He read while he walked. He read while he ate. The other librarians suspected he somehow read while he slept, or perhaps didn't sleep at all.
It was sadness, lostness, and the worst thing about it was the way it seemed like a default—like it was there all the time, and all her other expressions were just an array of masks she used to cover it up.
And Esme remembered in a rush--the wolfsong, the haunting, lyrical spirals of it in the dawn quiet and the feeling of euphoria that had attended it. Even in recollection the howling uplifted her like the crescendo at the end of a symphony and made her heartbeat quicken.
And that's how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.
What's the point of being old if you can't beleaguer the young with your vast stores of wisdom?And what's the point of being young if you can't ignore all advice?
I think you're a fairy tale. I think you're magical, and brave, and exquisite. And I hope you'll let me be in your story.
She may have been the one whose name meant music, but his sounded like it. Saying it made her want to sing it, to lean out a window and call him home. To whisper it in the dark.
His shadow splayed out huge before him, and his mind gleamed with ancient wars and winged beings, a mountain of melted demon bones and the city on the far side of it--a city that had vanished in the mists of time.
That day and night, the bleeding and the screaming, had knocked something askew for Esme, like a picture swinging crooked on a wall. She loved the life she lived with her mother. It was beautiful. It was, she sometimes thought, a sweet emulation of the fairy tales they cherished in their lovely, gold-edged books. They sewed their own clothes from bolts of velvet and silk, ate all their meals as picnics, indoors or out, and danced on the rooftop, cutting passageways through the fog with their bodies. They embroidered tapestries of their own design, wove endless melodies on their violins, charted the course of the moon each month, and went to the theater and the ballet as often as they liked--every night last week to see Swan Lake again and again. Esme herself could dance like a faerie, climb trees like a squirrel, and sit so still in the park that birds would come to perch on her. Her mother had taught her all that, and for years it had been enough. But she wasn't a little girl anymore, and she had begun to catch hints and glints of another world outside her pretty little life, one filled with spice and poetry and strangers.
When they had hurried to the train station with their violin cases, they had drawn almost as many stares as they would on any normal day when their hair was to their knees and sheeting behind them like red silk. A poetic fruit-seller had told them once that they looked like dryads, and they did still, only now they looked like dryads who had tired of snagging their hair on brambles and sliced it all off on the edge of a knife.