Prompt: South Indian Cuisine
Summary: Living in two worlds at once, two worlds that are one.
I woke up with a start. "Nara!" my brother called. "It is time!"
"Time for what?" I called back while throwing a dress on, brushing through my hair.
"It's time for the coronation!" He rushed into my rooms. "Hurry! They're waiting for you!"
My brother wore a crown. He looked royal, with lovely blue eyes and dark, slightly curly hair, and a face that any girl could fall for.
I realised, and remembered, that he had been King since a while already over a small neighboring kingdom. He wasn't even half-bad at it. At being King.
"There's a coronation? Who's being made King this time?"
"You are, silly!" he called, laughing. "It's your turn to become Queen!"
It was a huge event. Half the world watched us on TV; the other half seemed to be right here. So now I became Queen. How do I reign? How would I know what to do? It felt unreal. Yet it felt right.
I awoke, slowly this time. Oh. It had just been a dream, then.
I brushed my hair, got dressed, and found myself expecting to wear a crown. (Weird!)
When I went to work something was different. I felt it in the air. I saw it in the light. The sunshine glittered differently on the waters then before, but that made no sense.
Something had happened.
After work I walked through the city. Shopping heals all blues, and I hoped to lose this sense of a difference that still seemed to cling to me.
Then I saw it in the news: This kingdom had gotten a new Queen. No King this time, thank God. The last one had been dreadful enough, tactless, insensitive and brutally honest about the rather boring state of our little world. Now a Queen. Good, good.
Then I saw her face, in the news: My face.
I awoke again. None of the dread I had felt when I went to bed had come with me. Serenity all around me, and an interesting sense of purpose, before all hell broke loose. Or so it seemed.
Like in an action movie I had to react, make decisions, find alternatives, rebuke and guard, lock and load.
Finally, a rousing speech to my new nation.
What I did was important, even if it only was a dream. I didn't notice that, though; my dreams always feel as if they are real. I had dreamt since forever that I am a princess; and now I am Queen.
I awoke again.
AWAKE GIRL IN HER REAL LIFE
This time I was insecure. No crown on my head, and my hands shook when I brushed my hair that new morning.
You know, I always remember my dreams.
I hear, that is a skill you can learn. I never had to learn it though; I always found them interesting enough that I simply listened to whatever memories would turn up throughout my day.
I had always dreamt of being the princess, that same one that has now become Queen of the little country I live in. I just hadn't known that the dreams were real.
That I could have in my real life what I usually only had in my dreams: Security, luxury, adventure.
Why did nobody tell me that my dreams were real? Now, what would I be able to change, seeing that I was Queen and in fact somehow important now?
This time I was on a mission. The usual action part of my dreams still wanted to happen, but I kinda side-stepped it. Instead I ordered all the best food of the world into my little world.
I changed something, several things, though not those that would have been the required of me to change. Normally I do what is right in my dreams, you know. Defending the weak, finding the impossible to find solutions, creating alternatives when I did not agree with the reality that I was presented with.
There are beasts and monsters in my dreams, enemies and some (very few) heroes. It is NOT easy to rule a country, but when you listen closely the path to take is still very clear. To me at least. Can't speak for others.
But this time I did not listen to that path; I left it. Looking for different solutions I fought against the current instead of creating a new one.
My brother found me and called me out on it. "What the heck are you doing, Nara!?" he hissed. "Hey! Listen to me!"
But I was already gone.
Then I awoke.
THAT GIRL AGAIN A NOBODY
If insanity had a name it would be called Sane.
Today I woke up but the air had become bitter. As if it was in a weird mood: Prideful, tangy, quite awake but somehow not in that normal relaxed manner. I noticed it but was far to excited to care.
"Nara, have you heard?" Luriel asked me during lunch break.
"What have I heard?" I said, barely aware of her. The curry was delicious.
"We are all required to sign up for boot camp, they say."
"Don't you know? That war that's always going on, somewhere at least, has gotten too close. Some of the other kingdoms have been overrun; we need to prepare." She looked sad and frightened. "I don't want to fight. I know they are monsters but that is just so disgusting…"
I stared, food on my fork forgotten.
Finally, I asked: "Why?"
She looked at me. "I don't know. It all seemed to go so well now, with the new Queen. Just look, the food is lovely… You like exotic food, too, don't you?"
"I heard she's really tried to get these things changed so that us normal people could live nice … okay, nicer lives, too. You know, like a real Queen of the hearts."
"Sure," I said. "What's wrong about that?"
Luriel shrugged. "I wouldn't know. I hope they get the situation with the war under control. It all looked so good just last week."
I looked at my food and was quiet.
I hadn't known. I hadn't known that my dreams' tasks were actually important.
A QUEEN RULES AND REIGNS WITH POWER
I struggled to wake up this time because I found myself in fights and challenges right from the get-go. My brother was drowning somewhere over there. I was climbing through narrow chutes unable to reach him in time.
I fought that whole night. I saw my brother sometimes; he was still in severe dangers, but had somehow also been able to move forward, changing things.
I was back in the game where everybody was barely surviving. At the end I was shaking, waking up time and again, fighting, fighting, though the actual dream's story seemed somewhat mundane.
"Keep on!" I heard my brother call. "We can make it! Just hang in there! Go, go, go!!"
Finally, all of us sheltered, we could rest for a short while and heal.
REAL LIFE GIRL, TIRED
"I wish I was a princess," Luriel said the next day, sighing. She smiled at me. "But then, doesn't everybody? I often dream of being one, too."
I smiled a bit as well.
"What is up with you? You're awfully quiet today," she said.
"Nothing. Just - tired. Had rough dreams tonight." I studied her face. She, too, dreamt of being a princess? Would she, too, become Queen over one of the many small kingdoms one day? How close had I come to failing so that the next one would have needed to be crowned?
I felt ashamed. Still, not all was right yet by a long shot.
"They've forced the monsters underground," Luriel said. She had been talking for quite some time already, I just hadn't listened.
"They did?" I asked, surprised. So that was what'd been going on? Yes, I remembered that we did get a rest in the end of my dream.
"Thank God, yes, but the negotiations are stagnating. Honestly, don't you ever watch the news?"
"Not really." I hated seeing my face in the news. It reminds me of everything I am lacking.
"They demand way too much."
She nodded. "Things like that. Nothing we should give them."
I breathed in. Then I said: "Maybe our focus was wrong."
"What do you mean?"
"Maybe - we might need to fight."
"Yes, I know." She looked unhappy again.
"No, I mean, really fight. Not taking NO for an answer. Not backing down. Giving up the luxuries."
"Which luxuries? We already lost all that nice food to the war again!"
"The luxury to be lazy" I said quietly, still trying to pinpoint what I needed to do. "Running away." I looked up, at her. "I probably have run away for too long, don't you think?"
I didn't hear her answer. Instead, I looked at my dreams again, and the fights in them, all from a bird's eye view.
And finally, I understood. I am Queen.
I do have the power.
-- WITH REAL POWER
I woke up, and I immediately changed the playing field.
Not playing by the rules. Not just finding alternatives in nearly hopeless battles anymore, no, but creating that new reality the way I wanted it to be, decisively.
I would still come out of this night shaking from so much battling, but now I had a plan.
First, I searched for my brother, the King.
"Call the Kings," I said. "Call all the other royals. We're building a new world, now."
He smiled at me, my handsome brother. "There you are," he said. "You've finally grown up!"
"I have." I nodded. "Let's end this now."
AWAKE GIRL WHO IS A QUEEN
There was sunshine when I woke up next. There was sunshine everywhere - in my bedroom, in my city; everywhere. Glittering sunshine on all the waters, blinking in all the windows.
The air smelled free and peacefull, and the atmosphere in the city had changed yet again.
I met someone that day. He felt somewhat familiar, and somewhat strange. He was all smiles and charming and made me forget the war and the dreams and the sacrifices that I'd had to make as a Queen.
It was a lovely day. When night fell I finally recognised him as the brother from my dreams, that other King.
I said in wonderment: "I know you."
"No, you don't," he said and smiled. "Not yet."