Part 25

Dream’s house of dreams was empty when Muse woke to it next.

Every room.

Empty.

Muse found Dream in darkness.  She alone was lit, with a silvery glow, her hair a cascade of stars.  She was utterly still and her head was turned away, her eyes on something Muse could not see.

“Who are you?”

Dream looked at her.

“I’m your sister.  Your Mother.  Your greatest friend.”

“You brought me back to life, after I died.  Didn’t you?  It was you?”

Dream nodded.

“Why?”

“I needed a new Muse.  And you needed a new life.”

“Lots of people die, do you resurrect them all?”

Dream looked down at her, thoughtfully.  A long, slow silence passed.  She seemed taller, now, than she’d ever been before.  Muse felt small, and mortal, and young, to gaze up at her.

“I see the people of your world through their dreams,” she said, finally.  “I liked your dreams.  And you died too young, before you could live them.”  She tilted her head to the side, and smiled.  “I made this world for you, the dreamers, who died too young.  So you will never run out of time, and chances, again.”

“Is this real?” Muse asked.  “Am I dead?  Am I dreaming?”

Dream just smiled again, enigmatic.

“I need to find Love,” said Muse, suddenly.  “He found me in the other world, I should find him.”

“He’s come looking for you, here,” said Dream.  “He searched the whole forest.  But no one can see my house, if they haven’t been invited.”

Muse gave her a betrayed look.  “If I had known that before, I’d have invited him in.  I thought he hadn’t come here.”

“Oh?” said Dream, sly and knowing.  “You misunderstand.  It doesn’t matter if I told you or not.  If Love was welcome, he’d have found this place.”

Muse frowned.  “Maybe I’ve mistrusted love ever since I died for it.”

“Maybe.  But love didn’t kill you.  A drunken boy with a weapon he’d couldn’t control, killed you.  Love is why you’re still alive.”

Muse turned away. She stared off into the dark emptiness.  “I appreciate that you gave me a second chance.  But I’ve wasted this life, just like the first.”

“It’s not over.  You have forever to get things right.”

“I’ve never felt right.  Not even as an Immortal.”

There was silence.  Muse looked over her shoulder, half thinking Dream had gone.  But she was still there.

Dream sighed.  “I know you have been unhappy.”

“I feel so tired.  I almost never feel really alive.  It’s like I’m reliving the moment of my death where I just stopped caring, forever.”

“If you do not wish to be The Muse anyone, there is an option.”

Muse turned back around completely.  She waited, expectant, her face turned up with a glimmer of hope.

“You would be one person, sleep at night, and die a mortal death at the end of a long, but finite life.  You would never be able to set foot in this world again, except in dream memory.  You would live only in your old world, the one you came from.”

“What do I have to do?”

“Before you jump at this chance, I have to caution you — I gave this option to the other Muse, and her life did not improve.  She lived in madness and regret, and died alone.”

Muse shook her head.  “I’m not her.”

“Is this life so tiresome that you would risk losing it forever?”

“I’m older and wiser than when I was last mortal.  If only I can rest, I can live the life I wanted,” said Muse.  “I won’t go mad.  I won’t.  I promise.”

Dream shook her head, slightly, but answered:

“Go to the Lake.  Swim to the center, and dive down.  If you swim, and swim, you will find there is no bottom.  Everything will be black and cold, but you must not turn around and return to the surface.  Swim until you cannot feel your body anymore.

“If you do this, you will wake to your other life.  And it will be the only life left to you.”

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