Featured Review on this writing by HJFURL

Paraline's Dream

Reads: 273  | Likes: 4  | Shelves: 2  | Comments: 5

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium
I have always been fascinated by folk tales, myths, and origin stories. This is a story about the origin of catching fireflies and putting them in jars or bottles (obviously this is just my take on the origin). The story is about a "curious" Ms. Paraline, who lives all alone in a Victorian house in a town named Wickle-Berrington, and one day awakes into a marvelous dream which is unrelentingly disturbed by the "strange little man with the sly smile."

Photo (c) ian dooley on Unsplash

Submitted: September 15, 2019

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 11, 2019

A A A

A A A


Ms. Paraline lived an unparticularly unamusing life. She lived her life as a brief wind blowing to and fro and truthfully never going to anyplace in particular. She resided in an old Victorian house on the outskirts of Wickle-Berrington, the sleepy town where no one remained awake for very long. The house had the appearance of a haunted mansion, ivy-covered with peeling paint that curled around the wooden frame. Two darkened windows graced the upstairs portion, which lay rotting as a forgotten garden bed of chalk-white roses and fraughtly forget-me-nots. The whole structure slept at the end of the road that wound far over the purple hill to the lonely grassy plain that plummeted into Bookman’s Hollow, an undisturbed forest far from the town.

Ms. Paraline mused fondly over her unwanted relic, but upon her grandfather’s passing, he had bequeathed her the decaying meadow of another man’s forgotten dreams. Had she an adoring gentleman to enliven the mansion, perhaps she could find the discarded memory more tolerable. As for Ms. Paraline, she was disagreeably alone, and this had not been her choice. Her hair was a fiery scarlet, a soft blend of ruby and auburn. Her lips donned a luscious pink, but her eyes were a disenchantingly chilling blue. Her fingers were long and elegant from many years at her job as a piano teacher uptown. There was little about that sleepy town that quite suited Ms. Paraline. She was an extravagant woman, a dreamer, and she long thought on how she might escape that dreadful Wickle-Berrington.

On one occasion, a pleasantly warm afternoon, Ms. Paraline wandered into Wickle-Berrington. She indecisively passed back and forth between the alluring window of Mrs. Arbenley’s dress shop, where she beheld a lovely and irresistible gown. The gown was a soft pink with a lace petticoat and layers of smooth material abounding with ruffles and doffed with minuscule ribbons of silk and satin. Paraline wilted against the window, daydreaming of a nameless Mr. Paraline dancing around the flaccid mansion, nestling the passionate Paraline in his arms. She found that her fantasies were shattered by the maddening presence of a strange little man with a curiously sly smile. He nodded to her as if he had read her mind. Paraline dashed into the shop and returned elatedly with the alluring gown in her hands. The sly man smiled widely and doffed is hat at her before he disappeared quickly around the corner. Paraline pirouetted towards the empty mansion, her thoughts excited by the imagination of a tall, stylish Mister frolicking with her in the meadow in her sprightly gown. The euphoric emotions passed in a bluster as she gazed into the hollow and overcast structure. She indignantly collapsed on her bed and dreamt of another time and a different world.

When Paraline awakened, she lifted her head to find that she seemed to be trapped inside a wall of some sort. She felt enclosed in a small, dark space, but her fingertips touched the satin sheets of the bed. She pushed her hand through the covering and found that she was encased in a covering of pink, wrinkly paper. She lifted her body through the paper only to catch a glimpse of a young man in the room across the open doorway. Paraline blushed with an amalgam of fear and embarrassment as well as a hint of pleasant desire. How had this beautiful creature found his way into her unsightly house? She cursorily perceived that the house was not her house at all but quite lovely and ornate. The bed was golden with an overarching and discreet canopy. The sheets were a rose satin, and the little pillows resting on the sheet were daintily embroidered with petite rosettes. Paraline gazed down at her hand to espy a sweet little ring. What kind of fiendish nightmare must this be? thought Paraline. No gentlemen had shown interest in Paraline before who possibly would want to marry her? The young man skipped to her bedside, and she caught a glimpse of a matching ring on his finger.

“Hello, love,” he whispered in her ear and gently kissed her lips. Paraline felt ill and excited. Her head swooned, and inside her stomach writhed with fliting butterflies. My first kiss! I don’t even know him, but I feel as if I have known him a lifetime. I know everything about him, and I do love him. thought Paraline. She nervously returned his kisses, and he reciprocated with rhythmic kisses to her neck. Paraline felt safe with him. He shared her innocence and gentility. I wonder if he knows about the dress?

Paraline had settled quite agreeably into her new life with Mister Berrington—which she had amused on how odd it seemed that he took the name after that miserable little town. She had been with Mr. Berrington for a short three weeks, and in that time, she had become quite addicted to married life completely discarding all thoughts of that grotesque house she loathed.

One day Paraline decided to amuse herself by taking a walk into the town that always slept while Mr. Berrington worked in the garden. As she moseyed down the steps, she noticed the sly little man standing nearby slumped against a tree. He smiled almost wickedly and doffed his hat to her. Paraline disliked him without reason. She wrinkled her nose at him and huffed off toward the center of the town.

When Paraline returned a few hours later, the house had vanished along with every trace of the angelic Mr. Berrington. Paraline felt her heart shatter. She suddenly found herself longing for the caresses of her honey-lipped husband. She lost all control at the sight of the vulgar house she thought she had escaped. She ran to the tormented structure and began to rip and tear apart wooden boards and staves, her tears pervading the sleeves of her dress. She screamed the scream of a mad man and only stopped at the sight of the sly man leaning against one of the wooden posts on the porch.

“You monster! What have you done with my husband?” screamed Paraline as she struck his face with her balmy fist. He did not flinch, but his smile grew wider across his wrinkled face, and his handlebar mustached curled upwards under his pointed nose.

“Come now, Ms. Paraline. Control yourself. If it were not for I, you would never have tasted of love at all. I am your benefactor, you thankless, foolish child,” said he as he turned around and surveyed the dark woods nearby. He quickly spun around on his feet to face her bloodless eyes. “I created your dear little lover and that enchanting house and what thanks you gave me! I can as easily rob you of him and his kisses,” he bellowed, and Paraline clenched her ears as his voice echoed as a shrilling wraith. He walked up to her face, his nose nearly touching hers. “Try to live without him now,” said he as he roved away his boots galumphing and his impish laugh filling the evening air with doom.

“Yes, indeed…” Paraline cooed with revenge writhing every corner of her mind. Her mind conceived of a wicked plan to rid the world of the sly little man who would dare play a dirty trick on such an innocent and kind-hearted mind as Paraline’s mind was. She heard rumors in town of an elfish man with an unsightly mustache and unpleasant disposition who frequented Bookman’s Hollow deep in the woods to catch fireflies—a most curious pastime the townsfolk observed. She found a glassblower in Pockie Acres, a nearby village, who had earned a reputation as the finest glassmaker in the entire region. She commissioned his services to construct a large bottle the size of the sly little man.

Paraline transported the finished bottle to Bookman’s Hollow inside a hollowed-out tree in the center of the woods where the fireflies were known to gather at twilight. She circulated a rumor which eventually found its way to the odious creature that a mysterious bottle filled with fireflies lay abandoned in the woods. Unable to tame his curiosity, the sly little man crept into the woods one evening to uncover the treasure of dancing lights. He foolishly marveled at the bottle, falling delightfully into Paraline’s trap, as he crawled into the bottle to satisfy his insatiable curiosity of all the beautiful, lighted creatures. Paraline dashed from behind the tree and capped the bottle laughing violently at the sight of her inglorious 'benefactor' beating his fists against the walls of the bottle.

“Rot in there as I have in life, you devilish creature. I need no benefactor, especially one as cruel and heartless as your horridness!” shrieked Paraline, and throwing her subconscious to the wind, she flew home the feeling of justice seething through her veins. She did not care what was to become of the wicked little man. For now, she had her revenge.

A year passed, and Paraline had not returned to the hollow where she had encased the sly little man. Her malice toward that house had only widened. She heard from the glassmaker that a circus which toured the world—the East and the countries far away—was passing through the sleepy town of Wickle-Berrington. Paraline longed to leave the town that bore her late husband’s sweet name, which caused a burn of biting pain to surge through her body and heart. She resolved to join the circus as an animal caretaker so she could travel the world and forget her sorrows. She hoped she would someday find another love, although she deemed this quite unlikely.

In time, as Paraline toured the great cities of Europe and lands far beyond earning the reputation as the finest animal tamer and tasting the delicious foods and traditions of the other cultures she forgot the memory of the sly little man and her late husband altogether seemed a distant dream that never occurred. The glassmaker had even heard rumors that Paraline had become engaged to a renowned gentleman, a French ballet dancer, and painter, who toured with the circus. 

The town of Wickle-Berrington, however, did not forget the sly little man, for he had done a great injustice to that gentle town. In memory of Paraline’s lost love, the town began to have light festivals where they captured thousands of fireflies in glass jars and bottles and put them to rest on the steps of Paraline’s abandoned mansion. The town fancied that wherever Mr. Berrington was perhaps, he would see the lights and imagine how sorry the sleepy town and Paraline were for his disappearance. As for the sly man, no one truly knew what had become of him, although they speculated that the fireflies had devoured him.

And all alone, on those disheveled steps—the derelict road to yesterday—the jars of fireflies lighted the lonely mansion where once Paraline’s footsteps had echoed and long before her grandfather sat on the porch in his rocker whistling an old-world tune which could be heard over the purple road that wound into Wickle-Berrington, the town that always sleeps.

white wooden 2-storey house


© Copyright 2019 L.E. Belle. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply