Prologue

"Are we there yet?" I groaned, impatient for the trip to end. It had felt like hours since we had gotten into the car, and the overbearing stench of leather was making me queasy beyond belief. I just wanted to get to there already. My stomach was so dreadfully empty, I felt sick.

My mother, who was sitting in the front seat, tore her gaze away from the wandering road ahead of us and met mine with her gentle, hazel-green eyes. "Hold on tight, princess. We have about another half hour left. It'll be worth it when we get there. I promise," she calmly assured me, giving me a small smile and turning back to focus her eyes up ahead. I grinned for a moment. I loved it when she called me 'princess.' She always managed to make me feel special enough to comply with whatever she told me to do, even if it meant boring my eyes out while doing so.

I desperately sighed and threw my head back at the seat in impatience.

Today was Christmas, so my presents would be right underneath that magical holiday tree of ours when we got home. My heart lifted up just at the thought of it. My heart sped up at the idea that the legendary Santa Claus had been at my house that night, not to mention those of every other child across the world as well. So simply stating that I was 'excited' wasn't nearly enough to cover it.

Turning my head, I observed the frost-bitten window that had fogged up entirely from the chilly air outside. I lifted my hand, letting my finger graze over the biting cold of the glass, and drew in a present box. I mentally noted the hard work Santa must have put in to prepare for such a day, not to mention every other worldly spirit, no matter the job, out in the world. Only thinking about such a responsibility exhausted me. In many ways, I was somewhat thankful I didn't have to do such work myself… but then again, I had to admit that doing anything of the kind seemed like one big, epic adventure.

I focused my eyes so as to survey the moving trees and gently falling snow outside. The beauty of it nearly took my breath away. It seemed so peaceful out there – so full of trees and creatures and life. Thinking about the simple notion that there were countless of animals and furry little critters out there carrying out their everyday lives seemed nearly unimaginable.

If I could only one day become part of that world and see the beauty it created.

But there was a deafening pop just as the front of the car blasted upwards, causing me to reel back on my seat. I snapped my head back up front and realized the car was swerving uncontrollably to the side, completely out of view from the highway. My father attempted to regain control of the wheel as he yanked it left and right, but it was evident that his feeble attempts were short-lived when the car disobediently careened and rolled onto its side, unavoidably carrying us with it.

I was slammed against the car door at the impact. Before I could even begin to let my mind adjust, I was jolted back and forth across my seat, no longer keeping track of time nor direction. Whether we were sailing in the air or hitting the ground, I didn't even know. My throat clenched up in fear, but I couldn't scream. I couldn't move. I could only stare at the vision of my parents frantically preparing for the worst as I felt the sting of thousands of cuts from the flying glass on my skin.

I shut my eyes, my body having left me completely. I braced myself for the last, final impact.

I jolted up from the bed, desperately gasping for air. Pellets of sweat ran down my fear-stricken face as my hand unconsciously grabbed a handful of sheets. My heart pounded against my chest. I blinked, desperately trying to gage my vision through the tears forming in my eyes.

Every night. Every night for the past eleven years, I had dreamt the same thing over and over again like a broken record. It was an endless, cruel cycle there was no escape from. I wrapped my arms around my legs, folding myself inwards, shielding myself from reality.

Why had it come to this? Why had it come to this horrid life, taunting and teasing me in ways I couldn't possibly understand? Why had I become a victim of such a curse?

Would it ever change?