Friday, 18 March 2011
In her Floral Dress She Slept
It was often said of Lilian that she must have been a cat in a past life for she was often prone to sleeping. In class she had day-dreamed much to the annoyance of her teachers. Lilian still managed to get excellent grades and showed clear understanding of her subjects. They did not know how. The girl with her dark red hair and green eyes had been motherless it was said since she was very small. Her father had been devastated but doted on Lilian who always seemed a little wild.
Lilian had a tendency to suddenly disappear from where she should be and this did not stop when she began work. As a result she was soon without work and this did not seem to be a problem at all. Again, this was much to many people's annoyance, but they could not explain it. Lilian for her part was not disposed to explain it either.
She bought a dress for her 25th birthday with money she 'just happened to have for such an occasion'. It was a rich turquoise silk with large daisies printed all over it. She bought it simply because she liked it. Well, also it was her birthday. Her father had bought her a pillow, for she had worn out so many from sleeping.
Lilian declared to her father on the morning of her birthday that she was leaving home to seek her fortune. It seemed to her father that Lilian never seemed to be short of money and might be said to have her fortune. But he knew better than to argue with her as he had with her mother whom he missed.
"Then I must inform you Lilian," he began, but misunderstanding him, Lilian silenced him with a gesture.
"No I must insist. I shall go out into the world and seek my fortune. My mind is made up," she said.
Her father tried again valiantly but Lilian merely kissed him and said she would miss him too. He gave up with a sigh and went to work. He did not have Lilian's gift, but along the way, he stopped off to see Lilian's godmother. He told her what Lilian had said and she approved. He told her what he had wanted to say and that he hadn't said it. Lilian's godmother sighed, frowned and muttered something about sending a man to do a woman's job.
"Leave it to me," she told him.
Lilian took her handbag and her new pillow and went out into the street. It was an ordinary street in an ordinary part of town. She walked and walked until her shoes fell to pieces. Then she walked on in her bare feet with her handbag over one arm and the pillow under the other. She soon felt sleepy and approaching a wood, she placed the pillow against a tree and in her floral dress she slept.
She dreamed that a very tall woman with dark coppery hair and bright green eyes came to her and left a pair of shoes by her. The woman kissed her and went away. As if she had actually been kissed, Lilian woke up and lying beside her were a pair of turquoise satin shoes with little kitten heels. Lilian put the shoes on and as she always did when she woke up, whispered,
"Why thank you, I am most grateful."
Then she stretched and yawned and went on her way. After a little while her sleepiness and hunger made her place her pillow against a tree and again in her floral dress and her new shoes, she slept. She dreamed that squirrels gathered a heap of chestnuts for her and that bees brought her honey. A host of birds brought her plump blackberries from far away and the coppery-haired lady with the bright green eyes brought her a gold goblet with nectar in it for her to drink. Lilian felt the woman's kiss on her brow shortly before she awoke and stretched.
"Why thank you, I am most grateful," she whispered and ate the chestnuts with the honey and blackberries.
She drank the nectar and put the gold goblet into her handbag having cleaned it out with fresh leaves. She went on her way and soon came to a small cottage. There she found a poor woman with two small children and Lilian reached into her handbag for the goblet but imagine her surprise when she found, not the goblet but lots of gold coins. She gave them all to the poor woman who kissed her and changed her mind about stealing Lilian's dress and shoes.
Further along her way, the sun began to set and the trees of the forest began to thin out. Lilian felt sleepy again and placing her pillow against a tree, she fell asleep in her floral dress and turquoise satin shoes. She dreamed that her godmother came to her and shook her by the shoulders. She wasn't dreaming, her godmother had come to her and was telling her,
"Do wake up Lilian, you'll ruin that dress sleeping on the ground."
Lilian yawned elegantly, placing a hand over her mouth and hugging her godmother. She said that she was going to seek her fortune.
"Well I do wish you'd listen to your dear father. Your mother, as he was trying to tell you is a faerie and you have no need to seek your fortune for she will help you whenever she can. So do get up and come along home," her godmother told her.
Lilian was most impressed and asked her godmother if she was a faerie godmother.
"Don't be absurd Lilian, I'm a witch, not a faerie. You'd think that much would be obvious," her godmother answered whistling for her broomstick.
She patted the broomstick and Lilian did as she was told and sat behind her godmother. She held her godmother's hips and the broomstick obediently carried them home. It was fortunate that by the time they reached home, the sun had set. Nobody saw them land in her godmother's back garden on the lawn.
Lilian suddenly felt very tired, but she yawned and stretched and was sure that she opened her eyes. Was she dreaming, or was she awake?
She heard her godmother's voice downstairs and turning over in her bed, she went back to sleep.