It all started earlier this afternoon. Mama had recently rearranged our room for us, and Hailey and I were putting a few finishing touches on our things.
I wanted to make sure the knick-knacks on my dresser were set up just so...
...and Hailey was arranging her Hello Kitty and Tangled collections. Mama had found a dresser to put underneath Hailey's pink shelf, so she had a bit more storage and a few more options for display.
As I finished my dresser top, I turned toward the bed and frowned when the wall caught my eye. "We need to find something else to hang up over here," I confided in my sister. She turned to see what I meant.
I pointed to the sadly bare wall over our bed. Compared to the rest of the room, it was sparse and drab.
"Maybe we can ask Mama if she can find us some more posters..." Hailey began.
She was interrupted by a knock on the door of Mama's bedroom.
We both turned toward the door, wondering what to expect. Humans who came in normally didn't knock first, and anyway, the knock had sounded low on the door. Was one of our friends stuck outside?
We waited and watched. The door slowly opened...
...and a strangely familiar face came into the room. I went rigid for a moment, then leaned back and gripped the side of my dresser to steady myself. Could it be?
Hailey gasped and threw her arms up into the air. "ELLA!!" she shrieked.
She bolted out of the room and was at Ella's side in moments. Laughing joyously, she flung her arms around our sister. Ella laughed too as she returned her older sister's exuberant hug.
Then my two little sisters turned and looked at me, no doubt wondering why I hadn't joined them.
Meanwhile, I was still frozen in my place, clinging to the dresser as if I would fly away if I let go. I literally felt unable to move. It's difficult to explain, dear readers. I suppose I had dreamed of this moment for so long that it was hard to convince myself it was real. While I had always secretly wished that Ella would one day return, I had known that the chances of it actually happening were next to impossible. It was too painful to contemplate that, so I'd taught myself to try to avoid the subject entirely. Now, my poor dolly mind didn't know what to think!
At last, I pulled away from my death grip on the dresser. I tottered a bit, so I steadied myself on the bedpost. My stomach (or what would have been my stomach if I actually had one) was all in knots, as if someone had gone in and bunched up all of my stuffing. I wanted to laugh and sing and cry all at the same time. But more than anything, I wanted to see my sister, to hold her hand and hug her and know for sure that she was really real.
I made my way across the room as if I were in slow motion. Every step was an effort. Once I reached the edge of our room, I couldn't bring myself to go any farther. What if it wasn't real? What if this was some sort of cruel joke? I'd pictured this in my head so many times...could my deepest wish really at last have come true?
Ella must have sensed my hesitation. With a broad smile on her face and Hailey following close behind, she walked slowly over to where I was standing, reached out, and took my hand.
That was all it took. "Ella," I whispered. The tears I had been holding back without even being aware of it suddenly spilled over, and I rushed forward and threw my arms around her neck. "You're really here...at last!" I sobbed.
"I missed you so much!" she whispered, clinging to me tightly.
Hailey came and joined our hug, and before long all three of us were sniffing and crying and clinging to each other like we would never let go again.
When we finally managed to pull ourselves together, we all piled onto the bed. Pemberley curled up next to Ella and let her pet her head as if she'd known Ella all along. My smile was a mile wide. I cuddled with my Caroline doll and listened as Ella told us how it all happened. She explained how much she loved it at her new home and all of the adventures she had enjoyed.
"After a while, though," she admitted, "I realized how much I missed you guys. You kept telling me all about what was going on here in your emails." She paused and brushed a bit of hair back from her face. "It wasn't like what was happening was overly exciting or anything, but...you two were together all the time, and I could tell how much you missed me. And suddenly, all I wanted was to be home again."
"How did you get here?" Hailey asked, her eyes wide.
"I talked it over with my new Mama and then emailed our Mama here. New Mama was sad to see me go, but she understood the importance of family. I let her keep my necklace and my "Ella Enchanted" book to remember me by, and then off I went, shipped in a squishy cardboard box. And then I was here, where I plan on staying from now on."
It seemed too unreal. I couldn't believe that we actually had our sister back for good. Thank you, Lord, for bringing Ella back to us, I prayed silently. I'd never been more thankful for anything in my whole life.
Hailey looked around our room with a doubtful expression. "It's going to be tough fitting all three of us in here," she pointed out. "We all have too much stuff."
Ella put on a good-natured smile. "I don't have anything but what I'm wearing, so you don't need to worry about my stuff."
Hailey looked concerned. "I'm sorry you had to leave your book and necklace behind...you loved those!"
"I didn't mind so much," Ella insisted. "Besides, I can always find replacements."
"You have more things than you realize," I confided when the two of them had finished. "Mama kept your doll collection for you."
"Really?" Ella asked, her voice betraying her excitement.
"And I'm sure Mama has a plan for how to get all three of us to fit in here. Perhaps we should go ask her about it now."
My sisters agreed, and we immediately left to find Mama...all three of us together.
I'm sure there will be much more to come, dear readers. For now, I'm content in the fact that Ella is home to stay. I can't wait to spend more time with my sisters...at last three peas in a pod again as we always should have been. :)