Written by a previous incarnation of herself, Ayda knows these facts to be true:
- She is part Phoenix.
- She lives in Leviathan.
- She is a librarian in the Compass Point Library.
- Her father is Arthur Aguefort. He loves her very much. He is going to visit her soon.
Ayda has a hard time trusting other people, and lately she has been having a hard time trusting herself. Or rather, she’s having a hard time trusting a previous version of herself. The first three facts that are left for her are undeniable. She has solid evidence for these. She can merely look around and see the truth in the words for herself: here are here wings, here is the library, here is Leviathan. Arthur Aguefort, her supposed father, is nowhere to be seen.
Ayda is practicing waiting. It is very difficult. Time moves slowly with only books for company. There is only so much studying Ayda can do, and when she’s not studying she’s working, serving pirates who have mixed up morals and unclear motivations. They are not kind to Ayda; they ask her questions like, “ are you mocking me, lassie ?” And when she responds no, I have no intention of mocking you. Should I mock you? Would that be considered normal? They tend to fly into fits of rage. The books in the library do not cover what makes the pirates so angry, or what she needs to keep their bared teeth and swords that inch towards her wings at bay.
Ayda wishes someone would write her a book that contains all the right things to say, and what strange phrases mean and why people lie. Perhaps her father, Arthur Augefort, will write her this book upon her request once he arrives. It would make a good addition to the library. So Ayda waits.
Ayda spends this lifetime waiting. Time ticks on and nothing changes. She scans the library, seeking out a face that looks like hers, just older and more wise and kinder. It does not come.
When Ayda’s time is up, she takes her book with memories from her previous lives. She thinks for a moment what her parting words should be. She thinks about the days she spent waiting for her father, and she picks up the pen. There is an ache in her chest that she does not know the name for so she calls it dying. Only dying must hurt this much.
Your name is Ayda Augefort. You live in Leviathan. You are a librarian in the Compass Point Library.
Ayda looks at the page, oddly empty. She connects the pen with the paper once more. She thinks she has the answer to one of her questions. She thinks she knows why a person may lie.
Your father is Arthur Augefort. He loves you very much. He will visit you soon.
Ayda Aguefort is a librarian. It is her job to keep her attention on the books, but her mind seems to constantly be preoccupied by two other points of interest:
- Her father, Arthur Augefort, who supposedly loves her very much but has not yet visited.
- The pirate girl who frequents the library and has, to date, checked out seven out of thirteen of Ayda’s favourite books. This seems important, but Ayda does not know why.
The pirate girl is very pretty. She has blonde hair and her name is Lydia, which Ayda knows because she signed up for a library card using that name. Unfortunately, Lydia has not told Ayda her name directly, so Ayda does not use it. It would be unusual to use a name that has not been given to her, and bad things tend to happen when Ayda does anything that is not usual.
Lydia checks out a book about the island of Moray. Ayda takes Lydia’s library card, and before documenting her name and the date and the title of the book in the library’s records, Ayda cannot stop herself from talking out of turn.
“You’re leaving,” Ayda says.
“What?” Lydia says, but she does not look confused. She smiles at Ayda, and Ayda thinks that her smile is very pretty. This is confusing to Ayda, who wants Lydia to smile more, because she likes her mouth. She likes her mouth so much that she often thinks about kissing it, which is an absurd concept. There is not one book in the library in which a Phoenix girl kisses a pirate girl. There are plenty of books about boy pirates kissing girl pirates, so that must be how it works. Ayda worries that some part of her has malfunctioned.
“Your book,” Ayda says, “you are checking out a travel book. You would not be checking out a travel book if you did not intend to go to the location. Or am I incorrect in assuming that?”
“No, you’re right,” Lydia says, sliding the book off of the desk that Ayda works behind, “one day I’m getting off this island and I’m going to sail into a new life.”
“You reincarnate also?” Ayda asks.
“No,” Lydia says, looking puzzled, “it’s- it’s kind of a figure of speech, I guess. Not a literal new life. A fresh start. I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life here.”
Lydia tilts her head at Ayda, “what about you? Have you ever left Leviathan?”
“No,” Ayda says, “I must wait here until my father comes. He is going to visit me soon.”
“I don’t know. My notes failed to mention a specific time frame.”
“Why don’t you visit him?” Lydia asks, raising an eyebrow. Ayda pauses. This was an option she hadn’t considered. Although she did not know the exact location of her father, the information would not be hard to come by.
“I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you for the suggestion,” Ayda says.
“Any time. I’ll make sure to say goodbye before I leave forever to Moray,” Lydia says with a grin. Ayda does not know if Lydia is making a joke or not. Her words, which feel very sad, do not match her humorous expression.
Ayda hands Lydia back her library card.
“I would like that a lot, Lydia,” Ayda says.
Lydia takes the card and leaves. Ayda wonders if Lydia knows her name. Ayda imagines the way that her name would sound in Lydia’s mouth and it is very pleasing.
A week goes by, and then a month. Ayda arranges books and masters spell casting and waiting.
More pirates. More books. More spells. More waiting.
Years. Ayda grows old and waits for visitors who never come. Ayda feels angry, and it burns in her fingertips and her eyes and her wings. Every part of her is aflame. She hates people who lie.
When it is time to be reborn, Ayda looks at her book. She looks at the notes she has made over the years, and once more writes what she wants the next version of herself to see. Your name is Ayda Augefort. You are part Phoenix. You live in Leviathan. You are a librarian in Compass Point Library.
Ayda thinks about Lydia, who did not say goodbye. What went wrong, all of those years ago? You called her Lydia when she did not tell you her name, a small voice in Ayda’s head pipes up. Ayda clutches the pen tighter. She wants to run away. She cannot help but make a mess of things. It seems as though every relationship she touches turns to ash. She has a habit of making things bad.
Your father is Arthur Augefort. He does not love you. He is not going to visit you.
Ayda Augefort is certain of three things:
- The girl in front of her is very loud.
- The girl in front of her is very pretty.
- Ayda Augefort is allowed to think favourably of this girl. After all, she is Adaine’s friend. She is Adaine’s best friend. And if this girl becomes Ayda’s friend, then Adaine will become Ayda’s best friend through the transitive property.
When Ayda asks if they are friends the girl says yes. Ayda learns that the girls name is Fig. Fig tells her this directly, and so Ayda can use Fig’s name whenever she wants. Ayda likes that a lot. She likes rolling Fig’s name around her mouth and feeling the weight of it on her tongue. She likes it a lot also when Fig uses her name.
There are a lot of things Ayda comes to like about Fig. Fig is unlike anyone Ayda has ever met before. Fig is noisy but patient, reckless but kind, fearless but gentle. Fig says what she means. She does not speak using complicated phrases or say one thing that actually means something else entirely as so many people do. Fig makes it easy and Fig takes the lead where Ayda needs her to.
Ayda almost runs away at points. Ayda has not been scared of losing something so badly before, and she knows that if she makes the situation bad then Fig will go away. If Ayda runs away, then she has not lost Fig. She has preserved their relationship as a memory made of porcelain, tucked away in a drawer in the back of her mind so that it cannot shatter. But when Fig touches Ayda’s face, when she brushes away fiery tears and says, see, it doesn’t hurt, Ayda knows that she cannot run away. She will do everything to stay, and stay near to Fig, and to feel her fingers on her cheek again.
Fig does not lie. It is strange when Fig later admits to pretending to be other people. It is not exactly lying- but Ayda sees no use for it. She tells Fig this- if I was you, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. Because you are exceptional.
Ayda means this. Ayda feels as if she has spent lifetimes waiting for someone to show up who has never come, and now, here is this wonderful person. Here is a girl who is very loud and very exciting and very exceptional, and Ayda never had to wait for her at all. She appeared when Ayda was least expecting it. That feels very special, Ayda thinks. To not be expecting anyone at all, and to then have the universe deliver someone.
Fig teaches Ayda what a sleepover is. Sleepovers are magnificent. Ayda gets to stay up all night talking to Fig, and to lie very close to Fig. Ayda thinks about kissing Fig, but decides that it is not the right time. The universe has given her Fig- the universe will also provide her with the right time.
Ayda finds the right time. She finds the right time and she does not want it to end, because she likes the feeling of Fig’s mouth on hers and the feeling of Fig’s hair in her fingers and the small of her back in her hand. Ayda burns bright and Fig does not stop kissing her. Ayda gets the feeling that she could say or do the wrong thing and Fig would not leave her, or lie to her, or abandon her. She would laugh the way that Fig laughs and take her by the hand and explain the correct way to do things. It’s all Ayda has wanted, all her lives. For someone to show her what to do. Ayda has just been looking in the wrong places.
When Fig leaves leviathan and Ayda must stay to make sure that the Compass Point Library can run self-sufficiently, she takes out her book of notes to herself.
You love Figueroth Faeth. You will love her in every lifetime.