December 2, 2014

Nightmares and Dreams

This post is about a reoccurring nightmare that started when I was quite young. I would wake in a sweat, too terrified to scream. It happened so often, I actually expected it to return each time I closed my  eyes. As I grew , I sometimes knew I was dreaming and try to change the outcome. Lucid dream or not, I couldn't change it. Not one detail. 
However, I discovered a nightmare can become a dream--one to follow. Doesn't make sense? Read on.

The smell of lavender is strong while I flee through the castle gardens. Frustration mounts as the blue silk dress I'm wearing hinders my stride. I gather the skirts, kick off my shoes and run barefoot across the pebbled path. A low-hanging tree branch catches my braided hair, yanking me to a halt. Adrenaline swooshes through my veins, and fear drives me forward. Though I try to cover the distance between the gardens and the main doors of the castle, it’s as if I am running through water. My breath stutters with exertion, but I must make it inside to save a little child. I do not know if he’s my own, or why I must save him.
As I pass through the doors, my garb changes from the beautiful gown to tunic and breeches. Not only that, but quiver filled with arrows is slung across my shoulder and I clutch a bow in my fist.
 I find ruin in my path. The sweet lavender aroma turns to acrid smoke, choking me. My burning eyes fill with tears. The castle--my home--is in flames. I  search for the child. A suction of doom catches my heartbeat as I skid to a stop in a corridor. The child is in the arms of an enemy knight, my own father dead at his feet.
 I arm my bow with surety and watch the arrow meet its mark—through the man’s chest. He drops the child and I rush to the man, surprised I knock him down. Slipping a dagger from my boot, I trace a line across the man’s throat, assuring he is dead. Weeping, I damn the enemy to hell for killing my father.  
I hear the child whimper, It is a little boy. Deed done, I grab the child and flee to the lower level of the castle, recalling an escape through a door into the backfields. The lad is crying and I beg him to be quiet. I cannot pry the door open and someone...I just know it is the clomping down the stone steps.  Vast rows of casks line the walls and I ditch in a space where one is missing. I clamp my hand across the child’s mouth and try to control my heavy breathing.
The footsteps draw near. Once again, I am clad in the silk blue gown.  The child is no longer in my arms, as if he never existed.  The hand against my lips, covered with the blood of my enemy, is my own. Now it's me the knight is after. I press my back hard against the cask when I glimpse the end of his lance.
 Dark and dank, the room smells like earth, tinged with oak. My heart pounds so hard, I am sure he can hear it, but he stalks by, his head void of a helmet. I hold my breath, waiting for him to give up his allow me time to wake from this nightmare.
 The knight takes a step back, then another and slowly turns his head. We lock gazes, his squints, mine widen. I shake my head, unable to speak, to pray. 
The thud of his lance into the cask behind me takes my breath. I'm impaled. With my life slipping away, I grasp the lance in my chest, my blood mixing with ale, my breath whispering my last plea.

Who is the child? I never knew. 
What a weird dream , huh?  I mean, I was a grown woman in the dream, yet a young child when I awoke--with a silent scream, clutching sweaty sheets, tremors of fear undulating from the inside out.  Certain of admonishment if I woke anyone with “that silly dream” for the countless time, I couldn't even call out for comfort after awhile. Cuddling deep in my covers,  I'd whisper it's just a dream into my pillow, but deep inside I knew it was real.
 I know that doesn't make sense, and even as a child I knew it was a contradiction, but somehow everything in that dream really happened. The familiarity of it all made me question myself and ...well, everything. 
I shared this dream with my family, but stopped doing so when I'd receive a slow smile, a shared look which closed me out. "You're being silly." A litte hug and "Now go play." I kept silent after that.
 I played imaginary games involving kings, queens, princesses and and knights that protected the people within the walls of the castle. I built some kick ass castles out of dominos, by the way. All along, I hoped my imaginings would calm the night to come. It didn't.
Somewhere along the way from childhood to adolescence, the nightmare stopped. One morning, halfway through a bowl of cereal, the realization hit.
 I didn't have "The dream" the night before.
 Odd as it seems, I simply knew I wouldn't have it again. No more knight, no more child, no more lance sliding effortlessly through my chest.
And I was right; I never did. However, the sound of the lance echoed in the recess of my mind as I drifted to sleep. That stayed with me long after the odor of smoke, blood, lavender, earth, and oak dispersed. The urgency to find the child, the fear, and death slowly drifted into a distant memory. The lance--the horrid sound of it hitting the cask behind me--was the last to leave.
 Many years later, the nightmare returned in a way. No, it didn't creep into my bedroom,intent on haunting my night. The fearful remnants which resided deep in my mind transformed into something pure and good. I suppose my subconscious was the culprit..or savior. 
I didn't plan on it, but the dreadful nightmare is a scene in my novel,  Jewel of Ramstone. This medieval romance was born from a long ago nightmare. 
So, as I stated earlier: A nightmare can become a dream--one to follow. A horrid experience made my dream come true.
 I'm a storyteller and I penned the life of Ruby in Jewel of Ramstone. A dream come true. 

UPDATE; Many readers fell in love with a secondary character, Sir Jac, in Jewel of Ramstone, So...yeah this will be a series. (I kind of have a crush on Jac too.) I've decided to call it Medieval Quest Series. Why you ask? (Okay, so you didn't, but pretend.) Because the obvious era, but mostly because the common vein is a quest to find truth, honor, memory, love...ya know, a quest for what is right. 

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