It was a beautiful summer day, and the sun shone brightly through Hannah’s kitchen window. As she glanced out at her mother’s garden, she thought the flowers were so bright and colorful, they looked like an open box of crayons.
“Hannah, why are you sitting inside on such a perfect day?”
“I don’t have anyone to play with. What am I going to do outside all by myself?” Hannah asked.
“Why don’t you play with those nice girls you met the other day?” Hannah’s mom walked over to the window and looked out with Hannah. “Look! The three of them are outside jumping rope right now. Why don’t you join them?”
“They were nice. But I don’t really know them. Besides, they’ve all been friends forever, and I just moved here. They may not want to play with me.”
“You can sit here all day feeling miserable, wondering if they would like you, or you can go out there, have fun and assume they will. It’s your choice,” her mother answered.
Hannah’s mother finally convinced her to go outside. She stood in the driveway of her cottage and bounced a ball around by herself until Karima spotted her.
“Hi Hannah. We were just about to play tag, and we could use a fourth person, do you want to play?” Karima asked.
“Yeah. That would be fun. Okay,” Hannah answered.
Hannah joined Karima and her friends, Arabella and Sophia, in a lively game of tag. For the rest of the day, the four girls laughed and had fun together like old friends. Hannah didn’t go back home until her mother called her in for dinner.
“So, did the girls mind you playing with them?” Hannah’s mom asked, hiding her smile.
“No. They were really nice. We’re all getting together again tomorrow afternoon to set up a clubhouse. But Mom, after dinner can we head up the hill to My Princess Academy Boutique?”
“Why don’t we wait until the weekend? I have some work to get done tonight.”
“But Mom. We need to go tonight, before I play with the girls again. I need to get the purple lip gloss that Arabella wears so I can be beautiful like she is. And I need a sparkly tiara like Sophia’s, so I can be really smart like her. Oh and a special magic wand so I can be super nice like Karima,” Hannah pleaded.
“You know Hannah. You’re pretty special just the way you are. You don’t need to be just like the other girls to be friends with them.
“Oh Mom. You don’t understand,” Hannah said, heading to her room.
The next morning Hannah woke up extra early. The night before, she had decided to go to the My Princess Academy Boutique by herself. This was a bold move for Hannah, who usually felt more comfortable having her mother by her side. But she was determined. She wanted to be a princess just like her new friends. She gathered up whatever allowance money she could find and, knowing how important safety was, she grabbed her cell phone and headed out. She thought she probably didn’t have enough money for everything on her wish list, but at least she could try to get some of it. As she walked along a path towards the woods, she felt a sense of nervous excitement in her stomach. She was a bit distracted, thinking about the items she planned to purchase, when something odd happened. She thought she heard someone calling her.
Hannah spun around, looking to see who had called her name. It didn’t sound like anyone she knew.
“Hannah. Hannah,” it called again.
Hannah glanced up at a tree on the side of the path. There, roosted on its branches was a spectacular bird, unlike any she had ever seen before. It had feathers of every color, and as she stared at this unusual creature, it began to speak:
“I am the Phoenix, proud and strong. Unique and special as the day is long. Follow this treasure map and skip the store. You will find exactly what you’re looking for.” With that, he swooped down, delivering a piece of paper directly into Hannah’s hand. As soon as she grabbed hold of the paper, he raised his wings and took flight. In a flash, he was gone.
Hannah stood there, momentarily stunned. She looked down at the paper the bird had hand-delivered to her and, to her surprise, it actually was a treasure map. She thought about the rhythm the strange bird had sung to her. “Maybe if I follow the map, I’ll find the lip gloss, the tiara and the wand. Maybe it’s my lucky day.”
At that, she glanced down at the map and began to study it. “Hmm. I see where this begins. Over by the Big Rock. She followed the map precisely, going from landmark to landmark with ease, until she came to the Dark Cave. According to her three, new girlfriends, though they’d all been through the forest many times, no one they knew had ever been brave enough to enter the Dark Cave. But that’s exactly where the map directed her.
Hannah didn’t know what to do. She hated the dark. To this day, she still slept with a nightlight in her room. And not having planned for this adventure, she hadn’t brought a flashlight with her.
“Treasure is treasure,” she thought to herself. “I’ve come this far, I can’t back down now. Though her legs felt wobbly and her heart pounded hard in her chest, she proceeded all alone into the Dark Cave. She walked slowly, arms stretched out in front of her, until she couldn’t walk any further. Ahead of her she felt a cold, stone wall. Feeling around, she found a door handle. Slowly and carefully she pulled the creaky door open, holding her breath and hoping for the best. Once inside, she was surprised to find the room was dimly lit and right in the center, there was a treasure chest.
With much effort, Hannah was able to lift its ancient lid. But to her dismay, there was no treasure inside—just a piece of paper.
Hugely disappointed, Hannah read its simple message: “Head to the stream on the hill top. This is where your hunt will stop. Here you’ll find the very last clue, and if you’re ready, you’ll know what to do.”
Despite her disappointment, Hannah knew she needed to complete her hunt. So she headed out of the Dark Cave, back into the thick forest, and up, up, up to the stream on top of the hill.
She looked around and wondered where this last clue could be. There was no treasure chest here, and at this point she didn’t know what she was looking for. So she sat down on a rock and peered into the water. It was so calm and clear that it reflected her face as clearly as a mirror. As she examined her reflection, she noticed that something about her looked different. She didn’t know what it was, but she knew she liked it. Then she had a surprising thought. It actually didn’t matter if she found treasure or got the tiara and the lip gloss. She had enjoyed her adventure and the feeling of independence she had now.
At that very moment, the colorful bird that had brought her the treasure map swooped down gracefully just in front of her. As his feet touched the ground, there was a streak of blue lightening, and where he had been, appeared the beautiful Princess Skylar.
“My dear Hannah, today you have learned a very import lesson. By striking out on your own with confidence and courage, you were able to overcome your fears and learn to believe in yourself. You learned that being friends doesn’t mean you have to be the same. A true friend likes you for the unique girl that you really are. And so today I am naming you Hannah, Princess of Confidence. Your official princess outfit will be the Star Glitter Skirt and Wings. And remember, no one but you knows all the strength and power you have within, Princess Hannah.
With that Princess Skylar was gone. Hannah was amazed at all that had just taken place. And she couldn’t wait to share the details with her three new friends. So she began her trek down the hill, her back straight and her head held high. It was a confidence she’d never felt before. And she liked it.