She Who Wrote the World, a novella by Hannah Brewster-Stein
Part Two: The Recorder
Holly had been chosen to record the Author. She had been chosen. Repeating that phrase to herself both thrilled, terrified and perplexed her. She had never been chosen for anything before, let alone the highest honor anyone in her hometown could imagine. After all, her own parents hadn’t chosen her. They had instead left her as a gratitude offering to the Order of Writers in exchange for more childless years of pursuing their own best potential. Raising what turned out to be a speechless child in a religion of words just had not been part of their plans. Of course, she could speak now, perhaps not eloquently, but she could speak. Holly had just been delayed in her speech, in the same way she was delayed to develop, took longer than anyone else had to complete her schoolwork and was shorter than everyone else around her by at least a foot. The latter had not changed, even now that she was a fully grown woman.
Holly believed, like they all did, in the teachings of the Author, but she wasn’t what you might call, fervent in her devotions. Being fervent was almost a prerequisite to live here, within the visual distance of the great halls of the Author. She was close enough to catch the sun glare off the glass towers at noon and close enough to know with certainty, (although she never did it), which way to face during the morning rituals.
Perhaps losing fervency was a side effect of living too closely with the revered members of society. Holly saw bedhead, boogers get picked, nattering over who ate up all the chocolate-covered grasshoppers and walked into bathrooms that smelled like someone ate up all the chocolate-covered grasshoppers.
Yet, she had been chosen, Holly: delayed, abandoned, thirty years old, addicted to Ativan, single (and not interested), living in a tiny corner room she rented in a basement next to the water heater (furnished and cozy, the ad had said). Chosen. There wasn’t even a door; a shower curtain hung precariously with tape as her only privacy from the other two basement-dwelling tenants. Turning thirty had been her most depressing birthday yet.
Maybe her thirty-first will be better.
Holly let her mind roll over the image again of the sealed envelope with her unique brain chip identifier and the Author’s emblem, and allowed her thoughts to open and reread the congratulatory invitation.
To: Holly Lane. IP 055fkS;f5l’5wN. Route. Jd5553609.
On behalf of the Author, we want to congratulate you on your exemplary submission toward the position of Official Temporary Recorder to the Author and extend to you the invitation to fill this position. Your fulfillment of this contract is expected and will begin posthaste.
It had interpreted her involuntary morning mumbles to the 0600 devotional app that chirped her awake every morning and continued for the first hour of the day. While others might be hearing each word, believing each word, breathing each word, she was only mildly aware of the incantations, applying careful layers of mascara on her lashes that naturally were just too thin. “Words have power. The Author writes the words,” mumble, mumble, mumble. Then the letter arrived to the forefront of her mind and she had left a trail of mascara up her forehead.
Now, here she was, sitting across from the woman herself. The Author who had chosen Holly.
PART THREE Coming TOMORROW!