A few moments ago, her teacher asked the class to write a report on medieval times. Jenny knew all about the Middle Ages, she just had to remember.
Jenny remembered the smells, the bright colors of the clothes and the people. She remembered the baron, his court magician, her ladyship and her children, with whom she was occasionally allowed to play. She was almost as tall as the adults there and the children teased her.
The picnics, the tournaments, the feast days, the jongleurs, May Day. All came crowding back into her mind. She couldn't get her impressions down fast enough. The lessons on the astrolabe from her parents.
She described the castle with its battlements. The peasants working on the parapet wall. The typical work day. Society with its class divisions and how you didn't rise above your station in life, the one you were born to.
Her parents were noble born, even if they didn't brag about it. They were more talented than the court magician, but they were only minor magicians in the baron's court. They explained to her it was politics and anyway, they preferred it that way.
Better not mention magicians. She'd learned the teachers in this school did not believe in magic.
She wasn't happy at the baron's because she didn't seem to fit in. She wasn't a peasant, but she wasn't treated as a lady, either. The children called her a witch.
The memory of the peasant children chanting witch, witch, jarred her back to the present.
In the hallway this morning, a girl chanted witch, witch at her, because she spoke a funny kind of English she supposed. She felt awkward and so hadn't made any friends. She didn't fit in with the students at this school. She hadn't felt at home at the baron's. She didn't feel like she belonged anywhere she had been.
Anyway, she'd leave out the part about her parents in the report. Just write down the details she could remember from the baron's court. The good things that happened. She wrote and wrote.
Usually, she was the first to turn in an assignment, but she thought it was important to write down most of the things she remembered. Proudly, she finally turned in her paper. It was a good one, she just knew it.
A short while later, her teacher motioned for Jenny to come to her desk at the front of the room. Miss Brown was impatiently tapping a pencil on the stack of papers in front of her.
"Jenny Durant, do you know what plagiarism means?" she asked.
"I think so, Miss Brown," Jenny replied.
"I'll explain it to you, just to be sure. It's when you copy down someone else's words and claim they are your own. You're young and young people make mistakes, but you can make amends by telling me which book you copied your paper from."
Jenny was confused. She wanted to please her teacher, but she couldn't tell a lie. "I just wrote it down. You saw me. I didn't have a book at my desk."
Miss Brown had an ugly look on her face as she said, "This is impossible. A little girl like you could never have written a detailed, almost scholarly work like this. Even if your parents are historians, as I hear."
She changed tactics. "Do you believe in God?"
Her parents believed in God and she did too - He answered her prayers. "Yes ma'am. I believe in God."
"Well, God does not love a liar. You want God to love you don't you?" Now beginning to feel miserable, Jenny nodded her head.
"You're lying to me and you need to stop lying if you want God to love you."
Jenny's eyes filled with tears. She wanted God to love her and she hadn't done anything wrong.
"I'm not lying. I'm not. I just remembered."
"You can't remember something like this. You were never there. You just remember from a book you read."
"From a dream you had."
She thought for a moment. She thought about the dream of the Emerald City. The baron's castle was real, not a dream. So she said, "No, ma'am."
"I can't believe this. You're telling lies to cover up lies. I don't think you understand how serious this is. You could not possibly remember."
Jenny started to say, yes I can and I can remember a lot more, too. She decided instead to say nothing. She knew she was in trouble and she did not know why. But she did her very best on the assignment.
She felt good about herself again and felt secure that God still loved her and that He understood. Even if the teacher did not.
Miss Brown harshly told her to go to the principal's office. Jenny waited outside the office. The teacher came right away and they had a loud discussion about her. Jenny wanted to crawl under a desk and hide.
In a few minutes, they called her in to the principal's office and started in on her.
"What book did you copy from?"
"God doesn't love a liar."
She kept her answers short and truthful, figuring that the less she said, the better off she would be. That only made the teacher angrier. The principal seemed sympathetic, but took sides with her teacher. They decided to call her parents.
Jenny lived nearby and unfortunately, they were able to reach her parents at home and asked them to come down for a parent teacher conference.
And she did too know the difference between a dream and what was real.
She remembered her very first dream. She called the place in her dream the Emerald City. The city was blue-gray, not green, but it was very different from any place she had been.
A place where magical things happened. Not like the magic at the baron's castle, but magical all the same. A secret place.
Buildings in fantastic shapes with towering spires. Small airplanes moving between the buildings. No, she thought hard, they were called skimmers. Gliding through the air at different levels. She could almost paint a picture in her mind.
Her dad turned to her mom and said, "We've completed most of our field research."
Her mom rounded on him, "How can you think about the history project at a time like this? Jenny needs us."
"I am thinking about Jenny. About all of us. We have enough research material. We'll write our history of civilization in eleven volumes instead of twelve. We can leave here. It's time to go home."
Jenny said, "Back to the baron's, Dad?"
"No, Jenny, the baron's castle is not our home. We lived there while your mom and I did our field research."
Jenny brightened, "Is our home the secret place? Where skimmers fly through the air?"
Her dad turned pale. "How could you possibly remember Avalon? You were there when you were only three."
"I remember. I thought it was a dream. You asked me to keep it a secret and I did."
Her father gave her a hug. "No, honey. It wasn't a dream. It was real. You were a little girl at the time, but you were really there."
"I didn't dream about it?"
"Maybe you did, but it is a real place and we'll be going there very soon. We decided to take you with us seven years ago when we left Avalon to study our past."
"Our past?" Jenny asked.
Her mom placed a hand on her shoulder and said, "We love you very much and you seemed to adapt so well to the changes that we stayed much longer than we planned."
Her father hugged and kissed her, then held up a strange device. Similar to an astrolabe, only larger and more complex.
"Time to open the portal." He pressed several nodules in sequence and musical tones sounded as he activated the device. A small circle with very bright light around the edges appeared about three feet in front of him, then grew larger.
Large enough for them to walk through without bending over.
Her dad went through first. Jenny saw several tall men in silver jumpsuits on the other side.
Her mom took her hand and they walked through the opening together. The men greeted them warmly and walked quickly to move their belongings.
Her parents started talking to one of the men in quiet voices. She looked around the spacious room with angular shapes and noticed it had a very high ceiling. The place seemed very odd and yet familiar.
Jenny moved to the huge windows and looked out. The blue-gray buildings had such fantastic shapes. Skimmers were moving like flocks of birds through the air.
This was her Emerald City. It wasn't a dream. It was here all the time. She thought of the story of a girl in another Emerald City who had tapped her ruby red slippers together and thought of home.
There's no place like home. Jenny clicked her heels together as she chanted. There's no place like home.
No wonder she felt out of place everywhere she had lived. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She knew this was where she belonged. Jenny was truly happy for the first time in a long, long time.
Lida Quillen has been published in over thirty small press publications. Twilight Times is her first publishing venture. Lida is the Web Site Manager of a cyber artists colony -- Romance Foretold. She has also created an award-winning web site dedicated to beginning writers -- Lida's pages on writing. She writes a regular column, "Bardic Ramblings" for the Royal Scribe.