Okay…” I didn’t like changing in front of people.
    It only took her 20 minutes to get my hair up and in shape.
    “When you get back you will want to take all the pins out. Unless you would want a headache” she said as she left my room.
    “I hope someone will be able to show me there other wise I will get lost…” I stopped mid sentence since Clarinda was standing at in my door way.
    “Please miss, dinner is ready”
    “Coming” I had to control my walking for I wanted to run to Beverly.
    We went down three flights of stairs before reaching a big wooden door, with a gentleman standing at it.
    “You must wait until he announces you and taps three times, before you enter. And when you enter, hold up part of your dress with your left hand and grip the railing with your right hand. Are you ready?” Clarinda asked.
    “Um.. Yes?” I grabbed a bit of my dress on my left side and flexed my right hand hoping I wouldn’t trip going down any stairs.
    The gentleman nodded and opened the both the doors.
    “Announcing her Lady Amber” he tapped a cane on the floor three times. Each echoed in my ear.
    He moved out of the door way as I descended the stairs. I held my head up; only looking for Beverly with my eyes. Surprisingly the room was full. And everyone was bowing to me. Carefully I curtsied back. Jarred came to my elbow.
    “I will escort you to your table Amber. You are to sit with only a few people for now”
    “Okay. Why are you allowed to call me Amber when no one else it?”
    “We shall talk about that later but for now… I would like you to eat some dinner” Jarred said planting me in front of a small table with only one person sitting at it.
    “Oh Beverly!! I am so sorry!” I sobbed falling into a chair.
    “Amber? Oh my… You’ve changed… Your fine! I feel better than ever. I didn’t feel anything and I saw my parents. They were crying and…I tried to talk to them but they freaked out” her lips quivered.
    “So have you. They don’t believe in spirits do they?” I asked whipping my eyes with my hands.
    “Not by much. I didn’t even get much taller. Like you did. No, they don’t” she sighed.
    “Oh, well…. What were you doing all today?
    “I was learning how to keep my hands soft and un calloused” Beverly made a face.
    I laughed in spite of myself. “Oh what fun?”
    “Don’t tease me Amber. What did you do?”
    “Well I went and I…” I was cut off by Jarred.
    “Meditated. To try and soothe out the temper that burns inside”
    Jarred gave me a look that said; to not tell her any of which I actually did that day.
    “Yeah, it was really soothing too” I replied evenly.
    “Well that sounds much better than what I had to do…. Amber I want you to have as many servings as you can tonight” Beverly announced.
    “Why on earth would I?” I was baffled.
    “Don’t give me that Amber, you look as if you weigh 50 pounds”
    “I weigh more than that thank you. While you on the other hand seem to be at only 50 pounds…. Oh Jarred? Can you please answer my earlier question?” I said to change the subject from weight.
    “I will, but not now. Not with all these people” Jarred looked up as food was brought to our table.
    I sighed but ate my pasta quickly. I did not like being stared at by people. After dinner, Beverly and I were escorted by Jarred to a small room to chat and learn how to sew clothing properly.
    That is how our schedules went for about a month. It was then that during one of our evenings sewing, that Jarred came in and said that it was time.
    “Time for what?” Beverly asked.
    “You will be told when you get down to the market. For now I would like you two to pack all of your belongings. Clarinda and Sarah will help you” Jarred said pointing to my assistant and Beverly’s.
    “Okay….” I said carefully setting my cloth down and standing up.
    We were given two hours which to pack. During that time I was visited by Kyler telling my to keep up my exercise. I didn’t noticed that Clarinda had left until she came back in with a cup. Filled with blue liquid.
    “What is that?” I asked pointing to the cup.
    “This is what you must drink. For you must stay up during the whole ride, miss” Clarinda said setting the cup on my vanity.
    “How long is the ride?”
    “Only 9 hours, miss. But it is required that you be dressed and ready by the time we get there. Which will be very important timing.”
    “Okay… Why is it so important?” I pondered out loud.
    “I do not know miss” Clarinda said coming over to help me securely close my bag in which everything was evenly folded and tucked in.
    “How will we be… getting to this market?” I wasn’t sure how people got from place to place here.
    “By carriage miss”
    “Excuse me Amber, but it is time to go. Are you ready?” Jared asked coming into the room.