Chapter 3: The Crossroads

 

 

Jenny looked up at the Golden Door. Then she turned to look at Molly: ‘Do we just push it open?’ she asked.

‘Of course not, Jenny. We have to ask permission to go inside.’

Jenny watched Molly step right up to the door and bang on it as hard as she could. The noise echoed back along the Purple Corridor. Jenny hoped that it wouldn’t wake her parents and Grandma Lily. And baby Wills. For a moment everything became quite and then a hatch opened in the middle of the door. Way higher than their heads. And two huge eyes peeped through.

‘Who stands beyond the Golden Door?’ said a very deep voice.

Jenny took a step back, but Molly didn’t seem to be in the least bit concerned. She stood on her toes and shouted as loud as her musical voice allowed: ‘It’s Jenny and Molly. The Queen and her Council are expecting us.’ As soon as Molly said her name, the latch closed and the Golden Door began to open. Jenny could see that the Purple Path continued on the other side of the door. She felt a little nervous, but she also felt very, very excited. Again, Molly held out her hand and together they stepped through the open door: ‘Jenny, welcome to Raggedy Lyme,’ said Molly. ‘This is Walter the Doorman.’

Jenny turned to see a very, very large man looming just above the door.

‘He’s a giant,’ whispered Jenny.

‘Only a small one,’ said Molly.

Then Walter the Doorman stepped round the Golden Door, bent over and offered Jenny his enormous hand. ‘Pleased to meet you,’ he said.

Jenny shook his pinky finger with both her hands, and she said that she was very pleased to meet him too. She watched him close the Golden Door then go back to sit in his enormous chair. Jenny thought that if Walter was a small giant, then the big giants must be very, very huge. But there was obviously no time to worry about that right now, because Molly was tugging at her sleeve and pointing towards a Purple Crossroads not far ahead.

Jenny took a few steps and then pulled Molly to a halt: ‘Molly, it’s daytime here,’ she exclaimed. ‘But at home it was already dark outside!’

Molly pulled her forward: ‘Don’t worry. It’s always daytime in Raggedy Lyme.’

Again, Jenny pulled Molly to a halt: ‘But how do you know when you have to go to bed if it’s always daytime?’

Molly laughed and then she pulled Jenny towards the Crossroads: ‘Jenny, nobody has to go to bed in Raggedy Lyme simply because it’s always daytime.’

Jenny wasn’t sure what she thought about that, but by now they had reached the place where the two Purple Paths crossed, so she’d have to think about it later. She looked up at the big signpost which pointed in four different directions. The sign pointing back to where they had just come from said TO THE CUPBOARD UNDER THE STAIRS, and the sign pointing to the right said TO NOT YET.

‘How can you go TO NOT YET?’ said Jenny.

You can’t go there,’ said Molly, ‘because you’ve already happened. NOT YET is the place for all the people and things that are waiting to happen. And all the inventions that are waiting to be invented, and all the dreams that are waiting to be dreamed, and all the stories that are waiting to be told. And there are also a few words there waiting to be put in the correct sentences.’

Jenny nodded then pointed to the Purple Path leading off to the left: ‘The sign that points in that direction says TO THE TIMEKEEPER.’

‘Yes! That’s the place where we keep all the clocks and watches,’ explained Molly.

‘But if all the clocks and watches are kept there, how does anybody know what time it is?’

‘Everyone knows what time it is,’ laughed Molly. ‘Because it’s always NOW.’

‘But, Molly, if everyone knows what time it is, then what does the TIMEKEEPER do?’

‘He keeps the time, of course! And he makes sure that all the time carries on going forward and doesn’t start to slip backwards. And he collects all the wasted time together and makes fresh time out of it.’

Jenny frowned and tried not to imagine what would happen if time started to slip backwards. But Molly was already tugging at her sleeve, pulling her towards the path that led straight ahead. Jenny looked up at the signpost as she tumbled past: ‘It says this way leads TO A SPACE. What do you keep there?’ she asked.

‘Jenny, you already know the answer to that question. It’s in the rhyme. You do remember the rhyme, don’t you?’

‘Do you mean the one about Raggedy Lyme that Grandma Lily told me?’

‘Yes, of course! Why don’t you say it out loud and see if you can work out what’s in A SPACE at the end of this path.’

So Jenny said the rhyme, quietly, because she was worried who might hear.

‘There’s a space in a place called Raggedy Lyme,

Full of errors and terrors and wasted time,

Where your lost things can hide,

Until they decide,

That you’ve earned their return from Raggedy Lyme.’

 

Then Jenny looked at Molly and frowned: ‘It’s where the LOST things can hide!’

‘Yes!’ said Molly. ‘There are special places where all the different LOST things can meet the things that are just like them.’

Jenny gave Molly a worried look: ‘But what about the errors and terrors and the wasted time?’ said Jenny.

‘Oh yes, they’re also there. But don’t worry about that. I’ll explain later.’

‘Are we going to fly?’ ask Jenny.

‘No,’ said Molly. ‘Nothing can fly in the OUTSIDE. We will have to go on foot. It’s not far. But we really need to hurry because they need our help.’

‘Who needs our help?’

‘The Queen and the Council of White Witches, of course,’ said Molly.