Come dance with the gypsies... Circulation: 175,667,379 Issue: 358 | 5th day of Gathering, Y10
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Aisha Dreams

by mamasimios


Let Imiya sleep.

      Let Imiya rest after a day spent in study, in preparation for the morrow’s exams. Day is ended. Let her sleep.

      Nose follows tail, follows nose, follows tail. Encircling, circling, curling in a circle. Body down on cloudy bed; tail like a ribbon tightly wrapped around its package.

      Sometimes at twilight, nightmares come. Counting Babaas, numbers jumbled, cryptic ciphers; add, divide or multiply. Problems multiply, threateningly, filling her mind. But not tonight.

      Day is ended.

      Let Imiya sleep.

      Let Imiya dream.

      Mind is restless, full of numbers. Use the numbers, master them. Try counting, merely counting, Babaas gently jumping fences. Two by two by four by eight.


      ten twelve fourteen...

      deeper... deeper into sleep.

      A tambourine in her hand. Dance and twirl and spin around. Gypsy skirts and kerchiefed head. With her cousin the Court Dancer, Imiya laughs and joins the reel. Shaking the tambourine, bouncing a hand off of its skin. Stamping feet and swaying hips. Laughter joins the jangle of the bells on her ankles, was it her or one who watches? Someone felt but not seen, the audience invisible. Imiya wants to impress, she spins upon one foot and leaps in complex circuits. She tilts her head back to let loose a whoop and musical notes drift out from her mouth, a glowing kaleidoscope of pulsating colours and symbols, swirling around her head like Cooties, like Lightmites swirling.

      Mere seconds later (or is it an hour? A lifetime can be lived with eyelids shut) noises intrude on Imiya’s reverie, causing her to twitch and twist, threatening to wake her up. Unconsciously summon the Babaas, gently jumping, gently jumping over fences.

      Eighteen twenty twenty-two...

      deeper... deeper into sleep.

      Deeper now, beneath the waves. Splashing under the ceiling of the sea, freedom is in her movements. Fins, not fur, tail where once she knew legs; Imiya whips the tail and pushes forward through the foam. Is she Isca? Caylis? She feels like both and neither. She is carefree. Free of gravity. Free of the care of exams not yet written, she is the sea and the sea is she. Spotting pretty seashells, she swims down deeper, reaches to pick them up and is caught in a cyclone of bubbles. They swirl around her, enchanting and enticing. They effervesce and coalesce into the form of the Koi King; Kelpbeard with his crown and trident, regal and severe, he levels an imperious look at Imiya and booms in a voice both low and muffled by the aqueous space between, “Are you prepared?” Imiya frowns and goes to curtsy before the Maraquan monarch, but he disappears in an explosion of bubbles and froth. Confusion overwhelms the Aisha and pulls her back from sleep’s sweet orbit, eyes fly open and one silent question repeats on her barely moving lips, “Are you prepared?”

      A flash of unnamed panic, too brief to recognize for what it is, passes across the Aisha’s face and makes her slightly queasy. Imiya yawns and smacks her lips several times before laying her head back down upon her paws. Kreludor has only just passed halfway through its nightly course; it’s much too early for her to wake.

      Squeezing her eyes shut, tightly squeezing shut her eyes against unwelcome visions, sleep is bidden, invited.

      Let Imiya sleep.

      Let Imiya count Babaas once again, gently jumping over fences, never crowding, overwhelming, just merely jumping in her mind.

      Twenty-six twenty-eight thirty...

      deeper now...

      deeper... deeper into sleep.

      Let Imiya dream.

      Someone watching over the sweet Aisha would note a difference now. Her breathing slows to nearly naught and her intermittent twitchings of earlier have ceased entirely. Imiya has followed the jumping Babaas deep into the nethermost wells of sleep.

      From the black abyss an apparition forms; a mirror, gilt and jewelled, stands in the middle of a large room. The walls are indistinct, but the floor is covered in plump pillows and cushions; jewel-toned, plush, and opulent. Within the mirror’s glass, her image appears and Imiya turns and nods with approval at what she sees. Her robes are of diaphanous silks and her feet are shod in golden slippers. She feels the weight of her riches; fingers banded with golden rings, her waist begird by golden belt. Ears are pierced for jewel-encrusted earrings and her throat and tail sport wide gold collars and cuffs. The heft pleases her, suits her vanity. She reaches for a nearby palette and paints her eyelids a regal blue. Perfect. Perfectly beautiful. She sprays a mist from the perfume bottle that has appeared in her hands, and she drifts through its nebulous fragrance. Imiya finds herself reclined on the cushions, eating from a fruit basket when a cloaked stranger appears.

      “Amira,” begins the intruder, “your wisdom is required.”

      “Amira?” responds the Aisha, “You have me confused with...”

      The stranger interrupts her. “This is urgent, Your Highness. As the ruler of Sakhmet, your people need to know. What is the product of five and seven? The sum of twelve and four?”

      “I... I don’t understand the question. Why are you calling me Amira?”

      “Your Highness, there is no time. Quickly, the difference between seventy and forty?” As the stranger speaks, his cloak falls; beneath is revealed a stack of Babaas one upon the other. They begin to bleat with panic and the stack becomes a tower, becomes an unstable obelisk bleating with panic. As Imiya hesitates, the stack grows higher, and as it grows, so does her confusion. She finds she is unable to solve even simple arithmetic; what she had spent the entire day previous studying was now lost to her, and the ability to speak also confounds her.

      Imiya’s mouth refuses to open and as she attempts to grunt an answer, the roof of her room collapses with a carillon peal. The Aisha is shocked, alarmed and abruptly plucked from her fantasy. The ringing chimes continue to shake her nerves and she leaps from her berth with eyes wide, toes splayed and back in convex arch. She spies her alarm clock ringing insistently; a cruel command to rejoin lucidity.

      Imiya turns off her alarm and sits down upon her cloudy bed. Her brow is knit as she searches her memory to retrieve her dreams, but can only locate fragments. A tambourine? A bubble king? The bouquet of luxurious perfume?

      Trying to recall a dream is like trying to remember a grandmother’s lullaby from when you were in your crib. The memory exists, but not where you can readily reach it.

      Searching, grasping onto the established fragments, Imiya realizes that the harder she insists, the further the dream recedes. Like trying to clutch a Spyder’s web, a heavy hand will only destroy the dream’s fragile constituents, the work of a night shattered forever. Better to ease into the web and allow it to settle upon your skin.

      Imiya sits quietly and a smile turns up the corners of her dear mouth. A tambourine, a gypsy reel, and laughter joining the jangling bells. A fragment, a joyful recollection, reaches up from the void. The Aisha stands and stretches, toes splayed and back pushed into convex arch. She squeezes shut her eyes and yawns luxuriously, kneads the clouds of her bed with drumming toes. A sudden flash causes her to frown and shake her head. A pile of Babaas and a sense of dread? She shakes away the image and leaves her bed to get ready for school, for her exams.

      A good night’s sleep and she is prepared. She leaves the house with a gypsy reel playing in her head.

The End

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