the whirlwind

sometimes, she likes to sit still.

the invisible girl counts it as a sort of victory to sit still at the end of a long day, or a series of long days that have collapsed into each other. she sits quietly, sedately, and drinks tea, idly whirling the teaspoon through the mug and letting a whirlpool form just below the surface.

it’s the perfect way for her to demonstrate what goes on in her mind, if ever she were asked; if ever she were of a mind to have someone know. instead, she lets the liquid settle, imagines the composition of the drink: briefly calculates the ratio of sugar to milk to water, and drains the cup.

she churns through a series of adventures and writes each one down, fitting key points on a single page in the notebook. by the end of what might be a year, she’s filled fourteen notebooks that more accurately resemble encyclopaedias, and they tower over her if she stands beside them.

her mind races whenever she decides to call it a night, and she lies restlessly in bed for hours before finally slipping out of the room entirely, ventures into the library and reads. she always liked reading, when she could bear to sit still, and she finds that as she goes on with a very long life, she stays still a bit more. after all, there’s no sense in living this long if she doesn’t have markers in place.

so she carries on reading and writing and churning out new tiny stories in her encyclopaedia-journals. the woman at the stationary shop from which she buys them must love her, she reflects one evening. they’re the sort of book that really draw in a profit, away from the tiny novelty fashion books and rows of cutesy books for people to write too much in.

(she thinks about this. is she the one writing too much, or is that the work of other people? she has so many adventures and stories, after all, but then again – other people have always liked to find more in less.)

sometimes, she jokes in passing that she’s writing a novel, or some great new epic piece, and the woman’s eyes flicker with interest before she subsides and wraps up a new book, a handful of pens. she’s heard it all before, the invisible girl realizes, and takes the bag with a blush. this wasn’t even that original of a tale.

she hurries out, runs back home (still running; always running, always moving) and hurries to unwrap the new book with shaky fingers.

this is not a new practice by a long shot. it feels like she’s been doing this for centuries now, feels like she’s been churning out stories and adventures and hundreds upon hundreds of pages since she was someone else.

(sometimes, her hands cramp up when she writes too much too fast, and she shakes out her wrists because even being ambidextrous won’t help someone who records her every adventure, every day for a half-millennium)

(sometimes, she resolves to write a new story, one that’s bigger and bolder than anything done before, take it back to the woman in the shop just for a surprise)

and in the end she subsides into a heap of blankets on a couch older than the wristwatch she’s taken to wearing, shoves her hair out of her eyes and keeps on writing. she’s been invisible too long for her stories to have an appeal, so she keeps them between herself and the library walls.

she makes a friend, one day. invites the girl to her home and gives her the short tour. as always the library inspires awe, interest and it becomes common for them to split a space, one reading what the other writes.

(it takes her what might be several months to realize this, and when she does notice, she’s embarrassed that it took so long for her to cotton on. her journals are all numbered and heaped on the floor, but once her friend settles in they’re all lined up neatly on a shelf she doesn’t remember seeing, ordered meticulously by number and the odd bookmark shoved in random places)

the invisible girl finishes putting the pieces together one night over fish fingers, that someone is actually reading her life’s story. she’d almost cry.

her stories span so long and reach so wide that she doesn’t think most people would want to read it, want to commit that much time, but here they have nothing but. sometimes, they commit time to staying in, not marking time with adventures, but reading and writing.

eventually, her friend is all caught up with her stories. there’s no adventures that remain secret, and she decides to begin keeping other stories to herself.

(no need to reveal every card in the deck, she tells herself as she boxes up the first two books and tucks them into a forgotten room)

when her friend eventually leaves, she remembers her as the one who saw.

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