By: Kyle Xu
Sara O’Connor was just out for a nighttime stroll when the portal appeared.
It happened so suddenly: a sharp whistling, a swift wind, and suddenly, the trees parted to reveal an obsidian-black portal. From the swirly, mist-like matter in the portal, Sara thought she could hear someone calling her name.
Sara was a determined 9-year-old Italian girl who lived in a quiet neighborhood with only a few houses. This neighborhood was set in the middle of a circular-shaped sandy island in the middle of the sea. She had never met other children her age and lived innocently with her mother and father in their own house, which was made of red brick and had five floors. She was homeschooled and had known only her parents for most of her life.
Sara owned one treasured possession: a huge tree in the middle of her backyard. Her parents had said to her the day she was assigned as the new gardener, “Take good care of our tree. It has been in our family for millions of years, and I know it will be safe in your hands.” The interesting caveat about this tree, however, wasn’t just that it was very old; it harbored a color that no other tree had—its trunk was a deep, shining sea blue color.
Her love for trees, not just her own, empowered her many nighttime walks into the deep grove of trees that settled in a circle in the middle of the island she lived on.
So Sara had just been strolling through the woods, feeling the soft wind as it shifted through her hair, enjoying every inch of her surroundings. And then the portal appeared.
Sara had read about portals in her favorite books and was taught that they were objects of fantasy that didn’t exist. But now there was a portal sitting in the small grove of trees behind her house, which may have been her backyard.
Any other child would have ran for help, but not Sara. She stood in front of the portal, pondering whether to walk through or not. Besides, she was very curious. “What could ever happen if I walked into it?” she thought. “I’ll just put one foot in and see where it leads. Then I’ll get out.” Following her thoughts, Sara put one foot through the shining mist erupting from the portal.
“Aiiieeeee!” she shrieked. She felt as if quicksand was pulling her whole body through the portal. A sharp pain hit her forehead, and she blacked out.
When she awoke, she found herself sitting on a sandy beach scattered with tiny seashells spread out like the stars in the night sky. Except… something seemed off. Her parents had brought her to private beaches before, but even those had sometimes been littered with trash. This beach was so natural. It was so clean, and an air of tranquility seemed to cover the beach. She picked up an unnaturally humongous golden seashell, and an enormous crab crawled out.
“Oh, how beautiful this is!” she thought. She moved her other hand, just an inch, into a puddle of deep blue squid ink. And then, turning around, she saw something else that alarmed her. Standing right behind her was a tall, imposing tree.
Something tugged at the side of her heart. She felt the tree with her left hand, as if trying to make sure that it was real, and accidentally smeared the whole side of the trunk with deep, shining, sea-blue ink. She didn’t even notice.
When Sara snapped out of her trance, she suddenly heard the sound of giant feet trampling through the grove of trees behind her. Thomp, Thomp! And then an unmistakable roar.
The stomping became louder. Sara turned around to be face-to-face with an enormous, scaly Tyrannosaurus rex. The dinosaur was dirt-brown with stripes of violent green and two times as tall as her house. She could feel its hot breath. She could see its thorn-sharp teeth.
In a flurry, Sara dropped everything and ran. She was only aware of the T-rex following behind her, roaring hungrily. She kept on running as fast as she could, with her life on the line. The T-rex kept on roaring, and each step it took became louder and louder. “Rawwwrr!” it hissed.
Sara risked a look over her shoulder. And then her foot hit a rock, and she tripped, falling face-first into the beach. As she struggled to rise, the dinosaur began gaining. It had almost caught up! Sara now knew it was hopeless to run. But the tall, bushy grove of trees to her side seemed like a possible escape route.
“If I can get into the forest, it’ll lose me for sure!” she thought, stumbling into the trees. She carved quick turns and pushed vines behind her—anything to lose the T-rex. The next turn brought her in front of something that she needed. A cave! It was shaped like an upside-down bowl with many hanging stalagmites. With no time to think, she burst in and began panting, catching her breath. She found a comfortable-looking rock covered with moss and decided to take a rest. She didn’t know if she’d ever be back in her sturdy brick house.
But then she heard the same whistling. The same gust of wind. Then the portal appeared.
She jumped through it.
Sara was suddenly dropped down in the middle of her present-day backyard. She stopped panting. She was safe. And then she turned around and saw her deep, blue tree: a reminder of her unpleasant experience with history. She smiled.