Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 8 –

– 8 –

She is struck down to nothing in that moment.

Her voice is taken from her — the Keepers’ House is silent.

The air is clear and still as glass.

It is gone. It is lost. It is all gone. It occurs to her that this must be what being an object feels like — what being a machine feels like. She goes to speak and the words do not reach her lips. She goes to act, and she does not act.

The hat has tuned her to a single thing, but she cannot find it — it is a thing that is nowhere present in her, nor even in the world.

She reaches for it, but she cannot find it; it tunes her every action down into the void.

She cannot breathe — no. She is breathing. Her lungs are moving on their own, like a good machine’s. She cannot think — but she is thinking. Her thoughts are moving on their own, like an orrery’s spheres.

She watches herself in a world that hath none of her within.

She can see its fault-lines, can see that Gotterdammerung is coming. She can see that the world is tearing itself apart around her. That it is roaring with a fitful noise.

She is cracking. She is breaking. It is lonelier here, on the far side of the glass of things, then anything she has ever known.

She tries to find something. She can find nothing. She is struck by a sudden pity, a sudden sympathy, for the lightning of the storm when she had held it still.

What have you done to me? she tries to ask Tom, but if he can read minds, he does not show it; the boy is babbling like a fool.

It could have ended there. She could have died there, caught in that moment, drowned in a sudden gold; but she doesn’t, instead.

She sees something. She remembers something. It’s just a flash from somewhere. It’s a glint of light.

And if she could tell you —

If she’d had the tongue to let them out, all those feelings that flowed through her when she finally caught hold of the tail end of a purpose, she might have cried out:

“Suddenly my life is filled with beauty!”

She might have leapt on Tom. She might have shaken his shoulders. She might have terrified the boy, and not incidentally broken his position on the pointlessness of the division of the sexes in the world. She might have told him, with a fervent energy, “It is so hard to live outside the world, Tom Friedman. We long for being, but we are not there. We go to act, but we do not move. Scissors fall. We have desires. We are perfected but we don’t know how to live in the presence of our perfection. But oh!”

She’d have turned. She’d have pointed. She wouldn’t have been pointing at a thing. She’d have been pointing at an idea. However, just possibly, as a member of the House of Dreams, he might have seen it anyway.

“Look at it, Tom,” she’d say. “Look at what we can be; we are golden. Oh, look, there is something, beneath the surfaces of things, there is something; oh see it live!

She doesn’t do that. She doesn’t say that. Not any of it.

The Keepers’ House is silent.

But —

At least —

As long as there are magical jaguars, catapulted skyward by Mayan sages, in a decaying orbit around the Earth, there is a beauty still remaining that will let the Keepers move.



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