In a Grain of Sand

It was quiet yesterday morning, so I wandered around the village. I saw a light on in the bookshop and went in, to find Emanuel there. I must admit, I just stood there for a while, breathing in the scent, for there is nothing quite like the scent of a bookshop or library, nothing like the sacred scent of books, as I like to call it. We spoke of books of magic, suitable for the beginner, but they seemed rather expensive, so I decided to pass for now. I suspect my interest is more in the meaning and method, rather than any actual desire to make sparkly lights or make things disappear. I did pick up an anthology of William Blake, which seemed a very fine thing to own, even if I know a few of them by heart. He charged me only 15 midari, provided I did a small favour for him, delivering a book to my boss, as he put it. After a moment of clarification, we established that he meant Aoibheann, as opposed to Anna or the King. I was curious and commented that she wasn’t a great reader, which was fine because the book was an empty one. Perhaps she is going to practice her writing after all.

I gave her the book later that evening, having taken it from Emanuel without thinking to ask if it needed paying for. I guess she will have to sort that out with him. She put it away before coming out with a bit of a surprise, telling me she had been reading a poem – Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘A Dream Within a Dream’ no less. Fortunately, it was one of the Poe poems that I knew. She said that she had liked it, but did not quite understand why he wanted to hold on to the sand. I tried to explain; what the poem was about, and why the sands were important, but I am not entirely sure she understood it all. But at least she was asking questions, so I think the beginnings of understanding, or at least, the desire to do so is there. She may lack education and knowledge, but I don’t think she lacks wit. I tried her on the opening of Auguries of Innocence, which I happened to have in my hand, but before we could discuss it much beyond the significance of the grain of sand, we were interrupted by a rather loud thump, and, I fancied, a certain amount of cursing from the upstairs balcony. We rushed upstairs to find a fairy, or at least, most of a fairy, who appeared to have collided with the wall. Now I know I lack experience of fairy anatomy, indeed, I lack much knowledge of them at all, aside from that one drunken night out with Astrid and Illiana, back in London, but I had not known they were made of jelly or paste. That is what this one seemed to be made from – a relatively normal-seeming body, pulling itself out of a mess of blue gloop that was seeping down the side of the building. She cried out for help and I took her hands and helped to pull her out of the wall. I truly did not know fairy bodies worked like that. I had always imagined them being more or less made of the same stuff as humans – bones, organs, blood and what have you – not some blue gloop that shapes itself into something resembling a human. Oh well, you live and learn.

This particular fairy turned out to be called Clio, and claimed that the wind had caused her to crash. She seemed a rather excitable member of her race, but that was nothing compared to Aoibheann’s excitement. I don’t think I have ever seen her look so happy as when she saw her. I got the impression this was something she had always wanted to see. Her excitement was quite uplifting, but it was nothing compared to the joy when Clio hugged her. We welcomed her to the tavern and suggested she join us downstairs in the bar – via the stairs. In keeping with my experience of the race, she seemed very keen on sweet things. I found the sweetest wine I could and Aoibheann retrieved a few of the cookies Anna had made the previous day, which seemed much appreciated. She even paid, albeit with a selection of odd coins and a silver button, but then, Aoibheann seemed more pleased with those than she would have been with normal money, and put them into her box of treasures, along with the gem she was given once and, no doubt, a few other oddities. It was really a treat to see how happy she was. Sadly, it was not to last. Aoibheann offered her a bed for the night, but Clio seemed disinclined to sleep in the city, preferring to sleep in the forest. Aoibheann was somewhat disappointed, but cheered up a little when Clio said she would be returning. I suspect that she is searching for something or someone, from what she said before she left. She finished her drink and the cookies and fluttered off into the night. Aoibheann looked a little sad, but I told her to cheer up; after all, she had just been hugged by a fairy, and she was now busy sweeping up all the glittering fairy dust she could find. That, she said, was better than the world in a grain of sand, and I could not find it in me to disagree with her.

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