The Dreamweaver had always wanted a name of their own. When they visited the dreamers at night, they listened longingly to the names they murmured in their sleep. A name was a beautiful, enviable thing to the strange creature known only as the Dreamweaver.
The Dreamweaver was not a person like you or I. They were as incorporeal as smoke, and as old as galaxies. They moved unseen through different worlds. They were at home nowhere: not in human civilization, nor the secret kingdom of the cats, nor the quiet republic of the dead. They were alone.
So, really, the Dreamweaver had no reason to want a name. But when did desire ever listen to reason? And so, one night, the Dreamweaver stole one.
They were weaving dreams of winter landscapes and northern lights when they heard the whisper of the sleeping girl’s name: Robin. It reminded them of madrigals and masquerades, red silk and porcelain soldiers. They reached out and picked it up; and it was theirs, and they were Robin.
When the girl-who-was-once-Robin woke up, she found she could not answer when her mother called her. Slowly, she began to slide apart: first her hair, and then her teeth, and then her skin, and then the soft red things underneath. Her mind and her memories lingered for a little while longer, but eventually they too disintegrated and blew away in the wind.
Her mother searched for her, but before too long, she forgot she ever had a daughter. You must understand that it is difficult to remember a person whose name has been stolen away. Robin’s bedroom remained untouched, gathering dust. When her mother passed by the closed door, it never occurred to her to open it.
Robin’s mother suddenly found herself with a great deal of time, and very little to fill it with. She read mystery novels, and played the piano, and eventually she worked up the courage to approach a man she often saw at the local library. Eventually they married and moved to a small house in a seaside town, where they had a view of the lighthouse from the kitchen window. She sold her old house; and when the buyers asked about the abandoned bedroom on the second floor, still fully furnished, she stared at them blankly until they changed the subject.
Her days passed quietly, with morning coffee on the front porch, brisk walks on the cold windy beach, and late-night talks about nothing in particular with her husband. Sometimes, in the twilight moments before she fell asleep, she thought she could hear a muffled voice calling to her through the window, but she never could make out the words clearly enough to understand.
The Dreamweaver-who-was-now-Robin knew they had done something that could never be undone. But they tried anyway. Slowly, relentlessly, they hunted down the girl’s scattered pieces. A tooth, pried from the beak of a seagull. A hazy infant memory, fished out of a moss-green pond in a woodland glade. A tiny fragment of consciousness that had wandered all the way to a lifeless planet on the other side of the galaxy, repeating “where am I? where am I?” in a whisper.
It was an impossible task to find all the missing pieces. But eventually, years later, they found enough to stitch together something that might once have been Robin. She was a ghostly, staring, half-formed creature that whispered “where am I?” and “mom?”.
The Dreamweaver took her paper-thin hand and pressed the name Robin into her palm. They took Robin’s hand and lead her through the dark streets until they reached a small house in a seaside town. They walked hand-in-hand to the bedroom, where Robin’s mother slept alone, her husband long since dead and buried. Her face was lined and her hair was grey. She had lived a very contented life.
“mom?” Robin whispered.
The old woman opened her eyes. The faint glow of the streetlamps through the curtains was the only source of light.
“Who’s there?” she called.
“where am I?” Robin whispered.
Her mother stood up and switched on the light. She looked around the room. Then, seeing nothing, she sighed and got back into bed.
The Dreamweaver took Robin’s hand again, and lead her downstairs, out the door, away from the house and down to the beach. There they stood side-by-side, watching the reflection of stars on the water. Then Robin pushed one hand into her chest, and pulled out her name, and held it out to the Dreamweaver. The Dreamweaver took it, and Robin fell apart; again, at last, and forever.
The Dreamweaver threw the name Robin into the sea. It sank beneath the waves to settle at the bottom of the ocean, nestled in the sand like a shining pearl. It shines there still, and will shine there until the end of time.