I sat in a small rowing boat in my ocean of thoughts. As I looked around at my many daydreams that were floating nearby, I noticed that they all could be traced back to one thing, my problems. I realised that all my recent thoughts were merely bizarre extensions of reality, a vast array of ‘what ifs’ and maybes, all of which were equally pointless and never going to happen. I felt disappointed that I had wasted so much time dreaming pointlessly of what would and could never be, and foolishly had thought that one day it would be. I also regretted the fact that I could have dreamt of more richly imagined places, a total escape from my problems. Instead I dreamt of the problems being solved, so when I woke, I could only ever feel disappointed. So, I decided that I must take control of my boat, and row it to new, uncharted waters, far, far away from my everyday life. Who knows, from this new perspective, I may even see the answer to my problems! With an overdose of optimism I rowed out into the wide blue yonder, to see what magic awaited...
* * * * * *
Far out in the yet uncharted waters of the combined imaginations of the entire universe of dreaming beings, stood a Galoway. A Galoway is a peculiar creature, well, peculiar to those who have never before seen one, as he is not exactly like a three-legged horse, with wings. This particular Galoway was feeling rather bored, which may or may not have been common for Galoway’s, as no one knew of them until they were first mentioned three sentences ago. This Galoway stood, on its three terracotta hooves, staring blankly at the old hag who stood in front of it. The hag was looking concerned, as she stared at something, which she was holding in her outstretched hand. It looked like, but probably wasn’t, a golden pen nib. Despite looking uncannily like a golden pen nib, something told me that it couldn’t be, as I didn’t recall pen nibs, golden or otherwise, being able to speak.
“Hugh, Shanghai city man, bury hag. Huddle” said Nib.
At this command, the hag and the Galoway did indeed huddle, and began to discuss Hugh.
“Hugh from Scotland, not Shanghai, Nib!” muttered the hag, in what sounded like a Welsh accent. The Galoway snorted, and lifted a hoof.
“If you don’t mind me stating the obvious,” said the Galoway, matter-of-factly, “Huggahuhh, or ‘Hugh’, as you insist on calling him, is standing over there, behind the Burgundy tree.” The Galoway put down his hoof, and snorted quietly to himself.
“Hag?” whispered Nib, cautiously.
“What?” said the hag, who was for some reason irritated with the small golden talking thing in her palm.
“City man, bury hag!” cried Nib, with an increasing sense of urgency, “We stop him. He must not bury hag. Hag not die, no!” Nib sobbed quietly.
“Now, now,” said the Galoway, who was beginning to take charge over these confused creatures, “Where did you hear such silly things, Nib? Huggahuhh would never hurt the hag! Admittedly, he doesn’t like her, but he wouldn’t hurt a tuna fish sandwich! Calm down, before the poor hag feels threatened, you’ll only cause her to cast a spell!”
Nib chuckled, as quietly as he could. Both he and the Galoway knew what happened when the hag cast spells. The last time, she was trying to put a protection charm on herself, because she thought that her door was trying to put a curse on her. She had ended up turning herself into a three-inch brass door hinge, complete with screws! It was only when Sagruda, the repair reptile was trying to use the hinge, and found the words ‘Curse the door, not the hag! It all hinges on this charm working...’ that anyone realised what had happened. The hag really did have a way with words, a way which was not suited to spell casting!
Huggahuhh, who had been stood behind the Burgundy tree for quite some time, and had been listening intently to their conversation, decided that now would be a good time to say something.
“Something” said Huggahuhh, in a very proud, determined sort of way.
“What?” said the hag, looking more puzzled than when she had suddenly began to see things from the perspective of a door hinge, “Aren’t you trying to bury me or something? That’s what Nib said. And you know Nib, worth his weight in gold...”
“Well that could be because he is gold...” pointed out the Galoway, with a sigh.
“I, um..., well.” said a timid Huggahuhh, “I’m not trying to bury you exactly..., but..., in Burrybeck, a town north of Quardale, I don’t mean to insult you, Mrs. Hagg, but there’s someone who might be able to help you.”
“What do you mean, help. I don’t need help! And I am not Mrs. Hagg! I am a hag, and my name is Annakora DeVakura if you must know, but call me... Twemlene”
“Twemlene? Why Twemlene?” asked a confused Huggahuhh.
“Because I said so!” said Twemlene, huffily.
The Galoway dragged a terracotta hoof along the slate floor. “Excuse me for asking,” he asked politely, “But what kind of help would be available to her... Twemlene, Huggahuhh?”
“Well,” said Huggahuhh, who then cleared his throat, “Apparently, according to Nib’s cousin Kni, one of them has arrived.”
There was a gasp, and everyone fell silent.
“One of them what?” asked a confused Twemlene, after the silence had lasted long enough for her to realise that she was the only one who didn’t know what they were talking about.
The others looked at each other in disbelief. They couldn’t believe that in the thirty-nine years that Twemlene had lived there, she had never once asked how she came to be there! They would have laughed, as they frequently did at Twemlene’s stupidity, but this was too serious to be laughed at.
“Surely you’ve heard of the ‘Dreamers’?” said Galoway, in a shocked whisper.
“The who?” asked Twemlene, now feeling slightly embarrassed by her lack of general knowledge. She assumed that the ‘Dreamers’ were the name of some group of creatures she should have heard of at the learning house. She really did wish she had listened more as a child.
The others all looked at her, and then each other. They whispered quietly and quickly amongst themselves, and reached a decision. The Galoway would tell Twemlene who the ‘Dreamers’ were.
The Galoway stepped forward, and raised a terracotta hoof. With his teeth, he removed a piece of parchment from inside it, and put his hoof back down, with a loud, ceremonious ‘clop’.
“I, dear Twemlene” declared the Galoway “Will show you the ‘Dreamers’”.
The Galoway took Twemlene gently under his wing, and her led her up the mountainside. Nib now sat on a large slate boulder, and began to talk to Huggahuhh. The large hot thing in the sky sank down behind the land, without as much as a ‘goodbye’, and neither Nib, nor Huggahuhh noticed.
* * * * * *
I had fallen asleep. I realised this when I woke up, to find that my small rowing boat had hit land. I thought this was odd, as I thought that an ocean of thoughts was just that, an ocean, and so I was puzzled by the presence of land. Of course, I had seen land in my dreams before, but had only been reflections in the water, never solid, never real. But now, when I had let my thoughts run free, free of revolving around my problems, they had found land! I got out of the boat, and walked up she gentle slope of the sandy shore. I could see about six palm trees through the warm haze, and began to think wishfully of cool coconut milk, at which point I heard a loud crack up ahead. I quickened my pace to find a large slate slab, the size of a small table, and on top of it was a coconut, cracked exactly in half. Each half was filled with cool milk, and not a drop had been spilled. I sat down on a conveniently placed pinky-grey rock, and sipped the milk. I looked out to the crystal clear ocean. It looked like a postcard of paradise! I had no idea that my imagination was capable of seeing such beauty. But it wasn’t perfect. My problems were still there, even if they were now at the back of my mind, instead of the front. I nearly kicked myself! I was trying to imagine things which had nothing to do with my problems, but I still thought of them! I was in paradise, and I still thought of them! What was I going to do?
I finished the coconut milk, and decided to walk further into the island. I had to forget him. I had to prove to myself that he wasn’t the centre of my universe, I was, and if I didn’t want him in my thoughts, he wouldn’t be, because I was in control. What I needed was to find something to occupy myself with, so began to look for small helpless creatures that I could look after. Three and a half hours passed, and still no helpless animals. Plenty of creatures, but they all told me the same thing, it was me that needed help, not them. If they had been human, like me, I’d have screamed at them. How dare they say such things, I was only trying to help, but these creatures were different. They all looked so innocent, and trustworthy, did I really need help? No, of course I didn’t. This was my dream, so I decided that there would be no more creatures telling me I need help. At the precise moment of me making this decision, a small purple fluffy thing emerged from behind a rock and stood about a metre in front of me.
“You really need help” it said cheerfully.
“No” I said calmly, “I’m fine. But thanks for your concern.”
“Sorry” said the purple thing, “But you should trust me when I say that you need help. Do you see a purple fluffy thing in front of you, and is it talking to you in English?”
“Yes” I said cautiously, “Because you are, you are talking to me in English, and you are purple and fluffy, why do you ask?”
“Now come on” said the purple fluffy thing, “Can you honestly tell me that someone who sees purple fluffy things, and talks to them, isn’t in urgent need of medical attention?”
“Don’t be stupid” I said defensively, “I’m dreaming all this, I’m in control. You’re not real. If you were, then yes, I may need help, but you’re not, so I don’t!”
“Fine” said the purple thing, “If you’re in control, make me disappear.”
“Fine” I said, and told myself that the purple thing didn’t exist. It was still there. I closed my eyes, and said to myself, “This is my dream, and there is no purple fluffy thing in front of me.” I opened my eyes. It was still there.
“Go away!” I screamed at it. I was nearly in tears. Why wouldn’t it go? This was my dream, and this creature was no longer welcome.
“There!” it said cheerfully, “Aren’t you going to thank me?”
“What for?” I asked, “For ruining my dream, I don’t think so!”
“Aren’t you forgetting something...” it asked tauntingly.
“No” I said, and then thought, “Do you mean ‘please’, as in you’ll go if I say ‘Please go’?”
“Manners won’t help you here” said the purple thing, “No, I mean what have you forgotten?”
“Oh my problems!” I shouted cheerfully.
“Yes, them” said the sweet little purple thing, “I made you forget them, and now you know I made you forget them, I’ll be off. Goodbye!”
The purple thing ran off out of sight.
“Great” I said to myself. I had finally forgotten them, thanks to the purple thing, but now that same purple thing has reminded me of them! Why do I bother?!
“Because you care” said an old, wise voice.
“Who’s there?” I asked cautiously. I couldn’t see anyone, and disembodied voices are rather unnerving.
“Only me” said the voice again, “I’m always here, just sometimes you don’t hear, ha ha!”
The disembodied voice chuckled.
“Where are you?” I asked, fearing that if it was a small creature I may accidentally step on it, and so impolitely terminate our conversation.
“Everywhere and nowhere” said the voice, “Don’t be afraid, you cannot step on me, though many wish they could... ha ha!”
The voice chuckled again.
“What do you want?” I asked. I didn’t want to seem rude, but I really couldn’t see the conversation going anywhere, and I wanted to explore the rest of the island.
“I don’t want anything” said the voice, “though many say that I do. Many blame me for their actions, though I just tell them what they already know. It’s not my fault that its only after hearing things from me that they choose to do something about it is it? I mean I’m only trying to help, mind you, that seems to be a crime these days. You should know, you know how much trouble your letter caused. My oh my! I know you were trying to help, but how you ever thought that was a good idea, I’ll never know! But you had the right motive, bless you, you were just like me!”
“How do you know about that?” I was beginning to get a little suspicious of this voice.
“I know everything, I am everything. It’s difficult not to know everything when you are everything, though sometimes you do forget bits... especially algebra... I was never any good with algebra...”
“I’m sorry to be rude” I said in my most apologetic tone, “but I really should be off now, thanks for your time.”
“My time is all yours” said the voice, “and indeed, my voice is yours too. In fact I live in your mind, so there’s no getting away! Unless of course, you lose your mind, ha ha!”
“Stop!” I screamed.
“No!” said the voice, “I’m here to stay, if you don’t like it, tough!”
I imagined the voice sitting down on my brain, with its arms folded.
“I may have to lose my mind then” I said.
“You aren’t that careless,” said the voice, and I fell asleep.
* * * * * *
When I awoke, many things had changed.