Friday Flash Fiction: Wildest Dreams
The view from Clara’s window never failed to amaze her. Every morning she pulled back the thick curtains and felt a sense of wonder at the patchwork of colours before her.
Until she arrived at Rosings, Clara only recognised two shades of green at best – light and dark – but now she knew better. There was the murky green of the moss that crawled up the stone walls, the bright sheet of the rising and falling hills, and the thick khaki of the guards’ uniforms. And for every green, there were a hundred new blues and yellows she had discovered, some of which she could barely even describe.
Mr Rosing adored colour, and he ensured that the rooms and vast gardens of his home were bursting with beauty. On the first night, he assured Clara that her room was by far the most magnificent, and even in her initially fragile state, she was inclined to agree.
Everything was pristine, as if it was created just for Clara to enjoy. In fact, everything about her stay seemed to be catered especially for her – from the new clothes in her favourite colours, to the silver trays that appeared by her bedside each morning, often piled high with fresh fruits or generous bowls of honeyed porridge. At any moment the room would be filled with a collection of her favourite smells, baked bread, almonds, vanilla or sandalwood, she didn’t know exactly where the scents came from, but she accepted them nonetheless.
But the thing that gave her most pleasure was the grand bookshelf. It swept around the circular room and stretched from the bouncy peacock-coloured carpet right up to the high ceiling. There were so many shelves that Clara had to use the ladders to climb to the higher levels, and would spend the majority of her days choosing books at random and gliding from one end of the shelf to the other. It was beyond her wildest dreams.
Clara read greedily and with a vague fear that it could all be taken away at any moment. She wanted to sample as much of the vast library as possible, but there was so much choice that she usually never read past the first few chapters of a book before hot impatience took over her, and she felt the urge to pick up something new.
That was until she found the sapphire-shelled book hidden at the back of the very top of the bookcase. She pawed through the crack in the shelf expecting to pull out something dusty and mothballed; instead the book appeared clean and gleaming defiantly. Its pages were so crisp and white that she thought it was brand new until she saw the looped handwriting on the inside cover.
The first time she read the words, Clara nearly lost her footing. She looked nervously at the metal hatch at the bottom of her door, expecting Mr Rosings or a guard to be looking up at her cruelly, but she was perfectly alone. She thought of shoving the book to the back of the shelf and pretending that she had never laid eyes on it, but it was too late. The words were like a loose thread, and now that it was exposed, she knew her world would soon unravel.
Clara read them over again and again, examining the brush stroke of every single letter until the image was burned in her mind. She closed her eyes and the looped writing appeared. Stark black letters against a creamy background:
“You too can escape this prison.”