There were once two little girls who saw, or believed they saw, a thing in a forest.
They remembered the thing they had seen in the forest, on the contrary, in the way you remember those very few dreams—almost all nightmares—that have the quality of life itself. (Though what are dreams if not life itself?)
I think, I think there are things that are real—more real than we are—but mostly we don’t cross their paths, or they don’t cross ours. Maybe at very bad times we get into their world, or notice what they are doing in ours.
“Sometimes I think that thing finished me off,” said Penny to Primrose, a child’s voice rising in a woman’s gullet, arousing a little girl’s scared smile which wasn’t a smile on Primrose’s face.
She believed in Father Christmas, and the discovery that her mother had made the toys, the vanishing of magic, had been a breathtaking blow. She could not be grateful for the skill and the imagination, so uncharacteristic of her flirtatious mother.
Primrose knew that glamour and the thing they had seen, brilliance and the ashen stink, came from the same place.
It was the encounter with the Thing that had led her to deal professionally in dreams. Something that resembled unreality had lumbered into reality, and she had seen it.
When it came, she would look it in the face, she would see what it was. She clasped her hands loosely in her lap. Her nerves relaxed. Her blood slowed. She was ready.
Primrose sat on the edge of the fountain. She had decided what to do. She smiled her best, most comfortable smile, and adjusted her golden locks. Listen to me, she told them, and I’ll tell you something amazing, a story that’s never been told before.