Mesdames, Messieurs, poppets and imps, mischief-makers and trouble-seekers,
I have for you, for all of you, for each and every one of you, dreams of all sensations and durations. Dreams that will take your breath away, fantasies that will thrill and overwhelm, illusions that will leave you spellbound. Reveries for the noontime, or nightmares for the witching hour should you have a penchant for the shivers. Illusions that last a few moments, or flights of fancies that never end. Age-old dreams that were dreamt into existence by the Gods themselves. Some others as pristine as a newborn, and some rare ones yet undreamt of.
Come hither, my dearies, for your dream-rides. No two dreams are alike. But to choose one, you must let go of the rest. Ah, choices! You have countless dreams to pick from, but only one can truly be yours today.
To the beautiful lady in green; may I recommend, Madame, the Story Tellers and Yarn Spinners. They appear in your dreams and tell you a different story every night. Their tales are mostly pleasant but sometimes terrible too, I must warn you. But you know how it goes with dreams. We barely let them run their course and so they come to haunt us, day and night, and again the next day and night. The Story Tellers and Yarn Spinners will tell their tales every night, and I hope some day you will find within yourself the courage to follow your dream until the very end.
Dear Sir in the grey bowler hat, pray tell me what ails you. Is it the several decades of existence that wear you down? Or the memories of youth and damsels that make you nostalgic? Ah, so it is adventure you seek, Monsieur. Voila! What you need is this rare, glossy shell of the brave tiger cowrie whose thirst for adventure remains unquenched. It is said the tiger cowrie set out to master the art of metamorphosis so he could swim in the depths of the oceans, gallop through the vast muddy terrains of man's land and soar across the vast expanse of the skies. L'océan, le terrain, et le ciel, traversing all in his single-minded pursuit of adventure. Slip the tiny shell under your pillow and ride along with the tiger cowrie every night mon ami, but remember, adventure comes readily to the seeker only after he casts away his shell.
A-ha my little poppet! I have just the perfect dream for you. The Quick Fingers, it is called. Magic tricks that have been passed down from generation to generation, their secrets preserved only in the hands and minds of the world's greatest illusionists. All the sleights of hand that have ever been performed, illusions that have left countless spellbound and dazzled. You will be the sole audience of the Quick Fingers every night, my pretty child. They will teach you conjuring tricks and illusions and chicaneries and other feats. For years, you will learn by night and practise by day. And eventually, when you learn to merge the magic from your dreams with your waking life, may you find yourself on a stage much larger and glamourous than this, the world lying at your feet, bedazzled by your skills. But remember ma chérie, each maneuver can be performed only once. Any attempts at recreating the same magic will undoubtedly be futile.
Now, let's see. You, my dear. Yes, you. You who are here yet not with me. Would you like a dream too? A dream, perhaps, of riches and fame? Or a fantasy of everlasting happiness? But I doubt these would do you any good. The other ones didn't anyway. The ones you have tucked away into the dark folds of the night. And there they remain hidden all day. Come morning and you barely recall your dreams of the night. So little use you have for them and they for you.
What you need, my dear, is a tale. A story with a moral. A tall tale, perhaps. Or maybe a short one. It doesn't matter. As long as it is a tale.
Once upon a time, long long ago, in a far, far away land ...
Oh, you've heard this one, haven't you?
Very well, let's see now. How about the one in which a little girl falls through a rabbit hole and meets a mad hatter and the Queen of Hearts ... So you know this one too.
What? The story of the Dream Pedlar? A tale about me? Well, how could I possibly... Are you absolutely certain? Is that what you would like to hear? Er... What could I possibly tell you about myself?
Perhaps I could talk to you of my past but oh, that would be so futile. I am no longer what I once was. Each dream changes me slightly but irreversibly. I now go by so many names that none can claim to wholly stand for me. I am all your dreams and thoughts and desires and fears and impulses and yearnings interlaced into colourful braids. I am all of it at the same time but also not just any one of it. You could pull a loose thread and try to unravel me but I would only fall apart and crumble into so many fragments you would never ever be able to put them all together.
Sometimes I am the happy summer afternoon you drape over your shoulders like a warm quilt. At times, I am also the raging wind and the furious thunderstorm that screech and howl behind you and make you run for cover.
Perhaps I am the ginger-haired lass who bows her violin to soulful tunes on the street corner. Maybe I am the next door neighbour you never see. Or the old homeless man breathing his last on a broken bench in a forgotten park. Or a sweet smelling bud beginning to bloom.
I am what you seek. I am also what you are running away from. Often I am both. More often, I am neither.
I could very well be your white-winged guardian angel But then, I could just as well be that sinister looking thing creeping up from the darkness behind you.
(Tale originally published on Sunday, November 20, 2011)