What's Reality Compared to Me?

(December 1, 2007; it's not autobiographical.)
Comment on this story | View comments

She woke to the sound of sirens wailing outside of her room. Their high-frequency voices rose sharp and clear, swelling into barbed harmonies that severed her connection to the technicolour landscape of Dream. Her blankets were drawn back by a pair of tiny faeries, delicately constructed like hummingbirds with their motion-soft wings and pearlescent black eyes; they tucked the edges of the fleece around her legs, then vanished into the cupped hands of Morpheus as she swatted blindly at the sun.

The dream-image of the Oneiroi Phobetor, into whose leopard pelt she'd traced symbols she understood with intimate familiarity as they walked together along the Euphrates, drained out of her memory to leave vague and sand-caked impressions in its place. Wiping the sleep from her eyes, she rolled sideways and sat up, pressing her feet to the floor before sending her toes in search of her slippers. They skittered out from under the bed on legs of matted dust and cat fur, glancing up to ensure that she was looking elsewhere before flopping down just where she'd left them. She smiled in satisfaction, then bent backward in a stretch that buried her flickering spectral wings and trailing gossamer wires in the sheets. When she stood, they stayed behind; the dress she put on hung slack across her shoulders.

In the bathroom, she splashed cold water on her face in the hope of widening her tired eyes. The Undines giggled as they wrestled each other in circles around the sink, their sea-foam voices lost in the rushing of the house's aging faucets. She cursed as she dropped a contact lens into their midst, but the water spirits deposited it safely at the high-water mark before fleeing down the drain, waving as they went. As she blinked the lenses into place, a thousand dancing spirits resolved into the stream she had expected to see. The pipes groaned as she left.

She wandered into the kitchen and reached into the cupboard above the sink without looking, groping around for anything that might cure her hunger. A tiny bearded Irishman in a bright green suit pushed the box of Lucky Charms into her hand with a distinctly ironic grin, then turned to the multicoloured avatar of Rabbit who had draped herself over the Trix with obvious satisfaction. ("Better luck tomorrow!" he whispered, causing her to lapse into lagomorphic sulkiness. Snap and Crackle looked sympathetic, but Pop was unmoved, having long ago accepted the blandless of his elvish offering.) She poured a bowl of cereal and perched on the counter as she ate, keeping an eye on the microwave's glowing clock. The electrons inside spun and dove in a subatomic bid for her attention, but she had no more time for leptons than she had for leprechauns.

Duly dressed, fed, and watered, she traded her slippers for high heels and exited the house. The gargoyles perched atop the church next door nodded their acknowledgement, their stone flesh cracking slightly as they turned to guard their neighbour's home in addition to their own. She walked down her front steps and was about to hail a taxi when she noticed a child playing across the street. He rolled around in the dirt with a pair of action figures, laughing to himself. She caught scraps of his internal monologue made external, happy discussions of monsters and spirits and dreams. A dozen Sylphs perched in the trees above him, clapping their approval in time with his heartbeat. She smiled wistfully, allowing herself the first real thought of her day:

"Isn't he lucky, seeing magic everywhere! If only that innocence lasted forever..."