Story a Day May #13: Perchance to Dream
She awoke late as always and sighed. Turning, she closed her eyes to go back to sleep, then frowned. She wanted to dream longer but today was not the day. Getting up reluctantly she put on her costume then went out to find her customers. Dropping by a friendly restaurant she picked herself up something for breakfast.
“Did you dream for us?” the lady behind the counter asked and Revi shook her head. A sigh of relief and her requested breakfast came one after the other and she left.
Eating while walking, she wished the lady had not seemed so worried, but her customers always gave her different receptions. Finishing the meat pies she wiped her mouth with a handkerchief before attending to her first customer of the day.
“Good morning, did you sleep well?” she asked the gentleman and he jumped to see a Dreamer.
“I-I-I-I…” He did not know what to say. There were proscribed phrases but sometimes they were forgotten. Revi cared neither one way or the other.
“You need to get home right now. Your parents will soon be in trouble.” His eyes widened and he stared at her. “Right now,” she prompted.
“Um, yes,” he said, digging a few coins out and putting them in her hands. “Thank you,” he said before running off. He had remembered the payment at least, she thought as she tucked them into her pouch.
Her most pressing client of the day finished, she wandered aimlessly, stopping here and there to meet someone new. Her reception was never spectacularly warm but she was used to that. One little girl found her sitting on the side of the road, contemplating the sun, and asked her what she was doing. “Waiting for my next client,” she told her. She had delivered good tidings to a few others, and now only he remained.
“Client?” the little girl asked sitting down beside her.
“I’m a dreamer,” Revi explained. “Have your parents not explained what a dreamer is before?”
The little girl scrunched up her face. “You mean you have dreams when you sleep? I do, too,” the girl assured her seriously. It made Revi smile and she coughed to hide it.
“No, you see, my dreams come true.”
“Really?” The little girl asked, her eyes huge in wonder. “Is there a way I can dream like that?”
“No, I’m afraid not,” Revi said. “It’s a gift from the gods… or so they say.”
“Oh.” The little girl was disappointed now. “I’m Wesley Ann, but you can call me Wesa,” she informed her.
“I’m Revi,” she replied, putting out her hand to shake. “And now that I’ve met you if I have any dreams that warn me about you then I will come to see you again.”
“You can come without a dream,” Wesa said. “Do you have to know someone to dream about them?” Revi nodded. “Then I want you to meet my Papa.” The girl stood up and tugged at her hand. “Come on, let’s go,” she insisted.
“Not right now. I have to warn someone who will be driving up this road soon. Then I can come.” The little girl looked down the dirt road but there was no one in sight. “They won’t be here for a little bit but if I leave I will miss them,” Revi said in amusement as the girl continued trying to pull her away.
Pouting, Wesa sat back down. “Papa won’t believe me if I tell him on my own that I met someone who can dream real things,” she said.
“Oh, really? Are you not from here?” Revi asked, thinking that most likely her father knew and would tell his little girl to stay away from her.
“No, we’re from Marshala,” the girl informed her and went on to prattle about everything she had left behind from her friends to her pets. Revi listened in amusement.
“And how do you find Consule?” This brought on a stream of interesting discoveries and things that were done differently back home. After a while the girl wound down again. “Did you want to move?” Revi asked.
“We came here to live with my Mama’s family because Papa doesn’t have any. Mama’s been dead since I was really small so I don’t remember her, but Grandmama says that I look a lot like her.” After that the girl grew quiet.
“Do you like living with your Grandparents?” Revi asked in concern but just then the sound of the wagon getting closer made her sit up straight. Standing up, she went out to the middle of the road and waited for him to get closer.
“Dreamer,” the farmer said with a frown. She caught a flicker of a hand sign to ward off evil but ignored it. About half the people in the town thought her a bringer of bad luck. As if she created it.
“Farmer. Your wife will give birth tonight and there will be complications. You must take the midwife or the doctor back with you.”
“I’m obliged to you,” he said, digging out and flipping her a coin. For once it was silver and Revi was impressed. Moving out of his way, she watched as he cracked the whip, in a hurry now.
“His baby is going to die?” Wesa asked from the side of the road.
“No, it’s going to be fine because he will get help.”
Wesa thought this over and nodded with a smile. “Good,” she said. “And now you can come meet my Papa! I’m glad it’s not dark yet or I would be in trouble.”
“Oh, we better hurry then,” Revi said, allowing the girl to take her hand and pull her along. The sun had begun to set behind them as they headed back towards town but long before they got there the girl turned up a small road that led to only one house overlooking the town.
“Your Grandfather is Sir Waite?” Revi asked in surprise and the girl smiled back at her.
“Yes! I really like Grandpapa. He’s always kind and brings me gifts. He gave me these ribbons,” she said, reaching up to touch the bows on either side of her head.
“Very pretty,” Revi said and Wesa beamed. “Is your Grandmother very strict?” she asked, and the smile disappeared. She knew the lady by reputation. When she had presented herself at their house to make the older couple’s acquaintance she had been denied entry. The servants had been very apologetic but apparently Lady Waite held a dislike of dreamers. Revi had taken it as the lady’s loss and left. Wesa’s grandmother would not like the guest her grandaughter was bringing home.
“Yes, I thought she might be. She doesn’t like me at all. I’m not certain if I should accompany you home,” Revi told the girl.
“Oh, but you don’t have to meet Grandmama! We live in a small guest cottage. Come, I’ll take you!” The girl began dragging her along again and with a smile Revi allowed it.
The gate remained closed at their approach as the servant hesitated. “Miss, your Grandmama will not approve,” the gate keeper said worriedly.
“She’s not here to meet Grandmama. She’s here to meet Papa,” the girl said in a tone that Revi knew instinctively she had learned from Lady Waite.
“Yes, Miss,” the gate keeper said reluctantly and opened the portal. “Begging your pardon, dreamer,” he said with a small bow.
“Don’t worry, I know,” Revi said with a reassuring smile.
“May you dream true and sweet,” the gate keeper said, making her pause. It had been a long while since anyone had given the proscribed parting. Most had forgotten it she thought.
“And may it not be of you,” Revi said, turning back to nod at him. He smiled.
“That was interesting,” Wesa said, then began dragging her along a hedge that hid them from the main building, down a path that ended in a lovely cottage surrounded by a garden.
“Your home is beautiful, Wesa,” Revi said reverently and the girl beamed up at her.
“Papa says we can’t stay here for good, though I think Grandpapa and Grandmama wish that we would.”
“Well of course they want their grandchild to stay,” a male voice said and Revi looked up to see a slim man with dark hair and eyes, perhaps a bit older than her, with kind eyes and a gentle smile.
“You would be Wesa’s Papa,” she said, inclining her head.
“Papa, this is Revi and she dreams of real things!” Wesa said enthusiastically.
“Oh, really?” Wesa’s Papa said, sounding unconvinced.
“It’s true, sir,” Revi said gently and he looked to her curiously.
“Well, let’s speak inside,” he said with a glance towards the back of the main house. He led the way inside, nodding while Wesa chattered about meeting her on the road, and her message to the farmer.
Revi was charmed by the cottage’s decor as well. It had a woman’s touch, with floral pillows and curtains edged in lace. Wesa’s Papa led them to the sofa and chairs, taking a comfortable looking cushioned one for himself with signs of use, and nodding at her to sit.
“So Revi says the baby will be ok since she told his Papa to take a doctor,” Wesa said, fairly bouncing on the sofa in her excitement.
“Mmm. Wesa can you go tell Cook that we have a guest? It’s almost dinner, so you will stay, won’t you?”
“I… I suppose,” Revi said cautiously and he nodded. The girl ran out of the room and she looked to the father worriedly. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know your name,” she said.
“Oh, of course. I’m Paul Rittermore and you are Revi?”
“Revi Dreamer. I come from a long line of dreamers. It is a tradition here in Consule that every large town has at least one dreamer… Should I tell you about what I do, or…?” He might already know.
“Go ahead. I’ve heard something about the matter but only in passing. So your dreams come true?”
Revi relaxed at his curiousity. He did not seem ready to throw her out of the house or claim she had told his child lies. “Yes, but only about those I’ve met, so Wesa insisted that I must meet you.”
“I see,” Paul said with a smile.
“I… Most people consider me bad luck for I deliver bad news well over half of the time and you must not mention me to Lady Waite for she despises my profession.” Revi watched anxiously to see how he might take this.
“Really?” he asked, his mouth quirking into a lopsided smile.
“She refused to meet me, and that was the impression I received, however that just means I will be unable to warn her of bad news. Hardly a loss on my part.”
“Yes,” he said, trying to suppress the smile. Wesa came running back in with crumbs about her mouth and her father took out a handkerchief to wipe them off with good grace. “Wesa, can you go fetch your Grandpapa? Not Grandmama, however, or she would be displeased.”
“Yes, Papa,” the girl said happily and ran off again.
“So much energy,” Revi said, looking after the girl enviously.
“Yes. She’s hard to keep up with,” Paul agreed. “I take it you have yet to meet Sir Waite? That is why I sent for him.”
“You are correct. Thank you. I thought I might encounter him in town at some point but have yet to do so.”
“So tell me about your outfit… It is very unique,” Paul said, and Revi looked down at herself.
“Oh, this is a traditional costume worn by all Dreamers to identify themselves. By law only true dreamers may wear it and the penalty for pretending to be a true dreamer is quite steep.” Paul nodded as if in understanding so she did not explain.
“There are also traditional greetings and partings but they are very old. No one uses them anymore. Half the time I am greeted by…” She made the ward sign for evil and his eyes widened. Laughing she shrugged it off.
“After I deliver a warning or piece of news the client pays me. Sometimes just a token amount, others more if they feel the warning worthy of it. And that is all you need to know about dreamers.”
“That’s not true,” a deep rumbling voice said and Revi turned in surprise. Sir Waite entered the room with a smile. He was a large man with hair beginning to turn silver and blue sparkling eyes. A very good natured man, she saw, and was relieved. “Have you dreamt well, fair dreamer?” He asked with a bow.
Standing, Revi curtsied. “I have, Sir Waite. Thank you. My dreams have not been of thee, may the gods be praised.”
“Well, we had yet to meet, so it may be premature to do so,” he said with a grin and a twinkle in his eyes.
“True enough, Sir,” Revi agreed. “I am sorry I was not able to meet you sooner, but-”
“No, I know. The servants informed me. I meant to seek you out myself to apologize for such rude treatment but I regret that fell by the wayside.” He seated himself and placed Wesa in his lap. Revi and Paul sat as well.
“No apology is necessary. It is her loss, but I did not like her deciding for yourself as well. So it is good we have met.”
“Yes. You know, you look very much like your mother,” Sir Waite said. “I was in love with her when I was younger, but she would not have me.”
“Love is… toxic to a dreamer, Sir,” Revi said and he sat up straight.
“How so?” he demanded.
“When we fall in love half of our dreams are devoted to them for a long period of time. Some sleep longer to make up for it, but that lessens our time awake. Others prefer not to fall in love at all and when the first faint blush of such an attachment appears they break off all contact.”
“But you must have children,” Sir Waite protested.
“We do not have to love the men we sleep with,” Revi said with a shrug. “As you know we rarely marry as the children we have continue our traditions.”
“That sounds painful,” Paul said, and they both looked at him.
“No,” Revi said with a shrug. “You cannot be hurt by something you do not feel.”
“But for those that do,” Paul said, refusing to drop the subject.
“Yes, for those in love having to choose between a person and their calling… it is difficult, but we are Dreamers. There are very few of us, and our profession prevents unneedful deaths and sorrow. Can you measure your own happiness against that?”
At this Paul finally remained quiet. Wesa had fallen asleep in her Grandpapa’s lap, head lolling against his chest, body limp, and Revi smiled. “Thank you for telling me,” Sir Waite said quietly. “I wish she had explained it herself.”
“She always thought of you and dreamed of you more than she liked. I believe she was in love with you as well, Sir.” The gentlemen seemed stunned by this. Sir Waite looked down at his grandchild as if only then aware of her presence. Taking her in his arms he settled her down on the couch.
“Thank you,” Sir Waite said, but his voice had lost its rumbling brashness and his large face seemed withdrawn. “I will take my leave now. Dreamer, fare thee well, with dreams of sweetness and light.”
“May your path be untroubled and never cross mine again,” Revi said and he left. All was silent for a moment.
“I’m sorry, perhaps I should not have mentioned it,” Revi said, contrite.
“No, you only told him the truth. Your mothers actions are not in any way your fault and he will not blame you for it.”
“No, but he will be sad, thinking of the love he could have had,” Revi said, shaking her head.
A bell rang somewhere further inside the house and Paul smiled. “Good timing. Dinner is ready. Sweetling, wake up,” he said, nudging his daughter. After some prompting the girl awoke and they retired to an elegant dining room. Wesa entertained them both throughout the meal and Revi learned more about them both. Wesa had a tutor that taught her, Lady Waite insisting that no grandaughter of hers would go to a commoner’s school, but Paul did not like this attitude.
After the girl had been sent to bed, they lingered at the table over coffee speaking of different things, but mostly Wesa. “I want to move out of this house so that she may have more freedom. She is a lively girl and needs more friends her own age rather than servants although she is very willing to make friends with them as well.”
“This is a charming home, but I am sure you are correct. To raise her cut off from the people…” Revi shook her head in disbelief.
“Yes, but I have yet to find work here,” he said.
“What is your trade?” she asked.
“I am a woodworker,” he said and pointed out a few pieces of furniture here and there that he had made. “But a woodworker without tools, I’m afraid, for I could not transport it all here and the money was needed for the journey.”
“Have you asked at Woodly’s if he needs help?” They had only one woodworker in town and he was aging. Surely he would not mind an apprentice.
“He says that as I am fully trained he cannot afford to employ me. I offered to work on commission but he would have none of that, saying it would not do, so I think the offer insulted him.”
“Hmmm.” Revi knew Woodly to be a nice old man. She had encountered him rarely thanks to his good luck, but something seemed off to her about his response.
When she took her leave Paul asked what phrase he should use to bid her goodbye and Revi grinned. “Sweet Dreams will do,” she told him and he echoed her. “And the same to you,” she replied.
The road was dark and she wished for a lantern but made it safely back home. As she readied herself for sleep she could not help thinking about Wesa and her Papa and Grandpapa. She had to start the routine over, clearing her mind, and finally drifted off to Dream.
“No!” Revi awoke in horrorified disbelief. (more…)