WICKED THIS WAY COMES
DANIELLE SAW THAT SHE was smiling. She smiled, as one does when holding a picture of a happy time. I’m dreaming, she realized. Isn’t it odd that I’d be dreaming of me dreaming?
She heard a rustling behind her, of someone stepping on gritty rock. But she didn’t turn. She recognized the steps. Her smiles widened, both the smile on her own face and the one on the dreaming self that she observed.
“Why is it odd?”
Danielle spun around on her heels, delight painted across her face like the sunrise finally breaking over the Nepalese mountains.
“Lohxnahr!” she cried. “You are here at last! We’ve been waiting so long for you!”
The small gargoyle now hovered a few feet in front of Danielle. His gossamer wings whirred like a hummingbird’s, so fast that they appeared nearly colorless. His glistening, pale lavender eyes were framed by his chubby face.
“Hullo,” Lohxnahr said happily, his voice raspy, “and good morning to you, and to us all, as you can see,” his right hand pointing over Danielle’s shoulder, toward the sun rising over the dark, ragged ridge. “It is a morning of wonder and a wonderful morning.”
Danielle so wanted to hug her friend but knew she couldn’t. If nothing else, it would get in the way of his wings. And he’s not a pet! Embarrassed at this thought, she recognized that there had been times she felt like hugging Lohxnahr like she did her friend’s big cat. Howfoolish of me…
“Why is it odd?” Lohxnahr repeated, flying closer to Danielle, so that he was just two inches from her face.
Smiling from ear to ear, Lohxnahr replied, “You said, ‘Isn’t it odd that I’d be dreaming of me dreaming?’ Why is it odd?”
“Well, you know, it’s just”—Danielle abruptly stopped— “Wait a minute! I didn’t say anything about that. I was thinking it, Lohxnahr.”
Lohxnahr’s beaming face still hovered just two inches in front of Danielle’s nose.
“Are you listening to my thoughts?” Danielle giggled.
Lohxnahr’s head tipped a little to one side. “That would be interesting!”
Danielle could have sworn that her hovering friend winked at her. Instinctively, she reached out and gently laid her hands on the little gargoyle’s shoulders, pulled him toward her and hugged him. She felt his hands reach around her neck, grateful he took care to avoid her with his long talons. The thrumming of his wings caused a buzzing in her ears and vibrated all the way down her back.
Releasing him, Danielle giggled again. “It is so good to see you! Where have you been, Lohxnahr? We’ve been waiting for you,” she swept her arm around in the direction of her parents, Conomorg and Ita-Mudak. “We’ve been worried.”
The gargoyle’s lavender eyes narrowed slightly. “Worried? Worried, please be not! For worry solves nothing. It only distracts our minds and saps our strength.” Although it didn’t seem possible, Danielle thought Lohxnahr’s smile grew even wider.
“Yes, I suppose that is true.”
“Of course, it is not odd.”
“I’m sorry?” Danielle replied, perplexed.
“Of course, it is not odd to dream that you are dreaming.”
“Oh,” Danielle said, grinning as she caught up to Lohxnahr’s meaning. “And why is that?”
“Because you didn’t answer my question, I chose to provide it myself,” Lohxnahr intoned solemnly. His body leaned slightly to the left, and he began circling around where Danielle stood.
“No, no, Lohxnahr.” Danielle replied, giggling again. “I didn’t mean, why did you answer the question you asked me? I meant that I am curious why you don’t think it is odd that I was dreaming about me dreaming.”
“Because you still are.” Lohxnahr continued to slowly fly around where Danielle stood.
“You are still dreaming that you are dreaming.”
Danielle blinked, confused.
“But…but…we’re talking,” she cried, immediately feeling stupid for saying something so obvious.
“Of course!” Lohxnahr replied merrily. “I most enjoy our conversations, whether you be awake or asleep.”
Danielle opened her mouth to speak but snapped it shut. A moment later, she blurted, “So, this is all a dream!”
“Of course,” Lohxnahr beamed. The new dawn breaking over the ridge glittered off of the gargoyle’s wings, reflecting tiny, random bursts of light.
Danielle squinted. “But I—”
“Have you not noticed everyone sleeps, still?”
“Ah, well, I do now,” Danielle muttered, feeling thick. Now that she looked around, it was obvious that all the others had not moved during her “conversation” with Lohxnahr. “Oh, bother!” Danielle hated feeling stupid.
“Shall we go now?” Lohxnahr’s pace had increased, Danielle realized. He circled around her faster.
Danielle trusted Lohxnahr completely, so she wasn’t alarmed about going anywhere with him. But she was greatly annoyed with herself and frustrated by this conversation.
“Why?” she sighed, squeezing her head in her hands. She’d almost shouted at her friend.
“Because you are dreaming that you are dreaming, of course!” Lohxnahr chirped. “This is a very strong path to awareness. This, we need.”
By now, Lohxnahr spun around Danielle so fast that dust and grit funneled high over her head. An uncomfortable throbbing pulsed in her ears. She could no longer see anyone outside of the swirling dust-cloud.
“Where are we going, Lohxnahr?” Danielle shouted. She could no longer focus on him; he was spinning too fast. But she caught brief glimpses of him within the churning plume of dirt and thought he’d brought his hands directly over his head, just a few inches between them.
Then she heard a clap and they were gone.
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