NOTE: This may seem like a pointless chapter, but the things that happen and are mentioned in this chapter become very important in later chapters. Also, reading it will require a little maturity on your part. :P
Chapter 3: The Fountain of Youth
When Isabel awoke the next morning, she found herself lying underneath the Weeping Willow tree. She groaned. Her eyes were bloodshot and her body felt stiff and sore as she got up.
“GOOD MORNING!” Sydney suddenly appeared with a happy smile on her face.
Though Isabel was initially startled, she groaned again as soon as she realized who it was.
“You’re not dead yet?” She moaned.
Sydney scoffed, “Well, someone’s a little grumpy! Fortunately, I know just what you need!” She chirped cheerfully.
“Can’t wait…” Isabel replied in a tired, sarcastic monotone.
Sydney giggled, “Come with me!”
She groggily followed her down the hill into a small cave, hidden by the bushes. Sydney crouched down and got through the opening, as Isabel quickly followed behind her. Pretty soon, the opening expanded and connected to a large space within the cave.
It greatly resembled a spa, with a cool, refreshing mist in the air that glistened on the walls. The mist was coming from a large, lush fountain in the center that was surrounded by a sparkling pool with twinkling tiles at the bottom.
“Where are we?” Isabel asked.
“Welcome to the fountain of youth, Izzy!” Sydney said with a big smile.
Isabel blinked curiously with her mouth slightly open.
“Well, what are you waiting for!? Strip down!”
“Excuse me..?” Isabel hesitantly replied.
“Go on, girl! Make a splash!”
Isabel squinted suspiciously at her. “Hmm, why do I feel like you’re not telling me something..?”
Sydney chuckled nervously, “N-No time for questions, just get outta your jammies and into the tub!”
Isabel rolled her eyes and put her hand on her hip. She sighed in aggravation, “Look, I’m not getting in there until you tell me what’s going to happen…”
Sydney groaned in defeat and reluctantly gave in, “Okay, so I just thought that since you’re going to be here a while, you deserved to look, well…” she stared in disgust at Isabel’s messed up hair, slouchy posture and slept-in attire, “not like that.”
“What? So, it’s just a bath..?”
“Not just a bath. Once you come out, you’ll never age in your fantasy world; you’ll stay the same age you are, now.”
Suddenly intrigued, Isabel raised her eyebrow, “…Really!?”
“But!?” Isabel repeated anxiously.
“Well, in the slim chance that you ever get outta here, you will continue to age naturally, once you hit reality.”
“Oh…” Isabel was disappointed. “Well, in that case, I don’t know if it’s worth it…”
“Come on, Izzy!” Sydney smiled and elbowed her gently.
“But like what if I stay here for like, decades and once I finally get out, all my friends and family would have outlived me..?”
“Izzy, sweetie, I’m going to level with you; you’re probably never going to get out of here…you might as well look hot!” Sydney raised her eyebrow with a selling smile.
Isabel thought deeply for a moment. “Can’t I get like a day or so to think about it?”
“NO, you gotta get in NOW!”
Isabel groaned, “Oh, my god…”
“Besides, if you get in, you can eat as much as you want and never get fat! So, that means you can have all the cheddar cheeseburgers, fettuccine alfredo, fried shrimp with the cocktail sauce, beef hot dogs with relish, red velvet cake, apple crumb pie with all that whipped cream, sourdough grilled cheese, potato chips, nachos and salsa, bacon, Papa John’s pizza, soft tacos with chicken and queso and guac…”
Getting annoyed and slightly tempted, Isabel reluctantly gave in. “Okay, okay, I’ll get in the stinking tub!”
“But, wait!” Sydney urgently grabbed a hold of her shoulder. “You have to promise me you won’t tell anyone about this place, and you won’t show it to anyone. The fountain can only be used for emergencies.”
Isabel tilted her head in confusion, “Emergencies? What kind of emergencies?”
“Well,” Sydney’s voice squeaked nervously, “The fountain has healing properties and can technically be used to save someone’s life…” she mumbled under her breath, “but don’t even think to do that…”
Too exhausted to argue, she shrugged, sighed and stripped down. As she dipped herself in, the pool swallowed her entire body. It was deeper than it appeared. Though not usually a very strong swimmer, she found herself easing into the water quite effortlessly. The bubbles fizzed on her skin.
Isabel didn’t know how long she was in there, but once she got out, Sydney was gone. Dripping wet, she realized she didn’t have a towel and opted to search for one. After walking a few steps, she noticed her reflection on a mirror that was conveniently placed in front of her. She was positively stunned at what she saw.
Lifted, youthful eyes stared back at her. The fine lines that had started to show had disappeared. The lashes surrounding them appeared slightly more voluminous. Though they were already fairly long, the length seemed to be more defined. Long, soft, silky hair flowed from her head. Not a single split end. Rosy cheeks flushed her face, and her overall complexion had an even, luminous glow; not a single flaw or blemish to be seen. All of the dry, discolored, itchy patches on her arm from her excema had cleared. Beneath her nose was a pair of lush, plump lips that vaguely pouted. She licked her teeth. Her braces were gone. All that was left was a set of straight, pearly white teeth. Her once gnarly, bitten nails were now grown out beautifully to a reasonable length. Her breasts were lifted and supple to the touch. Long legs and a lean but still curvy figure further graced her appearance. Overall, her entire body felt smooth and baby soft. All dents, scars and fractures from previous injuries were completely gone.
As Isabel stared with her mouth agape at her transformation, she didn’t look or feel as though she had undergone drastic plastic surgery. She still looked like herself. It was as if all the high points of her appearance had just naturally improved. She blinked in shock as she slowly touched the mirror to make sure it was her.
Suddenly, Sydney showed up behind her in the reflection. “Pretty impressive, huh?” She grinned.
“Yeah…” Isabel chuckled in disbelief.
“And the great news is, you only need to bathe in it once and you’re set! That’s ideal for lazy people, like you.” Sydney added. She handed her a bathrobe. “Come on; let’s go find you something cute to wear!”
“Honestly, I would much rather stay in my PJ’s.” Isabel said.
“N’aw, you need to show off that stunning new bod of yours!” Sydney beamed.
As they got out of the cave, Isabel noticed something peculiar. There seemed to be a point far in the horizon where the land ended and there was a huge, black hole of space. “What’s that?” Isabel hesitantly pointed.
Sydney looked over, “Oh, your fantasy world gradually fades away as you get older.” She said nonchalantly.
“WHAT!?” Isabel was shocked at how casually Sydney was taking this.
“Hey now, don’t wig out, it happens to everyone eventually. You’ve probably already noticed that it’s starting to get more difficult to come up with new ideas and characters, right?”
“It takes innocence to create and maintain a fantasy world, and as you know, we start to lose innocence as we age.”
“Well, if I’m going to be living here from now on, what’s going to happen to me once my fantasy world finally completely fades away!?” Isabel asked frantically.
Sydney smiled, “Ah, but you’ve already forgotten that you just bathed in the Fountain of Youth! You’re not going to age any further than this, and therefore, you’ll retain your innocence. Besides, your mind doesn’t even have control over your fantasy world, anymore!”
“Oh, right…” Isabel felt stupid.
Sydney giggled, “Come on, I want to show you something…”
“What about my ‘cute clothes’!?”
“Oh yeah, one sec.” Sydney snapped her fingers and a cute but comfortable outfit appeared on Isabel.
Sydney wiggled her fingers and beamed with pride, “Magical powers,” she said.
She grabbed Isabel’s hand, “Now, come with me!” She dragged her to the very top of a high hill, as the sun was setting.
Isabel was out of breath, “Why did you drag me up here!? You’d think this new, athletic body would work in my favor…”
Sydney just smiled, “Look over there,” she pointed.
Heroically sitting at the top of the hill, looking down upon the entire fantasy world was a throne.
“Sit,” Sydney said.
Upon sitting, Isabel laid eyes on the most spectacular view she had ever seen.
“Wow…” She was breath taken.
“Just think,” Sydney said softly as she got closer, “that is all yours…”
Isabel’s eyes twinkled in fascination at the world that she created.
“Here you go,” Sydney handed her a plain, gold crown.
“Ohhhhh, I get it!” Isabel realized ecstatically. She slipped on the crown.
“I’ll leave you here alone, for a while…” Sydney winked and then left.
Isabel took a deep breath and beamed as she gazed down at her kingdom.