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Thread: The Caregiver and The Dream King

  1. #1
    Registered User RMDuChene's Avatar
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    May 2014

    The Caregiver and The Dream King

    The Caregiver

    The warm, summer breeze caught one of the many dandelions on my front lawn just right and sent its white seedlings sailing into the air. As I watched from my window, the seedlings disbursed in all directions and I thought of how nice it would be to be small enough to grasp one – to ride the wind and just sail away. I knew, of course that such things were impossible. It didn't hurt to dream though; to wish that I could escape somewhere – anywhere.

    She called my name from her usual position on the faded, green sofa. God forbid that she would ever get off of her blistered *** and come to me for once. That wasn't a fair thing to think. She couldn't walk and I knew it. Still, it didn't make her constant neediness any less annoying. I went to her and fluffed her pillows just how she likes them. I asked her if she wanted me to make her something to eat, but she said that she wasn't hungry. Great, I thought.She’ll probably want me to make her something just as I’m getting into my book. It was always like that. She thanked me for adjusting her pillows and smiled up at me. In that instant, I felt like a raving prick for having ever had a negative thought about her. It’s not her fault, I thought. I already knew that, of course. She didn't ask to be bound to that sofa anymore than I asked to be born. Life evolves at will. We’re just along for the ride.

    Knowing that I would never get to finish a chapter before being interrupted, I curled up on the brown Lazy Boy in the corner of the living room and resumed my story where I had left off that morning. Just as I had suspected, she interrupted me again - that time wanting a glass of water. I put the book back down on the glass-topped table next to the chair with a deep sigh and went to the kitchen to fetch her some water. I returned to her with a full glass a minute or so later and kneeled down next to her. Sliding one arm around her back, I propped her up into a sitting position, placed the edge of the glass to her lips, and then tilted it so she could drink. The water flowed out from the top of the glass and split into two separate streams as it collided with her closed lips and ran down the sides of her pale-grey chin. When I figured that she’d had enough, I laid her back down against the pillows, noticing for the first time the pungent odor emanating from her decaying flesh. I’m going to lose her, I thought as I returned to the kitchen with the half-empty glass. Soon, she’ll be gone and I’ll have to find someone else to take care of – someone else to love.

    The Dream King

    Towering pillars of sparkling crystal rose up on either side of me as I entered the dome-shaped structure. I stopped in the doorway and looked across the great hall. The pillars were spaced out in even intervals from one end of the hall to the other – a wide, brightly lit strip began at my feet and cut a pathway through the center of the hall. Divided into amoeba-shaped sections, each individual plate of the pathway lit up in different colors when I stepped on them.

    Cautiously, I continued along the path, never taking my eyes from the large crystal throne at the end. The throne appeared to have been grown rather than forged. Crystals both large and small jutted up from the sparkling floor in all directions, leaving just enough space in the center for the Dream King to sit. The Dream King saw me enter and smiled. He stood and extended his welcoming hands.

    As I grew closer, his seemingly handsome appearance became clearer to me. The flesh of his face was a tangle of overlapping wrinkles and scars. At the tips of his long, crooked fingers, green-yellow fingernails extended out at least four inches. I reached his feet and knelt before him, eyes closed and head pointing toward the floor. My stomach lurched when I felt his hand upon the back of my head. I tried not to think of those yellow nails and wrinkled, ancient appearing hands.

    “Rise my child,” he commanded.

    I stood and forced myself to look up at his face. His eyes mesmerized me. They didn't match the rest of him. Icy-blue orbs floating in a bright white sea, they appeared much younger than the rest of him. He sat back upon his throne and bade me to come forward. I did and he lifted my small frame up onto his lap.

    “How old are you, child?” He asked.

    “Six,” I responded.

    “Six,” he said, thoughtfully. “I was just past my seventh year when I became the guardian of the Realm of Dreams. That was…oh I guess twenty or so years ago.”

    He noticed me trying to do the math in my head and smiled warmly, his wrinkled face pulling up in the gruesome mask of a century old man.

    “It’s no easy task to guard the Realm of Dreams,” he said. “Demons flow through the dream world and it is our job to stop them. We age much faster than others do. I cannot count the amount of scars I've received from the Demons that I've encountered. I've managed to push most of them back, but at great cost to my body. To allow Demons into the dreams of mankind is to open the door to the vilest of the vile. It cannot be allowed. Do you understand, child?”

    I nodded my head silently.

    “You are ready then,” he said. He kissed me gently on the forehead and then faded from existence, leaving me sitting on the throne…The Dream Queen.
    Last edited by RMDuChene; 05-20-2014 at 06:48 PM.

  2. #2
    I like the Caregiver better than the other story. The beginning and the conclusion are really good. It begins with the narrator wishing to 'escape somewhere – anywhere; and ends with 'I’ll have to find someone else to take care of – someone else to love.' A character who is developed well within just three passages.
    The seedlings floating in the wind and then the woman confined to the sofa make contrasting images.

    The Dream King - Why does the dream king who keeps the demons from the dream world have such a revolting appearance? or rather why is the child revolted at his touch?
    'To allow Demons into the dreams of mankind is to open the door to the vilest of the vile. It cannot be allowed.' I agree. And, yes now that I've read it again I think I like this story just as well as the other.
    The primary purpose of a liberal education is to make one's mind a pleasant place in which to spend one's leisure.
    -Sydney J. Harris

  3. #3
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    I agree with chevalierdelame's first opinion: "Caregiver" is the better of the two. You packed a lot into three paragraphs. The reveal works in two ways: The initial twist of the corpse, and then the irony that the caregiver who wants to escape is only trapped by himself.

    "The Dream King" reads more like part of the background of a story than a complete story itself. It also shows signs of hurried writing that the first story doesn't (e.g. "hansom" for "handsome"--always check your spellcheck suggestions). You also tend here to flog the foreshadowing (he's not as old as he looks!) to death.

    Still, two worthy efforts. I'll look forward to your next work.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

  4. #4
    Registered User RMDuChene's Avatar
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    May 2014
    Hi Calidore,

    Thank you for your assessment. I'm happy that you liked them. Thank you for pointing out the type-o, I'll fix it right away. I wrote both of these stories for a Flash500 contest and didn't win. Perhaps I tried to pack too much into The Dream King and it should've been a longer story. Thank you again.

  5. #5
    Registered User 108 fountains's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Falls Church, Virginia
    When I first read The Caregiver, it didn't strike me that the old lady was already dead (although "the pungent odor emanating from her decaying flesh" should have been a dead giveaway - pardon the pun - I am just dense sometimes).

    If you revised just a few words in that part of the story so that the old woman was not dead, but was going downhill fast, you would have an entirely different story. You would lose the horror aspect of it and the ending twist, but you would gain more complexity and (in my opinion) more poignancy to the Caregiver's character. The last sentence, especially, would have an entirely different meaning, and the story would become a statement on the entire phenomenon of modern nuclear families hiring outside caregivers to take care of (and provide care and love) to their elderly relatives. Anyway, just a thought.
    Last edited by 108 fountains; 05-27-2014 at 01:41 PM.
    A just conception of life is too large a thing to grasp during the short interval of passing through it.
    Thomas Hardy

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