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A Dreamseller's Destiny
When Man decided to store away all the suffering in the world, they packed it into a small, ruby red chest called the Pandora. But Man forgot to consider the consequences- and by the time the deed was done they could no longer regret it. Because regret- along with every other feeling imaginable- had disappeared into the scarlet box.
Picture it ; there was no hatred, but there was no love. There was no craving, so there was no satisfaction. There was no rest - because there was no weariness. In a way, the attempt at perfection seemed flawed. And it was too late for anyone to realise it.
They all forgot was life was like with feeling, and could not even prefer it, since the emotion was gone.
Life gradually became bland and thin and diluted - it was no longer a gift, it was a chore. All human beings were imprisoned in its’ joyless cell. Colours and sensations drained from their stone eyes, everything sloshing into one disgusting grey. Their skin turned coarse and ugly, for it felt not the trickle of rain, nor the prick of wind and flame, nor the comfortable heat of sun. It could no longer indulge in the sand’s gentle sift, nor in velvet’s soft touch. Food lost its’ delicate savors, and the nose no longer detected the aroma of rain-dappled earth or secretive spice gardens. And no noise, not even silence, pierced the curse that had been set by the blood-red box. All these futile details were slowly erased, and there was no such thing as living but only existing. Hunger and thirst faded as well, along with illness. Only death remained- and many fell into its’ sinister clutches. People ate and drank and stayed away from fire, but only because it was written in the Unquestionable Law. Those who could not read perished.
In this forlorn world only two people escaped this tasteless way of life. Their names were Saffron and Hope Fireworth. The former was an ancient, rusty man with vivid eyes and a spring in his step. He had a shade of gaiety in his voice- and this troubled everyone. Not knowing joy, seeing this old man bearing a foreign twinkle in his face made him the one thing that disturbed the land dry of emotion. No one shrank or wondered at him for they were incapable of it. They simply did not speak to him, as the Unquestionable Law said to do with any person who seemed not to obey its’ ways.
Saffron was Hope’s grandfather, and both loved each other fiercely. They knew they were alone against the wretched world. They also knew that they were the only tramps alive- for they were the only tramps who could respond to hunger while being illiterate.
Hope, aged eleven, remained unknown to all but Saffron until he died. He was plagued by a terrible illness, but nobody knew this either. They didn’t know illness. They fondly supposed he had been ‘put down’, like the Law said all people were when they reached the age of sixty-five. They didn’t know that Saffron lived into his eighties.
When her grandfather died, Hope took his place on the dingy alleyway. She took up his job as well- she sold dreams.
Nobody knew it but that was the most important job of all. Dreams were the only time when people were allowed to feel anything, and for this reason they were the most precious things. They permitted people to live once more- even if when daylight rose they had no memory of the dream. Of course, there could be only one place where dreams of such true feelings were made: the Pandora.
For it was all thanks to that crimson chest that Hope and Saffron had led natural, feeling lives. Descendants of the creators of the box, they were the guardians charged with all the feelings in humanity. Those tramps were the most important people alive- or, now, person.
But the others did not know this as they paced up and down the street in haunting rhythm. They saw Hope, and saw a strangeness about her face. This was an expression. That expression was sorrow. It was a deep, dark sorrow due to Saffron’s death. It was a bitter, mournful realization as Hope saw that she was now alone in this wretched world.
However it was with a clear, singing voice that Hope chanted to the passerbys:
“Come forward, all, come forward, and say what’ll you give me for a dream. Tell me what you’ll give, for another chance to live, for a glimpse at a world that was ours.”
“I have a dream of success, I have a dream of adventure. I have a dream of the sea. I have a dream of love. I have a unique piece of a field combed by a reckless storm wind and one of a glorious and radiant sunset. I even have a brazen, shadowy nightmare or two. I have everything you could wish for- and more -at dazzling quality and reasonable price. Just say what you’d like -fork out the money, please- and it’s yours.”
It is evident that nobody knew what Hope spoke of- adjectives, too, had been erased- but they went to her out of habit. For each of her clients Hope gently produced a delicate sachet of muslin, fuzzy and glowing with something of strange, supernatural shade bounding in its’ centre. Of this everyone but Hope was oblivious to. She softly withdrew the packets from a slit in the Pandora, aware of the delightful morsel of life which she held in her hands. The Pandora pulsed softly, beating like a heart.
Harald Finnery was middle-aged, at least in looks. He had never actually counted his years, but he knew that it would soon be his duty to go and be put down, like all responsible citizens who followed the Law. He had never had any other plan. His life and duties were written out by his ancestors and all he had to do was obey. He would never dream of doing otherwise. How could he, when the dream he purchased was that of a so-called “wedding”? He did not remember what the little girl had given him the day before but that was alright because what mattered was the future and the day he would be put to rest. Harald mechanically pulled out his money. The girl did not see him. So Harald moved forward. So the girl was knocked and was pulled down by gravity and fell down.
And because of this the precious Pandora- the living Pandora- the final figment of life- slipped to the ground, its’ lock cracking open from the shock. It opened just a crack but that was enough. Life would never be the same again. All the light and rainbow and laughter, so long a prisoner in that rusted coffin, tumbled out. A waft of pure gold rose- at its’ touch, everything began to jiggle furiously and, miraculously, slowly fill with colour. Everything turned a glittering, flawless frenzy- people whirled around and gasped and laughed, because they realised they could gasp! A shrill, saturated sweetness drove into the world at top speed. An indescribable force took hold of everything- everything -and nursed love and heartache and joy and thrill back into it.
Hope could only stare, her passionate heart battering against her chest so hard it hurt! A shower of rainbow joy shot through her and people around her felt it too. In a bubbling ecstasy they shrieked, jumped, ran. breathed so hard it almost shredded their poor, deprived souls. Their thirsty spirits exploded like fireworks within them.
And in that radiant, blazing trail of light there were even brighter things- intangible, fizzy things that floated like fireflies and filled the air. They were love- and desire- and joy- and laughter- and hope.
All these things had shadows, but they were smaller when you looked at the light.