Jan. 10th, 2011

inkydink: dwagon (Default)
For [community profile] inkstains challenge 17
500 words

She hated it when people crossed out words.

She was a tree once, you see, and could remember the long ago when they worshipped her -- when her bark was sacred and only used for words that were blessed, good and permanent.

They carved words upon her, a necessary pain that she bore resolutely, for the sake of these short-lived creatures who were so dependent on weather and nature and the goodwill of spirits. She willed herself to bear the pain, trying to stop the thick sap from flowing and obliterating the blessings and curses but sometimes it just came out, trapping unwitting insects in the thick amber ooze. Whether the spirits liked or disliked these accidental sacrifices she did not know—it never occurred to her that the spirit they carved the words for was the one who lived inside of her.

Sometime during the Industrial Age they chopped her down and turned her carcass into paper. Some of it went into books, some into journals and periodicals and when those were outdated, pulped again and made into new paper.

When she was reborn, her new self recognized the paper. She didn’t mind that she had to be cut down for it; she liked it when people wrote words on them, but not when they crossed them out, tore the pages, and threw them away. She knew where the words went, after all, and what happened to them afterwards. Nothing completely disappears, she said, they just change form.

It was almost physical, the pain of the crossed-out letters: the slashing across, the decapitation of ascenders and serifs, the total obliteration of crossbars and hairlines. Still, these weren’t as bad as when they crossed out words, deletion was a declaration that the idea once committed to permanence with ink and metal on a sheet of virgin pulp, was invalid or unfit and must be scratched out—she thought it a form of child abuse.

“They’re my words, “ people said. “I can delete them if I want. “

That’s what abusive parents say, she thought. She could never understand how people could labor over the production of those words, loving them into existence, giving birth, so to speak; then relegate them to the scrap heap when they got unwieldy.

“But I only have 500 words, “ someone whined, and she thought it was like saying you should kill your second daughter because you’re only allowed one child. It was a waste of thought, and paper and ink, and that was an affront to her, she knew how hard these were to come by. She did all she could to prevent that waste, but people are profligate by nature, and all she could do was shake her head and sigh.

It wasn’t just the waste.

“ Law of nature. Those words have to go somewhere, “ she told me firmly. “Delete enough words, and they come back as something else. Something bad. Really bad.”

“Like what?”

“ 25,000 words? Twilight novella, “ she answered.

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April 2012

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