Marshall41 - Ella Dawson She followed no rabbit or ancient map. She entered no spaceships or portals to new dimensions. She had met no wizards or sages of any sort – and she could not be more awake. Yet, somehow, she found herself on shores far-flung and very foreign. Something … everything was not right. Ella Dawson was a very sensible person, and an even more sensible woman. She wore all the fashionable clothes and dinned with all the right people. She rarely spoke her mind, and never spoke her heart. She knew how far apart the forks should be placed from each other and exactly how fresh the flowers should be for entertaining guests of a particular purse. She always took note of the weather, in case was ever needed to fill gaps during small conversation. No one could gossip about her, for she never dirtied her foot with in any scandalous matters, and no one could beat her at her game – being Ella Dawson (to her friends it was an adjective meaning “a step above perfection”). Still, no one is unblemished. In fact, blemished was exactly how Ella described herself, but, of course, only behind closed doors – and even then, still only in her mind. Only three people in the world had ever known about her first blemish other than Ella: they were her childhood nurse, her mother, and her husband – and her childhood nurse had long since passed away. Ella’s second blemish, however, was a complete and total secret. Not even Ella knew of it, and yet, it all made total sense. The day it happened was in late spring. It was a Wednesday. Ella loved reading. Perhaps it was from her long nights listening to her father recite Moby Dick when the weather was wet as the sea and the air was thick as a blanket. Or maybe it was from her unwomanly hunger for knowledge – her only unwoman-like habit and only known blemish. But actually it was from her wish to be somewhere else. She could not be more grateful to her husband for all he did, but Ella was never satisfied with the mundane life she was born into. She would read Treasure Island and imagine herself conversing with pirates or discovering a crypted treasure map. Often she would daydream of the future, of flying machines and magic cures to undiscovered diseases. All of this seemed like a better, more exciting life, but she was being silly. Ella rose from the lawn chair, her usual seat for daydreaming and escaping from this incomplete world. But today was an important day, it was her birthday. “Honey, do come inside. The sun will blemish your skin. You know how you mother hates seeing you sunburned. She always makes sure to let me know when you are even the slightest bit pink. ‘Improper’ she says.” Ella rolled her eyes and made her way to the porch. Her husband was always so conscience about her mother’s opinion. “I’m sorry,” Mr. Dawson apologized seeing Ella’s frustration, “I know how you hate me bossing you around it’s just that your mother has such a sharp tongue. Remember the last time she found out I let you go out to society without your…” “Yes of course, I understand,” Ella interrupted, “it’s not a problem. I was coming in anyways.” Ella set herself down on one of the porch chairs and glanced up to her husband. He smiled apologetically and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Ella gave him a fake smile and then went back to gazing at the sky. Mr. Dawson kept quiet and busied himself with the preparations for that night’s activities. Normally he would try and say something to deter her from her imaginative seclusion, but today was her birthday and this was the best gift he could give her. She dreamed that afternoon. A sleep that she didn’t even think was possible. It was a deep dream, full of faces she had never seen and places she had never visited. The light was so bright and the people were so alien. Yet, somehow, in some small way, it all felt right – like going home. By the time she woke up it was well past four. She opened her eyes to see her husband standing in front of her, but he seemed so distant, like he was waving from behind a panel of misty glass. “Honey. Honey? Honey, wake up,” Mr. Dawson said as quiet as he could. She tried opening her eyes again and found more luck the second time. The sun was beginning to disappear behind the trees out back and the tables had already been set out for a night of celebration. Company would start arriving within the next hour, because most of them would have multiple engagements to attend, and the Dawson’s always made sure to provide the best food and the worst wine at all their parties so guests would come early and leave early – Ella never did like staying up late. “You best get ready. You are still in your morning gown. The guests will be here soon.” Ella rose from the seat and made her way to her room. Her room was rather plain and dull; but Ella never spent much time there aside from sleeping. She got fully dressed and began addressing the nightmare that was her hair, all without the help of any servants – they were busy pulling double duty as servers for the night. She threw her brush to the floor, frustrated with a knot that always seemed to be riddling the back left side of her head. She slapped her hand defiantly on her legs and stared angrily at the mirror. What she saw made her scream. Gone was the young, glossy haired woman, Ella Dawson, and in her place was a pail white, frail, skin coved skeleton, with dark, almost black circles encompassing blood shot eyes centered about a black pupil void. Eventually the glass fogged up and her true form returned in the mirror. Lost in shock and thought Ella stood up from her chair and walked hypnotically down the stairs and out to the lawn. The first few guests had started to arrive and smiled and greeted Ella as if nothing was wrong. She returned their kind hellos with blank stares. They continued their greetings like a broken record until her husband rescued her from the mass. He walked her to the lawn chair and held her hand. “Are you ok? Ella… Are you ok? Can you hear me? Ella! Listen to me, can you hear me?” Her husband asked with a deeply concerned look on his face. Slowly the air became thick and liquid. His face began to swim and fade into a blinding light that was rising like the sun from over the horizon. “El.. Ell… Ellen? Are you back with us? Hey, it’s me. Ellen can you hear me? Ellen, come on, please wake up.” A man stood above her and was addressing her as Ellen, who was Ellen? She lay in a cushioned chair in a large white room with those alien creatures from her dreams walking back and forth, looking at strange beeping screens. She glanced down at her arms and saw a dozen wires and tubes attached to her skin or imbedded in her arms. “Help! Somebody help!” Ellen screamed, “Help!” “Ellen, Honey, Ellen calm down,” the strange man pleaded. “No! My name is Ella and I don’t know you! Help!” Ellen continued, trying to rip the needles from her arms. The man held her hands with a firm but gentle grip, trying to keep her from messing with the equipment. “Please calm down, please! You’re sick, it’s me, you husband – Matt. Please stop or they will put you back to sleep.” Ellen looked at him with a horrified yet understanding gaze. Somehow she knew Matt, and the name Ellen seemed so familiar. Was this the world she was always yearning to discover? Could this be it? “No! No! I don’t know you. Help! Please somebody help!” With that, one of the aliens in a white coat and mask swiftly shoved a needle into Ellen’s neck. The painful, horrifying, and strange world began to swim in a mist of fog and haze. “Ella? Ella? Are you ok?” Mr. Dawson asked. She was back. The guests were peacefully eating. The evening was still young. And it was a special night – it was her birthday. “Yes, of course, I’m fine,” Ellen replied still confused and shaken, “We should get back to the party.” Ella Dawson had but one true blemish – and that was, of course, that she did not exist.