“Riley and I live in townhouses connected to each other by a garden. Sometimes at night, we’ll sneak out to the garden and hang out to talk and play. We got caught once but still keep doing it because we lied to our parents, saying, ‘We will never do it again.'”
Hi, my name is Hailee. I am 11 years old, and I have been friends with Riley for eight years. We met when we were three at a Mommy and Me class. Since then, we are inseparable. We do everything together.
I am the one who loves sports. I am on the school soccer, swim, and basketball team. What Riley and I share is that we are both on the dance team. My whole family loves sports, my dad especially. When it comes to sports, our family doesn’t stop screaming.
I have a younger brother, an older sister, a mom, a dad, and then of course, Riley.
The one thing I am allergic to is pollen, and I might have to go to the hospital and take medicine if it’s near me.
Riley and I live in townhouses connected to each other by a garden. Sometimes at night, we’ll sneak out to the garden and hang out to talk and play. We got caught once but still keep doing it because we lied to our parents, saying, “We will never do it again.”
This summer, we are going to stay in our house. We already planned everything this summer. We already babysit people in a different townhouse. We will do that and get money and then, when we aren’t doing sports, art, or dance, we will go around and help out and have fun. We also want to make enough money to buy more stuff for the summer and school.
Between the two of us, Riley is way smarter. She always gets full scores on her tests, and I get like half or a bit more. She never gets in trouble, but I am the opposite of that. But with her, we always get out of trouble.
So, now you know about me. Let’s get on with the story.
Hello, my name is Riley. As you already know, I am best friends with Hailee. When she is at basketball, I am there watching. When I am in a play, she is in the front row. Then, of course, we are always dancing together.
My family is difficult. I have twin sisters who are six years old and an older brother who is fourteen years old. I also have my dog Bailey. My sisters have a turtle. Then, my mom. My dad doesn’t live with us because my parents got divorced when I was two. But every Friday, I get a weekly call to talk to my dad about everything. Sometimes he comes over when he is in town. I mean, I miss him and I wish I could see him often, but at least we can talk sometimes.
Since being a lawyer and handling a dog and four kids alone is hard, we have a nanny. Sara is our nanny. She sleeps over every night except for Friday and Saturday. She is amazing. She helps out and plays with us. She is always someone I can talk to, along with Hailee.
I am mildly allergic to many things: horses, dust, grass, and gluten. If I eat or touch one of those I can get sick, and I need to take a lot of medicine.
The activities I do are dance, art, swimming, acting, and fashion. During some of my free time I do fashion. This means that I design clothes, try on clothes, and finally sew and make the clothes. Sometimes, Hailee and I wear clothes that I make or design. Those are the things I am mostly good at.
Hailee and I manage our schedules, so most of the time we are together. Well, I gotta go. Our summer is starting!!!
CHAPTER ONE: HIDDEN PASSAGEWAYS
“Come on!” Hailee screamed from the garden, jumping so she could see what Riley was doing in her room.
“Coming,” replied Riley. She jumped out the window. She got down with a thud then landed on her feet, and they started to walk down to town to get some ice cream. It was a really hot day that day. After five minutes of walking and talking, they arrived at the ice cream place.
“Hi,” they heard someone say to them. Riley and Hailee turned around to see Riley’s cousin Sasha working as an employee at Scoop. Sasha was Riley’s cousin on her mom’s side. She had straight blond hair just like Riley and bright blue eyes too. Even though she was six years older than Riley, they were still really close.
“Hey, Sasha. What are you doing here?” Riley asked her, looking up at the different flavors.
“Oh, I am working this week and next week because one, I love ice cream and two, I need money,” she replied, looking down at the girls.
They looked at each other, and then Hailee said, “I’ll have a cone with mint chocolate chip and rainbow sprinkles.” She looked at Sasha when she said that. Sasha turned around to get her flavor and then handed it to her.
“Um… I’ll have the same but in a cup,” Riley said. Sasha handed that to her, and they went over to get sprinkles.
“Thanks,” they said at the same time. Sasha waved bye, and they left Scoop.
They started to walk back until Hailee stopped in her tracks. She started to look at something in the far distance and saw a sign and trees. She licked the sprinkles right off her ice cream and asked, “What’s that?” She almost started walking over there.
“No, we don’t know what it is, and it’s in the middle of the woods. The only thing we see is a sign that reads COME FORWARD, and that could mean anything,” Riley replied cautiously. She kept on walking away from the ice cream place.
“Come on, just for one minute.” Hailee sighed while Riley started to turn around. They walked, staying on the passage. When they got to the sign, they saw many more passages. They all looked different. They all had many unique colors on the ground and trees. On one of the passages there was a house. It looked different from their house because in their normal town there were townhouses and country houses, but here there was an apartment.
“Woah,” Riley exclaimed, while her skirt shimmered in the light. There were beautiful trees and a huge lake. Hailee ran over to the lake. They stood by the lake for a while until they heard a thud.
There was a long sound. Riley and Hailee looked around. There was nothing but forest. Their town had disappeared.
CHAPTER TWO: THE HOUSE
“AHHH,” Riley cried. She fell to the ground where Hailee was lying down. After a minute of lying down in shock, Hailee stood up. She looked around a bit and then looked down at Riley.
“Are we dreaming?” asked Riley, not knowing what was going on. She stood up and looked around. All she saw was forest, but she also saw a house. It was the same house from before.
She was confused, but then Hailee replied, “No… But where are we?” She stood on her tippy toes to get a better view of the place. She saw the house too. The last thing they remembered was that they were sitting by a lake.
They took a look around. The forest they were in before had disappeared. Now they were in a place that was dark with barely any trees and worst of all, the passage had disappeared.
“Okay, let’s calm down. Maybe our cell phones work?” Hailee shrugged and took her phone out of her light blue fanny pack, and the case sparkled in the light. Then, Riley took her phone out of her pink purse. They held their phones up to the sun, but nothing changed. There was no connection.
Then, they started to walk over to the house. The house had music coming from it, and the music got louder as they walked closer. It was a bright yellow house which was odd for an apartment. Riley grabbed Hailee’s hand, and they got closer. Red roses surrounded the house.
Hailee began to sneeze. Her allergies began to act up more and more. She reopened her fanny pack and poured five pills into her mouth.
“Are you okay?” Riley asked, putting her hand on Hailee’s back.
“Yeah, I just need to get away from these flowers. Let’s knock on the door,” Hailee replied. She walked towards the door as Riley followed. Before they could knock, a lady walked out. She looked old, she had gray hair but it was short, she was tall, and she was wearing a long, black dress.
“Hi, girls,” she said, walking out more. They walked back, a bit scared.
“Um… Hi. I’m Hailee, and this is Riley,” Hailee said and started to walk forward.
“Would you like to come in?” the lady asked.
“Um, okay,” Riley replied. They walked into a kitchen where another lady was sitting. The rock music was playing. It was warm and nice. They wanted to stay there forever.
CHAPTER THREE: THE MYSTERIOUS WOMAN
After having tea and cookies, Riley said, “Thank you, but we better get going.” Riley and Hailee stood up, and they started to walk to the door.
“No, stay!” Annie, who was the old lady, shrieked. They pretended not to hear her and walked out together.
Once they got out, the place had changed again.
Now, they were really scared. They were on the ground this time again. Riley stood up and then helped Hailee. They looked around. There was a castle and then the same apartment.
“O-M-G, what is that house? It is so creepy and so is this forest. Where are we?!” Riley said, looking around.
“Let’s go to the castle and see if someone can help us,” Hailee said while she started to run over there. Riley followed and when they got there, they knocked on the door.
The same woman from before was there, but this time she was wearing a big, red dress. They also saw the girl in the kitchen wearing a short, blue dress, but this time she looked more like Sasha. The two scared and shocked girls just smiled at her and then walked away.
Then, Riley realized, “These were all the pathways, and we just have to wait until we get to our pathway home.” She sat down on the pure, green grass.
“How about that lady?” Hailee whispered to Riley, sitting down. Riley shrugged.
“Let’s go to sleep and figure it out in the morning,” Riley said to Hailee and then took her phone out of her purse and put her purse under her head to sleep. Hailee sat down, leaning on a tree, and took Riley’s hand and thought, What if we never go home? What are our parents thinking?
CHAPTER FOUR: 100 PATHWAYS
When they woke up, they were in the middle of a room. They got up, only to see Sasha standing there. They were surprised.
“Sasha?” Riley asked, braiding her hair piece by piece.
Sasha walked closer to them and said, “Yes… I will explain later, but let’s get out of here.” Hailee put her hair up, and they followed Sasha out of the weird room. They were terrified. When they got there, they crouched down. “Okay, I am here because one day I was walking in the forest and I came in here, so Annie spotted me and said that she needed help. I was confused, but then she made me come back every single day to help because I heard rumors that if I didn’t, I could die. So I have my key back in my room to get out of this place. So all we have to do is get the key and go out,” Sasha said, looking at them. They spotted Annie looking for them.
“Shhh,” Sasha whispered. She moved a bit closer as a spider creeped up her leg.
“Ahhh, spider!!” Riley screamed and jumped back. Annie saw her.
“I knew you were here. So can you be my new assistant? If you want,” Annie asked. She stood there in silence, looking down at Hailee.
“NO!” Hailee screamed. She stood up. Annie walked closer.
“Why do you need help? What’s going on?” Hailee asked.
“Well, don’t you need to know everything,” Annie said, and she walked down and looked at Sasha. “Well, guess what, maybe while I am out working I need someone to do everything for me.” Then, it happened again.
They woke up on the ground again back in the forest next to the house. Annie came out.
“Okay, sorry, whatever your name is, Saya. I am sorry you do everything for me. I can just get a maid,” Annie said surprisingly. The three girls who were scared walked closer. They took breaths and smiled.
“Thanks?” Sasha said. She was scared but also relieved that she didn’t need to read that much anymore, and she could just enjoy her summer at last. Then, the house disappeared.
CHAPTER FIVE: HOME SWEET HOME
When they woke up, they were lying on a road and got up to see Riley’s parents and family standing there like robots. The three girls were really creeped out.
“Now is your chance to tell your family,” Hailee said to Riley. Riley looked scared and walked over to her parents.
“Um hi, Mom and Dad,” Riley said, with a different, more terrified voice than usual.
“Hi, sweetie. Where were you last night?” Riley’s mom asked.
“Oh, um… I slept over at Hailee’s,” she said, while pictures of what actually happened floated around in her brain. She looked over at Hailee, who motioned to her to talk.
“So… I have a question… It’s nice you like your job, but I was wondering if you could, you know, spend more time with me?” Riley questioned quietly.
Her mom put her hand on Riley’s back and said, “Sure, sweetie. I can go to the office this weekend and ask, okay?” Riley hugged her and moved on to her dad.
“Hey, Dad… ” she said and hugged him.
“Hi, sweet pea. Nice to see you,” he said to her, and then waved over to Hailee.
“Um, Dad… My question for you is can I spend more time with you?” she asked, scared to see the response.
“Actually, I just bought a house right near you, so you get to stay with me every weekend!” her dad replied.
She jumped up into his arms and whispered, “I love you.” Then, they waved goodbye and walked on the street home.
“I’m proud of you, Riles,” Hailee said to Riley, and they walked home together, holding hands. When they got home, they sat on their window sills and fell asleep.