Literary Corner: Ruler of the White Realm

Snow had come early. It dusted the sidewalks with faery flakes. The girls trooped up the path through the holly grove, counting their boot prints behind them. Three hundred fifty-two steps from the little school at the bottom of the hill. Three hundred fifty-two steps until Marietta noticed a third set of prints trailing their own.

Marietta didn’t tell Lucille. Lucille was a year younger and still too little to know things. Marietta wasn’t sure what the other prints meant, but she had a monster-in-your-closet feeling.

Twenty-three steps later, Marietta said, “Let’s play a game.”

“What game?”

“Ruler of the white realm,” Marietta said with a pasted-on smile. “I’m the king and you have to do what I say.”

Lucille thought this over and then nodded. “What do I do?”

“Climb up that holly tree as fast as you can,” she said, pointing. It was the closest and tallest tree, and its branches dipped low enough that they could reach.

“But it’s prickly,” Lucille said, wrinkling her nose.

“As fast as you can!” Marietta insisted. “Ready? Go!”

Both girls raced to the tree and latched on with their mittened hands, pulling themselves up as they had done so many times on the old oak next to the playground. Marietta barely noticed the sting of sharp leaves ghosting her face.

When they got to nearly the top, Marietta paused to look out over the grove to see what she could. And she saw… nothing. Just herself and Lucille and a sea of white.

Later that night, Marietta’s mom got a text from Lucille’s mom that made her gasp.

“They caught, him, George,” she said to Marietta’s dad.


“The kidnapper. The one who took Scarlett Tanenbaum.“

“Oh, thank God. Where’d they find him?”

Marietta’s mom didn’t say, but Marietta knew.

Mary Elizabeth Summer is the author of the young-adult Trust Me mystery series. She lives in Beaverton with her wife, their daughter, their dog, and their evil overlor—er, cats.