I wrote this in honor of two of my favorite childhood authors. I’d forgotten they share a birthday today! Louisa May Alcott and C.S. Lewis have inspired and enriched me. Happy Birthday to them!
Louisa May woke up and yawned. She was in her favorite closet hideaway. It was her secret spot of the week. She’d gone there to daydream and ended up sleeping without a mention of unconscious adventure.
“Lousia!” called her mother. “Remember we’ve got visitors this afternoon!”
She sat up and yawned. How tiresome. But she went in her bedroom that she shared with her sister and got ready. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and tidied her thick braids. An hour later she was playing with a child from the visiting family. They’d come all the way from Ireland and their last name was Hamilton. She enjoyed talking to the boy that was six years older than her. He was thirteen and his name was Thomas.
Even though he was older they got along. He seemed to enjoy her games and all she had to show him. She thought perhaps- since he was close to leaving childhood behind- that he liked sharing hers. At any rate she showed him her closet hideaway and they went and hid in one of the wardrobes.
“Let’s have an adventure,” she urged.
“All right,” said the boy.
“But you have to make a pact,” she said.
“You have to agree that from now on, wardrobes are the actually the doorways to the lands of Goodness and Peril,” she whispered, her voice deepening in portent. They’d already both discussed their love of the allegory, ‘The Pilgram’s Progress’ and these two lands sounded like locations from there.
“The Lands of Goodness and Peril,” he agreed.
“This knowledge will pass down,” she said in the same deep voice.
“It will pass down,” he repeated.
“To our children’s children…” she went on.
“Wait a minute,” said the boy, “What if one of us has no children?”
“Then the other must pass it for both,” she rumbled.
“The other one of us must pass down for both,” he repeated.
She didn’t tell Thomas that the back of the wardrobe was actually missing. Behind it were bundles of white sheets- waiting to be laundered. The two of them climbed through the wardrobe and fell on the heaps of white material as if they were the snowy expanse of the Alps.
“This is the snowy expanse of the Alps,” she informed him.
They regained their feet and a bitterly cold wind cut through them with a stinging wall of snow in their faces till they could hardly see.
“These Alps must be in the Land of Peril,” Thomas yelled to be heard over the wind.
“Of course!” she shouted back, “Everyone knows you have to pass through Peril before you can reach Goodness!”
“We’ll never make it! If the cold doesn’t get us, we’ll fall off these cliffs!”
“Nay, my friend- if thou but doth follow me I knoweth a secret trail!”
“Are we in Bible times that you’re talking like that?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. They didn’t speak English in the Bible! Don’t you know anything?”
“I know more than you- I’m older!”
“Wait! There it is- The Staircase of Altitude!”
“Let me go first!”
“Nay, you can’t climb that way- down the middle of the Staircase- you’ll cause an avalanche. On the outer edge is the only way!”
All throughout the day they faced the Basement of Despair, the Woods of Horrible Wailing and last they met and conquered the Seven Kittens of Rage. At the end of their time of adventuring they were both tired and her braids were messy again.
“But we never reached the Land of Goodness!” he said.
“Yes we did though!” she cried. “Goodness is always just over your right shoulder. Along with mercy it follows us all the days of our life!”
13-year-old Thomas stood tall and smiled at her.
“You’re the most seasoned adventurer I’ve ever traveled with,” he said. “Perhaps one day I’ll name my child after you. She’ll be called little Louisa.”
“No, never that- but remember when we passed through Despair and saw the Flower Bower? You must name her Florence, after that!”
He held out a hand. Behind them his parents were calling- it was time to go.
“Thank you, Louisa. I’ll never forget you.”
“Or our pact?”
“Perhaps we’ll meet again, in another wardrobe someday!” she said.
“Or perhaps one of our grandchildren will travel there!”
“Good day, Traveler! And fare well!”