"Once I dreamed I was a butterfly, and now I no longer know whether I am Zhuangzi, who dreamed I was a butterfly, or whether I am a butterfly dreaming that I am Zhuangzi." - Zhuangzi
On the night of her hundredth day of life, Jenny dreams.
There is a strange weight on her head, in the dream, and she reaches up to explore it. It seems to stretch, and to curve, and come down and run back towards her head just where her ears are. She realizes that she's wearing a hat. A funny hat.
"A very funny hat," she says, and crosses her arms over her chest. That's when she notices that her clothes aren't as well-fit as usual. They're long, and flowing, and resemble robes. Most likely, she thinks in that way one does while dreaming, because they are robes.
She looks up then. She stands beneath a burnt orange sky, dotted with soft, puffy red clouds. In the distance is a great citadel, one of the finest she's ever seen. It'd be very hard to lay siege to a place like that, Jenny thinks.
"Turn 'round," she hears a voice tell her. "If you turn 'round it won't be night anymore, it'll be morning, and morning is the best time to look at the mountains."
There's no one standing with her, so she knows the voice is a dream voice. Jenny's been reading up on dreams, since she started having them. Still, she sees no reason not to listen. She turns around, with the citadel to her back, and the breath catches in her throat.
She sees mountains, yes, but it's more than that. The sun is rising, and the - are those trees? - the trees (!) at the base of it are alive with the light. They shimmer as a breeze blows across them, and it's like watching living fire. She can hear the leaves rustle, even though she must be several klicks from the forest. That's the way of dreams, she knows: to make the impossible possible.
"If only you knew, Jenny."
Jenny doesn't turn to look for the voice, though she desperately wants to. Frustrated by her inability to control her dream self, she asks, a bit more sharply than she normally would: "Who are you?"
"An echo of something long gone."
"Look, Jenny, the great birds are taking flight from their mountain roosts. That's beyond even my memory. Echoes of echoes."
Jenny watches the birds as they soar into the sky, wheeling around in brilliant patterns. She realizes that they're playing with each other, and she suddenly longs to join them. "This isn't a normal dream, is it?"
"Very smart, my dear."
The voice keeps changing, and that's why she doesn't know who it is! But it sounds like her dad, and yet not her dad at the same time. "Why can't it make sense?"
"Be quiet and watch, and appreciate what you're seeing. Memories of a place you'll never visit."
A shiver runs up Jenny's spine, and tears spring to her eyes. "Gallifrey. How do I know that word?"
There's no answer, only the sounds of the leaves and the birds. Jenny wiggles her toes, because her feet are bare, and she feels soft grass tickle at her skin. It's red, like the clouds. "I don't want to leave," she whispers, but she knows she has to.
She stands there a few more moments, watching what she knows is the world of her people as dawn turns to day. She cries, which is something new. The few tears of before were like the tears of pain she sometimes produces when she stubs her toe or knocks her funny (she didn't see what was so funny about it, but that's what it was called) bone too hard. But this is strange and different, and her hearts beat harder and her chest feels tight.
Jenny doesn't want to leave, because she's afraid she won't remember when she wakes up.
"It's okay, this is yours now. Our legacy." For the first time since the voice spoke, she feels a presence with her: a hand on her shoulder. She wants to turn to look at him, certain that somehow it must be her dad, but again her body refuses to obey. "Happy birthday."
She wakes in her small bed, and the tears are still fresh on her cheek. She sobs once more, quietly, and then breaks into a wide grin.
"I remember," she whispers to no one. "Gallifrey."
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