Heeding his advice, she went over to wardrobe, undoing the buttons of her shirt as she walked. She had dressed in loose-fitting boys’ clothes today, for Anna always had been a tomboy, and for things that required activity she would frequently dress in a pair of combat trousers and a shirt, usually passed onto her by her friend’s brother.
“Pyjamas, pyjamas…” she muttered, searching through her clothes. It seemed like days and days since she had last slept, which was probably true. Thankfully, her fairy powers meant that she could keep herself energised, even without sleep. It was just one of the advantages to being another species, and as Anna thought this she smiled wryly. Oh, the irony.
Finally, she found a pair of pyjama bottoms, and soon a matching top could be unearthed from under a fallen t-shirt. She undressed hurriedly, shivering at the cold. How did one go about turning on the heating? Anna had never had any reason to do so before, because her parents had always been there to deal with things like that. Unable to think of a solution to this problem, she used a little of her power to warm herself, then flopped exhausted onto her bed. Within minutes, she was fast asleep, her eyes twitching slightly in REM sleep.
Her dreams that night were extraordinarily vivid. Perhaps it was because of her long day of training, or perhaps it was her body getting used to her powers, but during her dreams Anna was convinced she was awake, which had rarely happened before.
She was sitting in the centre of a field, dressed all in white. A river ran alongside her, and it was pure and clean. There was no sign of any pollution; no sign of any rubbish. In fact, there was simply no sign of human occupation at all.
Surrounding her were many other people, also dressed in white. Their hair shone in the light of the sun - and what a sun it was! Huge and golden, it was majestic but beautiful too. Anna smiled, feeling the warmth on her face.
But it wasn’t all so happy. Over to her right, she could see a dull and dreary echo of the land she inhabited. The river was choked with rubbish; the little water that showed was brown and muddied, oil slicks floating on the surface. All the grass was dried out and torn up, tyre tracks leaving huge indents across the surface of the field. There were no flowers; the sky was grey and clouded with smoke and ash.
All the people there were dressed in rags. As opposed to the ecstatic expressions of Anna’s companions, they looked miserable, as though there was nothing left in life that they could hope for. What was worse was that among them, Anna could see many of her friends. Even some of her family members were among those seated on the muddied ground, dressed in sackcloth rags.
Anna turned around, and walked towards a huge sword that lay in the centre of the field she stood in. It was bright and silver, and somehow, inexplicably, she knew that she had to lift it. Everyone had to. It was a test. That was her feeling, and so strong was it that she felt compelled to go over to the sword and pick it up. But it was too heavy, and she could not lift it. She started to cry, feeling that she had failed this test.
“Do not cry,” said a tall, bright figure, also dressed in white. It was so radiant that Anna shut her eyes, the light blinding her. “It’s not meant for you, because it is the sword of all the people, not just one person.” As she looked up at the figure, the tears drying on her face, she understood.
This was not just her fight - she had to let others help, because she couldn’t lift that sword alone. The river ran on behind her, unheeding of what went on around it, determined to continue its natural course. And why shouldn’t it? There was no one here to stop its path - no one here to alter its direction.
Anna smiled at the vision of perfection, hiding her mind from the thought of those people in that barren, desolate wasteland to their East.
As she smiled, she woke up.