Once, if I remember well, my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed. -Arthur Rimbaud
He was part of my dream, of course, but then I was part of his dream, too! -Lewis Carroll
The midnight bell tolled, melting reality from Gottfrid's day into Astor's. All the little girls and boys were snuggled in their beds, all the little boys but Astor who stood on tiptoe, his hands balanced on the radiators that lost Gottfrid's penny-pinching cheap paint peeling stupor to swell into deep bass thrumming pipes coated with solid gold that lifted the boy high enough to see the inner courtyard through his now clear windows where his feast would grow.
"You should be sleeping." The red queen stared down her long nose.
Astor's hand twitched against the radiator pipes, the tapping boomed through dreamland's boarding school and its three-hundred-and-sixty-five dorm rooms. It was easy to learn fear the other three-hundred-and-sixty-four days of the year, but not today. Today, the red queen held no power. Unless Astor granted that power to her. "It is my day, begone."
Leaving only the hallucination of her perfume, the red queen disappeared.
He contrived clothes to befit his name-day: ermine-edged cloak, gold and purple threaded vest, and a twined crown made of platinum threads. No one would forget whose magnanimity provided them with the day's feast. His stomach grumbled. No sense in his delaying, he would never find his fill nor bemoan too much.
Tables were bedecked with the lushness of the forest -- deer steaks and sausages, royal trumpet mushrooms, chipmunk and pheasant -- the saltiness of the sea -- monkfish with a beurre blanc sauce, prawns and lobsters -- and the sweetness of the briars -- strawberries, raspberries, and the tang of chocolate. The tables stretched as far as Astor could see, long narrow tables, the white tablecloths falling to the floor. A veritable maze.
"I've always liked your name day." A smear of chocolate begrimed Malena's cheek.
Astor started. It was his dreamworld. He shouldn't have to deal with people surprising him. He stared at his feet while counting to ten, not wanting to waste a single moment of his day on anger or harsh words. "You scared the bejabbers out of me. What are you doing here? The red queen hates when we're up before dawn begets the sun."
Pain beclouded Malena's eyes. "Many things the red queen hates." She chewed her bottom lip.
Whatever befouled her thoughts was better left unsaid for it was the red king's dream as well as Astor's. He found a ladyfinger, drizzled with espresso and thyme honey. He held it out for her and let her suck the sweetness. He decided he liked the smile that lit her eyes and beguiled his soul. Together they skipped through the maze, tasting of the delights laid before them.
The other little boys and little girls joined them, laughter breaking the dawn. The silver platters refilled themselves, the meats dripping warm juices, the breads steaming, and the whipped cream on the dessert's firm and cool. That evening, the tables moved away from their maze form to create a dining hall where everyone sat and the little boys and girls toasted Astor's dream.
He stayed up till midnight, Malena's hand in his, perched on the edge of his radiator to watch his reality melt into Inge's forests, spider silk draped like Spanish moss on the branches while the creak of spindly, misshaped creatures carried to his window.
It had been a good name day. He hoped it would carry him through the year.