Star Travelers, Through the Portal, Part 3 & 4
Star Travelers, Through the Portal, Anya Swings to the Stars
Star Travelers, Through the Portal is the story of two girls, one from Earth and one from a starship somewhere in the cosmos, not too far from here, who run away from home at the exact same moment in time and, as a result, accidentally switch places in a space travel portal. These two girls have the same name, same appearance, and could be twins.
In this story, you will have the opportunity to see the world of today from many different perspectives, to travel to many places including other planets in the stars. You will have the chance to contemplate your position in the world, to consider the concepts presented in the book and most of all, to focus your mind on world betterment in this time of extreme change.
Setting: This story has two settings, switching back and forth between them: 1. the cosmos, including starships and other planets; the home of Princess Aine and 2. Earth, the home of Anya, from Kansas.
Characters: The two main characters in this story have a name (and appearance) to indicate they are twin souls: Princess Aine from the Stars and Anya, of Earth. Their names are pronounced exactly the same:   “on-yah” or “awn-yah” or “awn ye”.
Language Lesson: After studying the vocabulary, please read the passage and clarify the meaning of any words you still do not know.  You may listen to the passage on the video while reading along in the text if you like. Try to imagine in your mind’s eye, like a movie, what is taking place in the story.
Vocabulary study for this passage: allegory, poetic, gulley, canopy, scrimp, majestic, orb, sway, gorge, assuage, solace, fiasco, demeanor, dismay. Look up the words by clicking on the word to see its definition in the dictionary, or tap your device, or use a dictionary.
Update: So far, we have seen Princess Aine (Awn-ye) of the cosmic starship running away from her starship palace. She runs through the belly of the ship and escapes through portal, not knowing what will happen next. previous passage
Anya of Earth Swings to the Stars

Anya leaned her bike against a tree in a small wooded park, Kansas City, USA, Earth. She tore off her backpack and left it on the ground. It was filled with a box of crackers, a sweater, her cell phone, her flute and directions to Chicago.  Her blanket was rolled and tied, her water bottle packed. It wasn’t much, but it was enough. She could play on street corners and sleep in the woods. She was not afraid. Anya had been planning her escape for a long time: almost three months. 
Now she was finally free. 
She’d traveled across town to the lovely park with a rose and lavender garden, weeping willows, maple and oak trees. A chapel nearby quietly waited for visitors. She was familiar with this place; she’d been exploring the small campus a few times after summer school orchestra practice.  
A stream ran noisily through a gulley nearby. If she saw anyone heading her way, she thought, it would be easy to hide in the green canopy of leaves.  In her wallet she carried her newly acquired driver’s license and $111 dollars she had saved, scrimped or “collected” from the grocery store change.
She sat on the swing and began pumping her legs, lifting herself up as high as possible. Soon, she could see over the tops of most trees. “As close as I can get to flying…” she thought to herself, “I am free at last.”
Why run away? It was such a dramatic solution to her loneliness that some would probably laugh. But right now, it seemed the only answer. She had to find her real home. It seemed Kansas City was not it. Loneliness had enveloped her soul and was not assuaged by the friendship of squirrels or flowers or the sky or trees, as it had been when she was a girl. Other people were not something she could understand. Their motivations were confusing. At least in books, the author would explain the motivation – in real life, not so much. 
As a girl, she’d felt so connected to those things that others, apparently, did not see. Somehow, the forest surrounding the Missouri River was so alive. 
With every day that passed the forest seemed to change just a little bit: grasses, moss and clover grew or died back, new tree sprouts lifted their tiny branches and tender flowers advanced along the path, day by day. 
It was not just the change of seasons, but also the presence of the deer, the fox, the songbird and especially the majestic Eagle. She had been so aware of the delicate presence of all living things in the forest and along the Missouri river. She could feel them. Sometimes on a perfect spring day, she almost became them as she sat quietly in the forest. 
Like the deer and the geese that she knew were present but did not always see, those who are invisible were present. To her, it seemed obvious, though no one she knew ever mentioned it. She asked a friend about it once and his response was direct and cold, “Anya, you mustn’t think about those things. You could get in trouble.” How could she get in trouble for thinking? 
When she took off her glasses and squinted, sparkling orbs appeared at the corners of her eyes. In photographs, they’d showed up, too — looking like tiny bubbles, sometimes rainbow-colored orbs. Now, she began to believe they were just reflections from a mirror hit with sunlight, instead of invisible, magical  friends.
She kept pumping, rocking back and forth to keep herself flying as high as possible on the swing. Up there, the treetops sparkled like emeralds with each delicate leaf catching the sun from a different direction as they gently turned and swayed in the wind. “Oh,” she sighed, “I am free at last.”
(Listen to part 2 or continue below to read the text.)

“Not a kid anymore,” she tried to convince herself these childish feelings were no longer hers. She was grown up – or almost grown-up – and had to stop believing in fairytales and playing games. But life had become so complicated and cold. She was left with a kind of loneliness that felt like a deep gorge within her heart that didn’t go away. 
Anya kept pumping her legs leaning back-and-forth to keep swinging at the highest point – from where she could see high above the swing. Rocking back-and-forth, she let the gorge of emptiness in her heart fill with sorrow. It swelled up and brought tears to her eyes that spilt out over her cheeks. Tears that she did not even try to wipe away: tears of an inexplicable longing for somewhere, someone, someway. Somewhere she called home: a home of the heart, a home of peace; a place where she would be understood.
For a moment, she became angry. Then her mind drifted and she became sad all over again, thinking of her music, her one solace. It had turned into a fiasco of falsehood and fake smiles. She just wanted to escape. 
She had been bullied by one of the rudest girls. Finally, she was threatened with being removed from the orchestra because she was – what? Not a good enough player? No. Missed some notes? No. 
It was because she was dismayed by the requests and demands of the other girls, who pointed out every mistake in her demeanor and appearance; her large blue eyes and dark skin – it was never a pleasant conversation, either. Anya could not even respond to them. She just stood there. They called her “spaced out” during the performance. They said they “worried about her.” Anya overheard them call her “slow”, “strange”, “a bit off ” and they laughed at her clumsiness when she smashed into the doorway each time she entered a room. 
And of course, her so-called “weird” outfits were unacceptable attire for the modern, fashionable teenager. “I’m comfortable!” she’d blurt out, but still, the girls ignored her decorative additions to her school uniform. Though the boys never seemed to mind – that was at least one positive note; Sort of. Boys were easy to understand….maybe. Boys like girls – usually. At least she knew that much. 
When Paul died, the band was finished – almost before it started. He’d strung himself up in a closet. Paul – he was her friend and a drummer. They’d just produced several songs … her voice and her flute were rocking. She thought. Paul’s drums were up … she thought. Then it ended. It all happened so fast. Suddenly he was just gone. Gone. Overnight. She wanted to cry for him but maybe he was happier. More tears came. He wasn’t happier. He’d been lonely, too. 
But suicide was not going to be her path home. “Home is some place. I just know it. There’s got to be a place I feel at home,” she said aloud, vocalizing her thoughts. “Somewhere it’s calm and I fit in, where I am welcomed and people listen to me; where I can enjoy some excitement and maybe even fulfill my destiny….”
Maybe something special and beautiful would await her, she thought, as she continued swinging up, up, up in the air and captured the sight of the rush of robins exiting the treetops.  
On the swing, the anxiety that seemed to engulf her constantly was relieved: that sick feeling she never explained to anyone. Maybe she felt anxious thinking of her mother working at the hospital or anxious about her father at his office. But it was a constant feeling in her belly of extreme nervousness as though the butterflies would never end. She felt like a butterfly, too – with each day that passed she felt more and more that she was trapped in a cocoon, unable to free her wings.
Last summer she had ridden the bus to Illinois to visit her friend Sam from school. She had missed him so much when she moved to Kansas City. She stayed for a few days and they just hung out listening to music, mainly. They sat outside the Westwood Mall and played flutes throwing their hat down for passersby and gathering enough change for some food. 
Somehow with Sam it didn’t matter what she wore, or if she played a different note. Somehow with Sam she did not have to think so much. Somehow with Sam it was all right to sit on a rock and play the flute by the lake all day. 
“But he is a long way from where you are,” she thought. It was fall and soon winter would come. By then, she needed to be in a warm bed. She hoped Sam would have a place for her to stay in Chicago. 
To make it there, she’d have to ditch her bike and take a bus. She could not call Sam ahead of her arrival because her parents would trace her phone. She’d kept it off and was going to turn it back on just for a moment when she reached Chicago. They would not miss her for at least a day, since her father worked late into the evening and her mother worked all night. She had time. She had a few minutes more. She pumped up as high as she could go, faster and faster as if she might fly right up into the sun. 
Comprehension Exercises

  1. Use some of the vocabulary you have learned in this passage in your own sentences (written or practice making sentences out loud.)
  2. Do you think a person might commit suicide out of loneliness, bullying or fear? Discuss with friend, parent or teacher or write in your journal.
  3. Why do you think being hopeful about the future could keep a person from loneliness, disappointment or fear? Discuss with friend, parent or teacher or write in your journal.

If you meet someone who suffers loneliness, bullying or fear that may endanger their life, you can help. You can go to this website for more information
Next Passage in Star Travelers, Through the Portal