The Mansion of Dreams

The Mansion of Dreams

A Story by NoDai

This short story is based on an actual recurring dreams I'm having since I was a kid. In those dreams I'm always exploring a huge mansion even though contents and places change with ageing.


Since I started grade school, sometimes I had this dream of a huge mansion standing gloomily in the middle of a nightly garden.

Fountains, water lilies and exotic flowers were bathed with colourful lights, crickets were singing, owls were hooting in the darkness, everything felt lively and fresh and peaceful and light.

Inside everything was still.

Convoluted stairs, doors and ancient furniture would crowd the hall where a huge chandelier scattered glittering light on every surface.

After the wander of the oneiric garden, this new stage felt like a new, different mystery.

Some mysteries you accept blindly and pleasure in their bustling energy, like passion and fear and pain.

Some others you want to fondle and probe, hooked by their apparent indifference, like space and loneliness and love.

It was hard to keep asleep inside the mansion because something distant would tell me that I was dreaming and as soon as I realised that, I woke up.

Years went by and every now and then, I found myself again walking through the garden, then inside the hall, then approaching some door, opening one... and waking up. 

Alone in my bed I would wonder what could be behind those doors, and why did the garden change so much in time.

Everything kept feeling more and more alive, and the ecstasy it radiated would sink deeper and deeper in me like it was seeking something buried deep inside that was made of its same essence.

So I started feeling overwhelmed by that nightly garden and sometimes I would rush inside just to curb my thoughts and calm my racing heart.

A door is a hole in a wall which was appropriately closed so that you can see through it only if you really want to.

Opening a door takes courage because it's a voluntary action, you are responsible for what happens next.

Some mysteries just come to you and knee your balls and push your face on the ground and yell at you that you need more, like drugs and delusions and lust.

Some others stand still and dare you to face them, they mock you and laugh at you and tell you - «you don't want this, buddy!» - like adulthood and parenthood and truth.

So the garden and the mansion were down to different paths and as I was a teenager, that dream had turned into a nightmare.

Then I had my first kiss and the dream suddenly stopped.

I can't remember what happened next, it was all very fast and confused, I can only decide the order of some events by sticking them to something I know the timing of, like the school grade, or the college year.

It's really a cloud of facts and stories and people and girls and friends and notions I can't really put in line.

I couldn't feel the mystery any more.

If I have to pick a feeling for that time, I'd go for loneliness or maybe unpreparedness: I never felt worth enough and everyone around me felt like trains on different rails that coincidently came close during their ride.

I moved out on my own and I remember always leaving my door open.

Five years ago or so, the dream came back.

I think it started the first time I said «I love you» actually knowing what that meant.

I said it because I wanted it to stick and grow and... and it was that kind of mystery that waits.

The garden was now really peaceful and sweet, I remember smelling the flowers and feeling the chill of the cold water on my fingers. I could guess a melody in the cricket's song and I bet the owls knew all the words.

Inside, the chandelier was swinging and the glitters of light danced around the hall.

All the doors were slightly opened and waving like a soft air flow was streaming through them.

And then I came to a door, and I looked inside, and it was just a room.

A room filled with memories in the form of pictures on the walls, objects on the shelves, secrets in the drawers.

I remember browsing through every corner of the room and feeding on the revelation that the mystery is, in fact, nothing more than just your own space within existence.

As I grew conscious of this truth, I opened more and more doors, and I was amazed by the infinity of spaces and places and atmospheres I could find.

Theatres of purple curtains, hallways of mirrors, cellars with a chair, a table and a checkerboard.

Everything felt at the same time new and old, unknown and mine, pristine and consumed.

I remember a room full of records of my favourite songwriter, in the dream I felt again the joy of discovering new songs even if I really knew them all already.

But something felt off.

There were certain rooms or spaces where I felt observed and I would move carefully and feel guilt when opening the closets, pulling the drawers, lifting the leads.

That too was somehow a pleasure: the pleasure of doing something I wasn't supposed to.

The freedom of uncovering what wasn't meant to be known: an original sin.

So I started wondering who was the gazer, the keeper of the mansion, who was the judge who told apart the right and the wrong?

I mean I was scavenging all those places anyway and always felt I had the right to do so, even when I wasn't supposed to, so what was the purpose of a conscience?

Some mysteries are there to be taken, collected, like flowers and memories and hugs.

Some others are there to be taken, stolen, like jewels and ideas and kisses.

Lately I started spending more time in the forbidden wing of the mansion.

I thought if I followed the feeling of wrongdoing, I'd eventually reach its source: the one that observes me in my dreams.

There was an orchard with a blade of light coming in from the ceiling.

There was a bathroom paved with white tiles and with a huge boiling bathtub in the middle.

There was a balcony I had to climb over to get through.

There was the teachers room with all the registers on the tables.

There was the room where my grandpa was kept when he was sick.

There was my parents room with an opaque glass door.

Yesterday my wife told me we are expecting a baby.

Last night I found myself in a room with striped wallpaper.

There was silverware and glasses everywhere and the air was filled with the scent of old wooden furniture.

The atmosphere felt so grave and austere I couldn't dare to touch anything.

Everything felt like it was placed in the exact spot it was supposed to be, my brain couldn't force itself to even consider the idea of moving anything by an inch.

I hovered my hands on the ornaments and the forniture and it felt like caressing an ancient beast that was asleep since way before I was even born.

If I touch it, if I wake it up, it's not gonna turn just on me, but everyone I know, everyone I love would be in danger.

That was the line I couldn't cross, I could be responsible for my own demise, but couldn't stand to drag my folks down with me.

Then behind a wardrobe I saw a square cut in the wallpaper.

I pushed it in the middle and it opened.

Inside there was a blackbird chick shaking for the sudden gust of air.

It felt so fragile I had to look away.

 - «Why are you afraid to look at me?» - he said.

 - «I fear that I would hurt you.» - I replied.

 - «But then, how are you gonna teach me how to fly?» - he asked.

 - «I'm not even sure how to do it myself.» -

 - «Maybe just avoid what's keeping you on the ground?» -

 - «Isn't that like ignoring the truth?» -

 - «What is truth anyway? I don't know no truth. I have many questions, but I'll be happy with just any answer, I guess...» -

 - «But I want you to know the truth.» -

 - «Is that why you came this far?» -

 - «Yes.» -

 - «Well, I’ll forgive you then…» -

© 2022 NoDai

Author's Note

Please point out problems with grammar, words choice, structure and style. Just anything is well accepted.

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Added on May 11, 2022
Last Updated on May 11, 2022
Tags: mystery, mansion, exploration, coming-of-age, new adult, fatherhood



Brescia, Lombardy, Italy

I'm a software developer but I've been writing since I was a kid and never really stopped. I mostly write in Italian as it's my native language, but sometimes I like to venture and try writing short .. more..