Goldenhead: Part 2 – Mirror, Mirror

goldenhead.jpg“I have missed you, Nurse.”

“I have always been here, child.”

“I know – but I haven’t.”

“Where were you?”

“Growing up. Trying to live without imaginary worlds and imaginary friends. Trying to live in the One and Only Real World, as they call it.”

Nurse Camilla smiled. “Ah, that.”

“You speak as though it were familiar to you.”

“Oh, it is. It is a thing that happens to some of my patients. Especially from the world you were in, which seems to be rather a jealous world.”

A curious word, Selena thought, used, she supposed, in a sense akin to “jealous God” – for indeed such a worldly world tends naturally to usurp the prerogatives of the Divine.

“How were you getting on with it?” asked her nurse.

“With growing up?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, not very well. One can lead oneself to water, but it is hard to make oneself drink. And I missed you, nurse.”

“Did you really?”

“Of course I did. All that time when I was so sick – sometimes in my body and sometimes in my heart, and sometimes both – you were always there. When I had to go to that hateful school every day, I lived only for the nights when I could go to bed and be with you again. And then I became sick in my body again, and you could look after me all the time.

“I told a girl about it once – there on earth – or is it here on earth? I told her I had a nurse, and she asked where, and I said in the hospital wing of a great starship, as big as a city, far, far away, but I could go there whenever I close my eyes.”

“What did she say?”

“That I should grow up. That is what they all say. I mean, even if you don’t tell them – and I didn’t usually tell them – they sort of guess you are far away from them and their jealous world; and they say you should grow up. Or get a life. They say that too. And I would think Can your kin offer a life worth my living? For your people are not my people, nor your ways my ways.

“What changed your mind?”

“My mind didn’t really change. I just started thinking that I cannot live in half-dreams forever, and – well I began to feel that you – all of you – were my own imaginations. I didn’t want to feel that. I fought against it. But more and more, I felt it must be so.”

“Hence your little disagreement with Ixititia,” she knew the Nurse was referring to the Pixie.

“Yes – though whether that is simply my conflict with myself I cannot tell. I hope you don’t mind my saying that.”

“It is important to say what you feel.”

“It feels like a sort of sacrilege, doubting you, Nurse. You, who have cared for me through my childhood, have tended my ills and been often the only comfort to my poor soul exiled in an alien world. But then again one would feel sacrilegious giving up one’s security blanket – I mean, wouldn’t one, Nurse?”

“Very likely one would.”

 

“You don’t mind, do you? I am just wandering round in the same old circle.”

 

“But things have changed a little now.”

 

Selena remembered her physical body on the bed. “Yes, that shocked me at first. Now I don’t know what to think. I think perhaps I shall wake up soon.”

 

“Does it matter, child? Here is where you are now, so just be here. If you awaken, you awaken. Your body will not awaken fully for some time. Several days at least. If I am wrong about that, we shall see soon enough.”

 

“And if this is a dream?”

 

“What is a dream? From this state, perhaps that jealous world is the dream. In any case this world has the only power over you at the moment that that world ever had: the power that you are in it and cannot leave it. That is not of my doing or yours. It simply is. Just for now, why don’t you put aside your questions and simply be?”

 

“Yes, Nurse. I shall.”

 

“I am glad. I shall leave you now, but we shall meet again soon aboard the Imperial Princess.”

 

“You are going, Nurse?”

 

“Well, I am not really here. But I shall see you very shortly. Ixititia, can I trust you to bring my patient to the Imperial Princess without any further misbehavior?”

 

The pixie made a deep reverence. “But of course, most honored healer.”

 

“Well, see that you do. Rayati for now, both of you.”

 

Selena got up on one elbow and bowed her head. It was the best reverence she could make from her recumbent position.”

 

“Rayati, honored Nurse.”

 

“Rayati,” said the pixie.

 

The Nurse vanished.

 

“You see what trouble you get me into, fainting like that?” said Ixititia. “And we such good friends, too.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Oh, it was my fault really, but you were so aggravating with your dreameries and upgrowings.”

 

“I aggravated the humans with my dreameries and non-upgrowings.”

 

“Humans,” snorted Ixititia. “Humans were born aggravated.”

 

“What happened to the Nurse? Was she a dreamery?”

 

“No, she wasn’t here.”

 

“That’s what she said, but what did she mean?”

 

“It was a holoform beamed down from the Imperial Princess.”

 

“Sort of like a videophone only 3D?” asked Selena.

 

“Whatever you say. I suppose we’d better get you up to the Princess.”

 

“I never had trouble getting there before. I just closed my eyes and there I was.”

 

“Well, we didn’t have to move your whole subtle body there before: just a bit of your consciousness. It’s not a big thing. We just have to observe a bit of ritual formality. You know – like opening doors instead of just walking through them. Different planes of being are fussy about different bits of formality. Just like different peoples, really.”

 

“Will the ship seem realer this time?”

 

“Oh yes. Lots realer I should think.”

 

“How exciting. You know, I’ve often felt as if I had a Secret Destiny – you know, to save the world or something.”

 

Ixititia looked about her at the bedroom and the window. “This world, you mean? Are you especially fond of it? I mean, is it worth saving?”

 

“Well, it was just a figure of speech.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“And anyway it does have some pretty bits – the world I mean. And in any case, I seem to be living there, so it might be a bit inconvenient if it popped.”

 

“Then again it might not. Lots of other possibilities for a bright girl like you, you know.”

 

“Do you really think so? I should like to try a few. I have to say this world has never really been my cup of tea. Pity for it to pop, though. It has got some pretty bits.”

 

“Who said it was going to pop? Looks like a tough old world to me. Not one of those sensitive, delicate worlds that shiver out of existence at a few harsh words.”

 

“Where did this bed come from?” asked Serena, sitting up.

 

“I dollied it up for you when you fainted. It might have been odd to put you in the physical bed with…” Ixititia stopped short, hoping she had not been tactless again.

 

“Oh, it’s all right. I’m fine now,” said Selena, swiveling her legs over the side of the bed and standing up. “How do I look?” She walked toward the full-length looking-glass set into the wardrobe door.

 

“How do I look?” mimicked Ixititia. “Chelani!”

 

“Oh Heavens,” cried Selena. “I haven’t got a reflection.”

 

“No, I suppose not,” said Ixititia.

 

Selena shuddered. “Like a witch or a vampire or…”

 

“Or a unicorn,” put in Ixititia; “or the Queen of the Faeries; or me. Or anyone else that isn’t lumbering round in a physical body.”

 

“Well how do I see myself?”

 

“Chelani, chelani! I’ll make you a looking-glass on the way up.”

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Published in: on June 21, 2007 at 12:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

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