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Lucy was an ordinary woman in every way, with two exceptions. 

First, she had eerie, violet eyes that made it impossible to hold her gaze. It felt like she could see the secrets of your soul.

Second, she had a flying imp named Jacobi living in her solar plexus.

Now, Lucy was aware of her unusual eyes and the effect they had on people. She wore tinted glasses most of the time to minimize them.

But she had no idea about Jacobi.

Every night when Lucy fell asleep, Jacobi unfurled his wings and crept out from his nest inside her solar plexus. 

His skin was the naked pink of a baby bird and he had fleshy nubs on top of his head that would have developed into full horns, if he’d been living in a normal imp habitat, but living inside Lucy had stunted his growth somewhat.

Jacobi did exactly eight minutes of imp calisthenics to warm up and stretch his wings before he sealed up the opening in Lucy’s solar plexus and took off on his adventures each evening.

Jacobi was quite mischievous and he was always stirring up trouble.

One night, he stole the toilet paper, even the back up rolls, from all the houses on the block. He trembled with glee thinking about the neighbors perched on the pot yelling for help.

On another night, he flew all the way to the White House and swapped out the President’s hair piece for an electric blue acrylic wig from Tibet. It never made the press, but Jacobi thought it was hilarious.

When he’d had his fill of adventures each night, Jacobi folded up his wings, did three Sun Salutations and a one-handed tree pose before settling back into his nest in Lucy’s chest where he would sleep until the sun went down.

Meanwhile, Lucy had no clue she was walking around with a sleeping imp in her chest. 

Sometimes she had bizarre memories of flying through the night sky or giggling and rummaging through strangers’ pantries flitted through her mind, but Lucy figured she was just an active dreamer.

So Lucy went about Life As Usual during the day, and Jacobi lived his imp Life Unusual during the night. 

Jacobi didn’t think much about Lucy or how he’d come to be sleeping inside her; it had been that way for as long as he could remember. Other than being a little too snug for his yoga practice, Lucy’s solar plexus was practically perfect.

This arrangement went on for many years until the eve of the full moon on Lucy’s thirty-third birthday.

Lucy was in an esoteric bookstore (she was an avid reader who loved to study the occult) when a book leapt off the shelf and into her hands.

(Lucy didn’t see it that way — she thought it must have been precariously balanced — but it absolutely did leap off the shelf, drawn as it was by her magic on that particular day.)

Lucy’s lips moved as she read the title, Lucid Dreaming: What You Would Do If You Had the Power to Dream Any Dream You Wanted To?

Because she was such a vivid dreamer — last night she awoke with the certainty that she’d been feeding smoked sardines to the dolphin pod at Sea World while teaching them to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” — Lucy knew the book was perfect for her. She took it home and began to read immediately.

Lucid dreaming is the power to “wake up” inside your dreams by realizing that you are, in fact, dreaming. On becoming lucid, you can take control of your dreams and do pretty much whatever you want.”

The trick was, according to the book, that you have to train yourself to question whether you are waking or sleeping during the day, repeating it often enough that you “wake up” in the midst of your dreaming and realize your dream for what it is.

Lucy became obsessed with the idea of waking up in her dreams.

She followed all the tips in the book: writing a giant letter “C” for Consciousness on her palms as a reminder to ask the question, “Am I dreaming?” throughout the day, jumping periodically to see if she landed — because in dreams you float or drift — and drinking mugwort tea before bed.

Each night, Lucy asked her unconscious mind to wake her up during her dreams so that she could become lucid.

She followed these practices faithfully without any noticeable results.

“Maybe I’m just not cut out for lucidity,” she thought. Only 19 – 37% of people are lucid dreamers, she’d learned, and Lucy was always so ordinary in every way. (Except for her violet eyes, of course.)

On the 33rd evening of trying to become lucid, Lucy fell asleep listening to a binural beats recording designed to induce lucidity.

It was that night, as Lucy was sleeping and Jacobi had awoken to do his pre-flight imp calisthenics, that Lucy dragged herself out of REM sleep and into semi-consciousness.

“Am I dreaming?” she mumbled.

Jacobi froze.

Now remember that Jacobi had no inkling of Lucy’s lucid dreaming project, nor had he done much thinking about Lucy at all, other than to occasionally lament her taste in pajamas. 

(He was of the firm opinion that kitten print onesies should not be worn by anyone over the age of ten.)

He watched her eyelids begin to flutter open. Panicked, he did the only thing he could think to do.

“Yes. You’re dreaming. Go back to sleep,” he said.

Lucy’s eyelids flew open. 

“I’m awake in my dream!” she squealed, sitting up.

“No, you’re not. Go back to sleep!” Jacobi commanded.

“I’m dreaming this dream and I don’t have to listen to you,” Lucy said. “Whatever you are. I can probably make you disappear if I want to.”

Jacobi felt all three of his hearts beating like baby dragons with bongo drums.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” he said in desperation. “I’m your dream genie, the one who makes all your dreams come true.”

“The books did say I wouldn’t have complete control over everything in my dream.” Lucy thought for a moment. “Okay then, dream genie. I want to fly!”

Jacobi laughed nervously. “How much do you weigh?”

“You are the rudest dream genie I’ve ever met! I want to fly. You have wings; maybe you should give me some.”

“It would be most prudent,” the imp cleared his throat, stalling for time, “for you to fly with me. Then I can show you this dream world and grant more of your wishes.”

“Good then, dream genie. Take me flying.”

Jacobi gestured for Lucy to follow him through the sliding glass doors into the backyard. “You must touch me at all times,” he said. “Or you’ll fall. Got it?”

“Aye aye, captain!” Lucy said, placing a finger on the fleshy not-horn nub on Jacobi’s head.

He took a test flight, lifting Lucy a few inches off the ground. She squealed with delight.

“Could stand to lose a few pounds,” he muttered under his breath, as they took off into the night air. 

Lucy held onto Jacobi’s nubs for dear life as they soared over the city lights. “It’s so beautiful!” she exclaimed. “Let’s go to Egypt. I want to see the pyramids.”

“Now wait just a second.” The imp paused mid-flight and took Lucy’s hands so they could speak face to face. “It would take me a good week to fly all the way to Egypt, and even the Mummy Cat is melting in the heat this time of year.”

“I said Egypt. Take me to Egypt, dream genie!”

Lucy threw a mid-air tantrum and was practically spitting.

Jacobi didn’t have the time or the magic to deal with a delusional human. Oh, how he would give anything to be drunk texting fairies and watching the Golden Girls right now!

The imp thought hard, something he was not accustomed to doing. His brow furrowed until his nubs nearly met his nose.

“Aha!” he cried finally. “I know how to get you to Egypt, but it’s very dangeous. Are you sure you wouldn’t like a nice cream soda instead?”

“I was born for danger,” Lucy said. “Besides, this is a dream and nothing can hurt me. Not really.”

“I think we should continue this conversation on the ground.” Jacobi was growing tired from keeping them suspended in the air and thinking at the same time. “If that’s okay with you, your highness.”

“I suppose,” Lucy sighed.

The imp eased the two of them down to rest on the soft moss beneath an oak tree.

“Here’s the deal,” Jacobi said. “What’s your name, anyway?”

“Lucy.”

“Jacobi.” He pointed to himself. “Here’s the deal, Lucy. You drink a magic potion that shrinks you down to the size of a pea, and I can fly you to Egypt twice as fast–”

“Wait a minute,” Lucy interrupted. “I read Alice In Wonderland. Shrinking does not go well.”

“We could always hop a flight on Egyptair if you’ve got the cash. Things are a bit tight for me at the moment,” Jacobi said.

“You are the worst dream genie EVER!” Lucy exclaimed. “Why couldn’t I get the kind that actually grants wishes?”

“Hey, hey, now,” Jacobi said. “I’ve done everything you asked so far. It’s just not always instantaneous. You want Egypt? You can take the potion or book a flight. It’s up to you.”

Jacobi crossed his imp arms, feigning nonchalance. He hoped she was as cheap as most humans and would choose the potion. Once she was shrunken down, she would be easy to deal with. Perhaps he might eat her, even though he preferred low fat snacking on sparrows or sugar babies.

Lucy squinted at him. “Something isn’t right here.” 

She jumped into the air and came right back down. Lucy grunted and jumped again three times in succession, landing on the ground each time.

“I’m not dreaming,” Lucy said, wide-eyed. “I’m not dreaming. This is real!”

“Well, I wouldn’t say this is real exactly,” Jacobi said. “With the veil of Maya in place, we’re fundmentally ignorant about the true nature of reality as it’s obscured by the apparent duality of our existence–”

“If I’m awake, what the hell are you?”

Jacobi swallowed hard. He didn’t do well with conflict. In fact, that’s what got him kicked out of hell in the first place; he’d refused to torment the residents with a red hot poker as he’d been assigned and gave them all wedgies instead. 

“I’m a flying imp,” he said finally. “Not a genie, and I can’t help with your quest to take over the dream world or whatever.”

“This is even better than lucid dreaming,” Lucy said. “I’ve discovered an entirely new species! I’m going to be famous.”

“Pardon my French, but you’re out of your cinnamon ring, dringo-loving mind! I’m a secret agent. You’re not gonna be telling anyone about me.”

Lucy squinted, trying to look properly offended by being called a dringo lover, whatever that meant. “I’ve been ordinary all my life. You’re my ticket to extraordinary, like it or not.”

Jacobi had his second Idea of the evening. (Two in one night was a record for him.) 

“Is that all you’re after? I can do extraordinary. It’s my specialty.” He puffed out his chest and drew himself up to his full imp height.

“Let me look at you, girlie.”

Lucy stood awkwardly with her arms at her sides while Jacobi circled. Mousy brown hair with split ends, acne, baggy clothes concealing a slight build.

“Take off your glasses,” he commanded.

Lucy did as he asked.

Jacobi looked into the most haunting violet eyes he’d ever seen and the world stopped. 

He gazed into a portal of swirling violet expanding into the nebulae of unknown galaxies, atomic particles dancing in polarity.

“Holy pimpled feck!” he exclaimed. 

“I wear tinted lenses because my eyes freak everyone out.” Lucy looked down. “I’m a freak.”

“Let me see those eyes again.”

Jacobi gazed into the swirling nebulae, feeling the magnetic pull on his etheric body, and he knew. 

He had to force himself to look away. “You could mesmerize a fairy dragon out of his plunder with those eyes.”

“You think?” Lucy blushed.

“I was about to give up the hope of extraordinary with that astoundingly average human thing you have going on, but those eyes…Your eyes are the portal to entire universes. They’re a ticket to other dimensions. Why in Farg’s name have you been hiding them?”

Lucy began to cry.

“I didn’t want people thinking I was weird. The kids in school always picked on me–”

Jacobi laughed. “‘I wanna be special, but please don’t notice me!’ No wonder your race is so miserable.”

“You don’t know what it’s like,” Lucy sobbed. “You’ve always been extraordinary. I mean, you can fly and you have cute little nubs on top of your head, and you get to be an imp.”

“I failed demon school and got banished to Earth, which is how I ended up here with you. I’m as big a freak as you are, girlie.”

“Stop calling me that.” Lucy wiped at her eyes. “I prefer womyn with a ‘y.’”

Jacobi snorted.

“How did you end up here tonight, anyway?” Lucy asked. “You didn’t say.”

The imp looked into the whirlpools of Lucy’s eyes and tried to think up a lie, but something in their depths stirred his impish soul.

“I sleep in your solar plexus every day,” he mumbled, averting his gaze.

“What? I can’t hear you when you don’t move your lips. Do you even have lips? Your mouth is kind of like one long gash…”

“I SLEEP IN YOUR SOLAR PLEXUS!” he screamed.

“You sleep in my what?”

“I’ve been sleeping in your chest while you walk around during the day. It wasn’t something I planned on doing. I stumbled into your house one day when you were a kid — the cute two story on Loredo Avenue, remember the one? — and your solar plexus looked so cozy. So I did a little magical surgery to make a door and moved in.”

“You’ve been sleeping inside me for years? And I never knew?” Lucy groaned. “How dare you? I am a repugnant freak.”

Lucy’s violet eyes overflowed with tears. Jacobi knew it was time to cut and run. He’d been found out. 

But all he wanted was to gaze into the swirling violet galaxies of Lucy’s eyes, and he couldn’t do that if they were full of tears.

“So you’re a freak,” he said, patting her on the shoulder. “You’re the best kind of freak. The extraordinary kind. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s leverage the power of freakiness. I could teach you, if you want.”

“You’d do that for me?” Lucy met Jacobi’s gaze and he felt his hearts quiver.

“It seems I would.” Jacobi sighed. “On one condition.”

“What? I don’t have any money for Egyptair and I’m not that kind of womyn, if that’s what you have in mind.”

“No. NO!” Jacobi shook his head. “I just need a place to live. And — you have to let people see your eyes. Everyone. Especially me.”

“I’m not so sure how I feel about having an imp in my body. This is all so new and strange…”

“I was sleeping in your solar plexus for decades and you never even noticed. I’ll barely make a peep. Promise.” Jacobi crossed a talon over all three of his hearts.

“We could be freaks together?” Lucy sniffed.

“Yeah. Freak buddies forever.”

Jacobi extended his hand and Lucy gave it a squeeze. 

“Okay. We’ve got a deal.”

From that day forward, Lucy’s life began to change. Under Jacobi’s instructions, she threw away her tinted glasses. Slowly, Lucy learned to look straight at people and discern the difference between those who recognized the invitation in her pale violet eyes, and those who only saw her as a freak.

Those whose eyes lit up in recognition touched the infinite and their souls awoke with the spark of possibilities. 

For those who could not see, a veil was drawn over their eyes and they turned away.

In return, Jacobi got free room and board in Lucy’s solar plexus by day, and a visitation with those pale violet eyes every night. 

And so ends the tale of the imp Jacobi who redeemed himself in the Earth realm as an ambassador of freakdom, and the human Lucy who embraced her difference as a gift to the world.

In case you’re wondering, there’s a moral to this story. Really.

Always check your solar plexus for stowaways. You never know what might be lurking inside.

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