One night, Magda attended her first gala with her parents. Her cousin’s best friend was turning sweet sixteen, and her grandmother had rented a huge old mansion to have a party to benefit the local children’s hospital. Magda wore her prettiest dress and ribbons in her hair. She sat quietly during a marionette puppet show of Rapunzel. She ate her dinner of peking ravioli and dan dan noodles without spilling a drop. She danced the Macarena and shook her tail feathers.
That evening, she felt grown up right until the riddle labyrinth. The courtyard of the mansion had a labyrinth made of hedges. Each child entered the labyrinth in the same spot, but then they split up. Whoever got to the center first won a prize, they would go to the sponsor store to pick out a new bicycle. She could pick one out in her size. Magda was determined to win. She knew her parents were watching her through cameras in the maze. She found herself alone at the fifth turning, should she go right or left? She could not see over the tops of the hedges. An axe clattered to the ground behind her. A woodcutter was there.
“You don’t scare, but beware, take the turn with great care.” The woodcutter’s words didn’t make sense at first until she saw a heart on a sign. A heart is the sign of caring, thought Magda to herself. I will turn that way.
A few more turns, and Magda was feeling lost again. This time she saw a bright light, so bright she couldn’t look directly at it. A voice said, “Ahead is light, don’t take fright, hope with all your might and things will come right.”
“Things will come right,” Magda repeated. “Right!” She turned right.
She passed some other children, and she turned right twice more. Then she reached a T-intersection. A princess was waiting to say, “No time for tea, don’t climb a tree, you’re not at sea, hear my plea.” She winked and pushed away through a hedge. Magda was really confused now. She looked both ways, and in the middle of the path to her right, she saw a tree.
“Don’t climb a tree.” Magda murmured. The other way was very wet. “You’re not at sea,” she repeated. She decided to skirt the tree, there was just enough room to get past the trunk. When she rounded the last corner, there was the prize—a toy bike to represent the bicycle she would pick out later. The parents and judges rushed into the center through a secret passage that could be opened at the right time, connecting all the passageways to the middle. The other children all ran in, jumping up and down and yelling happily.
“We are so proud of you! You figured out each riddle.” Her mother scooped her up. Everyone cheered. The rest of the party passed in a blur, she was so happy she had figured out the riddles and solved the labyrinth!
Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham