The shelves in the boutique toy store were overflowing. There were dolls, books, puzzles, and vehicles of every shape and size. There were games and costumes, marbles with tiny galaxies inside them, and blocks for children of every age. Cecily wandered through the store, stopping to stroke the purple fur of a plush unicorn, read the back of a book, or picking up toys she didn’t recognize and turning them over in her hands.

Cecily looked up and saw a row of brightly painted kaleidoscopes on the shelf in front of her. There were many things about her childhood that Cecily couldn’t remember, but some things can’t be forgotten. No matter how hard you try. She reached out and picked a kaleidoscope from the shelf. It was just like the one she had given to her sister, Emily, as a gift on her sixth birthday. The last birthday they had spent together.

A pang of regret stabbed at Cecily’s heart. She put the kaleidoscope back on the shelf and left the toy store. Outside, the sun was shining and the air was warm. A flock of brightly coloured birds chirped sweetly as they flew by. It was another beautiful day in paradise.

As she walked toward the park, Cecily’s mind drifted back to the last day she’d spent with her sister and she wondered if she’d made the right choice.

She and Emily had been playing in the fields outside the orphanage when something had changed. It was like the air around them was suddenly crackling with electricity. And the light in the sky was like nothing they’d ever seen. Cecily had stopped what she was doing and looked up. There, hanging in the air at the edge of the field, was a vortex. It swirled in a perfect circle, pulsating and glowing with a strange blue light. Cecily had stepped toward it.

“What are you doing?” Emily asked, fear in her little voice.

Cecily looked back at her sister. “I think it wants us to step through it,” she said. “I think it’s a portal to another world. A better place.” She took another step toward the vortex.

“Don’t go, Cecily!” Emily’s eyes were huge. She ran to Cecily and grabbed her hand.

Cecily looked at Emily and smiled. “We can both go, sis,” she said. “It’ll be okay. I’ll take care of you. I promise.”

But Emily was scared and she didn’t want to step into the vortex. Cecily tried to persuade her, but nothing she said changed her sister’s mind.

As the afternoon sun dipped toward the horizon, the glow of the vortex started to fade. Cecily knew if she didn’t go then, she would lose her chance. She looked at Emily one last time.

“Please come with me,” she said, but Emily just shook her head as fat tears rolled down her face.

So Cecily had stepped through, leaving her sister behind. And Cecily discovered that she was right; the new world was beautiful. The tangerine sun shone almost every day, and everywhere you looked there were exotic plants and animals in dazzling arrays of colour. It was always warm, the people were kind, and something good always seemed to be cooking somewhere.

Every month, new people came through the portal. For a long time, Cecily hoped she would spot Emily among those new faces, but she never did.

Cecily sat down on a park bench and watched children playing with their parents. She was nearly old enough to become a parent herself and she couldn’t wait for the day that her child came through the portal. In the meantime, she closed her eyes and let the warm ocean breeze ruffle her hair, banishing thoughts of Emily from her mind.


“And this is Cecily,” the nurse manager pointed at the last door on the ward. Inside, a young woman sat by the window, eyes closed, face tilted toward the sun. “She won’t cause you any trouble. All she does is stare out that window. She never speaks and she never interacts with the other patients or the staff.”

The new nurse stared at Cecily, “Why is she like that?”

The manager shrugged. “Apparently, she’s been like that since the day she found out her sister was going to be adopted and she wasn’t.”

“That’s so sad,” the new nurse said, wondering what went on inside Cecily’s head.

“Come on,” said the manager, “the geriatric ward is next.”


This is my submission for the Speakeasy #144. We had to write a piece of poetry or fiction under 750 words that included the following line anywhere:

Some things can’t be forgotten.

Our submissions also had to make some reference to the media prompt, which, this week, was the song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, as covered by Elton John.


Image credit: thea walstra / Photoxpress.com

39 thoughts on “Kaleidoscope

  1. Your way of story telling is too good….you weave a wonderful story with such simple words, only you can do that 🙂 Really loved this story. I felt pain reading the condition of second sister and the twist at the end is totally amazing. Love it.

  2. I think the world Cecily lives in, in her mind, is far better. Perhaps it’s best that she not return to reality. I like that this has several misdirections in it. I assumed Emily might be in the strange world, and that’s how she lost her, but Cecily went in. You kept me interested throughout. Most excellent!

  3. It’s amazing what the mind can do – and I mean that in reference to both your creative mind as a writer and those struggling to preserve some semblance of meaning and order in the face of trauma. I didn’t see the ending coming at all and, though sad, it was so wonderful to be surprised like that.

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