Lucy was strange little girl, everyone said. Always with her head in a book. The ‘Library Nerd’ one crueller playmate called her. But that was right before the playmate disappeared in the nearby woods and she hadn’t been seen for weeks, so no-one remembers the cruel name for Lucy. Except for me, but I’d never use it. I like Lucy.
Our teacher Marion didn’t really appreciate her literary aims either. She had a set curriculum to take all us children through and when Lucy wouldn’t stop reading her damn book while the maths lesson was on she made her stand up and turn her back to the class in the corner and she took Lucy’s book – strange and heavy and old as it was. and locked it in her desk drawer at the front of the class.
I heard Lucy crying, and some of the other children laughed at the sound. But that was a few days ago and the teacher is nowhere to be found either, and the children who laughed have all come down with whooping cough and the doctors in town are frantic, unable to help. So no-one’s laughing about Lucy being in the corner now.
Lucy got her book back too. I saw the teacher lock it away but now I see her with it in the library. I don’t think it belongs here, anymore than Lucy really does, but I’ve always been curious and I don’t judge. My ma always said there’s room enough for all the strange ones in this strange world.
So I go up to her and ask her what she’s reading. She looks at me with wide, saucer eyes, and it occurs to me that no-one had ever asked before. She shyly turns the book towards me and I can’t make head nor tail of what I see on the pages. Not words, just squiggles and images I can’t understand.
‘It’s sigil magic,” she says, as though that explained everything.
I liked the sound of that though. All kids like magic don’t they?
“Cool” I say.
Lucy smiles so big a smile I thought her face would crack. I haven’t seen her smile before, and something tells me that there’s more to this than a smile, and maybe, just maybe, she’ll let me in on the secret. And I’ve always been curious, as I said.
“Cool,” I say again. “Show me how it works.”
(c) Helen M Valentina 2020