This's just a story I've had floating around my mind forever. When making it a mini comic didn't work out and the fact that I had no time dawned I realized making it a story was the only option. So, the girl on the cover is the image I have of the character in the story. I wish I had the tools to draw her myself, but this worked for me.

Again, this story contains fantasy, such as the flying ship, and the mention of "kingdom," but still exudes a modern era. Hey, I just do what I want. Everybody's got their right.

So, anyways, enjoy the story and all that. Enjoy.

The butler poured tea into a porcelain cup and handed it to the elderly woman. Next to the elder woman was a young, fresh-faced girl about eighteen years of age sat in the armchair next to the older woman. To the younger lady, the butler handed her a glass mug. Affogato coffee. Her favorite.

"Your affocato, Miss Elaria," said the butler.

"Thank you, Sergio," said Elaria. "That'll be all." Sergio took a deep bow in respect and took his trolley and exited the drawing room.

Elaria Nor was the youngest of three daughters. Her mother and father were wealthy merchants and had a reputation in the kingdom of Enchantica. But Elaria's parents were not born in Enchantica, no. They were born in a village in the south. Enchantica is in the north. Their village was poor, rundown, and barely noticeable on a map. But her mother and father worked their way up into the high life and used their money to move to Enchantica and built their estate in the far north where everyone who was everyone knew their name. But all that might not have been if it weren't for Elaria's grandmother who talked them into it in the first place. She was the matriarch of the house and everyone did as she commanded and no one put up an argument. Elaria admire her for that. And today she had a question that did not relate to the family estate or business.

"Tell me some more stories about Lumina," asked Elaria. Lumina was the kingdom in the south. That's where her parents originated.

"Well," began her grandmother, "let's see. I remember when I was a little girl climbing the tall fruit trees and gathering them to sell on the streets."

Elaria's eyes lit up, just like they always do when excited.

"I met your grandfather when I was twenty," continued Elaria's grandmother. "Within a year, your mother was born." She smiled at the fond memory. "She was quiet a spitfire. Two years later, your Aunt Sylvia was born. And then your Uncle Eric came along. And that was it after that." The old woman closed her eyes and sighed. Exhaling lightly, she continued, "When your mother was nineteen she met and married your father and together they started up a business."

Elaria took a sip of her affocato as she prepared to hear the rest.

"Two years later, your sister Ariana was born," said the elder woman. She took a sip of her tea, which she almost forgot was there. "All was well after that," said the old woman after a sip. "And then, when Ariana was four I suggested we all move to the north—Enchantica. So we packed up everything we had and moved here."

Both grandmother and granddaughter had a quiet moment. It wasn't until Elaria made a question that didn't relate to business.

"Tell me about the river."

"Oh, the river." said Elaria's grandmother. "I loved going to the river and sit by the shore and watch the sun glistening the water's surface. I also remember the purple lilies that grew around it."

"Really?" Elaria's eyes lit up.

"Really, darling." the old woman replied.

Elaria imagined the river with its purple flowers blooming and the glistening water.

"Now tell me about the butterflies." Elaria pried. "The ones with the white hearts on their wings."

"Oh yes," the elderly woman's voice croaked. "The heartwings. No one knows where they came from. All I know is that they appeared for a time when Ariana was thirteen and Marina was nine." Then more insistently, "You don't remember them, don't you?"

"No." Elaria answered. "Father says I was five when we went to Lumina."

"Well, after that, the heartwing butterflies disappeared. No one knows why. I wish I could see one more time."

Elaria's eyes misted up. She lowered her cup just when she was about to drink. A veil of guilt fogged her face. She looked at herself. Her dressed in a fine black dress; her taupe hair topped with a matching black top hat. She felt guilty that she had all the luxuries in life and her cousins back in Lumina were poor and hungry. She didn't want to. But Shen always felt guilty.

She hadn't been to Lumina since that time. It was a yearly tradition to go to Lumina, but her mother and Marina went there occasionally, and it was nice to see the family. Her parent had asked her if she would like to come. Elaria would turn down their offers, but she knew they wanted her to connect to her roots. But she didn't want to connect to her roots, meet her cousins or anything like that. She just wanted to be left alone.

The old woman took out a pocket watch. "It's almost time, my dear," she said. "They're preparing the sky ship for us for our trip." She looked at Elaria. "Would you like to come sigh us, dear? We have room for one more."

"No," replied Elaria automatically. "No, no, I'm fine. I don't want to go."

"We can reschedule it if you'd like. There's always another time. Or we can cancel it and stay home."

"No, really," insisted Elaria. "Really, go. Please, don't let me hold you back."

"All right, my dear."

"Madame Henshaw," said the butler that was in the room earlier.

"Yes, Sergio?" said Madame Bonchest, Elaria's grandmother. No one called her by her first name, Odielle, only Madame.

"The sky ship is ready, Madame." said Sergio.

"Excellent, Sergio." Madame Bonchest said. "Could you help me up, Sergio?"

"Of course, Madame."

Sergio went and helped Madame Bonchest get up for her chair and he wanted her all the way out the doorway. From the rest of the way there, Madame Bonchest continued with her cane, but not before giving Elaria one last goodbye.

"Goodbye, my dear."

"Goodbye, Grandmother."

"Remember, it's only eight days. They'll fly by like that."

"I know."

After Sergio left and no one was around, Elaria rose from her seat and went to the enormous window that took up an entire wall. She saw the sky ship her sisters were getting on. They wouldn't miss her on their trip. Mother and Father were walking along with the servants trailing along with the suitcases. And right behind them was her grandmother. The captain of the sky ship counted heads once everyone was in. And then...they took off. Elaria stood there until the ship was almost out of sight. From there Elaria went back to her musings.

I don't want to be alone, but I also don't want to go with them. Since I could remember I've always been scared of flying. It's always held me back for years. I know they're disappointed when I don't go with them but what am I suppose to do?

I don't want to meet anyone there. And I've heard that the village in Lumina isn't what it used to be in the past. The river stinks from factory spills. The flowers are gone. Those butterflies are long gone now. Probably extinct. What's the point of going when it's all just sad and depressing? I don't know why they keep insisting. I won't go. I'll never go.

Elaria looked up at the lush forest that surrounded her manor. She'd always been scared of flying, but it was to the flying bothered her. It was all of it. The guilt she felt when she knew that her cousins were struggling and she had everything handed to her on a silver platter. She was also afraid of being gawked at and people whispering about her. She liked it, but not when she was present. Most nights she spent them in her room, when no one was around, and the whole house had gone to sleep, she resorted to reflecting on her fears and ended up feeling worthless.

Sometimes I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up. Not die, but just...sleep...for a thousand years. She looked out into the treetops and the way they just touched the sky. Elaria often daydreamed about being able to just jump off a tree and walk on the clouds. It was merely a fantasy, is all.

"There's always next year." Elaria sighed.