Another story from Dreams of a Fantasist. The title was inspired by Lyndsey’s track, but the story is a Fantasist original.
I run through the battlefield, dodging swinging swords as I go. My weapon long lost, the balance tips further in their favour. Blooded ground stretches out before me until it meets dark mountains beyond. Only starlight casts a faint glow to see the silhouette of the treacherous peaks.
Loss weighs heavy on me. This war has stolen more than I can bear.
Fire bursts in the sky and rains down, scorching the land. A phoenix cries from within the flames and heads towards the mountains, its wings sparking and sputtering with fatigue. I must follow it.
Now, there is only one hope, a beacon I’ve fought hard to find, and finally, I see it. Light glimmers in the distance, and my hope is renewed to end this war as the phoenix lands and awaits my arrival.
The steep slopes grow closer as I chase the heat trail of the phoenix. It whispers words of hope and comfort. For its fire never burns those whose intentions are true. I want this war over and for peace to reign.
Scrambling up the rock takes all the strength I have in me, each limb pushing further than ever. My last battle.
Battle cries echo from below, creeping up and piercing my ears. I’ve fought enough in that battle. I’m done. My true quest lies atop this mountain. With one last push, I crawl over the edge and lie flat.
A tower looms over me, ancient and oddly jagged in its form. I wonder how it can hold itself with such a toppling structure. An arched door opens, and I get to my feet. Golden spirals and whorls adorn the frame, shimmering through the dark night.
The voice calls again, urging me through the doorway. Stairs greet me, and I take that first step. As I ascend the spiralling stairs, the night sky peeps through sporadic windows, but inside is lit with soft candles that guide my way.
More light pours in from above, and a soft voice whispers. My legs ache from the climb, but the light spurs me on until it floods a crystal dome at the tower’s tip. Flames reach out, twisting and reforming into something new.
I breathe in the warm air and let the flames wash over me, bath me, fill me with hope.
A heavenly angel sits upon her winged steed in the centre of the dome. She smiles and reaches out a hand. Wordless, she slides gracefully off her steed and takes me in her arms. Closing my eyes, I absorb her strength, her power, her hope.
When I open my eyes again, she is gone along with her steed, but the light still fills the dome. I look down to see the light is mine. My skin glows and almost blinds me. Wings form behind me in vibrant flames. The steed’s flight.
Smiling, I step towards an opening in the dome. Morning sun tints the sky in colours I have I never known. Luminous rays touch the earth where the battle still rages below. They stop their attacks and stare up. Not at the sun, but at me.
My wings flutter behind me, and the need to leap overwhelms me. The battle ends, and clanging of falling swords echoes throughout the land. I relish in the quiet and peace and hope that no battle is too great to win.
I once met a pianist who could play Clair de Lune. He played with such passion, such beauty that it brought me to tears. His love poured through his fingers and danced across ivory keys. My body moved to his melody in the only way I knew, and I danced for him. The Pianist and the Dancer.
It was a perfect duet.
A bright smile graced his face when he glanced up at me. I expected him to falter with such flattering distraction in his stare, but he knew that if his melody wavered, so would mine. So he played Clair de Lune to perfection. I spun about his grand piano until the final note had faded and I fell into his arms on his piano stool. There were no words from his lips, only the confession of love in the notes still humming on my skin.
Then I woke up. And my dream left me alone.
Visions of a faceless pianist bore into me from that dream, the wanting that no other man had ever shown for me, a smile that brightened the darkness I hadn’t realised I’d been in. The fantasy of him playing Clair de Lune continued in daydreams. For someone to play like that was what I truly wanted. That music encompassed everything that would complete my life and take away the agonising longing for something that I hadn’t known I’d craved. But fear kept me from reality. Fantasies don’t see flaws or reject you. I controlled my fantasies, used them to escape the loneliness.
I let my love for my pianist pour through my own fingers and used Clair de Lune as my muse. I couldn’t play like my pianist, but I had other means of expressing my emotions. My words created a story, and I became a goddess of my own world. I lived in that world, in the cities I’d designed, the people I threw all my fears and imperfections into. They never let me down, always did as they were told, good or bad. I told them what to say, what to feel, who to hurt. I needed it all. Pain. Fear. Love. Rage. It made me feel more alive than ever. But they weren’t real and soon left an unfillable void within me.
Seeking more inspiration was easy. Sharing my story terrified me, but I wasn’t alone. I found others with their own stories, their own fears, their own fantasies of love and peace and children. They became my friends, people who understood the loneliness and wanting that drove a person to share pieces of their soul.
One stood out among them, a man so honest and open that I couldn’t help but spill my entire soul to him. He became my inspiration, my encouragement, and I no longer needed a fantasy for my muse. I kept him at arm’s length at first, thinking I was crazy for what he made me feel. I learned so much through him, but I learned more about myself. We shared more than just our stories, we shared ourselves. I told him I danced, and he told me he played piano. Music inspired us both in what we wanted for our present and future. He understood me in ways nobody else had and jump-started my dormant heart.
I told him of my desire for someone to play Clair de Lune. And then he surprised me. He told me he could play Clair de Lune. It seemed so impossible that he had begun to encompass everything my dream of Clair did. My fantasies entwined as one, and he became my pianist who spoke through Clair. I wanted him to play it for me and wondered if he ever would.
I dared to ask.
The rejection was a soft blow, something laughable at best since I never truly felt rejected. He still shared, told me more than before and made me feel like he was just scared of what we could be. I was too. I’d never felt such a feeling, only in dreams.
Comfort settled into our conversations like a cosy blanket. His warmth washed over me when I felt the chill, and he showered me with inspiration in every word. I relied on him and let him lift me until I soared. I touched new heights in my work, my confidence, my self-worth. And I gave him all my gratitude for that precious gift.
Finally, he let me hear him play. Not Clair de Lune, but something new to me, something I instantly loved because it was him playing it. His music touched me, the passion, the beauty, the tears that flowed as I listened to his soul. There was no separating him from my fantasy after that. I wanted Clair from him with all my heart and had become addicted to his music. I fell… hard.
I wondered if he simply feared love the way I once had, so I tried again to convince him we were possible. This time, his undeniable rejection crushed me after all he’d done to allow me this idea. Despite knowing my feelings, he’d said things, done things to encourage my conclusion that he was just scared to try. I didn’t fear love with him, only his rejection. It stung, and I took time to process that he wasn’t my pianist.
When I came back to him, I hadn’t realised another had already captured something from him. My friend, a Flautist, who had lost her music had begun to share with him too. I’d let my music go, but life had stolen hers. She shared a story so raw that I promised to help her tell it in any way I could.
The Pianist and I, the Dancer, both understood the joys and pain of music, but I couldn’t speak it the way he could. With my encouragement, she shared her past with him, and he felt something so strong that I instantly saw the direction they were travelling. Bitterness was just the beginning of what I felt while watching them.
Music became their language, but they were fluent while I understood every third word. I watched in the wings of their stage as they took the spotlight. I’d lived all my life in the wings, too afraid of judgement. And the one time I picked up the courage to be centre stage, another took my place. Envious, I tried to keep myself attached to them for the inspiration and encouragement they’d both given me. After a time, he shut me out. I couldn’t match her or the way she stole his attention.
I danced more than ever trying to catch just a glance from him, but he only looked at her. Even after all we’d shared, I was invisible. I had only dreamed of such a connection as theirs. Maybe it was then that I decided to push them closer, but I was too scorned to do it, and it was impossible for them to do it themselves.
Their biggest hurdle was that she was loyal to another, one who didn’t deserve her and suffocated her creativity while the Pianist freed more with every tinkling of his piano keys. It was both painful and beautiful to watch the metamorphosis she emerged from.
The Pianist had freed music in both of us, and I Ionged more than ever for that fantasy of Clair de Lune and my Pianist. I’d tasted but a sliver of it through him and had accepted he would keep Clair to himself. Jealousy still had a tight grip on me as I watched the power of their music crescendo with every duet.
I should have known I was unlovable. But I didn’t know how destructible I was until I fell in love just to watch him fall for someone else. And it left me feeling like nothing… worthless.
My love faded, but my need for someone to play Clair de Lune for me was still entwined with the Pianist, and I couldn’t fully let go. I still craved his attention and praise, but he gave it only to the Flautist while excluding me to the wings of the one stage I thought I belonged.
I trusted him. And I thought I could trust her.
She knew of my feelings for him and how wounded and confused I’d been. She knew, and she let him ignore me while flaunting herself for him. My creativity began to drain and fade until I had only a husk of the inspiration I once had.
He stole it all and gave it to her.
I sought something in reality to relieve the sting, and it worked for a short time. I found another musician with the kind of creativity and intelligence that naturally drew me. He made me laugh, and I almost forgot my Pianist for a moment. It felt good and satisfying. I wanted more. But after all my efforts, rejection and pain seemed to be my fate, for once again, another stole my musician.
I’d lost too much, and life had pushed me too far. I snapped and stole the Flautist’s music so the Pianist couldn’t feel it. I don’t remember the horrid act, one I hadn’t realised would destroy us all. But I couldn’t think straight. Their exclusion had become too much to bear.
My pianist left, said it was for the best, but I didn’t agree. He’d broken my dreams of being part of something so inspiring that losing it destroyed my sanity.
What I’d hoped was a dream come true had twisted into a living nightmare.
He’d made me jealous and vindictive as I threw my hurt at the Flautist. But that wasn’t my true self. I knew his truth. He pushed me away so I wouldn’t see him fall further for the Flautist. I offered an ear and would have listened had he confessed, but fear kept him from reality just as it had me.
I realised he’d found his fantasy in the Flautist, and I decided to play the Cupid to their love story. My redeemable act to prove to myself that I wasn’t truly the hateful person he claimed me to be. I had to make them admit it to themselves before they could to one another.
I listened to the Flautist confess her curiosity, but I also sensed her confusion and frustration. I knew that feeling and refused to let it send her to the insanity it had sent me. If the Pianist was the man I trusted him to be, then he would do the right thing either way. Confess or leave and let the Flautist and the Dancer heal together.
As if my plan wasn’t perfect enough, the Flautist told me of more hidden confessions from the Pianist. Love poured into his music, encouragement and perfectly timed comfort in which she had little idea I had a hand in. She made one mistake I hadn’t factored into my plan.
She let slip that they’d played Clair de Lune.
I wasn’t ready to hear it. I had ached with all my heart for that feeling for so long that I couldn’t stand the thought of someone else sharing such intimacy while I’d just lost my fantasy. Pain like I’d never known drowned me, deafened me with scream after scream. I died inside in a thousand ways until the agony became unbearable.
I knew the power of music more than ever, and that fantasy had become all I could feel. It wasn’t real, and that was my true source of pain. One can only withstand so much screaming before one begs for silence. Terror consumed me over how much I wanted the pain to end, what I might do to make that happen if I couldn’t escape it.
I released all my pain and rage at him. I knew it would kill any chance of reconciliation, but my mind went blank as it had before. A weight lifted from me, leaving me in a hazy numbness while I let myself sink into black.
But I couldn’t escape the hatred over his coldness. I’d lost my mind to his unfathomable actions such that no apology could ever make up for. I’d spiralled too deep into a black hole of despair to want to save myself.
Time passed as I listened to the Flautist spilled her happiness while I withered further and further. And just as I began to find the strength to pick myself up, he knocked us down again.
He broke her, left her for another and stole her music. I am a reminder she cannot bear, so she left me too.
They are no more than memories of a lie that haunts me day and night. He broke me a thousand times, and I became a ghost too.
Alone with nothing but pain and fantasies. For there is no freeing myself from my fantasy of Clair de Lune and the nightmare I’m left with.
The wings of a stage hold weighty loneliness when a dancer cannot perform. Shadows swallow my dream of the spotlight while I stand in this cursed darkness. Fear keeps me from the stage while I watch others ascend to greatness.
A dancer takes centre stage with prowling grace as he gazes upon the women awaiting his hand to dance. He chooses one, reaching out as she steps into his embrace, her gossamer skirt as light as a leaf in the wind. Bodies entwine in lifts and spins, a perfect rhythm I long to feel.
I am nothing compared to them, always a beat out of time no matter how hard I try. Expectations of excellence surpass my own confidence. Each time I imagine that moment of freedom, I’m reminded I can never share it.
Longing crescendos with the music as I slide my foot towards the stage, and a sweeping spotlight skims my toe. Hurriedly, I step back. Too close. A fluttering feeling springs in my belly. Cheers sound from the crowd as performers reach a new height. When I imagine myself out there, all I hear are jeers and boos from beyond the stage.
The dance ends, and low mumblings of anticipation sound from the audience as they await the next performance.
The dancer catches my eye, his hand reaching for me. Panicking, I scurry further into the dim wings.
Are the spectators expecting greatness or failure? The world won’t end if I fail, but maybe my world will. I can’t know until I try. All I want is to try and maybe get my wish for others to see me fly.
Something awakens in me as the music rises, and his trusting smile gives me confidence. So when he reaches for me again, I cannot resist. Stepping onto the stage, my feet move with slow grace, the light blinding compared to the dark.
His hand in mine calms my fears, and I glide by his side, free as a swan. We run, leap, and soar together in perfect syncopation. There is familiarity in the steps, but they feel different on stage. I learn and adapt to the new perspective. The audience no longer plagues my mind. He has freed me from my curse.
His hands wrap around my limbs as he lifts me in the air. I look down with only confidence and faith that he will not let me fall, for he knows my fear. Yet somehow, he makes me feel fearless. I relish in the delicious intimacy to his touch, a fine line between dance partners and lovers. A bright smile graces his face as he sets me gently on the stage, and I spin away for a moment.
When I return to him, he has chosen another dancer to join us, and we clasp hands. I trust her too, and she seems to trust him as I do. She weaves and launches past me in a playful challenge. I accept it.
My partner moves faster and releases my hand. My fellow dancers prove more learned than I in this dance, and I begin to lose tempo. They race on while I fall further behind. Finding the strength within myself, I push harder than ever. I will not lose my chance in the spotlight after fearing it for so long.
Step by step we dance together, but they are moves ahead of me now. I cannot keep up. She looks back with an encouraging smile, but he pulls her from me yet again.
I run to my partner for the lift he so effortlessly gave before, but he does not catch me, and I fall, screaming as my foot crumbles in excruciating pain. My knees slam on the stage, and I wail at the agony lancing up my leg.
I see my challenger in the lift. My lift. He is her partner now, and I scramble back into the wings. Resentment burns watching the truest duet that I thought was a trio. That was our mistake. It was never a dance for three. I reach for them, either of them, but they are too lost in one another to see me. Why can’t they see me?
Envy creeps up on me in angry tendrils at the sight of them. Their ease, their confidence, their perfection riles the inner maelstrom. Blackened rage shrouds my enjoyment of such beauty and breaks all possibility of feeling that bond of a perfect duet.
A gasp escapes me as the leader drops his new partner to the ground. Did she slip, or did he let her fall just as he did me? He does not stop to pick her up but reaches for another dancer waiting for him. How she will fare, I do not wish to know.
My challenger looks to me as if she now understands the pain of the fall. I thought she was his true partner, but he sees none of us as a worthy match. Together, my challenger and I wait in the wings of his stage while battling the love and hate within us both.
Terror locks me in a perpetual state of self-torture. To watch and never be on that stage, invisible to the true artists is all I know. How can I even call myself an artist if nobody sees my creation? Insignificance grips my chest, and I gasp for air.
I tremble from rage. My eyes burn with tears that drown me on dry land. Screaming in my head at the world, and him, I wonder how I could have been so stupid, so naive. Love does that to a person, at least the idea of it. It twists and taints what should have been so simple.
The victim or the culprit? Maybe both.
I am Danger, yet I didn’t know my own name before now.
Loneliness might have suited me for a time. Solitude had been my friend for so long that I’d found comfort in the silence. Surrounded by voices of those who spoke through me. When dusk came, I relished in the stillness and let my mind take me elsewhere. I heard music of far off lands, of power and victory, and dreamed of new worlds. It spilled out of my fingers and onto the keyboard like ink onto a page. Words came. Words I didn’t know I could mould together. They took shape and sculpted a world in which I believed more than my own.
One day, I shared the story I’d written. Someone shared back.
I didn’t learn Disappointment’s name at first. Inspiring. Patient. Perfect. That’s what I called him. That’s how I saw him. Real but not real, ones and zeros on the screen I poured my heart into. Fun. Easy. Perky. He called me these things, and I felt them all.
We locked together in intangible bindings, but distance always tore us apart with a click.
Truths gushed in geysers. Confessions flowed in torrents. Realisations flooded rivers of two lonely lives running towards the same ocean from opposite directions. I thought the ocean had to be nearby as I sailed downstream. If I could just reach that ocean, I could reach him.
Every truth was another step closer. And I let him in, gave away pieces of myself I’d never given anyone until he had almost everything. He gave so much back in return, and I’d fallen in love. No, flown in love. I soared on his every word, clung to him for untouchable comfort.
His light brightened the darkness that hovered over my life. He gave me joy and music and laughter. But it was his mind, his inspiration and creativity that bound me to him.
Sharing more with him was easy as breathing. He inhaled and exhaled with me, and I took all of it. Used it for myself, stole secrets from him and gave him all of mine. I became Danger and knew the pain behind the truth, yet I let us both hurt over our past torments and fed off his attention. Not once did he stop me. He fed off me too.
Our lives overlapped in pastimes and passion, old and new. Music was his passion, as it has once been mine. I’d been a dancer and played a little, but I’d stopped many years ago. I grew away from it and let so much go for no apparent reason other than I’d lost my spark. He gave it back to me. I danced and sang and made music in an entirely new way.
So close, I could hear his heart, feel the vastness of possibilities. I revealed my true self, a painful thing to do when one doesn’t like what she sees in the mirror. But he said nothing to make me feel hideous the way so many others had. Visions of a life full of love bloomed in my mind. He wanted what I wanted, loved what I loved, needed the way I needed.
But it wasn’t me he needed. And he told of another in his life without sparing a thought over how I had already admitted my feelings for him. There was no delicacy in his admission. His truth slapped me worse than any blow over how he let me think I was enough for him when all along I was nothing more than a distant thought, someone to listen at his leisure.
Broken, I fell and crashed and burned in raging flames. Confusion consumed me, lies sounded over and over. Truth was lost to his poisonous words. I wished he’d never existed while longing for him to turn back to me.
I had nothing and no-one, and he had someone better than me. She fed off his attention while I scrambled for whatever scraps he threw my way. He turned back occasionally for a time, sparking the false hope that he might keep me in his life in some small way. But in time, I finally saw him for what he was. Disappointment after disappointment.
Those pieces of me are still with him, and I can never get them back. I mourn a life that was never mine, one I never should have imagined. Letting go is impossible when I have no answers as to why he left me ruined, why he didn’t ask me to cross that ocean, why he used me for his own ego.
Walking away was not an option. I tried. So this was my own torture, to be unwanted as I watched from a distance, for the other woman, she was a friend, one who saw his perfection just as I did once.
Ultimately, he made her soar just to let her fal…l and crash in those familiar flames that still burn me. And now there is another, a third, or fourth. I’ve lost count. But the one I knew best, she is the one he hurt the most and forced me to watch him repeat his mistakes. Yet he keeps her to boost his ego as I once did.
I was nothing to him.
I fell in love with a disappointment that left me emotionally battered and bruised. I lost my inspiration, my creativity and my self-worth to him.
Now, I live with pain and hatred and worthlessness. This is my danger, my lack of control, and the grief I can’t reconcile when I am grieving someone who isn’t dead. He haunts me and won’t leave me be event though he said he was going to disappear. He lied.
Red cards, glitter glue, and heart stickers litter the table before me. I smile, watching the children make their Valentine’s day cards. It’s been a few days since I smiled. Dad’s heart attack still haunts me, but he is recovering well at home, and I am making it through as best I can.
I never much liked Valentine’s day, content to keep to myself and not fall victim to consumerism along with the ridiculousness of flowers and chocolates. It’s just another day, and I refuse to acknowledge it beyond the classes I’ve planned.
A thrill runs through me at the notification that pops up on my phone. Until I cringe at the thought of messaging him on Valentine’s day. I had every intention of avoiding the possible awkwardness of it, but there was a little message.
Naughtily, I turn away from the students and open the message. I wish I hadn’t as I skim down and see the mention of a woman. My heart stops and breath halts. Did I read that right?
I reread the message slowly and carefully. Yes, I read it right. I lean on the table, gripping the edge as spots flash before my eyes. How could I have been so stupid? How could I have not seen it coming? Why did I think he would want me?