I took out some of the extra details, because it was a lot and I think I forced some of it instead of just letting it happen. I'll put the second half, and then Mica's dream in a reply to this one. -------------- I’m a boy in an alley at night, around 10 and small for my age. There is fire on the street ahead where I was heading, licking the stone at the corner of the alley. I consider continuing on, but there are shouts as though there is fighting (a very strong sense of danger) I end up escaping into the cool darkness of the street behind me. Ahead of me is a very tall, cloaked figure in a black hat. I feel relieved instead of worried to see him, as if I know him. He intercepts me and asks me what I’m doing, then I am in his carriage. I’m happy to climb in his carriage because he seems familiar to me, even though by now I realize I’ve never met him. He asks me questions and I tell him that my parents are dead; I live with my ill grandma a few streets away; I run about every day working odd jobs for various nobs and their servants; I got my (very fine) shoes (thrown at my head like trash, but I’m proud of them) for a task I completed for an angry rich man. He says he is Count (Rodnar?) and he will hire me if I am willing. He tosses me a coin, which I can’t really see, and tells me I will make many more of them if I stay with him. I agree. I am taken to a large house and cast into the care of a cook (Mema?) who complains incessantly about being a babysitter while she scrubs me clean. She is a sizable woman, and very energetic. She says the Count is an unreasonable man, and he ought to treat her better since she is the best cook in the region. Demands the male servant who is in the room with us go and fetch a change of clothing from the outgrown outfits of another servant. Implies that boy is no longer in the household, and I feel wary. I tell her my name is B/Robby. I am overwhelmed by the diatribe and washing. I simply tolerate it in bewildered silence. At the end, my damp hair is trimmed and I am pronounced tolerable and brought to the Count. Green eyes. Fine featured … narrow (yet handsome) face, not to the point of irritating sharpness in the angles. Lounging in his chair in front of the fire with a glass and pipe. Keen, direct gaze. Brief/short speech. Not one to explain things to a child. First night of conversation ... Him: What do you think of yourself? Me: I feel very fine. Him: Excellent. Off to bed with you, then. I am sent to my new/private room, which is right next to his, like a closet down the hall. A servant takes me to visit my grandna the next day, and stands just inside the doorway looking snooty (like he’s in a pig pen) while I give her the down-payment for my services and tell her I’ll visit from time to time. I’m thinking more about how exciting it is to be making money than what it means to no longer have me there with her. She is lying just out of reach of a single beam of light, in the corner of the room. I tell the neighbors to check in on her, which they agree to do, since they were already helping care for her. They seem pleased that I have work. The street is sunlit as I leave. I am now assigned to run small errands for him when he is out, holding his belongings, fetching him drinks, etc. I’m beside him nearly all the time. He seems to have no interest in sex, either with me or with adult men or women, but does want someone to curl up beside him in bed since he has nightmares if he is alone. So he asks me to stay with him (the current me thinks, “like a live teddy bear”) but once he is asleep I am free to leave for my own room if I choose. I’m pretty sure everyone who was aware of his habits thought he did much worse to me than he did, but it was overlooked in society anyway. I’m proud of having my own space with a door and a bed. It’s clean, too. Grandna dies soon after I begin to work for him. cont.