The other comment I received quite often about the original draft of The Dream King’s Daughter concerns the background of the Dream King himself. As I feared, while I did much to win the hearts and minds of my audience in accepting a girl who could read dreams just by looking into the eyes of the people she meets, or of a trek through a dreamlike Saskatchewan countryside, or Aurora’s ability to manipulate dreams, I wasn’t able to take them the full way in accepting a pantheon of god-descendants who were intermarrying into humanity and losing their divinity.
This is what my mother said in her critique:
Even if known to be part of the dream realm, the idea of a cloudy Valhalla floating around above the Earth just doesn’t work. Also the traditional royal court, with throne, courtiers, married kings and queens, people saying “Sire,” etc. It’s all too far from the elemental power of dreams. Too human and almost mundane, without being realistic.
What’s strong: the Dream King as long-distance trucker, the big black rig, the crows. And they don’t have to be gigantic crows. (Ravens would be even better, but then you’d seem to be copying the Raven King from the novels by Susannah Whatshername.) There is a lot of power in that image of the huge rig roaring through the night along the endlessly unrolling ribbon of highway. It morphs very easily into the image of a big crow sailing through a darkened sky. For some reason, both seem to convey a journey through the darker parts of the subconscious. Or possibly the unconscious. I think you should keep that and see how you can develop it.
Think about what dreams are: the life of the unconscious mind. I’m going to free-associate for a while, so take what you want from what follows below.
What follows is too lengthy to post here, but it was very useful. Basically, it told me that I needed a better idea of who Aurora’s parents really were, and tying in with Erin’s suggestion that Aurora’s mother play an active role in this story, I began to think that the story might need a prologue to set some stuff up.
So, that is what I did. Meet Dawn, everyone! And take note that this prologue is almost a first draft…
“Close your eyes, Sally, and tell me what you see.”
Sally glanced at the psychiatrist, grinned nervously, and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, then another.
“I’m flying, Dr. Perrault,” said the child at last.
“Call me Dawn, Sally. Are you in your dream?” Dr. Dawn leaned forward. She pushed back her glasses and brushed a strand of blonde hair behind one ear.
“Yes,” said the child, her voice placid as a pond. “I’m flying over mountains.”
Flying. Sally reaches down and touches a peak. The snow crumbles on her fingertips.
“That’s good,” said the psychiatrist. “Where are you flying to?”
The child breathed deep.
The ground rises and falls like a crumpled, ink-stained piece of paper.
“Nowhere,” she said, letting out her breath. “It’s so beautiful, I don’t want to come down.”
The clouds circle. She is flanked by birds. She reaches out and touches the end of a wing.
Then her brow tightened. “But something is pulling me down.”
A valley opens up and sucks in wind. Sally flails her arms, but she is sucked down into the green. The trees part to accept her, then close behind her.
“No,” Sally whimpered. “It’s dark!”
“Sally,” said Dawn firmly. “This is a dream. Remember that. All of this is in your mind and you can take control of it.”
Green and black surrounds the girl. The air breathes whispers. Sally sees faces at the edge of her vision, which disappear each time she looks around. She hears the rustle of feet and paws approach.
“Stay away!” Sally yells. “Stay away!”
“You know what to do, Sally,” said Dawn, her voice level. “It’s your dream. Use it.”
Sally stands in the middle of the forest. She glares at the surrounding darkness. She closes her eyes. When she looks around again, a wall is growing around her, brick by brick, rising up and closing above her head.
Dark leafy hands slam against the window. Sally gasps. The oak door bangs and shudders against the beat of something heavy outside.
“It’s not working!” she wails. “They’re coming in!”
The door cracks, bulges.
Dawn grabbed the girl by her shoulders. “Sally, It’s only a dream!”
“It doesn’t matter!” the girl wailed, her eyes closed. “I’m still here! It’s still happening! I can’t stop it!”
Sally caught her breath. She looked up, though her eyes were closed. “Who are you?”
A man stands by Sally’s side. He is a mass of shadow. He has dark hair and is wearing black jeans, black boots and a black shirt with a collar. He lays a hand on her shoulder, gently.
Dawn frowned. “Sally? What’s going on? Who is with you?”
Sally straightened in her chair. Her shoulders relaxed. “There’s a man. I’ve never seen him before.” She cocked her head. “Who are you?”
The man smiles at her, like the sun behind clouds. Then he glares at the shaking door, and raises his hand.
The walls distort in front of him, like clay beneath a sculptor’s hand. Sally watches, entranced.
And the man smiles at her, takes her hand, and holds it out. The air shimmers in front of her fingers. Sally beams at him, focuses on her fingers, and the world changes.
The door dissolves, leaving only sunshine and meadow behind. Somewhere in the distance a dark shape screams its frustration, then disappears.
Dr. Dawn let go of Sally’s shoulders and drew back. “Sally?”
Her eyes closed, Sally smiled.
Sally stands with the dark man in the world she created, on a top of a hill, overlooking a meadow.
“Fly,” says the dark man.
And Sally flies.
Sally opened her eyes. She beamed at the doctor, then launched herself into Dawn’s arms. “You did it, Dr. Dawn! I changed my dream! I could fly again!”
Dawn frowned over Sally’s shoulder a moment. Then the ends of her lips tipped up. “That’s wonderful, Sally. It’s… er… wonderful.” Then, her smile broadened. “I’m so glad!”
After Sally left the office, waving as she held her mother’s hand, Dawn sat at her desk and scrolled through Sally’s case notes on her computer. She ran her hand over her cheek and shook her head. Then she shrugged. “Maybe I’m better than I think,” she muttered.
Outside her office window, the roar of a truck powered over the hish of traffic. A rig sounded its horn from the parking lot.
She didn’t have to look out. She just smiled.
In the waiting room, her receptionist popped her head around the door. “I’m off. And… he’s here.”
Dawn narrowed her eyes at the young woman. “Don’t give me that look,” she said. “It’s unprofessional. Besides, I can date whoever I want on my own time.”
“That’s nice,” said the receptionist. “And his name is?”
Dawn glared. “You know his name.”
“Bob,” said the young woman. “Bob the truck driver. I don’t think so. On him, it’s obviously a pseudonym.”
“You’re off the clock, so go home,” said Dawn. “Besides, I don’t pay you to comment on my love life.”
The dark haired receptionist gave the doctor a smile and a wink, then left. Dawn rolled her eyes. But she got up quickly from her desk, pulled her jacket from its hook on the wall, shrugged it on, and stepped lightly out the door.
The elevator doors were closing as she locked up the office, but she didn’t even shout. She charged through the stair doors and dashed down three flights of stairs, bursting onto the ground floor with the elevator display still showing “2”. She halted by the glass front door and composed herself before leaving the small brick building and stepping onto the parking lot.
She didn’t have to look far to see him. He stood in front of his black big rig, arms folded. He wore black jeans, black cowboy boots and a black polo shirt with a collar. A black Stetson shielded his eyes. But when he looked up at her, his smile shone like the sun emerging from behind clouds.
Behind Dawn, the glass door swung open. Her receptionist huffed theatrically. “How professional.”
“If you want to come to work Monday, go and enjoy your weekend, now,” said Dawn, without looking back.
The receptionist chuckled and headed for the bus stop, her heels clicking on the asphalt.
As the receptionist’s footfalls faded into the distance, Dr. Dawn Perrault smiled at the man waiting for her. She stepped lightly across the parking lot towards the black rig. He tipped up his hat to greet her.
As she came up to him, she opened her jacket, took the man’s hand and placed it, palm down, on her belly. “I felt the baby kick. She’s going to be quite a girl.”
- Jorane’s Le Venin (music I hear when I picture Aurora trekking across the Saskatchewan countryside on her own.
- Dreamcatchers! I need to add dreamcatchers to this story somewhere!