We spent the night in a cave. Well, Kida slept, and I kept watch. It felt strange staying awake all night and not even feeling tired. I knew that the wind blew colder on the mountaintop, and I saw the frost that formed on the edge of the cave, but I wasn't cold. And for the first time since I'd come to Kida's world, I wanted to go home.
I didn't know how to.
Suddenly, a thought struck me. Kida's world was in my imagination, wasn't it? Did that mean I could make it whatever I wanted to? Smiling, I ran outside the cave and found a bare patch of ground. I closed my eyes and thought. Kida didn't need to sleep in a cave. She could have a nice, cozy little house, with a bed and a fireplace. There would be a trapdoor that led to a cellar, just in case the government people came looking for her there. The cellar would have a secret door to the outside, too. And the cellar would be stocked with enough supplies to last a long time.
I opened my eyes. Everything was there, just as I imagined it.
I grinned. I ran through the door of the tiny house to see a fire blazing. A low cot was against one wall, and there was a cupboard with supplies against another. I moved the cot to find the trapdoor under it, but before I could enter, Kida summoned me.
She stretched. "Thanks for keeping watch."
"I made you something."
Kida looked surprised. "How?"
"I imagined it. I want to make sure you can see it too, come on!"
I ran outside, and in the early morning light, the house was just barely visible. Kida stared at it, then at me, then back at the house.
"Thank you," she said incredulously. She hurried inside, and came out in a moment and hugged me. Well, she didn't really hug me--her arms went right through me--but it was still a hug. "You thought of everything. Well done, Mandy."
I smiled, and I squirmed a bit, but something nagged the pit of my stomach. "Kida, can I ask a question?"
"When you're in my world, how do you get back in this one?"
Kida was silent for a while. "Do you understand willpower?"
My mind raced for a bit. "Is it power that will happen, someday?"
"Not at all. It is the power exerted by your mind and your spirit, rather than your body."
I brightened. "Like the time in karate class we were having a wall squat competition, and it was just me and Lisa left, and I won because I didn't want her to beat me?"
"Exactly," said Kida, with a faint smile. "That is how you return to your own world. Through an act of your will."
"Is it okay if I try to go home now?" I asked. "I want to help you, but I feel like I need to go home. Do you feel that way sometimes?"
"Yes." Kida stared into the distance, at the sky that was starting to turn colors even though the sun wasn't visible yet. "Go."
I closed my eyes and, with all my might, I wished I was home.
Suddenly, everything hurt. I opened my eyes, but my vision was blurred. There were books everywhere, and something heavy on my legs, and my neck was twisted in a strange position. I screamed, but Nick and Mom were still screaming at one another, and I had a soft voice.
Everything went black again, and before I knew it, I was back with Kida. She'd left the mountain and was heading towards the smoke-covered village we'd seen the night before. I must have looked different, because her eyes widened when she saw me.
"In your world, you've been injured," she said.
"I know. That's why I'm back."
Kida was grim. "You are here to rest, for you will need your strength when you return to your own world."
I nodded. "But can I help you while I'm here?"
"You may," Kida said, "and I will be glad for it."
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.