Celebrating her 21st Birthday, Emma and Lily go on a road trip, and come across the small town of Storybrooke, Maine.
“Welcome to Storybrooke,” Emma muttered to herself, smirking at the sign as she passed by it.
Honestly, it was the first piece of evidence that told her this city actually existed once. But when the postcard came to her house, and she got zero results online for it, she knew she should at least check it out. Maybe is was her sick sense of adventure, but it called to her like nothing else could.
Her new yellow Volkswagen bug, freshly gifted to her by some poor sap that chose not to lock their door that day (really, they made it way too easy for her), held steady as she rolled into the apparent town. She didn’t plan on keeping it long, but it was… cute, and so far, reliable.
It was an odd name, she had to admit. Storybrooke, Maine. It was so far on the outskirts of the state, she wasn’t even sure if it was on most official maps.
Lily was against the idea, but Lily was against a lot of things.
Emma peeked over, and her best friend was still asleep. She smirked, just a bit. It’ll be a nice little surprise, she figured.
Lily was the yin to her yang, she figured. Or, more accurate, the yang to her yin. They were both troubled teens, Lily being her enabler, Emma being Lily’s conscience, but now that they were twenty-one, it was time they graduated to a whole new level of trouble.
They had always wanted to go on a road trip. Thank goodness Lily was bad with directions, or she’d know they were in Maine. “Nothing is exciting in Maine. Unless you’re really interested in seeing the world’s biggest boot or whatever, let that imaginary city go.”
“You never listen,” Lily muttered, blinking her eyes open.
“It exists,” Emma defended herself. “So it’s not like, some prank or a haunted house invitation.”
“Or a really elaborate one.” She yawned. “Whatever. We went to Atlanta, so I guess fair’s fair. Just don’t whine about it when it sucks.”
“Oh, come on, it can’t be that bad.”
“Oh, really? What time is it, then?”
She instinctually glanced at the car radio, before sighing tirelessly. Whoever it was didn’t bother to lock the car, but had the forethought to unplug the plugin radio. Or, perhaps it was stolen as well. She checked her watch. “Eighteen after nine.”
Lily chuckled. “Fucking ghost town. Check out the Clock Tower.”
Emma knew it was a ghost town. It looked like she drove through half the city already, and she hadn’t seen a single soul. Still, leaning down slightly to look up at the high building what looked like the tallest building this quaint little town had to offer, a proudly beaming ‘8:15’ was presented.
She knew she shouldn’t, but she laughed at the absurdity. “Oh, God,” she shook her head, her smile bright, “We might die here.”
Her friend laughed with her.
There didn’t seem to be many twenty-four hour places, but at least the ice cream parlor was open. Any Given Sundae, a pun they appreciated, was lit up in the night like a beacon, calling for them. She hadn’t had ice cream in years, so it was obviously a calling.
And the friendly face that they met as they passed through the doors, called for Emma in a familiar way.
“She’s staring at you,” Lily whispered, hiding her lips behind her strawberry cone.
Emma rolled her eyes. “Shut up. She’s just impressed to meet another natural blonde. Or another person, for that matter.” There didn’t seem to be a reason for any place in this town to be open all night, but there was no reason to look a gift horse in the mouth. She was just thankful for small miracles.
“I feel like she’s losing money, keeping the store open at night.”
“Maybe she kept it open for lil’ ol’ me?” She wondered out loud, and looked over to the older, somewhat familiar lady. When she finally looked up again, aware of the intense stare, Emma winked.
The attractive woman, whose name escaped her at the moment, tilted her head, gave a small smirk, and winked back.
Emma almost coughed up chocolate milkshake through her nose, and Lily began to pat her on the back. “You weren’t ready,” she simpered, shaking her head. “You just weren’t ready.”
With reddened, teary eyes, she glared at her friend. “Not funny,” she wheezed.
“I’m not laughing. But she seems to have you in stitches.”
Eventually, they settled down, and the woman disappeared to the back. “She look familiar?” Emma quietly wondered, looking at the spot she once held.
Lily shrugged. “Cute, though, if you’re looking for a MILF. Gonna give it a shot?”
The blonde squinted at her. “I can’t tell if you’re serious or not.”
She nibbled at the bottom of the cone. “The part where I called her a MILF, or the part where you should go for it? Because, you know… I’d hit it.”
Emma let out a long-suffering sigh. “I honestly don’t know if you’re giving me a headache, or if she’s giving me a brain freeze.” She blinked. “Wait.”
“Uh, no. Lily.”
She blinked, clueless. Lily found that her friend did that a lot. “I remember… Ingrid. She was… she almost adopted me? Fuck, my head hurts!”
The brunette took a pause out of sucking the ice cream through the bottom of the waffle cone. Emma never really talked about her years before they met in the convenience store. If she was making some kind of joke, then it was a terrible setup. “Okay. I’ll bite. What the hell are you talking about?”
“She… she was the one person… who I thought could be a mother.” Her eyes flashed an icy blue. “Oh! It’s… she’s… ouch-ouch-ouch-ouch-ouchie – ”
Lily hugged Emma around the middle as she grabbed at her head, shuddering. “What the fuck was in that milkshake?”
“It’s not the milkshake,” she grunted. “It’s a, umm… trigger.”
“Is this…” She leaned in closer. “Is this a magic thing?”
“No, I usually regain long-lost memories off a chocolate fucking milkshake.” She didn’t say it with the spite she used to, no matter how playful, and that disturbed Lily. “INGRID! Sarah – whoever you are! Get back here!”
The older blonde had snuck out the back. Emma didn’t know why her almost-adoptive mother was avoiding her. The last time they hung out, it was awkward. But a lot of things have changed since then.
She pressed her finger to the display glass, and began writing. “Fucking editing my memories,” she muttered to herself, “like I’m fucking software. You’ve got some explaining to do.”
“Are you leaving a memo or a foreword?” Lily wondered aloud, coming from the back. “I was gonna go for seconds, but it’s all a lie. No ice cream. A lot of toppings, though. Got us some gummy bears, Oreos and chocolate chunks to go.”
Emma stopped writing. “What about the M&M’s?”
Lily blinked innocently. “What M&M’s?”
“Woman, don’t you dare hide the M&M’s from me, I will lock you in the freezer.”
“You haven’t been listening; no freezer.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Haven’t you been watching? I’ll make one.”
The words she left crystallized on the window, before they hardened. Emma blew on her finger, before walking out of the store, Lily quickly following.