Stravaganza: City of Dreams

Chapter One: Dream State

Hope Martine was aimlessly trying to dream. Dream of a place beyond the walls of her prison. She suffered and all she could do was bury her head in the sand. She felt as though it wasn't her place to say anything at all. She was left alone with nowhere to go, only to hide in its security. The noises were filtered out from around as she stared into a vast and empty space. She sighed as she examined the applesauce with her spoon. Barnsbury Comprehensive…ever so dry. She looked around the cafeteria as she saw the other students laughing and gossiping. She sat alone at her table with barely an appetite to eat at all because everyone thought she was weird.

Hope was anything but weird. She was actually really just a dreamer of all shapes and sizes. She had a passion for dance and she fluttered across the dance classroom as if she hadn't had a care in the world. She was talented at dance but she had an anxiety that was quite common, stage fright. It had all changed in the last year though, she had become more timid and introverted. She lost focus on what she had a passion for. Everything seemed dim in her life because of what had happened. She avoided the subject with Barnsbury and her friends. Her friends left her six months ago in the dust after she radically changed.

She glanced over at a table filled with famous former and current students of Barnsbury. They were interning at Barnsbury for three months but it still felt like they weren't in was Sky Meadows, Georgia O'Grady, Matt Wood, Nick Duke who was the sixth former, Isabel Evans, and occasionally Ayesha or Charlie Evans. They were sort of looked up to in the school. Sky was the artist and Isabel, his new girlfriend was too. They would go to US after this term. Isabel was courageous willing to do just about anything. Georgia was defiant and intimidating environmentalist buff. Nick was her boyfriend and now captain of the fencing team. Matt was the athlete with his girlfriend, the beautiful Ayesha. They were all handsome and beautiful, the perfect little group. She laughed cynically to herself. Typical high school life with typical high school drama.

She had a sudden flashback and dropped her metal spoon as she tried to get a grip of herself. It clattered to the floor with a big clank and she felt as if every student in the lunch room fell silent. They turned as they observed her pick it up, whispering useless phrases between themselves. She breathed in and out as she tried to smile. She must conceal everything. She knew what they were whispering about though. The accident.

Georgia watched the girl as she picked up the metal spoon. A little smile spread across the girl's face and she went to throw away her lunch. It was a good fake smile like one of those Nick would show after he got a fencing injury. False happiness doesn't bring joy.

"What happened to her?" Isabel whispered as she took some of Sky's mashed potatoes. "She used to be so, oh I don't really know…fluttery?"

"Well, she is different because of what happened to her. Her mother died last year…it was because of a car accident in the rain last year. Remember when the streets flooded?" Sky said as he shielded his mashed potatoes. Isabel frowned.

"She must feel awful. I wouldn't know what to do without my mother." Isabel said as she followed the girl with her eyes. Nick was unsettled a bit by the conversation. He didn't have his real mother or father in this world. Georgia looked deeply into his eyes as if she knew what he was thinking. Nick smiled weakly back a Georgia. Georgia swore that she had seen her somewhere else, but where?

Matt and the others looked at each other uncomfortably. Losing someone was hard and a difficult journey. They all understood that as they remembered Luciano or Lucien as he was known before.

Ludo, Aurelio and Rafaela travelled down a dark corridor in black robes which covered their bright colored attire. They gazed silently around to see if anyone was there. They were in their territory and the whole community of the Manoush could be at stake if they were found.

The city was silent since the magic laws were put in place and they could no longer worship their goddess. They knocked on a cellar door as Rafaela kept watch. The door creaked opened and they entered from the cobble stoned street. Ludo cautiously closed it as he took a final analysis to see if it was safe and that no one saw them.

They swiftly paced down a hall way and they began to hear the soothing sounds of their music. They quietly opened the door to see a hall as big as a grand ballroom open up before them. There were gypsies dancing, corteo card readings and people talking about interpretation of dreams. The three Manoush were here on a mission to create an uprising against the magic laws. They were at the heart of the situation, in the city where dreams come true, Bellona.

Ludo and the others threw off their robes to show their true selves. Ludo felt so constricted since he could not dance in the moonlight under the stars as many had done in Bellona before the magic laws. He breathed deeply as he saw the whirling colors, the rustle and the jingle of the bells on a person's clothing. He began to dance with happiness as the music filled his ears.

Hope walked quickly as she smiled delightfully at everyone who passed. She had to keep the act up as she practically ran to the restroom. She opened the door like 'a normal person should' and sighed with relief there was no one there. She then hide behind the trash can as she dropped her books and curled up into a ball. She cried silently as the images came flashing back. She couldn't stop them.

She was in the car that day next to her mother in the passenger's seat. They were arguing over whether she should audition for a London dance troupe or not. Her mother shook her head no a hundred times over as Hope carefully explained her passion for this. It was raining, pouring down rain to where her mother could barely see out the windows. It was a common thing for rainy days to happen during the spring but that day it was different. Her mother saw a person in the road running across as the car came and she turned the wheel to avoid it. Hope screamed as the car was flung into a spinning motion and tried to grab her mother's hand. They crashed into a lamppost and her mother died instantly as Hope secured her mother's hand in the last split second. She saw her mother's lifeless face, with a bloody tear running down from her right eye.

She wiped her eyes as they blurred and she came back to reality. Her mother was gone, dead. She had no one to talk to. Not even a father. Her father died soon after her birth due to complications of the heart. Her mother coped with her misery through her daughter by making every moment filled with happiness and beauty. Hope grew up to have an imagination, a passion for everything and putting herself fully in everything she did. It all changed after the accident happened. The medical personnel could not get her to let go of her mother's hand. She never got to say good bye but she had argued with her mother about something insignificant. She would never dance again.

She couldn't dance. She was incapable of it. She broke down when she began and would refuse to finish. Her mother encouraged her to follow her dream but disagreed with her fulfill her aspirations before she graduated from Barnsbury and an university. She said an education was a good thing and that it does not limit your success but broadens it. She closed her eyes and tried to dream, nothing. She then stood up and washed her face.

She went to class and slipped in the back of the history classroom. The teacher looked up and caught her eyes which she smiled waveringly and then he continued to lecture. She took notes diligently but the horrible thoughts were still there, she forced herself to focus.

She quickly walked home. She glanced back and forth at the beauty around her but she couldn't look. She had to find her way home. She had taken a wrong turn and ended up in front of the Mulhollands. Their home was big and grand, she envisioned a palace. She shuffled away in regret of her tiny imagining. Lucien had died several years ago and she tried not to think about it.

Do they use to suffer as much as she did now? She knew that Nick Duke had made their lives beautifully happy and she was overjoyed by that fact. She had no one. She managed to pass going into child care services by becoming the age of 18 last year. It was a relief that her mother had been saving a sufficient amount of money to pay for her college. She worked on through the week to manage to scrap together enough change to pay the bills at Cafénytime.

She had no other relatives on either side of her family. Her mother was an only child and her grandparents had died several years ago by age. Her father however had a brother but he died when he was twenty five due to a heart attack. Her father's parents died when her father went to college on a mission's trip to Africa. They had caught a virus and their immune system wasn't strong.

Her family was full of death but she had never thought about such things until after the accident. Her mother didn't let her think about such things. She gardened away the pain and let her daughter grow up without suffering. Hope remembered the stories her mother use to tell before she went to bed. They were so magical yet so real.

Nick looked out his window of the third floor as he chatted with his friends over cookies. He pointed out the person to Georgia and she gasped. He had guessed right, it was the girl from earlier today. He wondered why she was on his street, her house was in the opposite direction, if he remembered correctly.

Sky and Isabel laughed as Matt squirted milk out of his nose. Ayesha sighed and covered her face from embarrassment. he couldn't help but laugh either but a dark feeling was lingering in his heart. Georgia squeezed his hand and he he felt the darkness go away as it always had when he gazed into her eyes.

They continued their conversation that was Stravaganti free. They still had their worries about Talia but had become accustomed to daily life. It had been a year and they were all happy as Luciano and Arianna who were planning their wedding ceremony.

Hope gazed around at the street signs and turned on the route she thought was right. Her mind was fuzzy and she couldn't quite remember the directions, right away.

She lingered on a shop corner and an antique shop had caught her eye. She use to love entering old antique shops and sit around for hours gazing at the treasures around her. They were all full of potential, a dream in every one of the objects. She remembered this one, it belonged to a…Mr. Mortimer Goldsmith whose wife had died years ago before she entered Barnsbury. She was just a child then.

She entered the shop and Mr. Goldsmith was rustling around back.

"Georgia, is that you? or is it Nickolas?" He came up front and gave a surprised expression. "Ah, a new young lady, I presume. Could I help you find something?" She glanced back and forth and shook her head no as she gave him a fake smile.

She dropped her bag at the door and went back and forth between the aisles and stacks of books. The shop was cluttered but not in a bad way. She leafed through some dusty books that had illustrations in gold and for several moments she had a hint of a dream, of a far of place where she could prune away all her fears and sadness.