It was Buckingham Palace - although the inside bore little resemblence to the outside of the building. The wide staircases, solidly upward and very square, with people hush toned and waiting - some alone, like me - others in groups of family and community. I sat low on the bottom stairs looking up at the staircases and the flat ornate ceiling far above me. Deep crimson with gold detailing, very geometric squares within squares. Leaning against the bannisters, calm and patient, comfortable and waiting. Thinking about how comfortable I felt in this place, as if I'd been here before and knew it well. I had a feeling I used to live here but hundreds of years before, the idea of that made my eyes fill with tears, brushing them off my cheek as they fell.
I had a book with me - some huge red art book Her Majesty had sent down for me to look at. It was precious and I was so very careful with it. One level above me there was a soft cheer and rise in noise - happy noise. I couldn't see everything but it seemed a man had proposed to a woman and the family was very happy. When I looked away from their happy scene I noticed a young boy had decided to take the red book I had in my keeping. I thought to protest, but as he was with his mother I told him instead that he may look at the book but he had to be very careful with it as it was precious, and return it to me when he was done as it belonged to Her Majesty the Queen. He and his mother sat a little apart from me and while I worried a little about children's carelessness with books I went back to looking at the people and presence of the room. I felt different from everyone else there. Not in large ways but in small ways; such as being alone, or being polite, or being able to sit still, or not wanting something specific from my visit. I was very happy just to *be* there, and that was all I wanted.
Each time, up until this point, that I looked over my shoulder and away from the staircases, I could see a fast moving, icey river. Grey deep swollen with water and chunks of broken ice moving impossibly fast, it seemed to be a busily boated waterway - carriers and tankers and other industrious looking craft. It was about the time the boy took the book that I realised it wasn't so much a step I was sitting on as a dock. The icey deep water ran beneath the stone floor I was sitting on. I looked down into the water, alerted by a man sitting to my left and to my shock saw the red precious book floating in the water. It was being buffeted against the piles of the dock and I could see that any minute it would be swept into the fast moving current. I dropped into the water. I was cold and took my breath away. I felt heavy and slow in the water but i grabbed the book and heaved it up onto the dock. I then had to pull myself out. The man who had alerted me to the book in the water, while encouraging in my ability to save the book, didn't help me at all and it took all my might to pull myself back out of the water.
I stood for a moment. So bedraggled and too cold to even shiver. Then, from around the base of the staircase came a very official entourage lead by a very official looking man who thanked me for saving the book and asked me to follow him - which I did. My clothes were so wet they made waking hard so I began to peel them off, leaving a trail of puddled steps and wet clothes in my wake until I realised I was naked. I knelt on one knee before the official person (I think it was Patrick Stewart to tell you the truth) and there was a young boy beside me, also kneeling. It was then I realised I was hairy - face and head, arms and shoulders, legs and feet. I was very like a monkey, and very different from everyone else there.
A naked, cold, wet, naked monkey girl kneeling before a person of authority.