Bitty quickly and quietly closed the door to her room. She could feel the anticipation of the map making her want to squeal. It was so exciting to have something like this happen, but what did it really mean, and was it really real? She moved over to her desk and with one arm pushed everything aside. She threw the plain piece of paper into the drawer and began to unroll the strange creamy paper that contained the photo of the map. She unrolled the map. It wasn’t the same as when she had printed it. The white frothy bubbles had turned into many different colors. Where the bubbles had been were brown and green, like land. In place of the pale clear bathwater was a rich vibrant blue of a vast ocean. Bitty gasped aloud. Her hands flew away from the map. She was frightened to touch it. She began to pace back and forth in her room glancing at the map continuously. After only a few moments, that felt like hours, Bitty walked briskly back to her desk with the half opened map on it. She sucked in her breath and grasped the corners of the map and straightened it out fully. To her astonishment, words were written in a rich royal red, and more had appeared after she had taken the picture. Bitty pinched her arm hard, hard enough to make a red mark. She wanted to make sure all of this was really happening. She knew that it was really happening and her arm hurt, and the map was forming words and shapes in front of her eyes. Bitty squeezed her eyes shut. She saw images of a sailboat and a vast ocean and flying creatures flipping through her head like pictures on the TV. She opened her eyes and wondered whether it was better to watch the map growing and changing or to let all the strange sights jump into her head. She knew they had to be attached to the map somehow; there was no doubt about that. She just didn’t know what it all meant, or how it was happening. Bitty went to her bed and retrieved her journal from between the mattresses. She had better write all this down so she would remember the images in her mind.
She just finished writing down the last few details when she heard her mother knock on the door.
“Just a minute.” Bitty called grabbing the map and throwing it with the journal under her mattress. She moved to open her door.
“I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t changed your mind about the movie.” Her mother glanced around the room quickly then let her eyes rest on Bitty’s.
“No. I’ve got a book here that I’ve been wanting to start reading.” Bitty’s eyes shifted to the blue floral comforter on her bed. She had failed to let it fall back into place after hiding the map and journal under it. Her eyes flew back to her mother and she smiled.
“Are you ok?” Her mother stepped closer to her and looked into her eyes. “You are acting a little strange, if there is something wrong you can tell me.”
“Nothing mom, I’m just not up to a movie tonight.” Bitty smiled and hugged her mother, hoping to relieve her worries.
Her mother stepped back from her and smiled back. Then she walked to the edge of Bitty’s bed and began to straighten the comforter. Bitty bit her bottom lip behind her mother’s back.
‘Don’t find it, don’t find it, don’t find it.’ Bitty’s brain echoed loudly.
“Mom, you don’t have to do that.” Bitty touched her mothers purple blouse on the shoulder. “Here let me.” Bitty nudged her way in front of her mother and quickly smoothed the soft blankets then turned around to face her mother. “Well, maybe I can come down for a while; it does sound good to watch a movie together.” She knew that would be the best way to keep her mother away from her room.
“Really, are you sure?”
Bitty nodded her head and said, “Let’s go mom”.
During the middle of the movie, Bitty’s best friend Jelly called. “Hey, what’re ya doing?” She asked Bitty.
“Mom and I are watching a movie.”
“Oh, I was wondering if you wanted to spend the night?” Bitty liked Jelly a lot. She loved to spend the night at her house. Bitty didn’t have any brothers or sisters and Jelly had two of each. It was fun to have so many kids; they could play games of all kinds. Last time she stayed they played Monopoly and Bitty even beat Jelly’s two older brothers. But now that she had the map, she didn’t want to stay there and have all those other kids knowing about it too.
It was hard to do but Bitty said “Not tonight, maybe another night, ok”.
“Sure, well, bye.” Jelly sounded disappointed to her, but Bitty would explain it all later, she would understand.
“You don’t want to stay with Jelly tonight? That’s definitely odd.”
“Nah, it’s loud at her house.” Bitty smiled and continued watching the movie.
“I think I’m going up to bed now. Goodnight.” Bitty yawned too for good measure.
“Goodnight Bit.” Her mother called after her as she rounded the steps to her bedroom. She shook her head as she watched her only child shut her bedroom door.
Bitty locked the door of her room. She sped over to the bed and pulled out the map. The image was beautiful and pristine. Everything was outlined and named, charted with an amazing accuracy. She marveled at the pure beauty of the paper and ink in front of her. The map looked ancient. It looked as if it was from another world. She grabbed a scrunchie and threw her hair up out of her face. She gathered the journal from its little hiding place and sat down at the desk. She began to list the charted areas of the map. First she counted the oceans and the largest land masses. It appeared that there were three large bodies of water. The Sea of Ganthra, The Mightic Ocean and The Largonian Ocean were listed in large scarlet letters over the mass of blue oceans. She viewed several other smaller areas of blue that seemed to be smaller lakes and then rivers too, but she wanted to first list the biggest areas of land that had names. Two shared their names with oceans. Largonia and Ganthra were the two largest areas of land but there were three more worthy enough in size to list with them. Woodenthra, Draconvi, and Merchindia Bitty listed from the largest to the smallest. She also was excited to see that there were many islands peppered throughout the map with queer names like The Islets of Barognia and The Deserted Islands. She was lost in the map and didn’t realize the time was so late. She heard her mother coming up the stairs slowly and snatched her light off in time. All she needed was more questions. She lay awake in her bed, as she shut her eyes visions of water speeding by so fast covered any thoughts she was having. This time she relished the images of another place. She saw a battle of many people with swords flashing and bodies falling down. She became sad. Was this place in turmoil? Her wondering overpowered the sights and she drifted off to sleep.