4. The end of troubles of 21st century city-girl

Amber raised her sword victoriously. She has just saved Legolas and Aragorn from the band of orcs. There were dozens of the beasts attacking the Fellowship, but they simply were no match for her supreme fighting skill. The enemies were defeated now, thanks to her, and a smile lit her gorgeous face. Despite the fight, not even one hair of her beautiful 'do was out of place, and her face was as perfect as ever. All of the Fellowship looked at her with admiration; Legolas' eyes were full of love for her, and she was satisfied.

But there was no time for celebration and enjoyment in their adoration, because she noticed that Sam was lying on the ground, and bleeding heavily. She hurried to him and knelt by his side. There was a deep wound in his chest. Frodo exclaimed in fear and horror, and Pippin fainted. Aragorn approached the hobbit, but seeing the wound, his face darkened; all hope of saving Sam's life disappeared from his eyes.

But not from hers! She was skillful enough to cure him. She took her bag with healing herbs and surgical instruments, prepping herself for surgery, when a pain in her leg stopped her. What is this? Am I wounded too? She could see no blood, but her feet just wouldn't stop hurting. What the fuck...?

Amber opened her eyes, and the first sensation she became aware of was the pain in her poor feet. Then she remembered. As evening drew near, they had ended the day's march. She had been so damn tired that she'd laid down in that instant, not even bothering to spread the sleeping bag on the ground. She must've dozed off.

And this perfect scenario had been just a dream! Not reality. Oh, no! She wanted to scream. Why can't it be like that? She had seen enough movies showing modern-day people falling into medieval or fantasy worlds. And in stories, everything was always so simple. And yes, her dream was the way the things should've been happening! She should've been awesome and invincible. When and how exactly did things to so wrong? Instead of being awesome and invincible, she was miserable... and she couldn't even lift a sword. Well, so much about defeating enemies.

She scratched her head absent-mindedly; pulling away her hand, she saw mud beneath her nails. Oh, great! Now my hair is full of mud! I just can't go on like this! She turned towards Frodo, Sam and Gandalf, who were the closest to her.

"I don't suppose you have shampoo, do you, losers?" she asked, surly.

"A what...?" replied Sam, confused. The others looked at her with caution.

"Nothing, forget it," she said with a frown. Of course, shampoo was another luxury here. Stupid march. Stupid quest. Stupid Middle-earth. I'll never get used to this.

You'll have to, another voice answered her. It was the same cruel voice that laughed each time she needed some "luxury".

Okay, I have to. I will. I will, she continued to herself. She suppressed tears of fury and decided to stop whimpering. From now on, she'd be the best tenth walker ever.

Her resolution was put to test just a few moments later, when she saw that they'd have the same dried meat for supper. No fire, too dangerous, yadda-yadda-yadda. The result? No freshly cooked meal. Another result? Her completely soaked kicks would remain exactly that way – totally soaked – till tomorrow and would never dry in this damp weather. She'd have to put on soggy sneakers tomorrow. Fantastic! Better and better!

I don't want this! I want clean clothes and dry shoes! And I want my mom's cooking ... and a burger from McDonald's... She then sighed, reminding herself of her decision. Don't cry, Amber.

But then came another test. Her clothes were still sweaty and smelly – actually, even sweatier and smellier than yesterday – and her hair was still darkened with mud. And just like the day before, they weren't lucky enough to find a stream. So, water was to be preserved for drinking only.

Her lips trembled. Mommy, help me. She couldn't remember when she'd last felt so miserable and helpless.

She had never felt miserable before. She was Amber Aphrodite Crystal. Queen of the school. The most beautiful girl in town. She always had things her way. Until now – until her long-dreamed beautiful dream – falling into Middle-earth – somehow became true. Except that this isn't a beautiful dream anymore, but a nightmare, she sniffed.

Don't cry, Amber, she tried to encourage herself again. You are a big girl and you decided to be strong. She stood up, determined to eat as much as she could to restore her strength, although she didn't like dried meat. But first, she had to pee. Don't think how uncomfortable the leaves feel, don't think how uncomfortable the leaves feel, she kept repeating herself while walking towards the bushes. But then she saw that she had one more problem. Her underwear was stained with red. She has totally forgotten that her time was near; but of course, with so many awful things happening, it was so easy to forget about it.

"NOOOOOO!" she cried in exasperation. This just couldn't be happening. Now, this was simply way too much for her. She had no spare underwear, let alone pads or tampons. And this was one more of those things – besides not needing a toilet – that just never happened in books and movies. Never. Ever. Heroines in the stories never went on the rag. Never. How did Éowyn resolve that problem while traveling to battle? I bet she didn't travel around with spare pack of pads tucked under her chainmail. And I bet Tolkien didn't even think about feminine problems! Or any other writer, for that matter! What the fuck was she supposed to do now?

"Mommy, I want to go home," she whined and started to cry, miserably and desperately. She fell to the ground and didn't get up, while sobs shook her whole body. She cried so hard that she didn't hear the approaching thunder.

-x-x-x-

"Okay, okay, I'm fixing things, see, I'm fixing things!" exclaimed Manwë. Varda was standing nearby with a stern look in her eyes. "Before you know it, everything will be in its proper place." He closed his eyes and concentrated. While his lips were murmuring some inaudible words, he made a few moves with his fingers. In the chamber, each move was followed by a few tiny sparkles; far away, in distant worlds, it was followed by lightning and a blast of wind. And finally, as his shoulders dropped and he sighed with fatigue, the storm died out.

"It is done," he said and opened his eyes. "The girl is back in her world. I set the time, too. She is returned into the very same moment she first disappeared from the Earth, so she was not missing at all. None of them will remember a single thing and their lives will go on like nothing happened."

"I am pleased to hear that," Varda replied. "And now, dear husband, would you promise not to play with tornadoes any more? Especially not close to space portals?" But a bright, merry spark appeared in her eyes and contrasted her dour words.

"I will not," he promised with a smile. "But we can play with throwing little stones, can't we?"

"Always!" she exclaimed. Holding hands and giggling like children, they went out of the chamber and headed towards Taniquetil. Astronomers all around the Earth would be quite surprised and confused that night. And they would wonder how come so many meteors were visible, as no meteor shower had been predicted. They'd never find the true reason.

-x-x-x

Amber blinked in surprise. What had just happened? She had some strange sensation, though she couldn't explain it. She shook her head, as if trying to clear her thoughts. She was going home from school, that much she remembered. Everything was fine. Then, out of the blue, the storm started. Or she just imagined it? Well, storm or not, everything seemed to be fine again; there was no wind and the skies were clear. And she couldn't say why the feeling suddenly came to her now, but she thought that her hometown had never seemed more beautiful to her.

And when she came home, she felt an absolutely inexplicable, but absolutely strong need to hug her Charmin-soft toilet paper.