Aurora's Long Night


The Dream King’s Daughter Scorecard
Word Count: 14539
Increase since last report (Nov 23): 3536

The Dream King’s Daughter approaches 15,000 words as I type this. It’s maintaining its momentum, as I have a few areas where I can pursue the plot. It looks like there’s going to be a flashback component to this story as Aurora remembers the first time she realized she could read the dreams of others.

I’m a little concerned that Aurora might be too passive in these early chapters. A lot of things happen to Aurora and she just takes it. Part of the change of the story will be having her rise up and not take it anymore, but I worry it might be a little hard slogging to get there. But we shall see. Comments, as always, are welcome.

This scene marks the beginning of chapter two, with Aurora now aware that she has had memories implanted in her, that her parents have hidden her away, and that Matron is in on it.

Here’s what we have so far:

Chapter 1
Part 1 - Opener
Part 2 - Meeting Polk
Part 3 - The Big Rig Arrives
Part 4 - Aurora Dreams of Lake Winnipeg
Part 5 - Aurora Awakes

Chapter Two: A Murder of Crows

At 9:00 p.m., Matron closed a restaurant that had been deserted an hour beforehand. Polk and Aurora helped with the cleaning in the still period, Aurora not saying anything except for the most idle chit-chat, but Polk and Matron didnt’ say much either. Thus, they were out the door by 9:05. Polk and Matron paid only passing attention to the red-gold sunset, the shadows rippling over the tassels as, in the distance, a combine chuffed, but Aurora paused and stood a long moment, breathing the cooling air.

Then she remembered the crows and she scanned the tops of the tassels, listening for the beat of wings. But only the breeze brushed the hair past her cheeks.

At 9:15 p.m., Aurora followed Polk and Matron to the small house that sat attached to the back of the diner building. The storm door squeaked as she entered and she found the two of them sprawled on the couch, watching a fuzzy signal of Corner Gas on Matron’s battered TV. Aurora flopped down beside them. Popcorn was rattling in the microwave.

At 10:30, Matron turned off the news and hauled herself out of the couch. “Bedtime Aurora. I’ll straighten up.”

Aurora nodded. No argument; Polk slept on the couch. She levered herself up and gave Matron a brief kiss on the cheek. “G’night,” she said.

Polk grabbed a set of blankets from behind the couch and flopped down, wrapping a cocoon around him in record time. “‘night,” was his muffled response. Aurora and Matron climbed the stairs.

At 11:00 p.m., Aurora eased into bed, washed, brushed and wearing a long t-shirt. She pulled the covers to her chest and fluffed up the pillows behind her, and then lay back and stared at the ceiling.

How could I have forgotten my parents, she thought.

Two conflicting sets of memories bumped their shopping carts against each other in the aisles of her mind and stared at each other reproachfully, not saying anything. She remembered growing up with her parents, and she remembered having no parents. She remembered school in St. Boniface, picnics on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. And she remembered being in Cooper’s Corners in northern Saskatchewan all her life, doing nothing more than serving coffee to the hamlet’s inhabitants all day, every day.

As she reached back in her mind, the memories of Manitoba flooded her. Summer barbecues. Schoolwork. Roger, the school bully.

She shuddered. Okay, it was a mixed bag, but it told her what was real and what was implanted. She had parents. She also had an aunt Matron, but somehow she’d been brought here and made to think there was no one else to look after her but aunt Matron. And as she finally remembered the trip that took her from Winnipeg to this empty place, she had a pretty good idea of who had done this to her.

Then there was the crow man, who she hadn’t seen since waking up. And the crows. What was up with all that? Another hallucination? A third set of implanted memories?

It was getting crowded in the synapses of her mind.

She took a deep breath. If her parents had arranged to bring her here and make her think she belonged to no one else but Aunt Matron, then probably Aunt Matron was in on it. And she might not like to hear that she’d broken through whatever block her parents placed on her.

But tomorrow, she thought, I’m going into that diner with my eyes open. I’ll find out what you’re hiding, auntie.

Now to rest for the night.

She sat up. She grabbed a book off her bedside table, The Kite Runner, found her place, and started reading.

At midnight, she had finished The Kite Runner. She set it down and picked up the next book on her bedside table. Adjusting the pillows around her, she started in.

At 1:00 a.m., she left the bed to go pee. The house breathed silence around her. Downstairs, Polk snored. Returning to her room, she picked up A Thousand Splendid Suns, stared at it a moment, then marked her place and set it aside. She took up The Hogfather instead, got back into bed, and started to read. Her face broke into a grin as she met the first joke.

At 2:30 a.m., she set the book aside and turned off the light. She lay back in bed and stared up at the ceiling.

At 3:00 a.m., she caught the time off the red digital display of the clock radio, and stared up at the ceiling again.

You’ve done this before, she thought to herself. Just close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths. Cleansing air slowly in. Stressed air slowly out. Clensing air in, stressed air out. Let the days jumbled thoughts slip beneath the waters of silence, if not sleep.

Finally, in her minds eye, Aurora felt as though she was floating, on a plush-filled boat rocking gently as it flowed down a lazy, wide stream. She stared up at the clouds.

The clock display flipped to 3:20 a.m.

“Maybe I’m dead,” she muttered aloud. And not for the first time. And why not? It was practically a medical diagnosis.

Three years ago, Aurora had gone to her family doctor, Dr. Zane, for a routine checkup. It was… routine. Except…

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