No One Named Tim

Every day, Princess Joan woke happily to the flute-like song of the white birds. She hopped out of bed and trotted her portrait outside to visit her pet unicorn. Eunice, as she was named, had perfectly white hair, white feathers on her wings and a spiraled horn of gleaming gold. She munched on wafting tufts of clouds. Eunice looked up adoringly at Princess Joan, and her horn gave an extra shimmer of delight. The princess hugged the unicorn which returned Joan’s affection by raising her tail and dropping a load of dung. But magical unicorn poop is not as you’d think. It came out as marshmallows. Despite the pleasantness of the unicorn dung, it was still unsanitary, so it immediately sank through the cloud to fall below.

One day, as Joan was out on the cloud lawn with the grazing unicorns, Prince Chaz sat on the pure white marble terrace. He was perfect in every way. His hair never moved, and his smile was so bright that people had to turn their eyes away or else get blinded. He wasn’t really doing anything, but that wasn’t a problem because the world was so perfect that just sitting around was entertaining. In the truest sense, nothing was enjoyable.

Joan asked him to join her, but Chaz never stepped onto the cloud; he said it wasn’t pure enough for him. She teased him, calling him snooty and prissy. Chaz didn’t care about being called snooty, but prissy bothered him.  He walked to the edge, looking unsure of himself, and peered at the billowy ground. In that moment his face contorted into a mask of determination. Then he stepped off the terrace and immediately sank through the cloud.

He didn’t die; his fall was cushioned by a pile of marshmallows, but after he examined the sticky mess all over his perfectly white clothes, he wished he had died. It wasn’t until after he removed himself from the heap of unicorn dung that he realized he was in a very different place. The ground was hard to walk on, there were bad smells and nothing was white. He had seen colors in rainbows of course, but never on things. Tall brown wooden columns rose everywhere and branched out toward the top. At the tip of each of the millions of branches were little green flag-like things waving in the wind. Up above these, the sky was not crystal blue as he was used to seeing, but a grey heavy blanket seemed to hang over everything. It was so dark here that he kept his mouth open so he could see better.

“This place sucks,” was the first thing he said in this new world.

He found a road and followed it. Soon he came across a fellow traveler walking along with a bundle strapped to his back.

“Hey you!” shouted Chaz.

“Yikes!” exclaimed the old man who stumbled in his sudden blindness. “That light hurts my eyes!”

“It’s just my perfect teeth,” said the prince.

“Well, turn it down.”

To Prince Chaz, the old man sounded rude. Everyone in the kingdom on the clouds was royalty, and they were treated with the upmost respect. “How dare you speak to me that way?” he responded indignantly.

The man screeched and covered his eyes. He tried to get away, but staggered into a tree next to the road. The prince wanted to ask for directions and grew impatient with the bungling old geezer. His teeth were too much of a distraction, and he reluctantly covered them with his hands. The man cautiously uncovered his eyes and blinked.

“Where am I?” Chaz asked through his fingers.

“You’re in the forest just outside of town.”

This was of no use to Prince Chaz. He didn’t know what a forest was, much less what town it was near. “What town is that?”

The man looked at him suspiciously, eying his gooey white clothes. “Hillvaleham.”

The prince still did not understand where he was and had no difficulty broadcasting his ignorance. The old man explained as simply and as carefully as he could, so even a child might understand, that Hillvaleham was on the hill in the valley. Really, where else could a town named Hillvaleham be located?

Chaz was hoping to hear something he recognized: he was two clouds away from the enchanted kingdom, or a short unicorn ride from the castle in the clouds.

“But where is this valley?” Chaz asked.

“Maybe you should just come into town,” the man replied. “Someone smarter than I can answer you.”