Jessie liked watching the world from her dorm window, drab as it was. She faced the dorm's inner courtyard. The concrete was broken with blades of grass poking through the cracks. The benches were worn and a little splintery. The courtyard was normally the hub of activity. It was empty now, as most of the students of the Wilson Grant Dorm had fled for warmer weather this spring break. Nonetheless, Jessie kept watching and doodling on her pad when she got inspiration. She had a project due at the end of spring break, and she had not yet come up with an idea of how to start it. Just waking up, she didn't bother to change out of her blue and yellow pinstripe pajamas.
But movement caught her eye before she could get far in her drawing. A wild Billie appeared! A creature not known for leaving her room, Billie took care moving through the courtyard. The girl wore a big hoodie and covered half her face with thick black glasses to defend herself from predators. She took a seat on the best, least broken bench in the yard, and opened her book in such a way that the spine wouldn't crack. She hunched over the book like it was a precious treasure.
Jessie smiled. Billie had made a poor decision facing away from the main door. It was as if she wanted Jessie to scare the poop out of her. The coed jumped from her seat and sprinted from the room, down through the pea green hallway, and to the worn double doors that led to the yard. She opened a door with expert ability so it didn't make a sound, and stepped into . . . not the courtyard.
The courtyard didn't have a plush green carpet with pillowy hills. It didn't have a pink plastic gazebo. Or trees with wooden apples, grapes, and lemons. Jessie noticed sparkles fading around the basketball court, leaving it a pond of gel. The hoops twisted, turning up and growing out and up. And then instead of two basketball nets, Jessie looked up to the underside of two plastic purple mushrooms. Did she just open a door to Narnia?
"Jessie!" A voice whispered, "Over here!"
She turned and looked to where the benches had been, but were now gone and replaced by a field of knee-high plastic flowers. Someone moved around beneath those flowers. Jessie jogged up to the grove and dove on top of the hooded figure.
"Ow! Get off!" Billie's slender hand pushed the girl away, "Jessie, what the hell is going on?"
"I don't know." Jessie said, taking a covert position next to Billie. She felt a little like a bug between the fake flowers and fake grass, "But whatever is happening, it's awesome."
Billie slugged the other girl, "What? No!"
She gave a worried look around, "I never should have left my dorm room. This is so weird!"
"But it's so much more fun that you did." A light, airy voice said from behind the girls. Both yelped and surged out of the patch of flowers. Jessie turned to see the owner of the voice, and she gasped at the sight of the woman. The woman possessed curly, sky blue hair and wore a low cut royal blue gown that hugged her torso then bellowed out below her waist. The woman was also about as tall as her as well as about her age. On the other hand, Jessie felt that was likely deceptive. especially when she saw that the woman had pointed ears like she'd imagine on an elf. That, and the translucent wings that matched the color of her hair.
While Jessie was transfixed by the sight of the woman, Billie ran away as fast as she could, heading for the door to the normal world. The woman had other ideas. She flicked the magic wand she held in her right hand at the fleeing girl. Sparkling lights erupted around Billie, spinning faster and faster around her. She fell over onto her side. And then the light popped out, and all that was left was a form fitting cocoon of seamless black cloth around a struggling person.
Jessie watched the enveloped Billie push at the cocoon, but it had no effect on the fabric that also muffled any shouts. Jessie then faced the fairy filled with a mix of fear and awe at the ethereal appearing woman. The fairy assessed the college girl coyly while tapping her free hand with her wand tip.
"Who are you?" Jessie managed to ask.
The fairy giggled, "I'm just someone who likes a bit of excitement. I've been watching and listening to you so It sounds like you do too!"
Jessie glanced back to Billie, "What's going to happen to her?"
"She'll be perfectly fine, if not better than ever," The fairy replied dismissively.
The woman then smiles in an expression that reminds Jessie of the look of inspiration, "I know where you can fit in! But first, where do you reside? I sure would enjoy some tea before I continue with my work."
Jessie remembered that she happened to have some tea in her room because she felt it cleared her to focus her thoughts when she drank it before she sketched or painted.
"I have some tea, and I have some questions for you if you wouldn't mind answering." Jessie said not one to refuse a kindness.
The fairy curtsied, "Not at all! Would you kindly show the way?"
"Well, my room is there," Jessie pointed to a window in the middle of one of the courtyard walls on the first floor, "Too bad we have to take the long way around to get there."
"Nonsense." the fairy waved her wand, and Jessie's window grew into a pair of large red doors. The wall pushed out, shifted, and twisted into a beige, plastic castle gatehouse complete with a drawbridge and moat.
"Wow!" Jessie exclaimed running over the bridge into her dorm room to see that it had also transformed to match the plastic exterior. The room was now fit for a princess. Everything was pink, and most things were plastic. In fact, only a blue and yellow square trunk and an ornate mirror in the other corners were the only objects in the room not pink. The floor had been molded from tan plastic and had faux tree lines running through it. The college girl took a moment to jump on the room's only plush bed. She sank into the downy soft mattress like it was memory foam and admired the pink headboard that resembled a regal throne.
The fairy fluttered into the room and landed next to Jessie's bed.
"Yes this looks much better." she said, crossing her arms and admiring her work.
Jessie bounced off the bed so filled with energy from the magic she had seen she did not know what to do with herself, "Give me a minute to fix the tea."
The fairy nodded with a wide smile and sat down upon the foot of the bed. Jessie went over to the plastic drawers where she kept the tea bags and giggled at the thought of her rather uptight roommate returning to see the renovations to their dorm. Her shoulders sagged though when she saw that the tea bags were no more, replaced by plastic faux foods.
Jessie sighed and turned back to the fairy, "Sorry, no tea. Can I still ask some questions?"
The fairy nodded, "I shall grant you three questions before I leave you."
"OK. Well, I was first wondering . . . " Jessie paused and looked around the room, "Hey, why is there only one bed in here? I have a roommate."
"You needn't worry about that, dear." The fairy gave the girl a motherly smile and whisked her wand. A gust of wind twisted and spun Jessie around like she was a spring being coiled, and then dropped her again before she could even yelp. Jessie looked at herself with her mouth agape.
Her pajamas were gone, replaced by a blue and yellow jester's tunic, which sported a pointed jester's collar and a short and airy skirt. Jessie's hands were covered in blue and yellow mittens that were stitched to white plush collars at her wrists, and those into her tunic. She looked down at her slippers to they were changed into curly toed ones that, as with the mittens, seemed sewn to a plush collar. The colors of the shoes were opposite to the mittens.
"Whoa." She said running her mitts up and down her new clothes. The clothes were very form fitting and quite soft. She saw her reflection out of the corner of her eye and went over to the mirror to get a closer look at her new costume.
Jessie gasped and covered her mouth with her mitts when she saw herself. The jester girl was entranced not just at the costume that she now wore, but the fact that the magic had changed her beyond recognition. Her face was now stage white as if she was a mime. Sky blue eyeliner and yellow lipstick enhanced her face, and the image of a yellow sun adorned one cheek while a blue moon was on the other. Lastly, a two pronged jester's cap that matched her tunic sat on her head. Her hair was pulled into a ponytail with a ribbon that was decorated with blue and yellow swirls.
The college jester modeled in front of the mirror for a moment before turning to the fairy, who watched her with a look Jessie recognized as an artist appraising her work. The jester girl placed her hands on her hips and leaned forward, "I have two more questions right?"
The fairy smiled at the jester, "Not including that one, yes."
Jessie tossed her head back and groaned at her carelessness. But she recovered quickly, stood up straight, and rubbed her chin in thought. She looked at her mitten and noticed that none of the face paint came off. It was as if the "makeup" was her skin. Cool! "Well, I guess my next question would be... who are you?"
"Well, how do I put this..." The fairy pondered her wand hanging loosely from her hand as she crossed her arms, "Have you ever heard the story of Pinocchio?"
"Sure. I watched the Disney movie." Jessie replied with a nod, and then it struck her. The new look of the courtyard, her dorm room, and even herself! The plush, the plastic...
"Are you the blue fairy? You have power over toys?" The jester asked.
The fairy in blue's warm motherly smile returned, "No, I am not that particular fairy, although, I do have power over such things as toys. And I do believe that was four questions, so I think it time for the jill-in-the-box to go into her box and await her owner's return." She waved her starry wand and the lid on the large box in the corner of the room lifted up.
More curious than obedient, Jessie the Jester waltz over to the box, and saw inside that it was large enough for a person to fit comfortably. She stuck her head inside and felt the interior of the box was made from squishy black cushions. Then her mischievous smile returned as she realized the meaning of everything the fairy had done to her. By fate or circumstance, this box was her destiny. Without fear or hesitation, Jessie stepped inside and lowered herself into her box. She scrunched her legs against her chest and hugged them tight.
The blue fairy stood over her with a warm gaze, "Sleep tight sweet toy of mine, soon an owner shall be thine."
The fairy waved her wand and blue sprinkles rained down on Jessie, lulling her to a gentle sleep as the top of her box closed the world on her. Jessie closed her eyes as her whole body began to glow a soft blue and tingle for awhile; then darkness. Time lost all meaning in the box. There were only two thoughts in her mind. She was Jessie the Jill-in-the-Box and one other, a toy's longing to be played with.