The Night it all Began
It happened in what Rebecca called her mean season. She remembered the van and she remembered his face. She even remembered the cold feeling against her cheek as she was lying down in the back of the van, with her wrists cuffed together with plastic ties. She couldn’t tell you how she got there, or even the relief of seeing her sister, Bryony lying next to her.
Her head was aching. She felt the pain in her skull whenever she turned her head to the side. Woozy, yes that’s the word. She wanted to vomit. The van had come to a stop on uneven ground and she was terrified of what was going to happen next. She closed her eyes and passed out; just as well. The sound of sirens screaming through the immense darkness pierced her consciousness. This was a baptism of blood.
Then, a swirl of flashing lights illuminated the rear van windows and the doors were opened where several officers stood. Paramedics removed the two young girls and transferred them into the warmth of the ambulance standing by, she knew they were safe. Where was their mother?
Next thing she knew they were in the hospital, lying side-by-side with tubes sprouting from their arms. She opened her eyes to see two Detectives, a woman and man. Another man from child protective services joined the group along with a doctor.
The lady Detective spoke first, “Hi honey. Do you know where you are?” she squeezed her hand.
“It looks like a hospital, but I don’t remember how I got here.” She raised the hands to cradle her head that were now covered in bandages. “Oww. My head hurts.”
“Do you remember anything that might help us, about how you and your sister got here?” the male Detective quickly jumped in.
“Is my sister here?” Rebecca asked. “Where is she?”
They all nodded their heads towards Bryony’s bed to the side.
“Oh, okay, that’s good.” She started getting emotional as she looked at her sister, she was sleeping. Bryony was knocked out by either by the person that beat her on the head, as they had done to her, or by medication. She had to find out.
“Is she,” Rebecca started, “going to be okay?”
“Yes,” the doctor stated, “We have her on a sedative right now, but she’ll be fine after she gets a good night’s sleep.”
The doctor checked the pulse oximeter that was hooked to Rebecca’s finger and added, “and that’s what I want from you, a good night’s sleep.” He turned and looked at the Detectives and frowned. “If she doesn’t remember anything now, then she won’t be of any use to you till she rests.”
The senior Detective Brenda Loxley of the Boulder police department looked over to Detective Craig and sighed. “When can we have a talk with the two sisters?”
“Probably not till tomorrow, even then I’m not quite sure.” The junior detective looked at John Leggit, the child protective services representative with a silent question on his lips.
“Yes,” he finally spoke. “We’ll have to see.” Then he nodded over towards the door and they all stepped out of the room.
“Do you know about their mother? Their father?” Leggit asked the detectives.
“Unfortunately, their father Samuel died six years ago. We believe the mother Anna is the one we found partially buried, next to the cabin where we found the children. We’ll have to wait for DNA confirmation” Detective Loxley whispered, so as the girls wouldn’t hear.
“If that’s the case, child protective services will have to place the children in a group home until a foster family can be set up. Do you know of any next of kin?” Leggit asked.
“No,” Detective Craig said, “Not that we’ve found so far. Grandparents are deceased but we’re still looking for siblings or cousins.”
“Please save any of your questions for the girls until I have a chance to review their files. I also want to make sure there isn’t any lasting damage from their head injuries.” Leggit said. “Give me a couple days.”
Detective Loxley and Craig looked at each other, frowned and said good night to him and the doctor.
Rebecca had heard everything. She heard how her mother was dead and left by the side of her grave, and how they now needed a place to live. State run care, she shivered, would they even be spilt up? No! It was all too much for Rebecca to hear.
She waited until they were gone, and she pulled out the tubes from her arms. A beeping alarm started when she was disconnected, but since no one came, she ran. She had no idea where she was going but got all the way to the outer door where she collapsed, with her head throbbing, and crying. The doctor and security guard caught her and picked her up.
“I want my mother…I want my…” she gasped and unconscious, the security guard carried her back to her bed.
“I see I’ll have to give her a stronger sedative. Nurse!” The doctor called until a young nurse came running. The last thing Rebecca heard was, “It’s alright, sweetie. This will make you sleepy. There, there. You need to rest now.” She stuck her with a needle and Rebecca fell into a fitful sleep.
Rebecca Brooke Bentley jolted upright in her uncomfortable bed, having the sheets cling to her sweaty body. It was true, it wasn't just a nightmare...her mother had been found dead the day before. The first night after they found her mother murdered was when her nightmares began. Every morning after she would wake up, sweating profusely and genuinely terrified that she was going to be next.
Rebecca had told Bryony all that happened to them since they were found in the back of the van.
“Do you remember anything, Bryony?”
“No. I don’t remember a thing. To tell you the truth, I’m glad I don’t.” she answered, then she looked over at Rebecca and started to laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“You. With that turban on, it looks like that one time when you told mom you were going to color your hair,” she started.
“Yeah?” Rebecca growled at her.
“And then you bought that cheap black hair dye. You made a complete mess of the bathroom and tried to hide yourself under mom’s favorite beach towel. You look like that; what a scream!” Bryony started laughing so hard that Rebecca soon started to laugh, too.
“Well, what about you?”
“Me?” Bryony questioned.
“I remember a time when snuck out of the house, bought a couple ice creams. Then while eating them, Mom pulled into the driveway, and we ate them in record time. You got brain freeze.” Rebecca took a hard look at Bryony, she didn’t look well, she knew she had to change the subject. “How about a game of Botticelli, squirt?”
“Alright, I’ll go first. My first initial is H.”
“Are you an actor?” Rebecca said trying to sound upbeat.
“No, yes…I don’t know. I’m a fictional character, I guess…”
“Are you Han Solo?” Rebecca could tell her heart was not in it.
“No.” Bryony paused, “Rebecca?” she asked. “I don’t feel like playing anymore. I was Harry Potter, by the way.”
Bryony said with her eyes glazing over, starting to cry.
“Ohh, Bryony!” Rebecca said and grabbed her petite hand. She started to cry, too.
“Knock, knock.” Mr. Leggit was standing at the door. “I’d like to talk to you if it’s okay?”
The girls nodded their heads in unison.
“With your mom now gone, I was worried we’d have to place you in a foster home. I’ve looked through your files and it looks like we won’t have to.”
“Really?” Rebecca asked as her hopes shot through the ceiling.
“That’s right. It looks like you have an Uncle who lives right here in town, on the North part of Denver, in Commerce City.” He said all cheery.
“Oh,” Rebecca looked at Bryony. This was not good news.
“Robert Bentley. He was your father’s brother?” He asked.
“Yes. He is.” Rebecca frowned, “Is there no one else?”
“I’m afraid not. We have a couple foster homes open but only for singles, there aren’t any doubles open.” He sighed and continued typing into his laptop. “I’m going to make an appointment with our psychotherapist, you’ll need to talk with her about, things…” his voice trailed off.
Just the thought of living with her uncle made her shiver. Uncle Bob was their father's brother, but neither of their parents had encouraged visits with him. Their dad, Samuel, and his brother Bob were polar-opposites. While Sam attended University and earned his diploma, Bob was involved in petty theft and crime. And just like every other subject, the brothers didn’t agree on how to raise children. The girls gave Bob the nickname ‘Uncle Derriere’, the name that says how they felt about him while keeping a bit of style. Rebecca remembered the last time she saw Uncle Derriere and the way he looked at them with disgust and even hatred. But if the girls, now 14 and 11-years old, wanted to stay together, they would have to find a way to make this work with Uncle Derriere for the next four years.
“We don’t want to be separated.” Rebecca began, “All I want are my books and my sister. It doesn’t matter where you put us, as long as we’re together.”
“That’s right. Together.” Bryony chimed in as she gave him a salute.
Uncle Derriere brought the girls to his house and immediately stated. “First things first,” he said, “I don’t want any vermin in my house.” He then removed the little blonde hamster from his little cage and without emotion, threw it with full force against the wall. His little body made a cracking sound as blood came come his tiny head and bounced to the ground.
“Nooooo! Copenhagen! You murderer.” Rebecca yelled at her uncle. Bryony started crying.
Uncle Derriere didn’t seem fazed. “You girls can clean that up before you make dinner tonight.” He knew already, that killing Copenhagen would set the tone and keep the girls in line.
Rebecca and Bryony stood there with their mouths open in shock. Then Rebecca put her arms around Bryony, closed her eyes and walked her to their room, crying all the way.
“Good, go to your room. More dinner for me, anyway.” He burped as he wiped his chin with his sleeve.
Several weeks came and went before the detectives rang the doorbell, Bryony answered and let them inside. They quietly asked if Uncle Bob was available to privately speak with them. Sitting in the front room, Rebecca put down her book and told the detectives that it was only the two of them. Detective Craig looked at them with a mix of exasperation and awkwardness.
“This is ridiculous,” Detective Craig whispered over his shoulder to the senior Detective Brenda Loxley, “We can't just discuss this with the two of them, we need an adult here.”
“Have you seen the psychotherapist yet, sweetie?” Detective Loxley bent down.
“Yes, we have.” Rebecca answered carefully, but they at least seem interested.
“Calm down, Craig. You're scaring the kids.” She took a few steps back and spoke in almost a whisper, “They're scared and now it looks like the worst has happened, we will have to tell this, what was his name? Uncle…?” She looked to Rebecca.
“We call him, umm… he's...” her voice trailed off. “His real name is Bob. Here's his number. We’re only supposed to call him in an emergency.” Rebecca handed Detective Craig the number.
Rebecca knew this day would come. She knew it was only a matter of time before she heard details of her mother’s death. She’d been using the school’s library and the wide variety of books to distract herself. Now it looked like the day had come for her time face the truth of reality.
She knew that Uncle Derriere had taken the girls in, and understood it was only out of spite. Bob hated his brother and now would have a sick kind of revenge. Raising Samuel’s girls was a perverse way to get even letting the girls run wild, without supervision or rules of any kind, Bob would have the last laugh. Besides, Anna had left their house to Rebecca which he could rent and take the income for their “living expenses”. That was another big ‘win’ for him.
It had been fourteen days since Bob killed Copenhagen and they hadn’t seen him since. So here they were, in Bob’s run-down shack of a house, without clean clothes, or even food. They couldn’t tell the detectives for fear of being split up. Luckily, Bob decided to come home while the detectives happened to be there.
“Yeah?” he grunted. “what do you want?” he said as he scratched his exposed belly.
Detective Loxley spoke first, “Do you mind if we have the girls leave the living area, so we can talk? Perhaps they could go to their bedroom?”
Rebecca and Bryony both refused, claiming that they had a right to be there, after all, this was about their mother. Finally, the girls left the room, but stopped around the corner so they could listen.
“Okay, so they’re gone; what didn’t you want them to hear?” Uncle Bob remarked.
Detective Craig cleared his voice and said, “As you know, we have been relentless in our pursuit of the man responsible for your sister-in-law Anna’s murder. Today, we captured and arrested the man we believe to be responsible. He's also wanted on a couple of other murders, but he left some evidence in Anna's case that was just back from forensics this morning.”
“Oh.” Uncle Bob didn’t care one way or the other, he just didn’t know what to say.
“Do you have any questions?” Craig asked, trying to get a feel for the man but it was useless.
“No, not really.” He answered back.
“How can you not want to know the details?” Rebecca said as she came around the corner with fury in her eyes. “You really have him in custody?” Rebecca said trembling. “I can't believe it. Oh, Bryony! They have him in custody.” As both girls hugged, Rebecca and Bryony started to cry.
“I thought you’d want to know that his trial is set for the end of March. You’re not expected or encouraged to attend. It can be a very difficult to sit through, even for adults.” Detective Loxley said to the girls.
“What makes you think we wouldn't come to his trial? It seems to me if you've made an arrest, then naturally you think he's guilty. Exactly what evidence is there? Direct or circumstantial? And what about Forensics? Were there fingerprints, hair?” Bryony grilled the detectives.
“It’s mostly forensics.” Surprised by the questions from such a young girl, Loxley replied.
“Does he have an alibi?”
The two Detectives looked at each other and frowned. “He does, but it isn’t rock solid.”
“That doesn't change anything. Maybe your uncle will be willing to attend the trial to keep you informed of how it goes.” Craig said.
“What?!” Rebecca said standing tall, “I'll be at that man's trial everyday...every second!”
“Me, too!” Bryony chimed in.
“Why would you want to go to that man's trial?” Uncle Derriere said, “No, you won’t be going to the trial! Do you hear me?”
“What-?” Rebecca started...
“Your Uncle's probably right,” Detective Loxley said, “There's going to be evidence given at the trial that you don't want to see or hear. There's also going to be pictures of your mother, not pictures that I would want my kids to see...”
“I don't care about that; all I care about is seeing that man's face and looking him square in the eyes. I want to see him squirm; do you hear me? He has no idea the consequences he has brought down and made of my life, and my sister's, it’s a living hell! What is this man's name?”
“Rebecca,” Detective Craig started, “I don't see where this is going. Your Uncle has already said...”
“Do you think I give a fig what Uncle Derriere wants?” She stopped and wished she could take that back. He had never heard their name for him, and now she could see him swell and his nostrils flair, waiting for the Detectives to leave.
Detective Craig tried to fill the void before Bob tried to fill it himself. “His name is Jago Argyll. He's a con man who thinks he's smarter than the police. He's a self-obsessed psychopath who’s been living off the grid. That's what made him so hard to track down. We caught him in a little shack in the mountains. It was near where we found your mother.”
“We'll be going now, if you need anything you have our numbers.” Craig said as he tipped his hat.
“Thank you so much for telling us in person.” Uncle Derriere could barely be heard as he walked the two Detectives out the door. He turned suddenly, and slapped Rebecca across the face. He turned with his hand raised to slap Bryony when Rebecca flew at his arm to stop him.
“No!! I'll take it twice even three times, only don't you hit her, do you hear me? If you ever hit Bryony, I will kill you!” Rebecca stood there, breathing hard. Uncle Derriere looked her in the eye and moaned, “Oh, she's not worth it anyway.” Then he turned back and said, “And if you think your life was hell before, you ain't seen nothin yet!”
Uncle Derriere's expression was not taken lightly, he meant every word. He had the girls scrubbing Copenhagen’s blood off the wall and floor. Every day scrubbing the floors again. He would find crazy chores like changing light bulbs that hadn’t even burned out. He just enjoyed watching them struggle. He wanted them to suffer.
A few weeks later, Rebecca and Bryony were in the library, a place where they felt safe. They spent loads of time there, sifting through books. She’d found a book on Lucid Dreaming. It caught her attention and interest. It was slow, like a light flickering candle suddenly burning like a torch. What was it and could it be what she needed to help her cope with her current life? She looked for other books on the subject but only found one more. She took them both up to the book check-out and got them both. Bryony checked out a murder mystery book and they both walked back to Uncle Derriere’s.
Lucid dreams, she found out, is the act of waking up in your dreams, and from there you have control over what you dream. She read the manual and now had the keys to a car that before, had simply drifted along a never-ending maze. That meandering ride just turned into a vehicle that you now had complete control over in a place without the rules that govern real life. Physics were no longer an option. It’s your choice what your dreams mean. You control them instead of letting them control you. ‘Could I fly? I mean, could I?’ she thought. Rebecca devoured the material in the books, and she was ready to try lucid dreaming for herself.
Rebecca and Bryony told each other good night, and if possible, they would wake in their dreams and keep each other company so they wouldn't have to be fearful of the future. But the next morning they both woke, and tearfully told each other that it hadn’t worked.
After finding a letter addressed to Uncle Derriere from the court, the girls decided to go to the trial. They weren’t going to let Derriere or anyone stop them. They skipped school and walked to the first day of the trail.
“Bryony,” Rebecca said, “I'm having second thoughts, I’m not sure if you should go. The detectives are probably right. If there are going to be pictures of Mom, after what this guy Argyll did to her, I don’t think you should go.
“What?!” Bryony said turning toe to toe to her older sister, “of course I'm going! We were going to stand up to this man.”
“What if you have nightmares? You've never seen stuff like how mom looked after he was done with her.”
“You haven't seen pictures like that either; besides...”
“I'm not the one with nightmares, sister.” Bryony stood up trying to make her petite frame one inch taller. “Anyway, I can leave when they're about to show pictures. Okay?”
Rebecca grabbed her sister's hands and said, “Okay, but that's the point when you leave, alright?”
“I knew I could get you.” She smiled and said, “Game of Botticelli. My first initial is S.”
Rebecca touched Bryony's nose gently, “I hope to God I'm doing the right thing. Let me see, are you a celebrity?”
They showed the bailiff Uncle Derriere’s letter that they’d intercepted which included a court pass in Derriere’s name. They found seats right behind Argyll. They could smell him, like steam coming off a train. Only once, did he look at them and they stared right back. They wanted him to know who they were; he seemed to know already.
“Rebecca.” He whispered silently with soulless eyes. She shivered. He reminded her of a shark.
All around them sat dozens of reporters and writers who hoped to get the inside story of Jago Argyll. Rebecca looked at the frenzy in their eyes.
“These people are sick.” Then she saw a very plain, ordinary lady with a press pass around her neck. She couldn’t read what paper she was from; she looked anxious.
After opening statements, the trial began with a series of before and after pictures of four women. Three of which had been carved up and the fourth was their mother. She was lying partway in a grave with a cross on her chest. The cross that she never took off.
Rebecca could feel the life drain from her body. She took her sister’s hand which was ice cold. Bryony ran out of the courtroom with Rebecca following, trying hard to catch her.
“Bryony!” Rebecca called out, “Wait! Stop.” As tears started to run down Bryony’s face, Rebecca knew she’d messed up, badly. She caught up to her and took her by the shoulders.
“Why?” Bryony was choked up, “Why did you let me go in there? That picture of Mom, I can’t stop seeing it! That was a picture of death.” Bryony was heaving that turned into wailing. “You made it seem like it was a game; it wasn't a game Rebecca. I hate you! I hate you!!”
Bryony pulled her hands away and turned running into the street.
She never even saw the car that hit her, but Rebecca will never forget what happened. Her world had turned into a meticulous slow-motion slide show. Rebecca saw her face, distorted and red from crying, saw her hair as it whipped round her as she slowly stepped into the street. Full action now, as the car hit her body with a loud thump, and she could hear her mother's cry.
Rebecca didn't even know how she got to the hospital; she just knew that she was going to stay at Bryony's side until she woke up.
Three days later, Bryony died without ever waking up, and Rebecca spent the next three years in a daze.
Before she knew it, time marked three and a half years when it was time for her to go to the university. Her beatings had come with remarkable regularity as Uncle Derriere tried all he could think of to keep her out of the school. He knew it was futile. For the first time he recognized his long-deceased brother, his drive and ambition. She was just like her father so Bob knew she would go, and he hated her for it. Good riddance! But in the end the goodbye felt like a weight had been lifted off his chest.
The goodbyes meant so much more for Rebecca; it meant she would never have to go back to that house again. Since her mother had left Rebecca their house, on her 18th birthday, she could now get the money from the rent or even sell it and have enough money to go to the University of Colorado in Boulder, her father’s alum.
She would also continue her lucid dreams. She’d stopped lucid dreaming for a while because every time she tried to finish a dream; she would wake in terror at what had happened to Bryony. She had put the dreams in a box and wouldn't dare dream again until now. Rebecca was having a lot of trouble dreaming and kept failing at controlling them. She needed more practice to lucid dream.
Until she started reading about the human brain and all the things that had been learned about the lucid state. Finally, after years of trying she succeeded!
Her lucidity came one murky night, (she had learned that her room was best kept in total darkness, with earplugs) when she woke in her dream. She asked, “Am I dreaming?” And she looked as her hands and counted her fingers. Three! Yes, I’m dreaming! Now what?” She was so excited that she woke, exasperated.
She talked to Dr. Janet Wu, her psychotherapist about this. “I’m so frustrated.”
“Have you considered what I suggested?” Dr. Wu tapped the back of her clipboard.
“How it would be a release for me to make jokes about my life?” Rebecca bit her lip. “I really don’t understand how that would help.”
“Yes. Well, the mind is a complicated organ and needs distractions and a path for you to follow. You said you enjoyed going to the comedy club to watch on amateur night; why don’t you give that a try?
“Because I don’t think I would be funny. My life’s not funny, in fact it’s been full of tragedy.”
“I’ve often found that the greatest comedy comes from tragedy; try it, you might like it.”
“Maybe. You’ve never steered me wrong, yet. Perhaps I will try.”
How could she make her lucid dreams last longer? The school library, a beautiful old brick building that was the University's jewel. Signing into one of the school’s computers she looked up the website, 'Dreamlanz' to find out more about how she could make her lucid dreams last longer. She scribbled down the information she needed and floated back to her dorm room saying all the while, 'I'm singing, I'm rubbing my hands together, I'm running my fingers through my hair...” Knowing that these three things, and more over even saying them out loud, would let her extend her lucid dream longer.
That night, I dreamt a lucid dream. A real lucid dream where I was able to suppress my excitement and continue. I looked around and I recognized a pine filled city dotted with many kinds of trees, some I did not recognize. There were Beeches and Birch, even Black Cherry; trees which had once served as landmarks. Bushes were filled with purple and white lilac, cascading hedgerows making a tunnel as I passed in awe beneath. I remember them from my childhood from my mother’s backyard garden. As the scent filled my lungs, the memory was almost painful, but I breathed deeply because I wanted to remember.
The weather was ideal, and I saw the groups of people milling around the streets, young people full of life, people that made me want to join them. I recognized it at once, it was Denver as I remembered it from when I was very young, and my mother and Bryony were alive. The air was so sweet as I filled my lungs again. I got a salty smell I didn’t recognize, and I was in a place I had never seen,
An ocean? South of the city Denver had an ocean that was calm and had a huge carousel boat docked to the shore. Kids were laughing and having fun and I walked up to the huge ship and asked if I could come aboard. The person working the admission gate looked straight at me, but did not have a face, he nodded for me to board. Kids were on Zorb balls, human hamster ride for children and adults, and giant elastic ropes, bungee style bouncing up and down. People flying in vertical wind tubes without parachutes, only this one didn’t have a ceiling and men and women floated up and away. I wanted to fly, too! I got on the uniform that gave me wings like a flying squirrel and goggles and went into the chamber. I laid down and slowly started to rise. As I got higher, I started to sing as I knew this would give me more time in my dream. This was total joy!
Soon I came down again, the ride was over, and I thought, ‘I want to fly again, but really fly! I want to fly up and away like the others.’
“Excuse me?” I shouted out to the man running the ride. He turned towards me; his face was dead grey without any features.
Startled, I gasped. I'm going to do it again, soon.
I started to sing as I walked around the ship and found that my dream voice was much more melodic than I could have believed. I envisioned a breeze. A light breeze carried the smell of the pine and the ocean acting as a drug that made me feel light as air, and the happiest I’d been in a very long time, I was in Heaven. I could hear the seagulls cry and the thunder rumbling on the horizon. I knew that there would be no storm, not even the Gods would be able to intrude into my paradise.
No waves butted up against the side of the ship, the water lay still as glass and I could see to the horizon. This was a dream ocean and there was nothing to create a tide. Over beyond, I could see a man waterskiing on top of the glass, with the boat driven by a bear wearing a fedora hat. Strange.
I looked over the rail of the ship and I saw a smaller boat anchored to the side with flying monkeys serving as the crew. I yelled to them that I wanted to come on board, but I was afraid of falling as there were no steps available. The head monkey yelled back, “Float if you want to come aboard!” Weird, again. I mean, flying monkeys that could talk.
So, I stepped off the rail of the large ship and the monkey was right. I floated down and came to a stop onboard the cute vessel. Then the head monkey, I guess you could call him the Captain, called for the sails to be unfurled. The flying monkey used his wings to go to the top of the sail where he swiftly untied the kite, and we started to rise. Up we went sailing around the cape with Denver in sight.
It was the city but when we got to a high point, I could see it was also an island. I was so pleased I could cry. Me, floating in a ship manned by flying monkeys with Red Rocks amphitheater in the distance. Awesome!
Then the Captain monkey cried out, “Do you want to land at Red Rocks? Or do you want to continue on?”
I looked longingly at Red Rocks, and asked, “Can we just float around it? Maybe get a little closer, then we move on…”
“Message received.” He said with a salute. Then he gave the instructions to the crew and they steered the ship until Red Rocks was underneath us. There was a performer, but he had no face and the music he played was a lullaby from my youth. I asked the Captain if I could steer the ship; he frowned, but only for a second, he happily gave me his cap. I yelled so that the crew could hear me, “We’re going to go into the mountain range over yonder!” and I pointed in the direction I wanted to go. The flying monkeys seemed to understand perfectly, and the ship sailed the proper direction.
I was busy looking at the houses, or rather mansions that dotted the landscape as the hills made way to the mountains beyond. The views were breathtaking! Besides the houses all the way up the mountain, there was a river flowing fast over rocks and up the waterfall that descended from the top of the mountain, seemingly from inside a magic fountain.
There were little mansions up the side of the mountain, and they continued up far as I could see into the clouds. There was a waterfall gently flowing up the side of the mountain with bushes of green and blue down by the riverside, it was all making me dizzy. I yelled at the crew to let me off at the base of the hills and they complied to my command. As we floated down, I gave the former Captain his cap back, and I stood up straight to salute him. He smiled a grin so wide and began to dance to show his pleasure. We landed, and I got out of the ship and it took off once more. I waved at the crew and they smiled back.
I wanted to explore the village that I didn’t recognize. I walked a few steps until I came to the river. The sound and smell of the river pounded into my head and made me feel grounded. I bent over the running stream and dipped my hands into the cold, frigid water.
“Yes,” I thought, “this is so right.” As the water ran over my hands, I thought about the people who lived here, what could they possibly do? I walked up to one of the mansions I saw, and I called out, “Is anybody here?” There was no answer. Then, a little old lady called out to me.
“Come in, have some tea with me.” She said.
“That would be nice.” I replied, “should I cross this brook?”
“Yes,” she said, “you won’t trip or fall in the water.” She said knowing my thoughts exactly.
“Okay.” I said walking over the river with nothing standing in my way. I walked over the boulders and running stream. Marvelous! “Your house is overwhelming, have you lived here long?”
“Only as long as you have thought of me.” She said succinctly, never mind that I’d never thought of this before. My dreams; my head…I realized that this was created in my brain.
“Oh. Sorry.” I replied. “I forgot. My head is like a minefield; I’ve only just begun to find out where I can go, and where I can’t.”
“That’s alright, dear.” She sat on a pillowed outdoor couch patting for me to sit down and join her. She started to pour herbal tea into fine bone teacups with rose adornments. I sat down onto the most comfortable seat of my life and picked up the cup. It tasted of manna and was just the right temperature.
“Mmmm.” I mumbled. “Delicious tea. I want to drink it when I return.”
“That won’t be possible.” She said looking down into her lap. “Anything you eat, or drink is only in your mind. You won’t be able to repeat it in your other life.”
I looked around at the beautiful surroundings, and it all seemed to be so clean and perfect, nothing like real life at all. Then I realized what she was saying; you can go home again, but it won’t be exactly like the first time, things will have changed. In my mind I want things to be clean and perfect, because I’m afraid of how things really are. Dirty, smelly and tiresome. The lady seemed to read my mind, because she was of my mind.
“You do?” she smiled at me. “Then you also know that you are welcome to come back here, anytime.”
“I would love that.” I whispered. “I would love to come back here. It seems like a wonderful place to come, but later. You understand?”
“I do.” She said, but I was curious.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I am you. About 60 years from now.”
“What?” I almost choked on my tea. “You’re me?”
“I thought you knew that.” She said brightly. “Every so often you will run into yourself here in dreamland. Sometimes you will be older, sometimes you will be younger. You should know that, Poppet.” She sipped on more tea.
“Why did you call me, ‘Poppet?’” I felt familiar about the term. I knew it from before.
“Someone you used to know called you ‘Poppet’. I used it because you liked it. Don’t you?”
“I’m not sure. Who used to call me that?”
“You will remember, when you’re ready.” She patted my hands. I felt a warm tingle when she touched me.
“I have to leave.” I said as I looked around at the Beata Vida, and I felt the bliss. “I will come back.”
“I know.” She said. She got up and retreated inside. I watched her knowing so much more about myself.
I was feeling adventurous, I went up the mountain to a trail sided with monstrous 40-foot tall bushes that I didn’t recognize, mingling on either side crawling up the steep hill. Roots grew gnarly like skeleton hands pouncing on one another. What started as a wide swath beneath my feet turning into a narrow, rocky path.
There was snow at the peaks, but I didn’t feel a chill. I had decided that there was something for me at the end of the trail, but it seemed endless. The dream was over. I woke without finding what was at the end of the trail. I laid here because I wanted the dream to last, it had been so astonishing to be in the city I never thought I would; looking for mom and Bryony.
Even more than that, I had the elusive dream, lucid dream where I had control. A dream where fantasy became real in my mind, and I laid there for a whole extra 10 minutes feeling rapture. I realized that my life had been gray, black and white, but now there was whole slice of life that was in brilliant, vivid color. I jumped up and started writing all of it in my journal.