Malcolm was at home after a horrible day at school. He couldn't believe he had gotten a D- on his essay and had lost his lunch money all in one day. Worst yet, his parents were fighting again.
He sighed, thinking again for the tenth time in a week how easy things were for his best friend, Wayne. Wayne had parents who never fought and was good at school.
"Malcolm. In bed. Now," his dad commanded, his normally handsome face looking harried.
"Dad, I'm 15! And it's only seven," he recognized the beginning of a familiar argument. "Fine."
Malcolm stomped up the stairs and shut himself in his bedroom. He glanced out the window at the pond and the weeping willow. Even if things looked nice from the outside, that was no guarantee they were as nice on the inside.
It was midnight when he looked up again from his computer and took in the scene outside. Still beautiful and peaceful. He sighed. His parents had just shut up downstairs and he knew his mother would be sleeping on the couch again.
A moonbeam hit the water of the pond and made it glimmer silver. A look up revealed a full moon and a clear sky sparkling with stars. He glanced back at the pond and saw that it was awash in a rainbow of colours. What was the point in being cooped up in here when the outside was so beckoning? He could barely breathe in this trap.
Malcolm's bedroom was on the second floor but there was a rose trellis below his window. He slid out his window and climbed down it. Lush sweet smelling blooms tickled his nose and wiped dew on his face. Thorns dug deep into his exposed hands and scratched his face. When he reached the ground he crossed the wet grass and headed towards the pond. Maybe he'd sleep out here tonight.
The pond was circled in round gray stones the size of his fist. Several weeping willow branches were trailing on the pond. A couple flower petals and a leaf drifted on it on the water. He glanced into the pond and froze, instead of his reflection he saw a forest. One of the bushes moved and as Malcolm leaned closer he was drawn in, toppling into the water.
He came up spluttering in a pond identical to the one in his backyard with an exact willow tree beside it, but he was no longer in his backyard. Instead, surrounding him was the forest that had once been an inexplicable reflection. As he climbed out of the pond, the bush rustled again and a surly little gnome appeared and trundled across the clearing, paying no attention to the soaking wet boy. Malcolm stared at the little man, eyes bugging out. He must have fallen asleep while on his computer, he was sure.
Malcolm shivered in his wet clothes and looked up at the sky. In it blazed two sliver moons and numerous stars in unfamiliar constellations. He sat down with his back against the willow and, exhausted, fell asleep.