The Adventures of Lilly
Book Two – A China Escape
Immediately Lilly set to work unpacking her suitcase. Emmy helped her while “ooohing” and “aaahing” at several items. In no time at all, they were finished. Lilly stood up.
“Hey, Emmy, what’s all this writing on the wall?” she asked leaning forward for a closer look.
Emmy grabbed a red book from under her pillow. “When Grandma was here she gave me this book and she would read this to me, like, every month. It’s my favorite story. I fell in love with it the first time I heard it. Unfortunately, it’s written in Spanish and Grandma was the only one in my family who could read Spanish. So, after she died, I got a copy of the Spanish alphabet and started translating the book on this wall. That way I can read it from the vantage point of my bed as I go to sleep.”
“Way cool!” Lilly exclaimed. The writing was intercepted by a framed picture of a huge garden covered in Christmas lights. “Can you tell me the story?”
Emmy beamed. “Of course. Hold on a minute. I’m going to do something. Don’t freak out.” She raised the window screen and sat on the ledge with her feet dangling over the edge. Lilly joined her. The view was spectacular.
“Good thing I’m not afraid of heights,” Lilly whispered.
Emmy giggled. “No gymnast can be, I suppose. But if you were scared, there’s a balcony some feet down to catch us if we fall, although most likely we would come up with a broken bone or something.” She giggled again before launching off into telling Lilly the story in the red book.
The story was about a gigantic dragon who promised a king that he would protect his kingdom from its barbaric enemies so long as the king commissioned several officers to search out the land for a mate for him. All went well until the king’s daughter grew fond of the scaly dragon and he accidentally burnt her with his scorching fiery breath. Out of revenge, the king committed a rash act, which brought his kingdom to its knees. The story’s ending was bittersweet.
Lilly applauded after Emmy finished telling the story, then she sat in silence, staring at the silver moon peeking through the blanket of fog until Emmy spoke. “I wonder if there’s an alien kingdom up there somewhere and its residents are looking down on us right now.”
“I’m not sure about that,” Lilly said. “But I know Someone who is.”
“Right. His eyes are everywhere.”
“So you’re a believer, too?”
“Yeah. I became a Christian two years ago. My whole family is…I think,” Emmy answered but with some doubt.
They continued talking until Emmy could hardly keep her eyes open. Lilly back-flipped into the room and climbed into the top bunk. Emmy slid off the window sill, marched to the bottom bed and collapsed in between the downy sheets as if someone had pushed her under.
“Good night,” Lilly sang.
Emmy’s ‘good night’ was cut off by a loud involuntary yawn. “Don’t forget to show me some pictures of California tomorrow. O.K.? I’ve never seen the beach.”
“I won’t,” Lilly promised her before falling off into a restless sleep. No sooner had she fallen asleep when she was awakened suddenly. It was 4:59 a.m. Her bones ached. Lilly lay awake wishing sleep would wash over her. It stood aloof like a stubborn, unbridled donkey. I need some water, Lilly thought. She climbed from the top bunk. Once her feet hit the floor, a hazy green light arrested her attention. Upon further investigation, she discovered it to be one of Emmy’s glow-in-the-dark bracelets. Breathing a sigh of relief, Lilly proceeded into the hallway, then on into the kitchen. Trying to make as little noise as possible, she turned on the faucet and grabbed a cup from off the shelf.
“Lilly?” a voice called behind her.
Lilly spun around and water sprayed onto her face and shirt. She cut the faucet off. “Dad,” she said. “Where did you come from?”
“I could ask you the same thing,” Mr. Hill replied with a tired smile. His hair was an undignified mess.
“Right,” Lilly paused. “I was sleeping in Emmy’s bunk bed, trying to sleep, I mean. I think I am jet lagged.”
“I must be, too,” Mr. Hill said. “I’m sleeping on the couch, however.”
Lilly decided to stay with her father. She ended up stretching out on the loveseat while her father tried to sleep on the couch for the remainder of the dark morning, drifting in-between reality and dreamland; teetering on the brink of reality, yet never fully falling over into sleep’s promising valley. When the first rays of daylight hit Beijing, Mr. Hill tried unsuccessfully to skype with Mrs. Hill and Marco.
“They’re probably sleeping,” Lilly said. Mr. Hill agreed.
By 8:00 in the morning, Lilly had showered off her drowsiness and was ready to go with Mr. Hill to investigate the address Bo had given them. Evan Sun drove them there. It took less than an hour. They pulled up into a not-so-fancy housing complex and Mr. Hill and Lilly got out and walked up to the third house from the left. Lilly rapped on the door three times. They waited and waited for some time until a woman with rich, brown hair threw open the door.