Written by Miriam Fernandez
Art by Kristina Paukshtite
Now, what could this key be for? Amira thought, frowning as she inspected the key. It was just a key—brown and tarnished. But instead of the regular design, this key had a small crown attached to the middle and two small letters: M.A.
Amira had never seen nor used this key before, which was strange as she knew all the keys to the castle. After all, the castle was her home. She had grown up there and spent her childhood discovering what was behind each door. A memory resurfaces and Amira recalls her sister and her running through corridors, escaping from their parents and hiding behind curtains. Amira smiles, fondly thinking back to simpler times. She opens her palm again and focuses on the key again, hoping to recognize anything familiar from it but fails. Sighing, she calls the one person who can help her.
“Hey, Mia! Come take a look at this!” she yelled, urging her younger sister to come. Mia was only a year younger, but she was far wiser than Amira could ever be. Mia comes running in, her brown hair cascading past her shoulders. She wears a gold necklace around her neck, just like Amira does. The one her parents bought them years ago, back when they were little girls playing with dolls and racing through fields. They never take them off.
“What’s wrong?” Mia asks, slowing down as she approaches Amira.
“Take a look at this. Tell me, have you seen this before?” Amira hands the key over to Mia, hoping Mia will know more about this key. Mia squints as she carefully looks at the key, turning it over in her hands. It is early morning and the castle is unusually buzzing with noise. The king and queen have decided to throw a banquet in celebration of their anniversary, something that makes Amira question her unexpected discovery of this key. She found it on the floor, hidden by dozens of chairs and camouflaged with the wooden ground.
“I’ve never seen it, Amira,” Mia finally responds, shaking her head as she looks up to Amira’s eyes.
“Are you sure?”
“Definitely. I would have known it by now. You know we both know every inch of this castle,” Mia argues, handing the key back to Amira.
“Well then, I guess I will go search for a door that this key unlocks,” Amira says, turning slowly. I know Mia won’t say no to this, she thinks. One… two…
“Wait. Can I come too?”
“I was hoping you’d say that,” Amira says, smiling, and grabs her sister’s hand. They start on the first floor, trying every door while steering away from the decorations being placed on the walls and tables for the upcoming banquet.
“If our parents find us, they’ll scold us,” Mia whispers as they run to the second floor.
“Girls, you’re wasting time -” Amira starts in her mother’s voice.
“-On trivial things rather than helping with decorating,” Mia finishes, laughing. They search the entire second floor with no luck. Then the third. And the fourth. Amira knows that she didn’t find this key coincidentally; she still believes in magic and destiny.
“I guess it leads to nowhere,” Mia says, as they near the end of the corridor of the fourth floor.
“Don’t say that, Mia. It has to lead somewhere,” Amira insists, looking once more at the key. They’re both tired from racing up and down so many stairs, but Amira won’t stop looking for the door that unlocks with this key.
“Somewhere?” Mia asks, “We’ve looked everywhere.” She frowns and stops walking, crossing her arms.
“I know it does,” Amira continues, trying her best to believe in her own words.
“Somewhere.” And all of sudden, the wall behind them slowly transforms into a door with elaborate designs on it, spirals and patterns that intertwine. Amira and Mia are speechless, their eyes wide open as they take it all in. The door continues transforming, every piece of it delicate yet strong. At last, it finishes with the door handle that is just a few inches away from Amira.
“Wha-what just happened?” Mia asks, dumbfounded.
“I don’t know,” Amira admits, “But whatever that was, it was amazing.”
“Should we open it?”
“Are you serious? You know the banquet is in less than two hours and we need to get ready,” Mia replies. Then, they hear their mother’s voice, loud and clear, calling for them.
“Come on, Mia,” Amira pleads, opening her hand to reveal the key. “Let’s find out what this door leads to.”
“Mia, Amira, come and get ready!”
Mia turns to the sound of her mother’s voice, frowning as she ponders over the issue. Sighing, she turns back to Amira and smiles.
Amira smiles and gives Mia the key, anxious to see what this key will unlock behind this door and hoping they’ll find an adventure waiting for them.
Mia pushes the key inside the lock and turns the handle. The lock clicks and the door swings open. Mia and Amira both go in, their hearts hopeful as they go on a grand adventure.