Call Me Del


A Sandman Short Story

“My sister? I am standing in my gallery and I am holding your sigil. Will you come and speak with me?”

Dream held on to the formless mass of constantly changing colours for a while, and then replaced it in its frame. He nodded and turned to leave the room, staring at his feet.

“Uhm. I guess so. If you promise not to be mean to me or make me eat something I do not like or make me … uhm … make me … well, just don’t do those things.”

Delirium stood in the gallery, near the frame with the swirling colours, her hair somehow still linked to the picture, looking shy, naughty, a little angry and very adorably weird all at once. Dream smiled, just a little.

“I promise, my sister.” He took her hand, hesitated for a moment, and then gently led her into the castle hallway.

“Do you remember when we went to search for our brother, Delirium?”

“Uhm, that was not us, that was me and Dream, but not you, but the one before you. I was afraid of him (the not you you), but Desire and the others would not go with me and then he did not want to go either and then he did and then he didn’t and then he did again and he called me Del. And I got to drive a car and we found Destruction, and he called me Del too and he gave me a nice doggie!”.

Dream smiled again. “That was me, my sister, but then again, perhaps it was not exactly the me that I am now. Would you like it if I called you Del?”

“Would you? I think he (I mean you but I say he so you know I mean you but not you you know) only called me Del like uhm, twelfteen times in aaaaaaall the time I knew him. Even when I was still. Uhm. Delight.”

“I will call you Del if you like that, my sister.” Dream, still holding Delirium’s hand, walked through the hallways of the castle, heading for the gate.

“Oooo! Can we jump up and down now? And be happy?” Delirium wrestled her hand free from Dream’s and frolicked around him, leaving a trail of flying goldfish and butterflies.

“We can, if you want to. But first we will to talk.”

“Hmm. Perhaps you really are him. He always talked a lot too, except when he was silent or moody or both.”

Dream looked at his younger sister. They had arrived at the gate. A small gesture of his hand and it opened, offering them a view of the Dreaming. “I want to talk about our brother. I saw him again, you know.”

“You saw him? And he did not come to my place and talk to me and play with my doggie? No fair! No fair!”

Delirium pouted, and kicked an imaginary stone that flew right through an imaginary window, producing the loud sound of glass shattering.

The guardians of the gate silently greeted them when then walked out of the castle. “He came to me when you and the rest of the family were attending the wake. Destruction is well, Del. And he left again. Do you still miss him?” Dream gently petted the hippogriff’s head.

“Only when it’s raining and when it’s not. Raining I mean. So that would be always, unless it is never, and sometimes I do miss him, so it can’t be that.” Delirium smiled at the wyvern. The wyvern tried to smile back, but failed.

“My sister, I mean, Del, if I may ask, since when do you speak so … normal?”

“Uhm. Well. Since you uhm, dee, eye, eeee, deee. Died. I feel kind of serious since that.” She gazed at Dream, her eyes both blue now.

“It may sound strange, but you should not be that serious. I noticed it at first when the people that frequently travel between your domain and mine became more and more drawn to the darker side of my realm. It is your freshness and weirdness that helps those people through their long nights. Without Delirium to temporarily escape from the world that is real to them they cannot face that world. Without you they get lost in their own fears, and are unable to live their lives. They are condemned to nightmares by day, sleepless nights, and sometimes even to the realm of our elder sister.”

The blue eyes shifted color, simultaneously, strange enough. Delirium seemed lost in deep thoughts for a moment, becoming slightly transparent while thinking.

“I liked the previous you. It is not that I do not like you, but I did like him very much. And I feel that if I had not asked him to come search for our brother, he would not have had to kill Orpheus, and he would not have died.” The effort of remaining this serious turned Delirium’s face into an unnatural smile. “He died because I was who I am, because of me. I lost my brother because of me. I felt I had to try to … change.” As she spoke the last words, she exhaled, pulled her knees up against her chest, and buried her head in her arms. Delirium started to cry softly.

Dream gently moved towards his younger sister, and held her. Her sobbing faded into giggling, and Dream held her even tighter.

“You were not the cause, Del. He knew long before he let himself know what he was going to do. He did not use you, but your search provided him with an excuse. Change is not something you force onto yourself, it is something that happens to you, and when it happens, you have to adjust. You should know this, Delight.”

Mismatched eyes looked up from the arms that were still holding her knees. “I am no longer Delight. You have never known Delight”.

“I have. I am Dream of the Endless, I have existed almost since the beginning of time. I knew you then. You knew me then. We both just changed. But the change was not forced. And the change you are trying to force onto yourself is not right.”

“It was not my fault?”

“Was it Destruction’s fault that you became Delirium?”

“No, that had nothing to do with … how do you know?”

“You dream too, my sister. You dream too. But you are right. The change happened, to you and to me. And it is nobody’s fault. Perhaps that is the hardest thing about change, that we try to blame it on somebody, while it is just happening. We cannot control it. Destruction was the one who had to control it, and he, whatever other causes there were, could not control it. If the entity the universe created to control change eventually gave up, who can be blamed for being unable not to change?”

Briefly her eyes both turned green. “I guess you are right”.

“Be yourself, Del.”

One eye green, looking sideways, one eye blue, looking at Dream, she answered “I think I would like that very much. Can I? Please?”

“I think you will have to. In the end, all that one can be is one’s self.”

Delirium jumped up, exploded, appeared behind Dream, then turned into thirteen different instances of herself that linked hands and danced around her brother. He smiled, briefly, and sat down. The Deliriums snapped their fingers, and all but one vanished. The one that did not vanish sat down besides Dream.

“Uhm, Dream. Aren’t you forgetting something, before you go back to that moody mood of yours? You promised…”

“I did promise, Del”, Dream said, smiling, as they stood up.

Delirium grabbed Dream’s hands, and started jumping up and down, laughing hilariously. And to her surprise, Dream, awkwardly, jumped up and down with her.

Like two children at play, they jumped up and down for a while, being happy. A gryphon, a hippogriff and a wyvern pretended not to notice them.


This story is copyright Dylan Verheul 1997-98. This story may not be reproduced in any form, partially or whole, without the permission of Dylan Verheul. Delirium, Dream, and all other characters in this story are trademarks of DC Comics. Based on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic book series.

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This story was originally published on the Internet at The Wake, Dylan Verheul’s Sandman web site, which has retired to https://dyve.github.io/sandman.