Wednesday Night Writing Exercise: Dreaming of…

I know which character this came from, but where the idea came from is anyone’s guess.

A year after she gave up home, she gave up her dreams of it. Forced to cast aside the old identity, she had done so not by simple rejection and association retraining, but with a series of mental gymnastics that had resulted in the conviction that her old self had died giving birth to her newer self, who had sprung fully formed from the corpse of the older. The dreams, once this was resolved, realized that they had died with her.

She might have dreamed of the new landscape, but not of the new place; she would not dream hardwood floors but misty mountains whose lines might have been—and, in retrospect, probably were—the deft brushes of ink on silk on the walls. She avoided the dream where one shows up for class naked, because she would not dream of class. The one where one is locked out of her home, because there was no home, and the caves and groves she dreamed of would not lock for her.

Later than that, she dreamed of battlefields. At times they would be real, there would be entrails on her foot and a pain in her collarbone as the enemy’s sword skidded off her shield and impacted with her armor, but most often they were abstract, unreal, the warriors far too color-coded even by the standards of home and the lines of battle bearing a bizarre resemblance to the way the meridians of the body were diagrammed. And always, always, they were too large; she ducked weapons she could not yet lift wielded by soldiers whose chests were at her eye level, until about a year after she reached her full height and her lagging mind finally caught up with the reality of her stature.

In the desert, she did not dream of places. The places did not matter, only the people in them. The rival. The mentor. The general. The ward, the lover. They might have been in the desert, they might have been on the battlefields, they might have been on the ink slopes, they might even have been in odd rooms that her dead self would have recognized as home and her living self interpreted as being from a story, from a visit to a new-life friend, from anything else.

And when she returned alone to what was now home, she dreamed of the desert. Of standing fast against walls of flying sand that grated with human shouts, or running through the stinging clouds until the poison wind stole the cries from her throat and the moisture from her eyes, yes, but also of curling up between two arms of a star dune and letting the sand warm her, or cresting one dune to see another beckon her with a stream of fine sand blowing off of its crest.

Her world changes now. Where will she dream?

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