The Dream Makers

The girl carried on with her work, learning more all the time. Every day it was the same and every night the old man would make the dreams.

By Graeme Johncok

This story starts with a group of girls on their way for a day’s berry picking. They didn’t want just any berries; they wanted the best. And everybody knew that the best berries grew in the shadows of the Black Cuillin Mountains.
They set off without a care in the world. Laughing and joking, having a great time. When they got to work, one of them wasn’t bothered with joking anymore. She had a job to do and she was going to do it well.
She went further and further, higher and higher without realising that she was leaving her friends behind. By the time she had filled her basket and looked up. She wasn’t in the shadows of the Cuillins, she was in the mountains themselves.
No idea where she was or how to get back, she started to wander around and look for a path when a thick fog rolled in. Her mind was racing with what to do. If she stumbled on then she could fall of a cliff or down a gorge. If she stayed where she was then the things that lived in the mountains might get her. Wolves or giants or something worse!
Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, she saw a pair of eyes peering at her through the fog. No, not a pair of eyes. Dozens of eyes. And noses. And ears. And…it was just a herd of deer.
She was laughing with relief when one of the deer stepped forward and nodded at her. The girl stared blankly back because…well this was a deer. She had this strong feeling it was beckoning her though. Without many other options, she set off through the mountains after the mysterious deer.

They travelled for hours, up and down and round and round. She was starting to wish she’d been rescued by a nicely saddled horse instead of a deer. Eventually, they arrived at the entrance to a hidden cave deep, deep in the mountains. This wasn’t exactly what the girl had been expecting.
She followed the leading deer, into the cave entrance and to her surprise, it wasn’t empty.

An old man and an old woman were sitting like statues on two chairs, staring deep into a pool of water. When I say they were old, I don’t mean retired. I mean, they looked thousands of years old.
They weren’t moving. Maybe they were dead or maybe they were sleeping. The deer trotted up to the old lady and seemed to whisper in her ear. She finally looked up and stared straight into the girl’s eyes. There was something mesmerising about those eyes.
The old woman shuffled over, and the girl did the only thing that she could think of. She offered up her berries and asked if she could stay for just a night in exchange for her bounty.
The old woman shuffled back to the old man and whispered in his ear. The girl saw the faintest of nods.
The women smiled and finally spoke. “No. You can’t stay for one night. You can only stay for a year and a night, or you can leave. I’m old and I need help with my work these days.”

It seemed a little like kidnapping, but the girl had this strong feeling deep down that this is what she was meant to do. She had no idea what it was that this mysterious old couple did but she was willing to learn.

The very next day she helped the woman pick special herbs around the mountains in the morning. In the afternoon, the herd of deer would come back to be milked. Together, mixed in a bucket the herbs and the milk made a kind of soft cheese called crowdie. Then it was time to pass the bucket over to the old man. He would stare into the pool of
water, engrossed in whatever it was he saw. Then he would take a lump of the cheese and he would work it in his hands. Moulding it and shaping it. The girl was baffled but the old woman explained. These were dreams and that was the pool of life. The old couple were The Dream Makers.
She watched with her mouth hanging open as the old man picked up his cheesy sculptures and started to raise them above his head. One by one, birds swooped into the cave and grabbed the crowdie, out of the offered hand before flying off again. Beautiful, majestic birds would grab the packages from the right hand. Eagles and falcons and the like. These were the pleasant dreams of love and adventures.
Out of the left hand, it was crows and ravens and those evil seagulls that steal chips from wee kids. They were snatching nightmares of monsters and tragedies.

The girl carried on with her work, learning more all the time. Every day it was the same and every night the old man would make the dreams. Every night the birds would carry them away. The sleeping people around the world would dream on, blissfully unaware.
A year and a night passed, and the time came for the girl to leave. The old woman thanked her for the help and told her that the deer would take her back down through the Cuillin Mountains. She hadn’t worked all this time for nothing though, her reward would be waiting for her.
She followed the herd of deer as it picked its way down tracks that she had never seen before. All the way down until they reached the shore. This definitely wasn’t the way back home, but on balance at least she wasn’t in the mountains anymore. So, the girl thanked the deer and turned to start walking along the beach.
But the deer nudged her. She turned to see what it was doing, and the herd were all staring out to sea. A tiny little sail was bobbing away in the distance, she could barely make it out.
Then the tiny little sail got bigger and bigger until she could make out a small boat with just one man inside.
He was a strapping young lad wearing fine, rich clothes with a heavy gold necklace and his long hair was flowing in the wind. He jumped out of the boat as soon as it beached and with tears in his eyes he ran up to the girl.

“I can’t believe I found you! I’ve dreamed of you every night for a year and a night, and I followed those dreams to search for you. I know you don’t know me, but I’ve fallen in love with you. If you will have me then you will be a princess in my home and eventually you will be a queen.”

The girl just knew, deep down that this was right. Just listening to him speak, she had fallen madly in love with the prince. Leaving behind the deer on that beach on Skye, she sailed away to her new home. She became their Queen, and she was loved. Not just for her kindness and wisdom but because she taught them the meanings of their dreams.

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