Walk a Dream-Chapter 8

Chapter 8.

She was already changing. She felt both liberated and troubled. She moved with more ease, she laughed more often and people around her started to notice and enjoy the changes. Deep inside, she felt the skin of her soul becoming softer and more sensitive, easily reacting to the heartbeats of that other person living connected to her inner world. She was falling for someone she hasn’t seen yet, someone with whom she has not talked yet…Still, she knew a lot about that person’s intimacy of the soul.

“ Girl, you’re losing your  f*cking mind !” – she sighed inwardly, then left the bathroom with a smirk. “So what?!” -she thought. “Let it come, whatever will be. I’ll handle it then.”-she concluded and set herself in motion. The day belonged to reality and reality was claiming her full attention. Her confident, composed self was real but it was only the tip of the iceberg. So many such elusive chunks are flowing in the huge river of life….Facing life requires a hardened  protective shell and one would be shocked to look around and see the others the way they are behind the mask. Their naked truth….

  We are walking galaxies of swirling emotions and shadows, we are what others see and we are also what only we know. Kai was no exception. She was living in a city, had a job, there were expectation towards her and she was doing her best to get things done right. The meadows of dew and stars belonged to the world of dreams and fantasy and reality was not invited there. But now, someone has found a way to open her inner door. The shadow of another soul was walking her inner pathways, searching her inner lands, touching her inner features, leaving its own fingerprints on the soft inner walls….If this was not madness, then it must have been love. Aren’t these two things sometimes the same?

 Love was not unknown to Kai but this feeling moving inside her, ruffling  the surface of her inner ocean was like no other before…This one was undressing her from inside, peeling off her protective shell, calling with its enchanting touch the wildly free and untamed being her core kept hidden for so long. The day spent in walking the order of reality proved to be annoyingly long. Wild Girl was knocking on the inner door, hoping to break free and Kai bit her lips not to scream. Where was the night when she needed it?!

    Finally, the curtain of the sky filled with stars and she banged the door in the face of reality. Clutching her hands on the cup of hot chocolate, she stood on the windowsill, sipping in the refreshing air of the night.

“Do I want this ? Did I ask for it and I can’t remember? What else can’t I remember? “

I kept feverishly search my mind for answers but there were none. This is not MY dream-I kept telling myself. But who am I? More and more I feel like a cracking cocoon, another me pushing from inside, asking to be released, asking for its right, no!my right to live. Oh! Who are you, why did you stir my world into disarray?! Why do you need me? Where are you? “

Kai shook her head and went to the bathroom to wash her face. Maybe the cold water will help her calm the inner turmoil. She let the water cool and splashed a good amount on her face, on her neck and chest. Huh! That was icy! With à deep sigh, she ran her wet hands through her hair and looked in the mirror. The answer was there, looking at her with dark brown eyes.

-Good evening, Kai- heshe said and the deep purr of the voice rang in Kai’s mind. Come! Our time is shorter than I hoped.

 Kai stared in disbelief. “This is not happening!”-she thought. “I am crazy, I know but this is more than that!” The one she was looking at was taller than her and had spiky black hair and a creole complexion. The features of the face were ambiguous, holding an equally strong femininity and masculinity. The ambivalence of the voice was well reflected in the features of the face and even in the personal aura radiating through the mirror.

-You’re not crazier than I am-chuckled the voice in Kai’s head. In fact, we have a lot in common. That’s why we got up tangled in this dream. Don’t be afraid! You’re not losing my mind. Now give me a hand! There are things I want to share with you…  

  Heshe held out a hand…through the mirror. Kai stared in the dark brown eyes, searching for the light so close to her heart. It was shimmering in the depths of those eyes…She grabbed the hand and they  both vanished in the silver waters of the mirror.

Walk a Dream-waking up in someone else’s dream

Chapter 5.

“ If  this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up anymore!”-she thought, walking slowly, hand in hand with the slender young Magician.

When the echo of the last word died off her mind, she felt an unusual tickling through her body. With a soft crack, something invisible peeled off her entire being and she breathed more easily after.

-You successfully shed your first layer of armor, my dear…-said the young man, smiling at her.

The girl was puzzled.

-What armor?-she asked.

-An armor is your protective wall, one that shelters the soft inner core from the claws of unfriendly reality.

-I see….-murmured the girl. Do you wear an armor too?-she asked, half serious, half teasingly.

-I am an armor-he replied swiftly, showering her with another of his radiant smiles.

-Oh!-she exclaimed, worry echoing in her voice.I wouldn’t want you to break like my armor did!

His eyes sparkled in amusement.

-Don’t worry! I won’t! I am both an armor and a piece of the core. And I am not the only one.

“ This is getting more and more interesting…”-thought the girl, breathing in the refreshing air of the forest. The mix of scents and the taste of the mist in her mouth filled her with an eerie sensation. She kicked off her shoes, leaving them behind and she walked barefoot in the cooling azure grass. Her feet recognized the pathway, herskin remembered the touch of this place. She yelped as the surge of emotion washed over her and she started to run, leaving the Magician behind.

  The forest thinned before her and the grass blades under her feet merged into à rivulet flowing to an unknown destination. She splashed joyfully the clear water, running breathlessly till the young man caught her from behind, lifting her up in the air. The forest ended abruptly and they flew over the now bubbling river that was falling in a spray of rainbows in the abyss below.

-This was close!-chuckled the Magician, landing on a cliff. You’re quite surprising sometimes! Now- he continued, raising his magic wand-we have one more task to complete tonight.

 Writing a sign in the air, he changed the scenery. Night fell upon the land and a pathway was shining before us in the air, leading into the distant depth of the darkness. Each tile of the road was à star and when touched, it gave à musical sound. The Magician turned to me, invitingly.

-Come!-he said, sparks filling his dark eyes. Let’s go! Don’t be afraid.

He made a few steps, to show me that the path was solid and safe. With heart beating in my throat, I followed him.The sound rising under my feet reverberated in the space all around, like wind-chimes. But  he was  walking faster than me so I hurried after him, creating a whole surge of sounds entwining,rolling, echoing in and out, sending shivers all over my body. With a soft crack, my next layer of armor shattered, leaving me floating in the air, weightless….I kept flying in the sound of wind-chimes, while the stars of the pathway turned into fireflies, filling the space with strange, greenish light.They swirled and zigzagged in the air, showing me the way. Before me, the Magician was a shooting star, with a long trail of blaze.

-We’ll meet again!-he shouted, before fading.

I was alone, flying  into the unknown…….I woke up with mixed feelings, sprawled in my bed, arms wide open. The elation of the flight was undeniable and the sight had been magical.I had a twinge of sorrow for losing so early my companion of wandering. I tried to recall his face, but his features were already fading from my memory. But there was one thing I couldn’t forget: his smile, coming from inside.

      His smile was coming from inside…me.

Walk in a Dream-waking up in someone else’s dream. Chapter 4.

Chapter 4.

She woke up crying, emotionally drained by the dream. She couldn’t understand. How can anyone do such thing to its child? Why? Why would you use your child as a battleground in a fight with your spouse? It’s senseless and cruel!

She got off the bed and pushed herself into the daily schedule, leaving the impressions of the night to sink deeper and to clear inside her mind. By the time she was sipping her coffee, she felt less vulnerable and she returned to her previous thoughts.

Maybe the parents themselves were a bit lost, not knowing how to react to the fact that they had a very special child. The world they were living was not prepared either and thus, answers or help in understanding how to deal with, were scarce if none at all. This was an important issue in the fragilisation of their connection. While their child needed love, acceptance and protection, both mother and father were desperately trying to “fix” reality according to their own vision. The result….

The girl shook her head in disbelief. The result was nothing less of a disaster. Peeling off the elements of fantasy, the final moments of the dream were speaking volumes about it. Somewhere in this world, a shattered soul was reaching out for help…

“So be it!”-though the girl and stood up to leave for work. She locked the door when she heard the little bell ringing….

~~

The sound was unmistakable; it was little Jordie’s belt bell. I’ve recognized it instantly. Was I truly awake or my dream was continuing? Could it be that the one dreaming it, found a way into my reality, warping it and changing it? The simple thought of such happening made me question my sanity.

So I’ve shrugged off the thought, took a few deep breaths and I walked out the door. No more bells ringing….

~~~

She woke up at the same hour, in the middle of the night, with a heavy heart. “What’s next?”-she thought, remembering the other night and the painful question in the eyes of the shattered teenager.

The room was dark and silent and her throat was sore of unexpected thirst. Half asleep, she dragged herself to the bathroom and let the cold water flow for a while. She poured a glass of water and gulped it up. Her eyes met the reflection in the mirror and she froze. At first, she saw herself, sleepy and ruffled but then, there was something new in that image. Something or….someone? Someone was with her in the mirror. Someone was inside her own image, someone whose image was overlapping hers. It was difficult to detect the changes but they eyes were darker, the look inside them, piercing , veiled only by the sheen of sleep in the girl’s eyes.

Then, the feeling became stronger. The more she looked inside those eyes, the stronger the feeling of entwining with someone else became inside her. She instinctively put a hand on her chest; something was moving inside, digging deep in the intimacy of her soul. Something was trying to nest inside her, to find a safe haven. Someone was moving with her, in her. She was herself and someone else as well.

Words appeared on the translucent screen of the mirror, written by an invisible hand: “ Do you remember me ?….”

~~~~~~~~~~~

What should I say? I stared in the eyes of the one(s) in the mirror.

-Help me to remember!-I said. Lead my way through this quest. I want to remember….

The mirror wobbled and I’ve found myself on a white surface, stretching endlessly in all directions into a dense, milky mist. I stood there, waiting….The silence of the place was almost tangible, the mist was slowly undulating in the distance. I closed my eyes and opening wide my arms, I tried to touch….something with my fingertips. In the mirror of my mind, I touched the one nested inside my soul. Its touch was warm and soft. Our fingers, our palms, our hands touched at both ends of the Infinity…Then “+” and ”-” collided in an embrace. I opened my eyes to gaze into the face of the one holding me.

-I’m glad you’re not running anymore!- he said with a playful smile. A youthful face with dark brown eyes, wearing a top hat and a black and red cape. A Magician. He took me by the hand and we stepped inside the forest. The pathway under our feet was covered by azure-blue grass, the leaves of the canopy were shimmering with a golden-yellow glow and a bluish mist was filling the in betweens of the tree trunks. I was mesmerized.

“ If this is a dream, then I don’t want to wake up anymore!”- I thought.

The Invisibles-Chapter 6.

Dim light, a dull pain in her skull and voices arguing somewhere close…She tried to move but realised that she had been strapped down to a bed. Oh well, so much for her adventure in an alien land….What happened to the little boy?-she wondered. Cora sighed, concerned. She turned her attention to the heated debate in the next room.

-How do you know she’s not a threat ?!- shouted a woman’s voice. You can’t even say she’s human! Who had ever seen a human being with wings?!

-Temper yourself, Petunia!-came the response in a deep, calm voice. Just listen to yourself: these are the exact accusations we hear against the Changers. And no, I have not seen a winged human before but I won’t fall to prejudice out of fear and ignorance.

-It’s easy for you to speak, Satoru! You can always return unharmed to the Citadel! But I fear for the life of my children and I cannot afford such trust!

-Come, come, Petunia! You’re plain unjust. Satoru has never jeopardized our lives. On the contrary! The third voice was clearly upset.

-Let her speak, Ogren. She has her point and I must take that into account. Petunia, don’t worry. I have not forgotten my duties as your leader. Go in peace and please, take care of little Avik! We don’t know yet what happened to his mother.

-Thank you, Satoru-said the woman in à much calmer voice. I’m sorry for being harsh but it’s not always easy to deal with the endless flow of orphaned children and distressed youth.

There was a moment of silence as the woman left the room. Cora held her breath, listening to the two men left in the room next to her.

-What do you intend to do with her? -asked the man named Ogren.

-She might be a stranger to our land and someone totally unexpected, but we cannot act like those who had turned us into outcasts. I will keep in mind your wife’s concerns, my friend. I value her selfless work and effort with all our children. But I need to make my own assessment before I can take a decision. Till then, she will remain confined to this perimeter and she will be closely guarded.

Cora decided that she has heard enough.

-May I speak for myself, please?!-she shouted, hoping to get their attention. She succeeded; someone came and lifted the shades from the windows, letting the morning light in. The person approached the bed, bent down, starting to unstrap her.

Blinded by the light, Cora closed her eyes, opening them gradually to adjust to the luminosity.

-I have unstrapped you but please, don’t try to run away-said the man with the deeper voice. You have no chance to leave the room without my permission.

As her eyes became accustomed to the daylight, Cora looked with unhidden curiosity to the two men facing her ; after all, these were the first people belonging to a different nation. To her slight relief, they were very much human, just like the distressed child she had picked up the previous night.There was a young, slender one, sitting in a chair facing her and a bit sturdy one, standing in the doorframe.

-Hi!-said the young man sitting in the chair. His voice was deep and soft. My name is Satoru and him – he continued pointing towards the man at the door,he is my friend, Ogren. Who are you and what are you doing here?

The girl tilted her head pensively, trying to assess the situation. Judging from his posture and the way he was addressing the question, Satoru seemed to be the leader of this place.It was also the position acknowledged by both the woman and the other man, during the previous discussion. With his pleasant features, dark eyes and shoulder-long black hair, he was quite handsome. He had two streaks of silver strands and the look in his eyes was serious and inquisitive. Ogren, on the other hand, looked more relaxed and with his light brown hair and gentle hazel eyes, he reminded her of a big bear. Cora took a deep breath and decided that the truth was the best answer:

-Hi! My name is Cora, I’m on a personal quest and I ended up here after being caught in a storm and being hauled by a whirlwind.

-Hmmm….Satoru was half-smiling, hearing such an incredible story. “This girl had guts” -he thought. -And where do you come from?

-I come from Arberia, a neighboring country and I’m a Queenie. You can find my letter of recommendation from my Queen in the backpack.

Ogren and Satoru exchanged glances. This story was becoming increasingly weird. But before anything, a voice called from outside:

-Satoru! Ogren! Are you there?! I have news from the Citadel!

In the fraction of the moment when no one payed attention, Cora sprang from the bed to the ceiling and then turned sharply to the door, flying out above Ogren and heading for the exit. She heard a feral growl behind her and something strong and heavy caught her mid-air, pushing her face down on the floor. The beast kept her immobilized until Satoru ordered to release her. Ogren helped up the girl and escorted her back before Satoru. A huge black, cat-like creature with sharp white fangs and yellow eyes was sitting at the feet of the young man, fixing Cora with suspicion. The girl sat back silently.

-I’ve told you that you cannot leave without my permission. Why were you running away?

-Because I am a free person and I did nothing to be held captive!- she replied defiantly.

-Fair enough! -chuckled Satoru. But before we fix that, allow me to speak to the messenger. I’ll be back in a moment. Till then, Ogren will give back your belongings!

The young man slipped with ease from the chair and left the room, riding the big cat. Cora was befuddled. As the door closed behind the young leader, she turned to the man left in the room. Ogren handed her the backpack and mumbled, visibly uneasy:

-He was born this way….But his spirit is bright and fearless and he is highly respected by everyone.

-I see…-murmured Cora. I can understand that; he seems to be a fair person. May I ask you something?

Ogren nodded agreeingly; despite his strong appearance, he was a bit shy and Cora’s openness made him nervous.

-What happened to the child I’ve picked up last night? How is he?

-Oh! He’s fine. His name is Avik -said Ogren with a broad smile. My wife, Petunia is taking care of him and of the rest of the orphans. In fact, he was asking about you this morning: “Where’s the lady with the cookies?” If Satoru will allow, you could come to visit him.

-I would love to! -sighed Cora happily. Thank you, Ogren.

****

Petunia was holding her baby, rocking her gently. She glanced to the window, watching the children play outside. Avik, the new boy was still standing alone in a corner; it was too soon to expect him to join the others. Petunia tucked her sleeping daughter in bed; of the five little ones in the house, only her child was born in freedom and had loving parents by her side. The young woman’s heart sank, thinking of all the other mothers and children separated from each-other….Not that the fathers would not suffer just the same; Ogren, her husband was adoring their little girl. Petunia sighed and tidied the children’s beds in the room. She took the half eaten cookie hidden under Avik’s pillow, then decided to put it back. This was not an ordinary cookie; it was a piece of those given him by the winged girl.

Huh….Suddenly, Petunia felt ashamed for her outburst at Satoru’s place. Maybe their young leader was right. Oh! Ever since she has become a mother, she’s got highly emotional. But considering all the aspects of their life in the forest, it was understandable. The former Invisibles were living in freedom outside, but the Citadel was a constant reminder that the nightmare was not over and that the crimes against the Changers were continuing…

A loving bear-hug brought her back from the moment of reverie. It was Ogren.

-Darling, I’m afraid I have bad news: the White Guards closed the northern exit after Avik’s escape. They caught his mother but we don’t know what happened to her. It will take time till we can find another breach in the wall. I’m sorry. Don’t tell the boy; at least not yet.

The laughter of the children reverberated in the heavy silence of the room. Crisscrossing between the moments of hardship, life was boldly pursuing its way..

*****

After the messenger left and Ogren to returned home, Satoru knocked on door. The girl jumped from the bed and opened the door.

-Would you join me for breakfast? You must be hungry-said the young man.

-Only if you let me help and if you dare to taste my cookies. I still have a few left.

-I will; I’ve heard that Avik likes them- said Satoru with a pleasant smile.

They moved to the other room, setting the table and sharing a simple meal together. The forest was providing the necessaries for the community of outcasts.

-It tastes almost like home-said Cora. Most of us, we live a simple and happy life in Arberia. My father is a carpenter and my mother is weaver. What is the name of your land?

Satoru watched her for a moment before answering. With her bright copper hair and the sparks in the eyes, he found her attractive. Her natural openness was comforting and the young man felt he can trust her.

-I don’t know if our land has any name at all. We were all born inside the walls of the Citadel and that was the known world for us till we were forced to leave it.

-But why? What’s happening inside that amazing city? Why was a small child like Avik running away in the middle of the night?!

-Because of what happened many years ago inside the walls, when the Silver Tree, our protective Spirit was damaged.It’s a long story…

-Then I am in the right place….-murmured Cora, remembering her dream.

Satoru was surprised by her words.

-What do you mean?-he asked.

-The night before starting my journey as a Queenie, I had an unusual dream. I woke up in a blurry place and I’ve met a spirit that kept saying “My tree is dying. My tree is dying”. It was a lonely and frighten spirit and I made a promise to find it and save it. Then I’ve heard that voice once again before the storm left me in your land. Do you think this is just a coincidence?

Satoru was taken aback by the girl’s recounting. Maybe she was just a good storyteller, someone with a load of imagination… But if she was telling the truth, it means that the Silver Tree was in grave danger and that it reached out, beyond the Citadel’s boundaries, for help. And this fiery girl had picked up that call not entirely unexpectedly.

-You call your land Arberia. Is there any particular reason for that?

-We have many trees in our land but we have one that is standing out of all. That particular Tree is our cradle and our home and we are all connected to it. We can feel its benevolent presence all over our land. And as a would-be Queen (or Queenie as we are called), we were taught and trained to gain a higher level of spiritual contact with our Tree before we started our quest. I’ve lost contact only when I landed here. But your land is also speaking to me. I can feel its spirit.

-What do you feel?

-Loss and sadness, fear….The spirit of your land is broken for some time. I find hard to detect the signal of the tree you are speaking about.

Pain washed over Satoru’s face as he listened to the girl before him. What she was telling confirmed his fear. Things were getting worse inside the Citadel each day. Asterius was endangering everyone’s life. Sooner or later, they must confront him!

Cora watched in silence this deliberation, sensing the deep emotional flow coming from him. She felt a strong communion with this outstanding young man. Her personal quest has led her in this land to join forces in saving a Tree of life and despite the scarcity of information, she knew that she was in the right place, with the right people. She wished Satoru would trust and accept her….

She leaned over the table and placed her hand on his hand, looking straight in his eyes.

-I don’t know about your history and I never knew that your land and people even existed. But I know why I am here: to help you save your Tree. If you think you can trust me, let me do it. Please, Satoru. I want to help.

He gazed inside the translucent pools of her eyes, pondering the answer. They’ve met in unusual circumstances, they were strangers to each -other, they knew almost nothing about each-other…Still, she felt like an open book, straight and trustworthy. And there was even more in her presence, something like a soothing summer breeze. He took her hand and in that split of a moment, the spirits of the two distant Trees connected through them.

-Let me show you around-said Satoru. I want you to meet my people.

The moment he stood up, the Shadowcat materialized at his feet. Cora yelped. She has almost forgotten of the impressive feline.

-You’ll get used to her; as you see, my legs are not much of help to me. Without Gondwana-said Satoru, calmingly caressing the cat’s head-I can’t take lengthy walks. We teamed up together when I came here and tamed her. It’s all about trust-he added with a smile.

-I hope she’ll accept my presence-replied Cora, returning the smile. So, where do we go?

-I want to introduce you to Savian. He’s the founder of our Colony and the one who can answer all your questions. He’s our living history book, one of the most revered Changer artists. He’s a bit of a recluse so we have to travel deep in the forest. You can ride with me if you feel it’s too much for you, though I’ve seen your admirable skills.

-Thank you, but I think I can manage. Extensive flight is part of my training and it was one of the very few things I loved to do being educated as a Queenie!-chuckled Cora.

-Let’s go then!

They plunged in the forest, heading for Savian’s tree-house.

The Invisibles-Chapter 2.

-Cora! Are you ready? Can I come in?

The voice of Galaor was slightly nervous. Coming back abruptly from her reverie, Cora opened the door and embraced her father.

-I’m ready, Dad, don’t worry. Look!-she said and turned round. The sunlight was dancing around her, sparks bouncing off the slender figure dressed in a blue-green dress and tunic, embroidered with gold rimmed leaves. Cora’s fiery hair was combed into an intricately tressed tail  held together by blue and green hair-pins. She took her father’s arm and left the room, walking confidently towards the Ceremony Hall, followed by her beaming mother and excited little sister. The rest of the family and friends were walking behind them, whispering to each other about their beautiful Queenie.

   The high doors of the hall opened, letting in the ten young girls and their escorts into the spacious chamber where the most important Court members were waiting for them. Soon as everyone gathered inside, the sound of the Soul Bell started to ring, announcing the arrival of the Queen. It was a deep sound, seemingly coming from the body of the Tree around them, enveloping the audience in waves of soothing music,serene yet solemn. The hind wall of the room opened and the Queen  stepped forward.

    Cora watched her, mesmerized by the majestic gracefulness of the elderly woman. She was tall and lean, her face preserving the original beauty, despite the marks of so many ages. She was wearing a long, amber colored dress decorated with emerald vines and miniature blue butterflies. Her white hair was flowing freely around her shoulders, creating a halo around her face. The wings of the Queen were glossy and translucent, with purple-blue iridescence. But the most striking feature were her eyes: deep blue with a gaze that could see behind any pretense.Still, the appearance of the Queen was exhaling benevolence and kindness. People around her bowed respectfully as she walked towards the circle of blushing and nervous Queenies. The young girls bowed deeply and the Queen gestured them to rise so that she could see each of them. The First Lady joined her, carrying the silver tray containing the Royal Acts of recommendation.

  Wise Matriarch of her little nation, the Queen stopped by each Queenie and handed out the enscripted roll, saying a few words of  personally tailored wisdom and encouragement. She gently touched their forehead with her hand, sharing protective magic that was coming from the Tree. When the Queen finally stopped in front of her, Cora sensed the powerful aura surrounding her. They looked each-other for a moment and Cora felt her heart opening like a flower under the scrutiny of those eyes. The Queen  put the roll in the hands of the girl and then she gently touched  her forehead.  Cooling sensation ran through Cora’s whole body and for a fraction of a moment, she felt a total communion with the Tree. She was the Tree from its intricate web of roots embracing the land, to the last trembling leaf up in the highest branch. The flow of magical sap was rushing through her veins and her heart was filled with emotions. There was awe and joy but also concern and surprisingly, there was fear. Something malevolent and menacing was lurking beyond the boundaries of their land….But what could that be?

“ Follow your fire, my child-she heard. Follow your fire….”

The whispers of the Queen brought the girl back to reality.

“I will-she murmured.

Music exploded around her as the ceremony resumed as the Queen left the Hall. Families, friends, people surrounded the Queenies, congratulating them, sharing their good wishes and hopes for their safe and victorious return. Cora regained her composure and smilingly joined her loved ones. After all, this would be their last family afternoon together for a while.

-Amita! Come, let’s take a flight!- she said and picking up her little sister, she flew out of the room, up to the top of the Tree. The giggling of the little girl filled the air.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When she opened her eyes she found herself standing inside a glowing, reddish orange mist. The only firm thing was the ground under her feet. No sound, no directions. Nothing, just the faintly pulsing mist. Then, a deep sigh and muffled sobs broke the silence and she turned abruptly towards the source of the sounds.

-Hey! Who are you?! What happened?!

In response a sudden vortex appeared inside the orange mist and it seemed like something was coming towards her.

“ Me and my big mouth…”-thought Cora.

Up before her stood a huge bulge of white fluff, hovering above the ground. The face of that ghost-like creature was childlike, with sad little dark eyes.

-My Tree is dying….-it veiled in a small voice. Nobody helps it and I’m frightened and lonely….

Cora’s heart sank.

-What Tree? Where is it?

But before the creature could answer her, a strong draft of bone-chilling wind push them apart and all she could hear was a faint cry.

-Help meeee……Don’t leave me alone…..!

-Don’t be afraid! I’ll find you!!-she shouted.

-Who do you want to find?-asked Bella. Did you have a nightmare? You were shouting in your dream.

 She was sitting on the edge of the bed with a worried expression on her face. Cora shook her head with a reassuring smile.

-No, no Mom, it was just a silly dream. I am little nervous about the flight-she chuckled.

Bella sighed. She was nervous to. All of a sudden, she wished her daughter was an ordinary girl, not a Queenie. But it was too late for that, so she better helped Cora to get ready for the flight. She helped her dress up and served her favorite meal for breakfast. Galaor joined them, checking each strap on the flight suit and giving his final pieces of advice. Amita rushed in and jumped in Cora’s arms, covering her face with smacks. Hugs, kisses, tears and goodbyes shared, at the sound of the Core Bell, the Golden Doors of the Tree opened wide and the row of Queenies took flight in the crisp air of the morning, followed by the loud cheer of the gathered Arberiens.

-This will be a long year-whispered Bella, leaning close to Galaor and holding Amita in her arms.

-This will be a long year-thought the Queen, watching the colorful flying squad diminishing in the horizon.

    The Golden Doors closed with a thud behind them, marking the beginning of a journey into the unknown.

 

                                                                              ***

 

Somewhere faraway, under another sky, a  young woman was hurriedly preparing her confused and frightened son. The child couldn’t understand the reason why his mom woke him up at night and why she kept silencing him, why was he dressed up and why was she wiping her eyes on and on. He saw his mom taking a small bottle from a hiding and slip it in her pocket , then turning off the faint light. She took his hand and spoke to him in a muffled but firm voice:

-Avik, listen to Mommy. Don’t say a word outside. Just hold my hand and follow me in silence and if I say “run!” then you run and don’t look back! You understand?

-Yes, Mommy!- came the answer in a little voice.

The young woman unlocked the hind door and slipped into the night with her child. She wasn’t going to let him suffer the fate of the other Changers; nothing could frighten her off and she couldn’t care less for the so called fate of the Tree. If the survival of the Tree was coming at the price of the life of an innocent child then something was wrong. Very wrong. Avik was her son and  she was determined to save him no matter what the White Guardians were saying. Her child was not going to become an Invisible, he wasn’t going to starve in the streets of the Silver City, unseen by the others, unable to get help, food, shelter. Her child was not going to be found lying lifelessly in a corner, pushed aside like a piece of garbage. The mind of the young mother was swirling with heavy questions.

 How did they end up  giving in to such horrors? She held the little boy closer and they hurried down the dark street. It was a long way to the northern wall and she wanted to get there before dawn.

Walk in Dream-waking up in someone else’s dream (2)

Before I could see who was speaking or even utter a sound, the alarm clock brought me back to reality, tearing off the veil of dreams. It was both frustrating and relieving. The strangeness of the dream left me with a slight unease. Even after I washed my face , I had a feeling that a piece of the dream was sticking to me like cobweb. I sipped my coffee slowly, trying to set my thoughts in a sort of an order, not sure of the outcome yet. Running through the list of my daily chores, several questions echoed back from my night.

 Where did the little boy disappear? Who was he? And who was the one catching me from falling? And why, oh why did this pesky alarm ring in the most important moment of the dream?! Well, blaming the clock was futile; no matter how interesting the night might have been,  I had to get back to reality prepare for work. I sipped my coffee and fled the house…or at least that was my intention.

  The moment I started to descend the stairs,the space warped and I was facing a steep tunnel opening under my feet. Startled and dizzy, I staggered and  stepped back till my vision cleared and reality fell back in place. Cautiously,  I took again the stairs and left the building. It was getting awfully late.  

~~~~~~

      Finding herself in front of the open gates, she stepped in without hesitation. It was still summer inside and the air smelled like sun. The grass under her feet swayed if the soft wind. She looked ahead, searching for the forest but this time, the scenery was different. She was in à deserted corner of a hill side and the meadow stopped at the feet of a high tower and a disheveled building that looked like an old mill. She walked towards it and soon she was in the front yard, where, not so surprisingly, a little boy was playing with his choo choo train on the ground.

     He looked very much like the other child, just this time he was a bit older. Noticing her presence, he raised his head and looked at her  cheerfully. He had a round little face with big,dark brown eyes, round little nose and a big smile. His silky hazelnut hair was cut short under the ears. He was wearing a white shirt and shorts, with a small bell attached to his belt.

-Hi!-he said with a clear voice. Do you want to play with me? Look, I have a choo choo train! Do you like it? My Dad gave it for my birthday!

-It’s lovely!-said the girl, smiling at him. I love trains and I never had a choo choo train. So, what are we going to do with it? I see that there are lots of pebbles here on the ground. Would you like me to help you build a road for your train?

-Yes!Yes!-shouted the boy excitedly. Let’s do it!

 He jumped to his feet and started to gather pebbles. The little bell attached to his belt was ringing at each move. He looked like an elven child in the meadows of the Sun. The girl stood up and picked pebbles and some scattered sticks, glancing from time to time to the little boy who was bouncing happily around. They soon had enough stuff to start building the path and they kneeled in the dirt, working together with the innocent carefree spirit of childhood.

-What is your name?-asked the girl, pressing a round white pebble in the ground.

-Jordan-replied the child. They call me Jordie at home.

-Jordie. What a lovely name. My name is Kai. Look, Jordie, we can make a bridge here for the train to cross the small trench. We could say that there’s river running under the bridge. You know, your name is the same with that of a mighty river!

-Yupiiii!-exclaimed the child. Let’s see how Choo Choo is going to cross the river!

~~~~~~

At first he lead the train in the path of pebbles, giggling and shouting excitedly. Then somehow, the train sped up and burst forward off his little hands. We watched it rushing towards the bridge of sticks, crossing it, then heading towards the tower.

-Yay! He’s going into the tunnel!-yelped Jordie and we both jumped to our feet and started to run after the runaway train. I caught his hand and we ran breathlessly, while before our eyes, the tunnel opened  wide its dark mouth to swallow up train, us and everything around. I wasn’t running anymore; it was the ground that was propelling us further! I took up Jordie and he held his arms around my neck, laughing happily. For him, it was just a funny game but I was deeply scared… For a fraction of a moment, the gates of darkness were  towering before us….then silence engulfed our world….

 When I finally opened my eyes, I couldn’t see anything in that black void surrounding me, except for the shimmering silhouette of warm, yellow light floating at a small distance. I was alone…again; Jordie had vanished from my arms…or not? Before I could answer my own question, the creature of light grabbed my hand and pulled me upward. We were probably flying to the top of the tower, because the small speck of glow I saw first was growing into a large circle.  I landed on narrow terrace going around the top of….a lighthouse. The creature of light dissolved into the brightness , yet I could feel the presence of a childlike spirit embracing me.

 The perspective opening from here was overwhelming. The blue-green sea was stretching to a horizon that was also the  shore of the Universe. The wind whistling in my ears was carrying both the salty breath of the sea and the dust of the swirling star geysers. I stood there mesmerized, almost forgetting even to breathe…Here, at my feet, foam-tipped translucent waves were toying at the base of the lighthouse, rolling colorful shells up and down the soft sands. The continuous rippling of the sea was emulating the swaying of the ocean of stars. Day and night were sharing harmoniously the same dome of skies, the same scenery, the same moment. I could hear light seeping through the entwined layers of day and night, falling with the sound of windchimes…or maybe with the sound of a little bell sewn to the belt of that little boy bearing the name of a river.

Cling! Cling-cling! Cling-cling! Cling!

“Jordie! Where are you?!” -called the voice of a young man, half amused-half worried. “I can hear your bell, you cannot hide much! Come on, Jordie! It’s time to go home!”

Cling-cling! -ringed the bell and we all went home. I woke up in bed and this time I was sure that my little friend was safely home as well.