A Game of Lives
~Words of a forgotten time, guide~the guide to tearing of two hearts~Endgame~A gift of crystal~leaving in the gray mist~
I remember distinctly uttering the words, "I don't know what I am doing," as I wandered the castle one beautiful morning. The staff and dreams went out of their way to avoid me, particularly more than usual. I wandered the halls-despite the danger. I wasn't really afraid at all.
I paused in front of one door, with a large leather sign nailed to it. The sign read, in gilt letters, 'Library of Dreams, Lucien, Head Librarian." I opened the door cautiously, with just a tiny creek. I stepped inside, eyes to the ceiling. The book shelves soared high into the sky, housing far more books than any mortal shelf ever would. I felt like I was in heaven.
"Hello, ma'am. Please shut the door before any books escape." a very british voice said, in a eloquently dry manner. I obediently did so.
"Thank you. Welcome to the library of dreams. I'm Lucien."
"The Head Librarian." I quantified.
"Yes. Can I help you find a book? A good fantasy, perhaps?"
"Hah. I'm already living in a fantasy." I muttered, humorously.
"I'm sorry to hear you feel that way. Shall I leave you to explore on your own?"
As much I would have enjoyed to get lost in a pile of those books, I was more looking for human, or at least living contact.
"No...I think I'll probably need your help. Could you show me around?"
"Certainly." he said, again in that dry british tone, which sounded like the echo of dreams you have when you fall asleep watching old british comedies. And he made a motion to leave the entranceway, and I followed him as he explained each section of the library and what it's purpose was, and where he got the books.
"This section," he said with a sweep of his hand, "is the section for novels never written, except in dreams." I scanned the titles, rabidly. Hundreds of thousands of authors I had read, and authors I had always meant to read lay at my fingertips, but there was one question bursting free.
"Is my novel here?"
He pushed his little glasses higher up onto his nose. "Certainly, madame." he said, and with one swift flicker of his hand, he pulled it off the shelf and handed it to me. It was slim and slender, with a beautiful leather green binding and letters of gilt silver on the cover. "The Midnight Oil." I traced with my fingers, and ruffled through the pages.
"It's a shame you never published it. I get many authors in here, many famous ones. And often the books left here are strange and disjointed to read, but many times I come across an author who has the ability to keep even a dream story clear and coherent."
"This was a long time ago," I said. And it would probably be my only legacy, in three years' time. I didn't look forward to that at all. I was running out of time, and at this rate, I would never get an extension, from either Morpheus or the Three Ladies.
'And she said to him, her loveless husband, "Was that all I was to you? A pair of spread legs?"'-I remembered writing that, but the words echoed now in my soul like they never had before. Was that really all I was? His words echoed in my mind, like a ghost from a time before. He had wanted to win the game.
"I have to go." I said suddenly, and closed the book and handed it to him. He took it from me, but looked confused.
"Certainly..." he said, as I walked out of the library. It was time to do something about this situation.
I practiced my arguments in my head. I thought of a hundred different solutions, a hundred different distinct possibilities. Maybe I would stay on here as a Librarian. Maybe I would leave, maybe he would be sorry, maybe we would get back together...
No. None of those would work. There was only one way to win.
I felt the smooth paneling of the door twice with my knuckles before rapping on the door to the throne room. The door glided open underneath my hand as if it had been open all along. I knew what I wanted. I wanted to make him hurt. The feeling had been suppressed in me so long, but now it was back and it coursed through my veins.
"Dream?" I asked, in the empty throne room. The throne sat on the end of wall, instead of on stairs, like before. I walked up to it and he appeared. He looked-I don't know. A mixture of confused, perhaps, and angry, and maybe even a little worried. The sight of him made my body tense, and I dropped my head, and allowed my hair to drop in front of my face.
"Don't even say anything-until I've finished." I growled, and felt a course of adrenaline rush through me, making my body quiver, just a bit. He opened his mouth, but then shut it, and I swear, upon looking back, I might have quirked the corner of my mouth at this. Oh, it was going to be so good. I could control my feelings...
"I should have known better. From the beginning, I should have known better. Every little girl in Greece was always warned about this. Beware the gods, girls, they play their own games and anyone can become swooped up in one and then tossed aside."
"I knew all about it. But, I ignored it, I thought this was different. That this would be something special, we had built, I don't know, a foundation. I was wrong." I paused, for dramatic effect, and savored the moment. I felt like I had his heart in my teeth and I was slowly tearing it up.
"I was wrong. Because, I guess when you have eternity, you can afford to spend a few months on your one night stands." The words came out bitter and spiteful, and I began to loose control of myself. I shook and began to cry slightly. Was I just acting? It was all leaving me, everything that had been bottled up when we had sex and he disappeared...
He stood up and opened his mouth to speak, and I screamed. "NO! You don't have the right to speak right now, dammit! It's my turn. Was that all I was? Was sex for you? A challenge to conquer? Did you think it was funny, that you could manipulate my heart as easily as you could my dreams?" And from somewhere outside, I could hear the crackle and thunder of lightning.
I laughed, the desperate, tear-stricken laugh that comes when you can barely grasp enough air to speak. It was all too easy. It was the endgame, checkmate me. All in the next move, and it was so funny, so funny. I won, not he-it was his fault he lost. Not any of mine. And he had left that path so open to play.
"Ooh, Morpheus. It's too funny, really it is. You thought you could beat me in this game and you can't. Because you thought you could win by making me feel used. It was the plan all along for you wasn't it? It's just to bad I got there first."
"You thought two couldn't play at that game, that a girl could never have aspirations of a challenge like that? That a witch couldn't brag to her fellows about having the dream lord in her snare for a night? I wonder." The tears stopped, and so did the shaking. I was in control again, just a touch.
I laughed a little, a gentle laugh that I had for my victims, that made them feel small. "It was my fault. I let the game go on to long. But I did a good job at it, didn't I? You really did believe that I loved you. So, you always were better at these than me. But in the end, dream-lord, who won?" I wasn't even really looking at him as I dealt the final blow. It didn't matter if he knew the words were a lie or not. They were there and couldn't be taken back.
He sat down in his throne slowly and I slunk out. The tears came back, at the thought of him, sitting there, so desperately wishing I hadn't said those things. That they could be taken back, that he could apologize for what he had done. But that was the genius of it, he had no where to move.
And I couldn't tell if I felt good or bad about it in the end.
I ran back to my rooms, but the hallways were stark empty. As if the thunder and lightning had warned the dreams that this was no time to be out. And they were right, it wasn't. As I ran, I sniffed back the mucus that drips after a long cry, and I felt the crystal pendent swing gently around my neck.
I opened the door with a wide swing, and I noticed it was pitch black, except for the gentle reflection of a fairy's eyes from the light from the hall. She walked up to me quickly, and clasped my hand.
"Thank goodness you're back! It's no time for anyone to be out when he's in one of his moods!" I laughed and held her hand, and then maybe she noticed my red eyes and tear streaked cheeks.
"I know, Nuala. I have to leave." She put her hand to her mouth and looked a bit shocked. I gathered my things really quickly, whatever I had brought, or perhaps, wanted to keep. I shoved them in my pack as quickly as possibly while Nuala protested.
"What's going on? Has something happened?" she said, behind me. I took her hand once more.
"I won the game." I said, and then looked at her again. "Listen to me. I know all about you, and I just want you to promise me something. Keep yourself safe, and watch out for him. He's not as invincible as he thinks he is. "
"What...I...Watch out for who?"She said, not as confused as she was pretending to be. I chuckled.
"You know damn well who I'm talking about." I said, and unclasped the pendent. "Here, take this. It'll help remind you." I said, and put it in her hand. I took my backpack, and then I walked out of there, leaving the fairy in the dark.
I made a beeline for the door, alone. I said good-bye to Lucien, and thanked him for the tour, and then I walked out the big double doors, out from underneath the guardians, into the rain and the mists and the thunder and lightning.
I turned, only once. I was swept with the desire to run back in, to tell him I hadn't meant it. But just as when I was in the throne room, I couldn't have taken it back for the world. And after a bit, I turned and I left. Into my future.
Onwards to the Epilogue