Here is the first part to the (relatively) final draft of my short story:
It must have been a dream because it didn’t feel real, but really, the only difference between dreams and reality is a feeling and even that can be distorted. This dream was the same every night. All around Eris spread the same plain of waving amber grass that she had been standing in for the past few years. She peered out to the horizon, a thin golden bar set against the nauseated heavens. Nothing taller than the grass broke the horizon line–there were no trees and no mountains to break the endless line of sight. They had told her that this was the safest place to be, and for a while, Eris had been content with the monotony. After years of returning to the same field each night, however, she had begun to wonder if they had been wrong. A whispering breeze blew in at her back, a cold, dry wind that sent chills up her arms.
Eris started violently and whipped around to face the boy standing before her. He had golden hair and bright hazel eyes set in a clever face. Eris narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
“What are you doing here?”
The boy laughed. “You seemed bored. I’m Janus.” Eris remained silent, still eyeing the boy with apprehension. “Did they tell you not to speak with anyone?”
“They said I would never see anyone at all again if I followed their instructions.”
“Well, here I am,” Janus said brightly, holding his arms out wide. “This is my sister, Hope.”
Eris blinked and a girl appeared a few feet away from Janus. She was taller than her brother, but they looked nearly identical apart from that. She grinned and gave Eris a small salute.
“Why are you here?” Eris asked them cautiously.
“You’ve been in Asphodel for a long time,” Hope replied. “We’re here to free you.”
Eris looked down at her shackled wrists. She was sure that she hadn’t been chained to the ground before that moment. “They said I had to stay here.”
“But why?” Janus inquired, scoffing. “It’s not dangerous out there.”
“Don’t you want to see what’s beyond the field?” Hope asked.
To be perfectly honest, they hadn’t really explained why she couldn’t explore. “They said it wasn’t safe to go alone,” she decided.
“You wouldn’t be alone!” Hope answered with a clear laugh. “We’ll show you the way.”
Hesitation and curiosity prickled over Eris’s skin, and she deliberated for a moment. Really, what harm could it do? It seemed rather ridiculous to remain in the field forever. They had been known to be wrong before.
“Alright,” Eris conceded.
The sibling’s faces broke into twin smiles. “Excellent,” Janus said excitedly. “Where to first?”
“I think we should take her to the palace,” Hope replied decidedly, taking Eris’s hand. “What do you think?”
Now that Eris had made her decision, any former misgivings she had had melted away into pure thrill, the intangible sense of adventure running like electric fire over her skin. “Anything sounds fine to me.”
Something echoed far away, the sound of a shrill bell ringing repeatedly. It became louder and more intrusive, distorting the image before Eris. A voice joined the sound of the alarm, calling Eris back. The field fractured and disappeared, and Eris opened her eyes.
“Finally,” her mother sighed, exasperated. She gave Eris a concerned look. “Why didn’t you wake to the alarm?”
“I couldn’t hear it,” Eris said simply, sliding groggily out of her bed.
“Asphodel couldn’t have been that engrossing. You’re going to be late for school.” Eris hastily pulled on a coat over the clothes she wore during night and day alike and hurried after her mother to grab a hasty meal before leaving.
School was usually as monotonous as the field of Eris’s dreams, and this day was no exception. She sat idly in class, her mind wandering from the waspish drone of the teacher’s voice and from the classroom itself. Something shimmered in the haze, slowly shifting into focus as Eris turned her full attention on it. A magnificent crystal palace towered before Eris, sunlight scintillating on its many-faceted surface. Janus and Hope were waiting in the massive doorway, beckoning Eris onward. She stepped inside, taking in the cool splendor of the palace. Even its silence had a chiming melody, a secret song trilling like a lark.