When I was a small child, I would have a recurring dream where a large lizard from an old commercial I once saw on an old tape would hide out in the laundry room next to my room and try to kill me if I attempted to run upstairs to relative safety. Back then, there wasn’t a bathroom in the laundry room- although I’m not sure if one toilet and a sink in the corner counts- and I wasn’t allowed to go into the room with the furnace, which has a garage access door. I was trapped, and with every boom that coincided with my heartbeat, the gaping inky void of the open laundry room doorway would widen and widen until the lizard would peer its slimy head out and see me cowering in fear and pounce. It didn’t matter how fast I tried to run away or how much I attempted to phase through a wall or fight back. The dream always ended in me being killed. A few years later, when I’d grown a bit, I eventually learned how to befriend the lizard and escape upstairs without being mauled, but by then, the dreams had morphed into other people chasing me as I tried to fly away.
Run, Eponine, run! A bound over the apple tree that used to grow in my backyard until it grew diseased and a whole slew of the neighbors came to take it down. Don’t let your father capture and dismember and murder you!
I could never get the hang of flying. Just like a flying fish. Just bounds and leaps far beyond what a normal human could ever achieve, sometimes lengthened by a flutter of the wings.
But then again, I’m a Miralayan, not an angel.
The dream came back last night, except this time, I was trapped inside of the sleeping quarters on Miralay that I never stepped in but saw over the security cameras the rebels liked to peek into and watch, sometimes for intel gathering, sometimes for kicks. And- and I was in love with Liv- every time I would look at her, I would get a fuzzy feeling deep in my chest, like I wanted nothing more than to curl up beside her and sleep safe in her arms until the end of eternity. She was utterly infatuated with me and I with her and she would stroke my cheek and invite me to lay beside her on the large bed and didn’t hate me at all.
I wanted to be her lover. I wanted to build a family with her.
It was if I’d never rejected Providence-hood that day in front of that blasted crowd.
But then the heartbeat rhythm that always precluded my assailant started booming, and I remembered- it was a dream. It was always a dream. I ran to the door and discovered that there was no doorknob and started punching, desperate to make one- and then Amelia phased through the door, and Liv turned to stone, and I was helpless as Amelia morphed into some Medusa-wannabe.Her mouth was an encroaching abyss, utterly empty, not really a mouth at all. She reached her long spindly black fingers towards me with the wildest look in her eyes-
And then I woke up. Simple as that, but at the time, I was sitting shock-straight in bed with sweat rolling down my face, ready to crumple up into a paper ball and start bawling to my parents. I didn’t, though. I pulled out a flashlight and a romance book from my nightstand and started to read.
All the characters were either faceless or facsimiles of me and Liv. I made sure to carefully close the book before tossing it onto the floor, banishing it from my sight, before grabbing a high fantasy one instead. Nothing that could even remotely relate to me and Liv in there, right?
The queen had red hair. Long red wavy hair. Lots of self-centered protagonistic morality and not a single inch of elbow room for flaws of any kind. That book was also banished to the floor. A nice little sci-fi book soon found a home in my hands, the flexible flashlight uncomfortably wedged into the crack between the headboard of my bed and the wall. Bashing aliens left and right and preserving humanity from an invasion of their planet. The classics. The aliens ended up inadvertently killing themselves in the end.
Maybe I was wrong about that book being safe.
What if Liv’s murder was what it took to bog down Gerwis and friends long enough to ensure we got at least somewhat of a lead?
What if Liv died for me?
I’m actually somewhat glad Sully wasn’t in the house. She found a place in the home of one of my mom’s friends, just a few blocks over and closer to another one of the gateways into Heavestone, one that’ll be better for her if she’s trying to catch the lightrail. I might’ve woken her up otherwise, might have ruined her own sleep. I wouldn’t want to do that.
It’s about noon now. Lunch will probably be ready in a few minutes, and then maybe I’ll go and see Sully and what she’s been up to. Or Mom will keep me in the house under her watchful eye, scared that if she loses sight of me for even as much as a second that I’ll be whisked away to Miralay again.