"Look! See how it's pretty and innocent, how it's sunbathing in the morning light... Look at it, look! Oh! ...It's taken off. We scared it. It's gone. But wasn't that marvellous while it lasted? Just purely beautiful. Did you se?"
"Follow the light and don't let anything stop you. It's so important that you get there, do you understand? Listen to me, please. Whatever happens make sure you get there before morning, before the light is put out and you're lost. Do you see?"
"I had a dream last night," I said quietly to my plate of eggs, "about Anna." I heard a fork clatter to the ground and somebody apologising profusely, while the rest of the table was drenched in silence. I felt the sweat trickle down my temples, but did not dare wipe it with my fingers. My heart beat louder with each tick of the grandfather clock, and my cheeks burned holes through my face. And suddenly, the room filled with noise again, just as it was before. Just as if I had never spoken. I left the breakfast table as quietly as I could in the ensuing chaos, but I felt their gaze on my back all the same.
Anna often visited me in my dreams. I never told anyone of our encounters, mostly because my family simply did not want to know, and also because she was not part of our family anymore. In my opinion, she never was a Cutmore in the first place. She was born with a perfectly angelic face, unlike any other in our family, but she was given a curse. While others could marvel at her lovely appearance, she would never know the extend of her beautiy. She would not know the meaning of colour. She would not know the importance of a mirror. She would not know the trick of a gallgown. Her green eyes would never be put to use.
The reason for my conduct that particular morning was desperation. The moment my eyes had opened after that dream, I had known that a certain finality had come upon her. Whether Anna was alive I did not know. But it was absolutely that I would never see her again. And that broke my heart.
There was once a land of thorns far away. The skies were grey and cloudy, and it rained all day. The palaces and towers were all deserted, except one. A lonely woman lived, ugly and angry. She lived simply and picked berries from low bushes and mushrooms from the damp ground. She despised people and chased travellers away, whipping them, cursing and hurling names at them. One day while she was doing just the same to a little girl, she stopped. She saw a white butterfly rest on the girl's hair and fly away. She helped the girl to her feet and fed her, nursed the wounds of her own whip.
The woman changed into a better person with the help of the little girl. The girl grew into a young woman and fell in love. The ugly woman, an old and blind woman now, made her a delicate dress out of thorns and prepared her for her new life. Before the girl left, she told her to be careful when she walked between the thorns to arrive at her new home before dark. They embraced one last time before the girl walked into the maze of thorns.
After a while, the woman realised that the girl was actually her daughter, the daughter she had had before she was ugly and angry. The daughter she had seen walk into the thorns one day many years ago, and never come back. Her eyesight returned with this revelation, but it was too late. She searched day and night for her little girl who was not a little girl anymore. She asked the boy, hoping against hope, if her girl had reached his house. After many months of searching in the thorn-infested land, she had no choice but to return to her tower.
As the old woman slept that night, she saw her daughter in a dream. She was sitting barefoot in her dress of thorns at the centre of a lush garden. She had berries in her lap and she was laughing and pointing at the flowers, exclaiming over one that had turned into a butterfly and had flown away. She turned her emerald eyes on the woman, and smiled. "Did you see?"
But, as I said, it was only a dream. Just a simple, little dream.