A City in Dreams

A City in Dreams

Belraina is a city. A beautiful renaissance city in which two ducal families struggle for power. It is this mist of silver spires and deadly politics that Helen Morning, a 21st Century London teenager, finds herself in, in her dreams and in her pajamas. She is soon caught up in a wave of events she barely understands, torn between her own, mundane world and the friendship, love and danger she finds under the Belrainan sun. --feedback seriously appreciated--

Chapter 3

A Lunatic or a Liar

by: Hatty
The girl spun to face Viola. She had a strange stare, almost as if she was trying to look through her, as if her very existence was perplexing. But then their eyes met and the strange girl blinked, her lips curving in a kind of half smile, as though she was repressing some private joke.

“Yes, I think so.” She paused. “Erm, so, where am I then?” The stare had returned, and the question was odd. It gave Viola the impression that to answer it was her job, her purpose. Well if it was her job, then it wasn’t very difficult.

“We’re by the harbour,” she said gently, wondering if the girl was simple.”Look,” she pointed out at the boats but kept studying the girl’s face, feeling concerned. She could have sworn that she rolled her eyes. A cart swerved in front of them, narrowly avoiding Viola’s outstretched arm. The driver swore angrily at her and the two girls jumped.

“We should get out of the way,” said Viola, at the same time as the other girl repeated, “No, I mean where am I? What is this place?” She paused again. “Who are you?”

She chose the least confusing question first. “I’m Viola. Look, why don’t we go this way?” They negotiated their way across the street and into the opening of a smaller alley, the stranger following in bemused silence. “This place... do you mean Belraina?” Viola asked her.

“Well, if Belraina is this place then I do. But it’s not helping.” She laughed. “We’re getting nowhere.” It was a very carefree laugh, as though no amount of confusion really mattered. She did it again and tilted her head sideways. “And who are you?”

Viola bit her lip. “I’m Viola,” she repeated softly – softly by most people’s standards, not just her own. “Why don’t we sit down?” She gestured to a crate on the floor by the wall. It smelt of straw but looked strong enough.

The girl looked at the crate and then back at Viola. “I’m not an idiot,” she said wearily. “But I have no idea what’s going on. It doesn’t matter, you see.”

“Why doesn’t it matter?”

“I’m dreaming.” The girl sat down and smiled at Viola, who remained stubbornly standing.

“No you’re not.”

“I am.”

“You’re not!”

“How could I not be? Viola, I’m in bed. I went to sleep and now I’m here. Everything seems so clear... it’s strange, but I’ve felt like this before, I suppose, in dreams.” Her voice drifted off and she kicked a stone on the floor, watching it bounce with the sort of keen concentration that might be employed to understand a particularly but complicated joke.

Viola tried to run a hand through her hair, but realised she still had the headscarf on, so she tugged at that anxiously instead. “This place is real, I live here, and you’re real too. Look.” She sat down next to her, took her hand and dug her nails in. The skin underneath went white and, when the girl snatched it away, she had two small crescents marked on her palm. “Ow!”

“See? Real.” But the girl seemed unconcerned. “That only works in movies. I’ve tried it in a dream before... I knew it was a dream, had to be, but it still hurt, or rather I thought it did.”

“You’re not very good at telling when you’re dreaming. And what’s a movie?”

"Never mind.” She ignored the question with a small snort. “I know I’m dreaming.”

Viola ignored her in return and tried a different question. “What’s your name?”

“Helen.”

“And where do you think you are, you know, asleep?”

Helen shook her head slightly. “Muswell Hill. You won’t have heard of it.”

Viola shook her head more clearly. “I haven’t. Is it not near here?”

“Totally different dimension, I’m guessing.”

“And that’s where your clothes are from?” She tried to keep the scepticism out of her voice. Was she talking to a lunatic or a liar?

A nod this time. “That’s right. Look, you don’t have to keep talking to me. It doesn’t matter, but if you do, what should I do now? I don’t seem to be waking up and I’m a bit... lost. I don’t feel like I fit in, but I might as well try to explore while I have the chance. This is quite exciting.” She said it all rather quickly but Viola wasn’t really paying attention. She was feeling the fabric of Helen’s clothing. It was a weirdly revealing garment, but incredibly soft.

“We should get you something normal to wear. Follow me.” She stood up and dragged her lunatic-liar back out into the street, this time with a plan in mind.

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