There’s a certain kind of loneliness that comes of never being asked the right questions. Many of us go years at a time subsisting on ... Read More
Note: This is a short fable I wrote a few days after Hutchmoot. -Sam
There once lived several people. These people, the several of them, lived on different corners of a flat earth. One day they each received a letter. This story is about those letters and what happened after the several people got them. The letters were different than the auto-messages they were used to. (The auto-messages came through a series of tunnel-tubes and were sucked into a giant tray by an impossibly complicated pneumatic system. But there was no spirit in the auto-messages; they were mostly regulations and bills and new regulations about bills.) The letters were heavy to hold and tied with a blue bow. It was not a womanly bow, or a manly bow. It was lovely and strong, if you can imagine such a thing.
Evanthia received her letter on a Monday. She had heard of such letters, but had never yet held one in her hands. So she opened it, like almost everyone who has ever gotten a letter does. Inside the letter was written, “Come. You are welcome,” in a fine hand.
There had never been a welcome for her anywhere.
A thrill danced up her back, a lightning ship which at last wrecked on the rocks of her golden hair. Well-used to hurt, she was suspicious. She looked on the back of the letter (where she had heard the sender’s place was to be found) and it said, “Middlehouse.” She looked around to be sure there was no one near. Confirmation came at once, for Absence was her constant and only companion. Then she decided her decision. She set off for Middlehouse, with something like a smile on her face.
Wuncellown and Mutch were not alone, because there was the other of each of them. Mutch got a letter, but Wuncellown did not.
Wuncellown said, “Go friend.”
“I will,” Mutch said, “and you with me.”
So Middlehouse-ward they went, laughing as friends do.
This kind of thing happened at each kind of place. So it happened that many got on roads and made for Middlehouse. Weary, they arrived at last and stood before the place. It was plainer than many expected, and grander for others, who were poor.
“Let’s go inside, friends,” Mutch said.
Evanthia’s ears blanched at that word. Friends? Crimson colored her face like a glass of cherrywine. Red and gold, her face and hair.
When they reached the door, it opened. In the doorway stood a wizard. (They knew by all the tell-tale signs people everywhere have used to identify such men.) He said, “I am your host. Welcome.” He wished them to doubt he was a wizard, but they knew better.
Wuncellown said, “Master, why have you written these letters to us?”
“Not to you,” he said, smiling.
“I came with Mutch,” Wuncellown said.
“And you will leave with more,” the wizard said. Some wrinkled their noses at that, others laughed politely. “Come in, come in. It looks as if it might rain. I have much to show you and more, no doubt, to be shown.”
At last Evanthia was the last one outside. Once more alone. Where she had a moment before been a part, she now stood apart. The wizard’s head reappeared in the doorway and he nodded for her to enter. She balked, afraid of the joy that sloshed around in her like an open jug in the hands of a clumsy child. Easily lost, she was sure.
“Come, beautiful,” the wizard said. “Come, Evanthia. We’re waiting for you and cannot be what we ought without you. Besides, there’s food in here.”
She approached the door, but stopped again. The door almost closed, but at the last moment a hand struck out and grabbed her own, pulling her inside.
The door closed on the sound of laughter.