Submitted by L. E. Therianthus, Scholar of the Hand.
I recall, back when I was a young lass, a girl I used to have cause to see. Sosophy. Well, that’s the name I ascribed to her: I always was a bit pretentious. It has no real significance, I just thought it nice. I remember this girl, a sweet little thing – I used to see her outside whenever it rained. God knows why, but anything past a light drizzle – which were rather common back in Ladywell – and I could look out upon her. There she was, whenever fog didn’t hide her. Dancing, sitting, standing, what have you; but she was always there.
In those days, I made my residence a small house in a slightly less small stretch of open country, a little distance away from a community whose size was somewhere in-between. It was a pleasant place. My front door opened on to a field, amid which one could see the wide-reaching flora, the fauna and the occasional, irregular tree. There was a woods a little way south, with the front door of my cottage opening west. It was peaceful, if bland, but I usually spent my afternoons in when not working, so as to blatantly ignore the placidity and eternity of the beautiful nature about me in favour of some infuriating article at which to complain about the next time I was amongst company. Or defend, in the case of someone beginning a rant before I did. My first sight of the girl was on one such evening, about November-time. It was a fairly dreary day anyway, but the rain was so hesitant that I didn’t notice it until about half-past nine as I was getting a cup of tea. As the kettle boiled, I looked up to the kitchen window absent mindedly, and there she stood. There, gazing across to the side so that I only saw half of her face, an ordinary child would not be so distinctive. This girl was by no means ordinary.
Her hair, long with an elegant, clear white, must have caught my eye first. It would catch anyone’s, for there in the dull Autumn air it cast such a… ah, well, I would find it ineffable without resorting to use of near-vulgar sentiment, but it was most certainly lovely. A minor trait, though. Her eyes, I found on a clearer and closer day, were a delightful shade of brown, and she always had the most curious expression… oh good lord, I should stop this. I feel at any moment that I may lose control and descend into some poor quality verse.
Perhaps I reflect on her qualities as so captivating because I now can only think of her in a nostalgic theme. Those were certainly the calmer days of my life, between my childhood years, St. Andrews and now. One thing I bear strongly, however, is the memory of her more distasteful aspects. She dressed in rags. Always in rags. Some torn, poorly woven sackcloth garb, which covered her too loosely, and certainly created the impression in me – for in those days I was a little more pedestrian than I am now – of poverty. Possibly the second thought I had of her, which I neglect to mention and which may have been more immediate than I lead to believe, was one of surprise. I didn’t recognise her from the village, nor could I concieve of her living anywhere nearby what with the striking aspects of her visage, and it was too far and late for a child to be out playing. Some lost little girl, perhaps? But then… lost from where? At the time, I found it hard to envision a situation which would have brought her standing here. Alone. In the rain. Completely and inexplicably showing indifference to the conditions about her.
I watched her for a while, as she stood there with a perplexing, dim form of smile. I continued to do so until the kettle finished boiling, and when I looked back from turning the stove off she was gone. What cheek, thought I for some strange reason, before turning my mind to the enigma this strange child presented. I continued to think of this as I returned my gaze out the window and slowly made my way back to the living room, and it scratched at the back of my mind for the next few hours before I made my way to bed.
The same thing happened again over the next few days. On the second time I saw her, about mid-morning, I made my way right out the door and shouted over. She acknowledged me at least, by turning her head, smiling casually as she sat. That’s all she did, and I felt too awkward to make my way across the intervening distance, so I turned around went inside, a bit embarrassed. While the weather was still the same half-an-hour later, I didn’t see her while walking into town. She was probably just obscured behind my house. While it kept up that afternoon, I found myself thinking if she was still there – not that I was worried, she was sitting a comfortable enough way away that I didn’t feel intruded upon. Besides, she was so cute and vulnerable a person that the thought of her being at all malicious never crossed my mind; although I should note that this was some time before I learned about neotenous adaptation.
On the fourth time, about eleven o’clock later that night, when the rain that had previously died down started up again for a last sporadic burst, I had enough sense and pity about me to gather some food and leave it out on the porch. My generalising had led me to the almost incontestable conclusion that this young thing, whoever she was, was in some state of deprivation. Some old tradition of the culture I was raised in demanded I leave some form of charity, a need I endeavoured to satiate. When I got up the next morning, the food I left out was gone, yet the plate was still in the same position on the table that it previously was – just with the bread previously on it neatly and carefully removed. I was thus confident that this girl, and not some passing animal, had taken it.
And so it was for the next few years. It poured, and I left whatever decent meal I could find about the house out in the same place. A few times I just about saw her approach to take it before scurrying off, reassuring me in my consistent action. When I later left soup, drinks or some other such thing out, the container disappeared and was returned adjacent to where I had placed it. No note was ever given, no expression of gratitude, but I never felt entitled to one. The whole affair eventually became habitual.
Imagine my surprise, then, with this silent interchange so well ingrained, when I continued with the act one day to find her sitting right there, just outside the door. I almost dropped the dish I was carrying, but an instinct common to the Kingdoms guided me to slowly put it on the far end of the table, away from either of us, as I took the opposite seat.
We talked – some simple, brief interchange, as much as necessary for me to follow when she stood and walked away invtitingly. After a gracious thanks and a little banter, we rambled together for about twenty minutes, silently. I attempted to question her further than I had been previously able to, questions I had been forming for some time now, but she always shushed me in some subtle way. Dressed as she always, looking as she always did (on hindsight I should have been more curious about that) I was brought before a little shack just within the nearby woodland. She entered, and so did I.
I shan’t pertain to bore you with my resulting amazement, but suffice it to say that’s how I found the Library.
As I was looking around in much the surprise and wonder (moreso than I would wish, as I can now only find my gawping to be unbecoming and undignified) as any new patron has, my eyes turned away from the girl for a moment, and failed to return to her when I looked. And even though that was only the second time she’d done that in half a decade, it still irritated me a little. Not that that was going force my leave.
When I left a few days later to return to my home and study the texts I had acquired, the sky was a disappointing sunny and pristine blue. I didn’t turn up to work for a while after. A couple of days of constant and a near unbroken stream of reading later, I sat back with satisfaction and anticipation at turning to the window and seeing a collection of wonderfully dark clouds, and readied myself to go outside again. I had a pleasant time after that. That elusive girl I'd watched with curiousity proved so interesting to the discussions we’d have. That’s when I gave her that silly nickname, after she refused to tell me her real one. A fascinating life, she had – but then I have too much respect to tell much of what she revealed, so you’ll have to take my word on that. Apart from the whole business with Arcaon, which I hope she’ll write about herself when she gets her soul back. If she doesn’t find it too impersonal, of course.
I was devastated when she stopped coming. She’d made such good companionship, and I’d gotten so used to her. It was about a month before I accepted it: I believe that was about when I detached myself and set up office here.
Of course, I still see her about. Oh, sure, she may have a few more pairs of arms than she used to, and somewhat more grotesque features, but her appearance is still so sublime. That’s why I always leave some milk and chocolate out whenever I return a book.