• Jacqueline Grace

Merchant of Dreams- Chapter 1




Meet Hope. She is usually found atop of the mast, perched in the crow’s nest, telescope in hand, surveying the seas and searching for distant islands upon which to land. Her back is steady, her eyes they twinkle and her heart is true blue. But if you look a little closer, you will notice that her form is hovering, and there is a rope about her waist that is secured to the mast, lest she float away into the ether. Although she cannot yet see them, she is certain islands are scattered across these seas. She is convinced that soon they will take a break from the swirling waters of the ocean. She wants you to know that anything is possible, that she is bursting with capability and imagination. She dearly wants you to join with her in this expedition.


Snarling in the shadows is Betrayed. Her frame is limp and cowering under the ship’s recently torn sails awaiting repair. She is livid with fury at Hope, for directing them onto an unforgiving sea. If anyone dares to come close to her she flashes her eyes and fangs, roaring with the agony of a panther trapped in a foothold snare. She has daggers protruding from wounds that are festering in her back, but she refuses to have them removed. When the ship docks she drags her bleeding body along the gang plank catching Hope off guard and terrifying on lookers. She spits her disgust of Hope into their air with her acrid breath. She wants you to keep away. She doesn’t trust you. And she certainly doesn’t trust Hope, or anyone else aboard that ship.


Clawing at the helm is the Dreamer. At least that is what she desperately wants you to know her as. The truth is she and Dreamer are twins and her actual name is Tyrant. One night she abducted Dreamer on her night watch, and cast her into the hull of the ship, bound and gagged where no one ever ventures.


At first, the deftly switch went by unnoticed. She had meticulously studied, and almost perfected, the mannerisms and sayings of her twin, and the crew were none the wiser. Yet the slip back to her true character, though imperceptible was unmistakable and soon the workers were enslaved to the commandeering of Tyrant. Time is as endless and immeasurable as the water when you are at sea and so the crew, sailing in upon a boundless space, very quickly absorbed this as the way it had always been. There was now no space to enjoy the sailing, watch the dolphins swimming alongside or chatter with the sea birds as the gilded by, most only held a faint memory of such experiences. The crew was always on duty sailing, scrubbing, rowing, mending or prepping.



Tyrant wants you to know that all her work is productive, profitable and purposeful. She tells the crew that they are Merchants of Dreams, but when she struts down that gang plank she is selling you their blood and their sweat.


It is an incrementally insidious shift that has Hope unwittingly binding herself even more firming to the mast, lest she waft away completely. The Betrayed is bleeding belligerently all over the deck and Tyrant frantically orders the cabin girls to mop of the mess and dispose of the terrifying creature.


Tyrant is petrified to know what has become of her abandoned twin and she turns a deaf ear to the laments of Grief, who has taken the position of figurehead at the Bow. She is a gorgeously languishing figure with streaming hair and streaming tears and she refuses to go unseen. She witnessed the treacherous abduction, but is now too stricken to utter a coherent phrase about it. So long as she remains speechless, Tyrant is seemingly safe in her commandeering, but only just.


In the bowels of the ship Dreamer is visited by an old sea witch. The witch has been with them since the beginning of the expedition, silently watching the events as they unfold. She slipped into the hull on the barnacled ropes that bound Dreamer, and when it was quiet, she resumed her form and gently set about the task of unbinding the captive. She tended her wounds with oils from deep beneath the sea bed and wrapped them with nourishing salt grass. She knew that Dreamer was in need of a long hibernation, after so many years of womaning the ship. For she was Dreamer under the moon and was Mother under the sun, and rest she had not known since they began their voyage.


The old sea witch had seen the mutiny and had not interfered up until this point. She could see what they could not - little creatures that perched invisibly upon the backs of the crew and coiled around their ears. She knew that in the fullness of time, they would each, in their own way, come to discover these creatures and respond to them as required.


The sea witch wants you to know that this vessel is still a Merchant of Dreams and that this crew is on a worthy voyage. She trusts them all in their wily blindness and encourages you to do the same. She has a steady eye on Tyrant and her battle to keep the helm for she battles against another who, like the sea witch, knows there is something afoot.


Her name is Vigilance.


Writing as a form of therapeutic inquiry-


"Writing is thinking, writing is analysis, writing is indeed a seductive and tangled method of discovery"

- Richardson & St Pierre, 2005

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