The Hidden Sister

Once upon a time, there was a lonely little girl named Kyla, who lived in a castle, and who was certain that she had a sister who was hidden somewhere in all of the many rooms. At first, she made the idea up out of thin air, but then she convinced herself of it. She thought about her hidden sister all day.

She believed her sister was named Amber or Ruby or Pearl, and that she had long, shiny black hair and violet eyes. All day, as she ran through the castle, through the warm and cozy living quarters where she stayed with her Nanny, down to the bustling meeting rooms next to the grand reception hall, past the cavernous kitchen that smelled of baking bread, and into the cold, stone labyrinthine passages with the empty rooms where no one ever went, she kept her eyes peeled for a flash of motion in the corner of her eye, and her ears pricked for a laugh or a sneeze or a mutter.

One day, Kyla was tiptoeing down a ghostly passage in the bowels of the castle where she’d never been before when she heard a thin, high voice singing. She followed the voice, looking into room after room, but they were all empty, or filled with old junk. Finally, at the very end of the passage, Kyla turned a corner she couldn’t see from the other end, and there was a little girl with long black hair and violet eyes sitting on an upturned bucket and singing to herself.

“Hi,” said Kyla.

“Hi,” said the little girl. “I’m Ruby. Who are you?”

“I’m your sister!” said Kyla. “Kyla! I’ve been looking for you for years.”

“When I was very little,” said Ruby. “I chased a kitten down a lot of hallways, and I could never find my way back. No one looked for me.”

“I figured something like that happened,” said Kyla. “I just knew it. Come on – I know the way back.”

But when Kyla tried to lead Ruby back to the living quarters, none of the hallways seemed to be laid out the way they had been before. The girls kept running into dead ends, and strange little closed-over courtyards, and big, echoing chambers that neither of them had seen before. They went up and down staircases and they peered through windows, but nothing looked the same.

“This is weird,” said Kyla.

“I think it’s me,” said Ruby. “I’m cursed or something. If you leave me here and go on without me, you’ll be able to find your way home.”

“I would never do that!” said Kyla. “I’ve looked for you too long.”

The girls wandered for weeks, never finding their way back.

Eventually, Kyla’s family launched an all-out search of the castle to find their missing daughter. They canvassed every nook and cranny, and at last, they found Kyla down in the very bottom of an old abandoned dungeon. She had died of starvation and she was clutching an old mop.

“Why do we live in this crazy castle?” her mother wept. “It’s insane! Who even built it?”

“Don’t take this out on the castle,” said her father. “You’re pretty lucky you get to live in the biggest castle in the world.” But when the rescue party turned around to go back, they became hopelessly lost. They never found their way out, either, and they all perished somewhere in there and were never seen again.

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