Chapter 5: Broken Dreams
A sharp ray of light from the sun hit my eyes, stirring them to open.
"Troy…Troy…" A wispy voice called. It sounded like the voice of a young maiden.
"Arise, Troy," she said. I looked around for the young lady, only to find the walls that enclosed me gone. My mouth gaped open at the sight of my bed sitting in a sea of grass and wildflowers. Beyond the open field was a ring of thickets. Not a person in sight. Where was I? How did I end up here?
"Arise, Troy!" the voice repeated.
"Who are you?" I called out. For a moment the only reply was the sound of birds cooing from the canopies.
"The better question is who are you?" the voice resumed. "Now arise!" I scrunched my brows.
"Do you see my legs?" I said, pointing to the bandages. "I cannot walk."
"You too can walk. It is all in your head." The voice echoed from the woods.
"Very funny. Now someone please carry my bed back to my room." A cool breeze caressed my face. I blinked. Emerging from the thickets was a woman with flowing black locks. Her locks and flowy garment danced to the breeze as she sauntered towards my bed. My initial shock shifted to intrigue.
"Come with me so I can show you the secrets the forest hides." Still skeptical, I pulled the sheets off me only to find the bandages still wrapped around my legs. She turned her back to me before walking back into the thickets.
"Wait!" I shouted. I slowly scooted to the edge of the bed, before letting my legs dangle over the edge. I planted my right feet on the earth, feeling the grass tickle my bare feet. I planted the next foot in front of the other. Then I repeated the motion faster and faster. With one hand still clinging to the bed, I felt my steps becoming steadier. Holding my breath, I finally let go. My face ignited into a wide grin as I felt myself walking unhindered. Then it vanished when I realized the woman had already disappeared into the dark thickets. My stride picked up into a sprint, as I ran through the maze of tangled underbrush and swaying branches.
"Wait!" I shouted. I reached another clearing, where I stopped to catch my breath. Then I saw her dressed in a cloak, her back to me as she faced a pool of water.
"Come closer by the pool of Aurora where you can be healed of impurities and infirmities." I crossed to the pool and then she turned around only to find a man staring back at me. His gray eyes sent shivers down my back.
"I thought that…" I stammered. "This must be a mistake," I said, stumbling back a few steps.
"Ah, but you came for a healing did you not?" I nodded.
"I want that bulla around your neck." I looked at it regretfully. I forgotten I still had the locket hanging around my neck. I knew it must have some special meaning although I could not remember what.
Sensing my hesitation he said, "You have to give it here if you want to be healed."
"But I am already healed," I replied.
"That is a mere illusion. Your legs will eventually give out on you. I am talking about new legs." I sighed before handing it over. He smiled, flashing his teeth.
"Thanks but I also need that locket too," he said, pointing a gangly finger at me. I looked down at it. That was the last thing I had to remember my mother by.
"I am sorry I cannot give it up, even for new legs. I apologize for wasting your time."
Then without warning he lunged for the bulla.
"Let go!" I gasped. The pull of the tug, snagged my neck forward. I kicked him in the knee, sending him doubling over. It allowed enough time for me to make a run for the thickets. I ripped through the spindly bushes and shrubs, feeling the sting of each stab. Through a small sliver between the rows of trees I could see the small clearing where I came from. If I could just get there I told myself. Before I stepped out the thickets, I tripped on a rock, sending me crashing on my hands and knees. I struggled to pick myself up as he closed in. There was nobody around that could hear my cries.
"You are next, Troy!"
"Stay away from me!" I yelled before he pounced—
"My Excellency, what is the matter?" The slave girl's voice cut into the chaos, snapping me from the dream and into my bedroom. Her brows etched with worry as she neared the bed. She tucked a loose ringlet behind her ears before directing her full attention to me. In the warm light that streamed through the window, I was reminded just how young she was. She must have been around my age I assumed. But I wondered how much experience she had dealing with royal subjects and their night terrors.
I clutched my beating chest. "It was just a bad dream," I got out.
"Oh. Well if you need me or anyone in that matter for anything. Just ring this bell." She handed me a small brass bell before leaving the room. I examined the bell for a moment in my sweat-slicked palm. Then by accident the bell slipped out my hands before rolling away from the bed. Now what? I stared at my bandaged legs. Maybe the impossible was possible. Maybe it was all in my head. Like in my dream, I cupped my hands over my thigh in an attempt to straighten my legs. Then came the hard part; pivoting my torso. I stopped to regather my strength before continuing. This seemed more strenuous than I recalled in the dream. I practically dragged myself closer to the edge. Below me the polished floor taunted me. I slowly dangled my left leg until it touched the warm ground. Then the right leg was now on the ground.
"Maybe it was all in my mind." As I tried to stand erect, my knees began to wobble. Before I could complete a full step from the bed, I crashed onto the ground. I lied sprawled all over the hard tiles. I licked my lips, tasting the salty blood oozing from them. Forget the stupid bell!
I winced as the onslaught of fresh pain ignited from my pelvic area to my fingertips. Apollus must have been nearby, because before I realized it he was rushing into my room.
"What happened here?" he exclaimed.
"I fell," I muttered. "Just do not stand there. Help me up!"
"How did you end up on the floor?" he pressed.
"I fell trying to get that bell," I said pointing to the bell which sat by his feet. Apollus stepped out momentarily to call for one of the slaves.
"What were you thinking?" he said, wagging his head. "Did you honestly think you could walk? You cannot walk Troy. What made you think otherwise? And now you are going to break yourself again. I do not know why I should even help you! You obviously are doing this to garner more attention, so everyone can feel sorry for you."
"No. It was an accident. But it does not matter what I think I could do now." I faltered, realizing my tempo was rising. "If you are my brother just please help lift me up, while I do the rest," I said, lowering my voice. Apollus just stood there with his arms crossed over the chest. He watched me struggle to peel my frame off the floor and clamor for the bed frame.
"That is the job of a slave. That is not my job, and not my problem!" he said, backing off.
"I thought you were my brother."
"Oh, I am not your brother. Remember what you said earlier?" What? I had never denied Apollus before. If I did in the past I could not remember it. He could not fault me for it. I admitted to Apollus he did not care for me when I first woke up but I was not implying I had no brother. After all I did not really mean those words when I lashed out at him due to frustration.
"Oh you probably forgot did you?" he continued in a biting tone. "Watch over Troy. 'You are the guardian of your brother!' 'You do not want anything to happen to him.' 'He is just a babe!' "he rambled.
By the time a slave walked in, I had managed to crawl most of the way up the bed. Apollus just stood by the doorway with a self-conceited smirk on his face as if somehow he was doing me a favor.
"Thanks for your assistance," I said to the younger male slave, as he centered my limbs onto the cot. I craned my neck to glare at Apollus.
"Well let me know whenever you need assistance," he said handing me the fallen bell. "This is in case your brother is not around to assist you."
"Will do. Not that I have a brother to assist me anyways!" I practically shouted every word. Now I truly meant my words.
I was reminded by the physician to prepare for the possibility of never walking again if the feeling in my legs remained numb. But I did feel something the moment I fell before the dull aches subsided into numbness. I shuddered at the thought of being forever bound in bed. I would forever be dependent on others. How could I prove to be a useful asset when my own 'brother' viewed me as a burden? I tried to mask my disappointment from the others but at night when I slipped into the covers, I wet the pillow with my tears.
But something else gnawed at me in the days to follow. When was the last time father visited my bedside after the initial "awakening?" Maybe once. Perhaps that was to be expected, since I was told he was the the king of a small sovereign island. He had possibly tens of thousands of people to rule. If he was my father, he felt more and more like a stranger with each passing day. That must be customary I told myself over and over again. He has more important duties to attend to.
Was it customary to have the kind of dreams I was having? Over the past few weeks, some were frightfully vivid with some being scary and dark, while others were exciting and light-hearted. I was in situations I never thought I would be in, and things I could not do or would not ordinarily do were possible. I could walk. I could run. I could ride horses. I could sail out on sea. I could feel free… until I woke up and remembered it was all just a dream.