It didn’t take me long at all to fall asleep; the bed was comfortable and I’d spent well beyond my energy stores for the day. Before I knew it, I was in dream-land, and thankfully there we no owls this time. I remember being in a clear, bright lake a the base of a waterfall, with crystalline lily pads floating around me. After that, I rode Sleipnir through an enchanted wood; it was lush and mossy and blanketed in flowers of all sorts.
The eight-legged horse took me to a tower-like castle. Its gray stones were so pale as to practically be white, and the gates were like silver. Sleipnir made sure I passed safely into the castle before galloping off on another adventure of his own, and I was greeted by family and castle staff alike. It was tea time, oddly enough, so we headed into one of the studies for tea and snacks.
My brothers were there, already munching on madeleines and crumpets. I settled into the deepest, tallest armchair I could find, close to the fireplace and upholstered in sapphire velvet. It took me a minute, but I soon realized that I was halfway sitting on something. I pulled it out from under me and realized that it was a bear– the very teddy bear I’d carried everywhere as a little girl. In the waking world, it was a little worn down, and probably still safely tucked away in a box in Silverthread Manor, but in my dream it was as plush and soft as the day my parents had bought it.
The teddy bear was chocolaty brown, with a fuzzy red heart on its chest, and heart-shaped pupils. In a different generation, it might have had a button nose and other attachments, but this bear was designed to be safe for even babies, which had the bonus of making it extra huggable. I know I wasn’t little anymore in the dream, but I still sat there snuggling that bear as I sipped my tea.
“Be careful, Leila,” my older brother said when he saw me trying to offer my cup to the teddy bear. “You’ll get it wet.”
“A little tea won’t hurt it,” I told him; I never did like letting him boss me around.
“Sure,” my younger brother added, “but you put sugar in your tea, and if it gets on the bear, it’ll attract ants, and they’ll hurt it.”
“I won’t let them get on it,” I insisted.
“Let me put the bear somewhere safe,” my older brother said. He had a tiny plate of pastries in one hand, and the other was reaching for my teddy bear. “Then you can eat some madeleines and shortcake.”
I set my teacup down and wrapped both arms around the bear. “No.”
The thing is, my brothers used to play tricks on me. The younger one would take the bear for himself and leave me with his ugly-eyes dinosaur, and the older one would hide Teddy and tell me some kind of story about how he’d left, of someone had take him, or how he’d been sucked into a tiny black hole. In other words, my older brother used his creativity for evil. I was not about to give my bear to him.
He managed to get hold of one of the bear’s arms. “Come on, Leila, it’s time for cake.”
“I don’t want cake!” I snapped, clinging to the bear.
“Toast, then.” He got the bear’s other arm.
“I’m not hungry!” I suddenly remembered eating a lot of fruit when I was out in the woods; the ones by the waterfall were especially sweet and crisp.
“Leila,” he grumbled. “Just let go. I’ll give you a waffle with Nutella inside.”
“No, Teddy is warm and comfortable.”
“Leila… Leila, you can hold me later.”
It seemed like the bear was squirming in my arms.
“Leila, open your eyes.” It was no longer my brother’s voice. “I really have to go to the bathroom.”
I groaned. A blanket of cold washed over me.
My teddy bear squirmed and rolled around. I felt it’s plush little paw on my face.
“It’s okay, Leila,” the voice reassured me. “Just let go for a little while, okay?”
As Teddy caressed my cheek, I felt the study and the castle fade away. I was in a smaller, darker room. I was lying down. Half of me was warm and comfortable, but the other half was cold and exposed. I groaned again and tried to pull the blanket back up so that it was just under my chin, but I couldn’t reach it. Instead, I laid my hand over whatever was touching my cheek.
“Hey, sleepyhead,” the voice half-whispered. “Welcome back to this little facet of reality.”
“Why did you let my brother take my bear away?” I mumbled. I really don’t think I knew what I was saying right then.
“Your brother?” the voice chuckled. “Well, at least you’re not blaming me. Although, judging by your death-grip, I was playing the role of said bear.”
Another soft laugh. “You’re not completely awake yet… That’s okay. Will you let me get up now? I really need to use the little boys’– er, little bears’ room.”
“Noooooo…” I groaned. “Jonathan is going to hide you and tell me some stupid story about Teddy going off to catch salmon in the river.”
The next laugh was quite a bit more amused. “Good thing Jonathan isn’t here. And if your big brother does show up, good ol’ Stefan will make sure Teddy stays safe.”
“Stefan is sleeping,” I mumbled. “Where’s my blanket?”
“I’ll go find it.”
Whatever had been keeping me warm and cozy somehow managed to slip away from me. I whined and reached out to grab it, but it was dark and my vision was still blurry. I heard fabric rustling, and then a cloud seemed to descend down upon me. I clung to it, pulling it closer as I yawned. I rolled over and nestled back into the mattress.
I heard footsteps cross the room, but my head was too much in the clouds, half-way back to Dreamland, to do anything about it. A minute or two later, I heard the toilet flushing, and then water in the sink. Once that was done, footsteps crossed the room again, and the bed sank a little bit. It was warmer, but not as toasty as it had been before.
“It’s still really early,” the voice whispered to me as it settled in. “Breakfast isn’t even available yet. Get some more sleep and we’ll go down to eat later.”
I think I might have mumbled something, but I really don’t know what it might have been. The pillows were soft, my blanket was back, and I was ready for another dream.
Today’s song isn’t a minuet, but a dreamy little tune with a Celtic flair.