SHE SAW IT AGAIN.
This time, the fortress was with a backdrop of a midnight blue, the color of her mother’s favorite dress, accessorized by glittering stars. It was the same turrets as when she saw it last week, all of them racing for the heavens as an ongoing battle with windows lining the stone walls. Hidden behind strings of clouds, the fortress could only be seen if she strained her eyes hard enough.
Naomi was always on the lookout for it. Ever since her father had left her with the bedtime story of a mysterious abandoned castle located far away from where normal people could go, she had always been searching. Even years after her father’s unfortunate death, Naomi never stopped.
It was through the search, through the wonder and magic induced, did she feel connected with her father where even death could not separate.
Her mother, on the other hand, absolutely despised the idea of having a fortress in the clouds to exist on the planes of reality.
“Who on Earth would be stupid enough to build something so bizarre way up there?” she would say before turning back to her mug of ale.
Naomi learned from a young age to never talk back to her mother when she was in one of her moods. It would only earn her a scolding and no dinner before bed. Hence, it was always better to keep her mouth tightly shut whenever she spotted the mystical building.
Just like many nights before, Naomi crept out of her room, poking her head out past her door to make sure that her mother was asleep. As usual, the older woman was sprawled over her own bed, shoes barely off the bed and hair strewn all over the pillows. There was even a bit of drool leaking from the corners of her lips, staining the floral-patterned pillows and dampening the fabric.
Slowly, the little girl carefully closed the door to her mother’s bedroom before creeping back into her own. From under her bed, she pulled out an old leather-bound journal — a gift from her father when she had turned five years old three years ago — before starting to draw.
The graphite from her pencil flew across the yellowing pages, darting from one corner to the other as she plotted out even the most minuscule of details of the castle. She was careful to capture every last fine line, coloring in the dark night sky in her artwork before staring at it with a contented smile.
One day, she would be able to witness the fortress up close with her own two eyes.
Holding the journal against her chest, Naomi crawled under the scratchy covers of her bed, her eyes slowly drifting close. The second she fell asleep, she began to dream again.
It was always about that fortress that was tucked away from the eyes of the world.