By Dolores J. Nurss

Volume III: Responsibility

Chapter 62




          I dreamed vaguely about two men of the general description in Damien’s tale, warriors, at the point when the smaller man had one side of his thick glasses damaged.  I made up the rest.  This image recurs in my dreams, in fact, in various settings:  A slight-built man, teen or boy, with thick glasses, one side destroyed, usually a warrior, forlorn against great odds, with too much laid upon his shoulders for his age or circumstances.

          My elder brother was a slight-built boy and youth and man in thick glasses, much bullied for being a bookworm in elementary school, who fought back with skill and fury, generally winning.  Teachers noticed that all the different fights had him in common, and expelled him rather than the bullies.

          I looked up to him inordinately as a child.  My life revolved around him, and I believed every word he said on anything.  I think these dreams tried to warn me that he had a sizeable blind side, and not to believe everything he said.

          But they also served another function.  They gave me compassion for him when later he turned on me.  He’d had too much expectation laid upon him, much like me, and unlike me too much praise for anyone to live up to, too early in his life (except, of course, when faced with unreasonable demands, such as letting bullies assail him without defending himself.)  Adults either put him on a pedestal or knocked him down bruisingly, but never gave him a safe middle-ground to stand upon.  The combination, coupled with earlier trauma, drove him into narcissism and destroyed his life, but he was born innocent.

As for the bit with Jake, Randy, and Don, I put into lesson-format, here and there, odd little bits of etiquette that I’d observed in dreams of Toulin.  One way to deal with the dreaded “expository lump.”  But it’s more than that.  Whenever more than one member of Fireheart Friendclan went on a mission together, we always studied together on the way.  Studying alone went swifter and more efficiently, and we did that, too, but we clung to the intimacy of sharing study as a way to reassert our bond, and to enjoy the peace of it before the pressures of the mission itself.  I dream often of the studying, though I rarely can remember what we studied when I wake, so I draw on other dreams to fill in the gaps.  Including details like the fact that the notoriously stuffy Toulinians pick their teeth at meals.  Things that don’t actually move the action of a story, yet keep present in the mind that these nations are not our nations on Earth, things that add up on a subtle level that I couldn’t explain to an editor, but which matters in creating the character of a culture.

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