Theandric Thursday : Princess And The Closed Room - Part 2
This is part two of the story 'Princess and the Closed Room'. Find the first part of it here.
I came out of the house and started walking absentmindedly on the driveway and later out of the big iron doors, on the cobweb of streets. I wasn't paying much attention to the path and turns on my way, but I knew, in that uncaring absentmindedness, where I was going. It was an impossible thing for me otherwise, due to my not so good sense of direction, but I kept going without any hesitation, as though I was following a map without actually having one with me.
As soon as I had come out of that house, it felt like a big weight has been lifted off my chest. I felt less uncertain, less worried and less scared. I was free. I know I had made a lot of promises to people in there, specially to Joy and I know he would hate me later for doing this, but it was something I had to do. I knew this was wrong and I knew this would break the hearts almost all of those inside, but I had to leave the place to never come back again. I was sorry.
I came home to see Mom in the kitchen. She smiled at me and told me that she's preparing roasted chicken today, my favourite. But that was that, she didn't ask where I've been, or how I have been. It was the strangest thing because she never allowed me out late hours and now, after almost months that I return, she didn't ask me even one question.
My head throbbed with pain due to stress, but I was scared to go in a room all by myself so I went out to the backyard and lay under the old mango tree and soon fell asleep. I dream.
I am lying on my bed from which a full moon can be seen through the window. There's a slight creak at the door, a swish of cool air comes in with a scent utterly mesmerising. I come out and see a blue flower radiating in the dark. It has a white velvety disk and a dash of white on the petals with black dots, floating in the air near the ground, a few feet away from my room door. I move up to touch it, but it vanishes and another one appears in the middle of the nearby staircase. I climb the stairs slowly and coming close, make a snatch at it. I catch it this time. It's beautiful, and it's smell is hypnotising. Just as I grab the flower, another one appears on the level above, near the small fountain. I climb and pick it too and then another one appears a few feet away. I am liking this game, following the flower path. Another one appears and then another one, as I go picking them, moving through levels until I reach the top floor and to the lone door in the hallway. The last one drifts inside the room through the door as I move towards it.
But suddenly some conscious part of me doesn't want me to go inside. I want this dream to end, now. But it's not ending, I have moved closer to the door and my hand is on the door-knob. I want to get out of this dream, I am almost awake, I can see the blur of tree branches and leaves above me, but I can't move my limbs, it's like someone is holding me. I am already opening the door. Just as the door opens, a blinding light shines from something in the corner of the small room and I wake up with a jolt, gasping. My palms and face were sweaty when I woke up, my heartbeat was racing.
I sat up to see that the sun had just set and light in the sky was slowly ebbing away. I came back inside and and sat on one of the high chairs by the breakfast bar in the kitchen. Dad was back from work and was making some kind of shake in the mixer for himself.
'Hi honey, enjoying a nap by the tree hun, how was your exploration today?'
My eyes were at the sugar jar, checking out it's checkered pattern.
'It was good,' I said automatically.
'So, where did you go?'
No answer. I was lost in that red and green criss cross pattern of the jar, while thinking about something entirely different. Dad thought it best to make the shake first. I kept thinking and analysing the jar for some minutes, then I blurted, 'Did you miss me Dad?'
That was an unusual and surprising question. I was never away for long from his eyes and whenever we went somewhere far, we went as a family. He must have been surprised to hear it because he didn't answer all at once. But then he smiled and said, 'Of-course dear! Dad always misses his love. Everyday, when he's away, he misses you.'
'No, not that. Did you miss me while I was gone all these days, while I was away from you. Didn't you miss me?' I broke my stare from the jar and looked at him, eyes already starting to water. He looked at me, then at my mom who was sitting at the table doing something. He didn't understand. What did I mean by all these days. I didn't turn, but I knew that she too was looking at me now.
'What happened honey? Is everything all right?' he asked, a little concerned.
He came around the bar and sat beside me. He wrapped a hand around my shoulder and asked again, 'What happened Lily? Did you see a bad dream?'
'Wait, did something happen when you were out? Is it Leo? Did you guys have a fight?'
I didn't know what to tell and what to not. 'I am scared Dad, I am really scared!' was all I could say before I broke down and started crying and kept crying and crying. Dad didn't say anything. He just held me in his arms and stayed, until I sobered up.
They asked me what happened later, but I wasn't ready to tell them so I stayed quiet. After we had dinner, I asked Mom if I can sleep with her in her room and she replied with a gentle hand on my back and a kiss on my forehead. That night, although I lay there with her, while Dad went to my room, I couldn't get myself to sleep.
The next morning Mom suggested calling Leo and asking him what happened when I didn't show much improvement over last night, but I stopped them saying he doesn't know anything and moreover I didn't want to meet him in this condition. I agreed to telling them what had happened. And I did tell them, but not everything. Grown ups don't believe in magical houses and kingdoms unless they have themselves been into one. Plus when I realised what have been several weeks inside that house, had just been a few hours outside and that I had arrived home the same evening, I knew it would be harder still for anyone to believe. I knew they would rubbish it all saying it is the result of the books I've been reading and my overactive imagination.
They didn't say anything like that, but they did take me to a doctor who diagnosed high mental stress due to unclear causes, gave some medication and suggested complete rest. I spent most of the time in the backyard that day, lying, sitting under the tree, thinking about the house and its people and the events.
When Leo left that day and I went in, I witnessed the beauty of the house. From where I stood, on the stairs lead to by the lobby, the first thing I noticed was all the tiny fountains which lay strewn around all over the floors surrounded by small plants with their leaves protruding from the the round parapets. There was a hum, a mixture of laughter and voices present, like the one you hear in a carnival. There was that magnificent tree standing there like it has been there since thousands of years. There was a low stone-stage in front of the trunk of the tree on the ground floor.The curved archways ran on both of my sides.
While I was standing transfixed there, admiring the place, three four little cute creatures came running and started poking and hugging my legs. They barely reached my knees, had big-watery eyes, the cutest smile and looked like they were made of water. They were hugging me like a pillow and it tinkled so much that I burst out laughing. While I sat down playing with them, some pixies came flying, talked in hushed excited tones and then scurried off back.
Within a matter of minutes, the whole house had assembled there mistaking me for some Princess. I tried to clear the misunderstanding but instead was made to believe by an old dwarf that I indeed was the Princess and how every hint, every sign and every prediction pointed towards that fact. I was happy at the thought of being a Princess, but I still was unsure how that was happening with me. Yet they literally carried me in the house, crowned me and gave me lots of gifts and loaded me with garlands. They were all so excited and happy at my arrival that it was almost a festival that day.
I met a lot of inhabitants who lived in and around the house, including Joy, who was boy just his name. He was complete joy and fun, and he was my age, so we hit it off pretty well the first day itself. After all, he was the one who, on finding me a little nervous by all the attention that I was getting, had said, 'Come one now folks, wouldn't you want the Princess to have a look around?' and managed to get me out of the midst of all the people and into the grounds. And despite the fact that I was the Princess, we had become more like good friends very soon. We roamed in the nearby forest, discovered new hidden places around, explored that big big house and had fun doing hundreds of other things every day.
I got mixed with everybody there soon enough, loving everybody, spending time together. Everyday there was a new excitement and a new adventure. I forgot all about how or when I went there, I forgot about the world outside, about my parents, my family, my friends and everything else. I was happy and excited, I would play with Frens, hear stories from the dwarfs, run with the deer, race Joy by flying with the help of Sheamus, the unicorn, who was so nice that he never refused me to ride on his back. I would pluck fruits, swim in the pond, eat the most amazing food ever and was simply having the time of my life. Days couldn't have been shorter and nights couldn't have dreamier. Until, the day I went in that room...
'Lily, time to come in..' Mom was calling. I had spent the whole day outside, under that tree, it was night already. Dad had come home early that day but was cautious and extra careful in not asking me much questions. We ate and watched TV and again I went to sleep with Mom.
The next day went the same, with me lying under the tree, watching the sunlight filter through the leaves and thinking the good things about my kingdom. Near evening, much before sundown, Mom came and told me that someone was there to meet me. Before I could tell her that I was in no mood to meet or see anyone, Leo was standing there. 'Hi!' he said.
I had expected him to launch into a lengthy complain or tantrum, asking me why I didn't call him or hadn't made any effort to meet him in the last two days. But he did not, he just said Hi and smiled. I wondered how much Mom had told him.
Although I didn't want to meet anybody, I was glad to see him. I smiled too and replied with a similar 'Hi'. He came and sat by my side as Mom left. I was still feeling weird so I focused on digging out the grass while he waited in an unusual placid manner. When I didn't say anything for a long time, he couldn't hold himself and started the small talk, making him look weirder still,
'So, you're playing the nature girl these days..' I couldn't figure out whether it was a question or a comment.
'You didn't call me, I thought you would..' There. He said it.
'I went to your magical house today!' I jerked my head up at this.
'What? Where'd you go?'
'To your magical house. Met Joy there.'
'Why.. What? Why'd you go there? .... Huh? Why did you have to go there?' I was suddenly so furious and was almost shouting 'Who told you to go there? What if something would have happened? Huh? What if you got trapped? Tell me this! Tell!!'
'Whoa whoa whoa, what happened to you all of a sudden?' He stood up and took two three steps back, having been caught off guard.
'You are not to go to that demented place ever again. Do you understand that. Never!!'
'Okay okay, calm down...calm down.' He said. I did, a little. 'By the way, I just went there to check on you when I didn't hear from you, all right? You're the one who decided to isolate herself and hunt down ants in the garden, not me!'
'So you came here to fight with me over it!'
'No! No, stupid. I was... just ... checking, you know. I thought maybe you'd be there. So I went there and when I didn't find you there, I came here.' he said, sitting down again.
I didn't reply anything. Maybe it was not his fault going there, how would he know.
'So, are you going to tell me what happened there which has made you so... err.. like this?' he said.
'I don't want to talk about it.' He made a face and sat there looking at me. When it was clear that he was not going to say anything and neither is going to take no for an answer, I gave in.
'Fine. In any case, I needed someone who would believe the story to start with'
'Great, I am all ears' he said beaming. His enthusiasm was back in a second.
I narrated to him everything from start till the end. I told him about the closed room, which till now I had even avoided thinking about. I told him what happened that night and afterwards.
I had walked in to an almost empty, very small room that night. A single big table stood in the middle, taking about one-third of the room's space. On top of the table was a beautiful rug with bright colours making an attractive pattern. I brushed it and felt a touch extremely soft and light. And it felt warm on that cold night. All of a sudden, I was feeling sleepy again. So I took down the rug, wrapped it around myself and slept on the floor. That night I saw wonderful dreams, where there were Joy and Sheamus and other creatures of the house and we had a picnic near the pond and we visited places I had never seen or thought existed. It was amazing. When I woke up the next morning, I was as happy as I could be. I was feeling fresh and I was excited at the fact that I had found this room, this new place where I could come and lie down and see wonderful new things. There was something definitely magical about that rug.
I decided that I won't tell this little secret of mine to anybody, but Joy bumped into me while I was coming out in the morning. Later, possibly on his sharing of that incident, the chief of dwarfs politely asked me to stay away from that room since he said that ever since the house came into place, much before I went there, the room had been closed and nobody has ever been in or could go inside, except for the time I went there. He said that something was suspicious about the room and hence I should avoid it. But I didn't listen to him and went there again the next week one night. This time, the room was much colder than outside and a little gloomy. But since I was in, I decided to sleep just there on the warm rug once again.
But when I slept that night, the dreams were not so much wonderful. In fact, they went on to become more confusing. I went on from playing and having fun to making fun of people, specially my friends Joy and Sheamus, specially Joy. And then Joy took offence, he never took offence to anything that I or anyone else would say, in the real world. He wasn't that kind of a boy, he was considerate and laid-back. But here, something different was happening. And the dream wasn't like a normal dream where you would see a series of short dreams like scenes from a film, but was instead a continues dream. Plus it didn't seem like a dream at all, it felt as if it was happening for real.
Days passed in there and Joy went on to become real bad after he took serious offence. He became downright evil, he would spread bad words about me all over, pass snide remarks whenever I passed from anywhere close. He made everyone see me as a cruel selfish Princess and soon everyone there stopped talking to me altogether and stayed away from me. They started hating me and some of them would stare at me in pure disgust whenever I came out of my room and went somewhere in the house.
I started staying out of the house most of the time, but there too Joy didn't leave me in peace. He made my life a living hell there too. He would fly around me and mock me and call me names, wherever I went. He would tell me how much everybody hates me and how they don't want me to be their Princess. He said that I shouldn't even live there any more.
I used to cry all the time, hiding in the forest or sitting by the pond. In the beginning, I knew that it was a dream but that belief had slowly faded. I still knew that it was a dream somewhere in the subconscious but it was hard to believe. But later, when I had cried enough, I focused on getting my thoughts together and get out of the dream. I wanted the dream to end, my sleep to end, which seemed to be going on forever but it didn't and I tried and I tried and I didn't.
After what looked as many nights, when I had lost all hope of getting out of that dream and when I had taken it as my fate, scared of anyone living in the kingdom and hating Joy more than anything, I woke up. I was a quiet morning and the rug lay there lifeless beneath me, it was soaking wet where my head had been, with tears. I didn't know how much time had passed in reality. I didn't know what would be happening outside that room. All I knew was I didn't want to stay in that dangerous place any more.
Suddenly I missed my parents more than I had ever missed them. So I walked out of that room and went straight to the front door. I remember people trying to stop me, specially Joy, but I didn't listen to anyone and left the house.
P.S: I hope you found this not so unbearable. This was the second part of the story. I will post the third-and-final part of it soon here, hopefully on the coming Thursday.
This post was part of Theandric Thursday, a
fortnightly whenever-she-feels-like-posting feature hosted by Ashna Banga.
The dictionary definition of 'Theandric' is 'Relating to the joint agency of divine and human nature'.