Next morning, Hannah awoke, and looked around her, expecting to see the fantastical room she had fallen asleep in. Instead, she found herself looking at the boring white walls and sparse decoration of the room she shared with her sisters. Wondering if everything that had happened the previous night had been a dream, she jumped out of bed and raced downstairs to the parlor. She quickly opened the little door to reveal…an empty space. Hannah frowned, and made a quiet noise of irritation. She glanced about the room, and her eye fell upon an empty glass lying on the floor, near the little door. Hannah picked it up and turned it over in her hands thoughtfully… Perhaps it had not been a dream after all…
Hannah never told anyone about her visits to the other world. Over the next few days, Hannah visited the other world almost every night. Every time, there was something new and amazing to discover, each better than the last. One time there was a whole show put on for her performed by mice; another time there was a huge library filled with all sorts of fascinating books that had shimmering, moving pictures; and another, there was a concert especially for her, played by the other father on his fiddle.
Every time, her visits ended with her going to bed and waking in her old home, and each time she went to the other world, she awoke increasingly more dissatisfied with her real life and its drudgery. The other world seemed more appealing, with its amazing other parents, and all the attention and treasures and treats.
Then the day came that Hannah's father was to go to town to get some supplies that the family needed. Hannah was eager to get out of the house and go see the town, which she had only seen once when they arrived. She had even dressed up in her hat and nice Sunday dress in preparation for the trip to town. She was crestfallen when her father informed her that he was only going to be taking the boys to town that day.
Fine. If they want to leave me out, then I'll go someplace where I'm actually cared about, Hanah thought. The other world is much better than a trip to town, besides.
She waited impatiently for her father and brothers to leave. They eventually did, and Hannah was left home with her sisters. Her sisters were frustrated too, so they decided to go outside and hunt for bugs and banana slugs to put in the boy's beds as revenge. Hannah didn't join them. Instead, after making certain that her sisters were occupied with their search, Hannah went to the little door in the parlor. She opened it slowly, unsure of what to expect, and grinned gleefully as she watched the tunnel stretch before her. She glanced around a few times, to see make sure nobody was coming, and crawled through.
This time, instead of standing in the kitchen cooking something, Hannah found the other mother sitting on a sofa in the parlor as she arrived. She was apparently sewing something; at least, she had a needle and thread in one hand and a piece of fabric in the other.
"Ah, you're here," the other mother looked up and smiled welcomingly.
"Hullo," Hannah said, waving her hand slightly.
"Would you go out into the garden? There's something there I think you might like," the other mother said, nodding toward that direction.
Puzzled and curious, Hannah trotted out into the garden. She blinked at the change of going from the light house into the dark night and waited a moment for her eyes to adjust. Suddenly, little pinpricks of light appeared along the edges of the pathway that led into the garden. Hannah was obviously expected to follow them, so she did so. As she walked down the path, she noticed that the little lights were actually fireflies. She followed the firefly-lights until they stopped in the middle of the garden, and she stood there waiting and wondering what was about to happen next.
The fireflies suddenly flew off the path and began to loop around and form shapes in the air. More and more fireflies joined in, until the air was alive with swirls of light. Then, brightly colored, softly glowing butterflies appeared out of the flowers and fluttered around, adding color and even more beauty to the show. It was magnificent, almost magical to watch. Hannah giggled as the twinkling fireflies swirled around her, forming things like pinwheels, flowers, abstract swirls, shapes, and fireworks.
After what seemed like an eternity of watching the remarkable bugs, the show finally ended with a fantastic display where all the fireflies and butterflies alighted on the house, making it appear to glow and sparkle, then twirled around Hannah in a huge spiral, before zooming away out of sight.
Hannah stood and watched, until all the bugs disappeared out of sight.
"Wasn't it fantastic, dear?" the sound of other mother's voice near her startled Hannah. She whirled around to see the other mother and father standing behind her, side by side, holding hands and smiling. They both looked radiant.
"Oh, yes! It was absolutely… magnificent!" Hannah exclaimed. She continued to chatter animatedly as they all walked down the path toward the house, her other mother on one side of her, her other father on the other.
"You like it here, don't you Hannah?" the other mother asked, placing a hand on Hannah's shoulder as they walked into the house.
"Oh, yes! I… I like it even better than my real home," Hannah admitted. "Everything's so much better here, so much more… exciting."
"Well… You could stay here for ever and always, if you wish," the other mother said carefully.
"I could?! Really?" Hannah cried.
"Mm-hmm. But there's just this one little thing we would have to do first," the other mother said lightly, leading the way into the parlor.
"What is that?" Hannah asked slowly, sitting in one of the chairs.
The other mother sat on the sofa opposite the chair Hannah was sitting in and picked up a box, wrapped like a present, that was lying on the floor by her feet. She carefully handed the package to Hannah, who took it eagerly.
The girl took off the lid of the box and looked inside. It contained two shiny black buttons, a spool of thread, and a sharp silver needle. She blinked, looked up at her 'other' parents, and looked back into the box again, confused.
"What sort of present-" she blurted, then stopped herself before she could finish the sentence, knowing it sounded extremely rude. Then her eyes widened, as she suddenly comprehended what the contents of the box meant.
She gulped nervously and said, "I…um…. Y-you want to sew b-buttons in… No. I don't want…buttons… sewn… in my eyes."
"Oh, it's just a little thing," the other mother said brightly.
"It won't hurt," the other father added.
"I… I don't think so," Hannah stammered, shaking her head.
" You do want to stay here, don't you?" the other mother asked persuasively.
"W-well, of course, but I-" Hannah stammered.
"Just think of the fun we'll have," the other father said.
"You like it here better than your old world, don't you?" the other mother added.
"Yes, much better, but what-"
"If you went back to your old home, what would be waiting there for you? Hm?" the other mother asked. Hannah was silent, thoughtful. "If you stay here, on the other hand, you can have whatever you want, always," the other mother continued.
"…Can I think about this?" Hannah asked. The other mother nodded. Hannah closed her eyes and bit one of her fingernails and she thought hard.
After a minute or two, she took a deep breath and opened her eyes. She looked at her other mother and nodded, her mouth set into a determined line. "…I'll stay."
The other mother looked ecstatic as Hannah handed her the button box. "Wonderful!" she exclaimed.
"Wait. You promise it won't hurt?" Hannah asked warily.
"I would never do anything to hurt you, dear," the other mother said, deftly threading the needle and gathering the buttons from the box, "because I love you."
Hannah shivered involuntarily as the other mother stood above her and tilted her face up with a hand that was suddenly cold, icy cold. Her eyes widened as the other mother held up the sharp, sharp needle, and she had a sudden flash of regret, but it was too late to change her mind now- The vision over her right eye went black as a button was placed over it…
A sudden spasm of terrible, burning pain in her eyes rent through the girl, and she screamed a loud, long, bloodcurdling scream that could only come from somebody in terrible agony. She gasped shortly, and let out another shriek as more pain ripped through her, blocking out all other thoughts. Just when she thought the pain couldn't possible get any worse, it worsened… and she mercifully blacked out, though the pain was still there, hovering at the edge of her consciousness, waiting to return full-force once she awakened.
Some time later, the limp, almost lifeless form of the girl was tossed through the mirror carelessly and landed on the floor.
It was hours before she woke. Her first thoughts were of confusion, where am I?, but that was quickly drowned out by the searing, red-burning pain of her eyes, so intense it wracked her entire body and made her scream and scream until she was so exhausted she could only lie there in silence, gritting her teeth against the pain.
I wonder… if there's a way out… she thought vaguely. There must be. Slowly, she managed enough strength to stand shakily. She stretched out her hands until she could feel the rough, damp surface of the wall. She laboriously make her way around the room, occasionally slipping in puddles and on the newspapers that were on the floor for whatever reason, keeping one hand on the wall the entire time, when she suddenly bumped into something hard. She felt around, and her hand grasped metal bars. Puzzled, she continued to feel around until she discovered, it's a bed.
Realizing she was so weak she could hardly hold herself up, the girl lay down on the bed carefully. She curled up into a ball and lay like that, brooding, for the longest time.
A time later, how much later she did not know, though she had the vague feeling that it was days later, she could sense that someone was nearby. Suddenly, she felt weaker and weaker, as though something were draining her life. She tried to run, tried to move, tried to do something to stop it. But there was nothing she could do to prevent it, and that thought so upset her that she did the only thing she could to express her pain and misery… She took a last shaky breath and screamed as loud as she could.