“Odd how it’s so much easier to write a single page than an entire blank book at once,” he grinned, and she thought he looked like he knew something nobody else did in the whole wide world.

Without asking, he took the book from her small hand and rotated it twice, as if he was inspecting the binding.  Turning to a random page, he inspected the front, then the back, saw nothing but white.  “Good.  The flow, the diction, the unanticipated nuances of where the words – and worlds – take you aren’t remotely as confining as the ones you think you need to be building.  This is a canvas, girl… Where is the paint?

He squinted slightly.  “But you’ve got plan, don’t you?”

“I was given a book once,” he murmured.  “Not these banal glue-bound periodicals on your shelf with names like ‘Mole goes to School,’ or ‘You Must Be Remedial If You Need To Use Fruit In Arithmetic’, but a real book.  A book that opens your mind!  A book that takes you to those places you will never hope to see with your earthly eyes, child…  A book that unlocks the key to your very soul!

He looked down at an arm – his arm? – gripping her tightly by the wrist.  He inhaled sharply, closed his eyes, and let her hand fall.  She stepped back two paces but did not run.

“It shows you every pitfall, every rationalization, every possible spear aimed at your heart from the Native Dark that will keep you from doing that which you were born to – and are afraid to – do…”

As his breathing slowed, he stroked his mustache with his right thumb as he was wont to do in those small vulnerable moments past distress and looked down his nose, monocle clenched tight in his right eye, magnifying the emotion he so carefully guarded.

“Believe you me, child,” he whispered as he picked a small yellow flower, and stroking her hair, slid it quietly behind her ear. “It will take you exactly where you need to be.”

“What book, sir?”

He grinned again, this time as a conspirator.

“The one in your hand, girl.”


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