The Drawer

Standard

“Let me out!” I’m screaming at the door, shaking it open.

There’s no response, but I refuse to let up. “Daniel, I swear to god, if you don’t let me out now, you’re going to be beheaded.”

“What, again? And no, you need to recuperate, and I don’t trust you wandering the castle by yourself.”

“I feel fine!” I object.

“Cat.” Daniel’s voice was tired. “Your head was cut off.”

“Don’t remind me,” I warn him. “I still want revenge for your sloppy stitching.”

“Please Cat, it’s only for one more day. You’re still unwell, just lie down. Your brain has been through a lot.”

“Fine.” I hear him walk away from the door, and I throw myself onto the bed in a rage. “Fuck!” I scream into a pillow. I am such a teenager, I think to myself. I hate it.

At some point, I must’ve fallen asleep. It’s strange…it’s more peaceful falling asleep here than in Reality somehow. Dreaming in the dream…someone should make that the title of a song. Or a book. Either way, I wake up under the covers of Daniel’s bed. It’s warm and it smells like him, like the candles on his desk.

From the bed, I can see it in the corner of the room. Not much care has gone into making it. I wonder why Daniel doesn’t get splinters. Maybe he does, but he doesn’t show it. I wish I could do that.

I get out, and I realise my clothes have been changed. The fabric is so smooth it feels like water on my skin, and in a moment, I’m lost in the sensation.

Then my mind snaps back to the present, and I’m wondering who the hell changed my clothes. It’s only a couple of seconds of considering the potential culprits before I decide that I really do not want to know.

So I push away the uneasy thoughts of Daniel or some stranger taking off my clothes while I slept, and tread towards the desk. It’s like my desk in Reality; completely cluttered with objects. A stack of papers are pushed into a discreet corner, in a language I can’t really discern. The candles have gone out, but the sweet, warm smell of the wax remains.

What catches my eye are the books. Books are everywhere, and some are even in English. One of them reads Grimm’s Fairy Tales, with a ornamental knife stuck in as a bookmark. I smile at the thought of Daniel reading this to his goddaughter. It feels like the sort of thing he’d do.

There are cups stacked up in a tower, almost reaching the ceiling. God, Daniel’s worse than me when it comes to cleaning. The cups are dainty and pretty, and yet I know that he would’ve just thrown the cups onto the tower, higher and higher.

Then I check the top drawer and I find the pictures.

It is done in black ink on a browning piece of parchment. This is no doodle, this has been done with care and love. It seems like it’s Kaya herself who is staring back at me, with her scars and haunting eyes.

There are more. Ray is there, drawn in one of the trees she climbs. A young woman, though not as young as me, stares out at me with dead eyes, her face lined with sadness, almost as prominent as her tattoos. I recognise another woman, another girl I saw die, long ago. She grins tauntingly, as if she knows what hell I went through to find what had happened. I suppose in the end, it was worth it. If only a slight bit.

Then I find me. It’s been drawn from behind, but only I have a birthmark and five red letters on my left hand. When I pick the drawing up, a key falls to my feet. I just stare at it for a moment, before picking it up and trying it in the bottom drawer.

It fits perfectly. But I’m reluctant to see what’s inside. What could be so horrible that it would need to be locked? Do I want to know what Daniel needs to hide? I shake my head. I don’t want Daniel to join the number of enemies in Delirium, anyone but Daniel. And yet, there’s a tiny voice in the back of my head reminding me that it would be just as dangerous to not know Daniel’s motives.

So I look.

Another drawing. Just a single drawing.

Daniel’s arms are around me, his face glowing with a serenity I haven’t really seen before in life. And I’m happy. I see myself and I know that I am truly happy in this picture, as if this were where I belonged in this world. This drawing of me has a cheeky but shy look on her face, and she rests comfortably against Daniel.

I close the drawer immediately, my head screaming out, What is going on?! Something has happened. I don’t know what, but I know deep down that something important has happened to me.

Then I see a reflection in the window, and I spin around with a snarl on my lips and my knife at the ready. “Who are you?” I growl.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Object

Strangers in Delirium

Standard

I’m used to people shouting at me when I wake up.

Today, it was Daniel.

Everything was blurry when I opened my eyes. “Where am I Daniel?”

He didn’t say anything, but he held my hand reassuringly until my sight returned. My other senses returned, one by one. This is what I took in; the walls were made of stone, but they weren’t threatening like a prison cell. It was warm, and it smelt of pine; Daniel must’ve put pine nuts in the fire. This wasn’t a hard bench I lay on, instead, all I could feel was soft, smooth sheets.

Then I realised we weren’t alone.

I could feel the eyes on me, and I rolled over to see them. They all flinched when I looked at them. “Am I really that hideous?” I said dryly.

“Humans,” Daniel said, as if that explained everything.

I recognised the little girl peeping through the crowd. “I know her,” I whispered to Daniel. “Her name’s Ray, right?”

He nodded once, and in that moment, the girl dashed through the people to him. He picked her up and squeezed her quickly. “My goddaughter,” he told me, before popping her on the bed beside me.

“Hello…” Daniel, this is not a good idea, there is a difference from a child from Reality and a child from Delirium. I don’t want her to start screaming, I’m a freak as it is!

But, to my surprise, the girl smiled at me and sat next to me on Daniel’s bed. Her presence managed to calm me in front of all the nosy strangers; out of all of them, she was the most ‘human’ looking. It didn’t stop me from recoiling from the others.

Daniel, as if hearing my silent plea, spoke up. “She isn’t on show. Either state your business or leave.”

The majority left, though a couple had legitimate reasons to speak with Daniel. That didn’t stop them from taking a second glance at me anyway. While they spoke, I looked at Ray. She was barely three years old, from what I saw. Her hair was golden and silky looking, but it was her eyes that were the most comforting. They were plain, green, human eyes. Nothing more. She smelt of roses and cream, and when she hugged me, I didn’t resist. After they left, I asked Daniel why I was here.

“Why are you ever here?” was his response.

I just ignored him. We sat in silence for a while, until he just talked to himself. “Things are mad at the moment. The Highest wants a party, I’m sad to say. In times like this…”

I was silent. There’s a great deal that can be said in silence and stillness. It’s so unnatural, that people automatically know that there is something wrong. Daniel stopped and sat down next to me. “What happened?”

I shut my eyes.

“What,” he pronounced. “Happened.”

I made a little movement with my hand and he was quick to realise. “Who did it?” he demanded.

“They’re all shadows to me,” I said softly. I felt as if the warmth from the room had returned to the fire, leaving me in the cold.

Suddenly, Daniel snatched me up in his arms and held me close against him. “Daniel…” I objected.

“Why…” he was saying over and over. It was alarming, Daniel had never done that.

When he released me, the girl had vanished, and I felt exhausted. I lay down on the bed and told Daniel, “I don’t feel like going back to Reality yet. I just need to sleep.”

He nodded.

“But I can’t.”

“Nightmares?”

I nodded.

“They can’t get you here.”

“Because they’re afraid of you.”

“I won’t go.”

“Please don’t,” I tell him.

Daniel sat next to me; I’m now used to him being with me when I struggle sleeping. I closed my eyes. “Why?” he murmured again.

You should be teasing me. Why are you being kind? “Why?” I agreed.