Valancy Stirling has never done anything in her entire life. She has always been the good daughter, dutiful, quiet, meek and obedient. She doesn't do anything else. At the slightest sign of defiance she knows she will be jumped on by her entire family for stepping out of her assigned role and she is too afraid to risk that.
But Valancy is not entirely obedient. There is a tiny spark of rebellion lurking in her heart, a place that she retreats to at night when she is alone, where she is the chatelaine of a beautiful blue castle.
"Always, when she shut her eyes, she could see it plainly, with its turrets and banners on the pine-clad mountain height, wrapped in its faint, blue loveliness, against the sunset skies of a fair and unknown land. Everything wonderful and beautiful was in that castle. Jewels that queens might have worn; robes of moonlight and fire; couches of roses and gold; long flights of shallow marble steps, with great, white urns, and with slender, mist-clad maidens going up and down them; courts, marble-pillared, where shimmering fountains fell and nightingales sang among the myrtles; halls of mirrors that reflected only handsome knights and lovely women--herself the loveliest of all, for whose glance men died."
I have my own Blue Castle. I don't visit there very often anymore, but when I was a teenager, I would spend hours there every night, before falling asleep in the middle of some adventure. It wasn't the same as Valancy's castle - my adventures were more likely to take place in vast wilderness areas (being pursued by Ringwraiths as Frodo, Sam and I raced to Mount Doom), or on alien planets (searching for Forerunners with Eeet). My interior landscape, though, was as real to me as was Valancy's to her.
There were times when my imaginings were as real to me as the physical world around - and times when they seemed far more real. On occasion I would look up from a book, or imaginary adventure, and have to blink a few times before bringing the real world into focus, so to speak. For those few seconds it seemed as if I was looking through a foggy window into another world; the dream world I'd been in was the real world, and the world in front of my eyes was the fantasy.
When I first heard On My Own, from Les Miserables, I found myself nodding at the familiarity. Like Valancy, like me, like many of us, Eponine sometimes climbs so deeply inside her own head that she can feel everything she's imagining as if it is real.
"Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping
I think of him and then I'm happy
With the company I'm keeping
The city goes to bed
And I can live inside my head.
On my own
Pretending he's beside me
All alone, I walk with him till morning
I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way I close my eyes
And he has found me"
Book: The Blue Castle, Lucy Maud Montgomery
Music: On My Own, Les Miserables