I opened my eyes. I stood on a square platform high above the ground, holding a plastic cooler and a small bag. A beautiful palace spread before me, a vision painted against a glowing pre-dawn sky in cream marble and Lemurian blue granite. Terraces stretched from stately towers; balconies traced graceful rooms, held up by elegant colonnades; waterfalls spilled from the floors above into stone pools. Below a river wound its way to sea, its waters diverted to run through breathtaking gardens, where flowers bloomed along hundreds of ponds and streams, and stone gazebos with padded loungers and carved benches offered a chance for respite.
The air was warm and pleasant. The wind smelled like flowers.
In this realm, my father was a god, and this palace, so beautiful it almost floated among the greenery, was the purest expression of his will, his vision come to life without the constraints of reality.
A soft breeze stirred my hair. I walked across the platform to a narrow bridge connecting it to a terrace, which bordered my father’s study, a vast chamber with tall arched windows. The doors to the study stood ajar.
Another swirl of the breeze.
“There you are, Blossom.”
Roland appeared in the doorway. He wore formal garments today, a tailored blue tunic that dripped to his ankles, fringed with white at the hem, and a long outer garment he called irrok, a length of snow-white fabric, thin like gossamer. It was secured at his left shoulder and fell in structured, perfect folds across one side of his body. Sometimes, he wrapped it around his hips in spiral folds but today, the irrok hung loose.
Usually, he didn’t bother with formal clothes just for my sake. I got a tunic, sometimes pants and a shirt, and one time, he showed up in a tracksuit, which made me laugh for five minutes.
The clothes were different, but he was always the same. A man with the face of a prophet or a sage, his dark hair streaked with grey, his handsome features touched by the sun, and his eyes full of wisdom and warmth. My father who adored me more than he loved any of my long dead siblings, tried to kill me in the womb, murdered my mother, fought a war against me, and now pouted if I missed a scheduled visit. Complicated, our family did it right.
“It’s been so long since you came to visit me.”
True to form. “Disparaging my husband in front of our son might have something to do with that.”
He waved his hand, dismissing the idea. “I didn’t disparage him. I simply pointed out that a man who would sacrifice his position of power under pressure wasn’t fit to rule.”
I waved my hand in front of my nose. “It stinks.”
“Your bullshit, father.”