Mind Castle Adventures: A Few Days in Paris

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A lonely girl gets trapped in an imaginary world as she wanders through the hallways of the castle that is her mind...

Submitted: May 02, 2011

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Submitted: May 02, 2011

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She needed to get away. Her close encounter with a human kind had left her with feelings she didn’t quite know how to handle. She needed to retreat to the place she knew best. The place where she felt safe. Though it would seem like a maze to others, she knew that somewhere along these corridors she would find the answers she needed. So she set off down the longest hallway to see where it led. Her thoughts echoed and bounced off the barren walls and the cold concrete floor, making it seem less lonely.

It would be very easy for someone to get hopelessly lost in these corridors, but she knew her way around quite well. After all, she had lived here her whole life. In fact, it was her life that created this place. Every story, every experience of her life could be found somewhere among the hallways and rooms of her mind. Some of the more pleasant memories became flowery wallpaper or comfortable furniture. Some could be found in the warmth of a fireplace or in a song floating through the air. Other experiences manifested as a stale odor or a rusty old chain, a disturbing darkness, or an old black and white TV with constantly changing snowy channels. It was all there in some form; the good and the bad, the forgotten and the remembered. Some rooms were no longer meaningful, and some rooms were so fresh and painful that she refused to even walk down the corridor where they could be found. Some rooms, as she was about to find out, were yet to be discovered.

Distracted by her thoughts, she quickly found herself in unfamiliar territory. She was quite literally lost somewhere inside her head. But as she wandered aimlessly along, something caught her attention: a big yellow sign on one of the doors. “Danger - Keep Out!” it read. She made a valiant effort, but found that she couldn’t resist; she just had to open the door and see what was inside. After all, these were her rooms. And she didn’t remember hanging that sign. She didn’t even remember this hallway, she realized, suddenly feeling a little lost.

She opened the door slowly, half expecting a three-headed creature to jump out at her, but closed it again quickly when bright sunlight surprised her dark-accustomed eyes. She shook her head as if she had just seen a vision that couldn’t be true. Her head must be playing tricks on her. So she opened the door again, just a crack, expecting this time to see the dark, dusky room that made sense in this desolate hallway. But once again it was sunshine that greeted her. And this time she heard beautiful music coming from somewhere inside. She took a tentative step inside the room to get a better look, and was immediately approached by a man dressed as a maître D’. He handed her a menu and asked if she would like a table. He startled her so much that she froze, her hand never closing on the menu, which fell to the ground. It wasn't the man himself that scared her. He seemed very kind. It was just that she had been sure she was all alone in what she liked to call her “castle”. As the man gently picked up the menu and returned it to her hand, her eyes began to come into focus. It made no sense at all, but it looked like she was at an outdoor café, the kind you would find in Paris.

She decided to play along and let her host lead her to a table. He brought her a tall glass of iced tea which she slowly sipped as she tried to take it all in. She had so many questions. Who were these people and where did they come from? How was it that the sun was shining and the blue sky seemed to go on forever when she knew this room should be about 20’ X 15’? Was she still in her castle or had she lost herself so completely that she wandered off somewhere? Was this magic? Was it a dream? The lemon in her tea made her mouth pucker. Sure seemed real… She decided to just relax and try to enjoy the experience. So she let out a deep breath, leaned back in the black iron swivel chair, and began to survey the scenery.

Out of nowhere a man appeared and asked if he could join her. “Sure, have a seat,” she said, no longer surprised by the unexpected. She knew she had never seen him before, and yet when she looked in his eyes she thought she had known him forever. It felt like he knew everything about her. Everything. Normally, that would terrify her. But in this place, at this time, it didn’t. She was really glad for his company.

If you asked her, she wouldn’t remember anything they talked about, just that they sat there, drinking coffee and tea, and talking like old friends for hours. But she would remember that they saw a sunset so beautiful that she thought it must belong to another world. It made her sad to think of walking back into the dark, empty hallway of her castle maze. But her new friend walked her to the door with a promise to meet her there again tomorrow, and she thought of nothing else the rest of the night.

As you can imagine, this hallway soon became very familiar to her. And each day that she visited she thought to herself she should take the sign off the door on her way out, for it was obvious there was no danger here. But her mind was always somewhere else by the time she left, so it remained there, day after day, a curiosity to her.

She made a lot of "friends" in this new found world. And each time she left the room she felt a deep sadness. One day she wished out loud that she didn't have to return to her lonely life. Her new friends invited her to stay and live with them. It was a tempting offer, but she knew she couldn’t take them up on it. As much as she liked it here, she had responsibilities on the other side of that door. So she said her usual goodbyes and opened the door, expecting to find the castle hallway. It was the same door that had always been there, but when she walked through it, there was no castle, no hallway. It only led deeper into this ever expanding world that she still did not completely comprehend. For just a split second she even wondered if the hallway she had expected to find had only been a dream. And she began to panic, just a bit, as fear and confusion crept in.

When she realized she couldn't get home that night she set about looking for a place to stay. It just so happened that a friend she bumped into on the street outside the cafe knew about an available apartment and thought it would be just perfect for her. So she went to see it. And it really was perfect. In fact, maybe a little too perfect. It looked as if she had already been there and decorated it herself. Slowly, she began to allow herself to see that this place, this other world in a room in her castle, was too good to be true. Too many coincidences. Too much perfection. She had ignored the fact that whatever (or whomever) she needed just seemed to appear when she thought about it. It seemed that in this room her imaginations became tangible, something you could reach out and touch. But none of it was real. And now she realized that she was trapped in her mind’s own creation.

Trapped? That didn't make sense. If she really had created this world, then shouldn't she be in control of it? It was just a room, right? She should be able to just switch off the lights and leave. But, try as she might, she couldn’t find the door. So she resigned herself to staying here. It wasn't such a bad thing, really, living in a perfect world where all you have to do is think it and your wish will come true. Everyone liked her here. Everyone understood her. She had everything she needed and wanted. Yet, somehow, she still felt an incredible emptiness. An overwhelming loneliness.

Her conversations all began to be about her life outside this room. When she sat with her friends at the cafe, or walked along the river with them, she would tell them about the people that were part of her "real" life. But they would just tell her that she should forget all that. That she was better off here. And they would quickly change the subject. She found that she could no longer connect with these new friends. Or maybe she just didn’t want to. And she lived quite unhappily in her perfect world for some time.

One day, she was startled to see two of her friends from the outside walk into the cafe! Relationships had never been her strong suit, and her friends beyond these walls were few and tentative at best. But these were the two people she had trusted most in the real world. She couldn’t believe they had actually noticed she was missing and had come looking for her! She didn't know how they had gotten into her castle or how they had found this room, but she was very glad to see them! And she felt hope for the first time in a long while. She believed that they could get her out of here.

She saw them talking to the Maître D', showing him a picture, asking if anyone had seen this girl. For a moment, they looked her way and she thought they had seen her. She started to walk towards them, but was pulled quickly aside by the bartender. She tried to tell him that these were her friends and that she needed to go talk to them. But he wouldn't let her go. She tried to yell, but he covered her mouth with his hands. She struggled to get away from him until she watched her friends turn around and leave, having been told that nobody here had ever seen the girl in the picture. When the bartender let her go, she just crumbled to the ground and cried. Help had come and had been turned away. Her friends were looking for her, and she believed they would continue looking for her, but they wouldn't come back here again. They hadn't seen her when she was right in front of them, and now they would never find her. She couldn't go on like this. This was more than she could take. She had to do something. So she started thinking about this place, and how her mind had created it. If she couldn't get out, maybe she could at least change some things. It was a simple matter of thinking it, right? So she tried something. She imagined some of her old friends, and there they were! It worked! They weren't real, of course, but better than nothing.

She was happier now, catching up with old friends who weren't trying to hold her captive. She found that knowing they weren't real made it much easier for her to say things that she probably couldn’t say to the real person. She decided to call it practice and tried to believe that someday she would get a chance to try it in the real world. But she doubted she could relate to her real friends the same way she could to their imaginary counterparts. Still, she felt much less alone now and found it easier to get up in the mornings...

Meantime, her two would-be rescuers, were roaming the halls of her castle, looking in doors, surprised at times by what they found. These rooms told them a lot about their friend that they had never known. They searched every room but never found her. As they were getting ready to leave, they began to talk about that room with the cafe, wondering who all those people were and how that room fit into her castle. It seemed so different from all the others. There was something bothering them about it. After talking through it they decided that the people in there could not have been real. Then they remembered there had been a danger sign on the door. They decided to go back and check it out.

This time they managed to enter the cafe unseen and began to try and blend in. They walked around for a while, marveling at this whole other world that existed within the confines of a small room! They found the river and were walking along it when they saw her, sitting on the grass, staring into the glassy water. When she saw them, she smiled and invited them over. She had just been thinking about them and, once again, her mind had conjured them up. Here they were! She knew they weren't real, but she was still very happy to see them.

They sat down with her and just talked for a long time. Well, mostly they listened as she told them all about this place, how it came to be, and how she came to be trapped in it. And how these same two friends - the real version of them, she explained - had come to rescue her but had been turned away. She enjoyed talking to them. She liked the way it felt when she shared things she never would have dared if they had been real. And they thought it best not to mention to her just yet that they were indeed the real thing. So she told them all her deepest secrets. As they listened to her, and thought about what they had seen in her rooms, they began to understand something that even she did not.

They figured out that the reason she could not leave this place was that she had lost her connection to the real world. And until she re-established it she would be trapped right here. And they knew as long as she thought they were figments of her imagination she would be able to talk to them more freely, establish that connection more easily. And they would eventually be able to take her with them when they left.

So they spent the next few days together in “Paris”, enjoying each other's company and getting to know each other at a level she had never before experienced. It was the happiest she had ever been. She wondered, but doubted, if she could ever be this way outside of her imaginary world. She mentioned that to them, and they asked her what would happen if she said these things to them back in the real world. It frightened her to even think about it.

They decided it was time to tell her who they really were. At first she felt sick at her stomach. Then she became angry and felt like they had tricked her, invaded her privacy. But she quickly began to understand that they had done this because they cared about her and wanted to save her from her self-imposed dungeon! And she began to see that nothing had changed between them except that they knew each other much better. She decided she liked the way that felt. She had made a connection with the real world. She could go home now.

Once they were back in the hallway she closed the door and began to board it up. She hammered and nailed until nobody was going to get in there ever again! Then she and her two friends walked the long hallway together. She wished that they didn't have to leave. But they were back in the real world now, in her lonely castle of halls and rooms, and, well, that was just the way things worked.

After they were gone she went to a quiet room and sat down to think about all that had happened. When she remembered the things she had said to her friends when she didn't know they were real, her stomach did flips. It felt like being at the top of a roller coaster, waiting for the descent and knowing, no matter how scared you were, there was no turning back now. It was both exciting and terrifying at the same time. She had enjoyed the ride, but now she wasn't sure how to get back on.

Her life started to return to the way it had been before. She invited friends over occasionally, but only let them into a few of her safest rooms. Mostly, she kept to herself, wandering the halls and hiding in her favorite rooms. She liked to sit and think about how, once upon a time, her friends had looked in all of her rooms, hoping to find her. And how much she had enjoyed those few days in “Paris” when she wasn’t afraid to be herself.

But the friends that had rescued her never came back because she was no longer lost or in danger. As the loneliness began to creep back into her life, sometimes she would walk down that forbidden hallway and stare at the door, remembering.

One day she began to remove the nails...

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