Waking up in a new bed is meant to be an alien, uncomfortable, completely unfamiliar situation. And it was, mostly. The thing that was different was the comfort I experienced. Normally, the beds are hard and stiff, not having been moulded to your body shape but this bed was unlike anything I had ever experienced before; it was mysteriously soft and fantastically luxurious.

Even after having opened my eyes, I felt the lull of not sleep but simply relaxation strongly and as quickly as I awoke, my eyes closed and I rested my mind, not thinking of anything in particular but just listening to the sound of my breathing; a technique to calm your mind.

Alas, my disciplined mind could not stand this decadence for long. My tussled, shoulder-length hair was all over the place, the dress from yesterday was still on my body--albeit wrinkled and sloppy--as I stayed up late reading all I could and fell asleep as soon as I put the last book I could get through down. The fact there was a small pile of books strewn all over my bed was just evidence of the fact.

Allegedly, my father was working on a large project and so couldn’t come home yesterday as he was somewhere far north. Not really knowing him that well and only having seen him once, it didn’t particularly bother me.

Cautiously, I make my way down for breakfast. Uh; I have to limit the number of times I have to use the stairs, my arms aching slightly from gripping and holding the weight of my body for so long.

“Avery, I need to ask you something,” My mother’s voice is abrupt but seeing how she was looking at me, maybe I shouldn’t have not seen it coming. I swivelled on my stool, placing my bowl of cereal down on the kitchen island, to stare at my mother’s mouth.

“What are your thoughts about going back to school?” The surprise and uncertainty must’ve shown on my face for my mother quickly clarified: “Nothing’s determined yet; we just want your opinion first.”

That wasn’t the part I was uncertain of. What does this ‘school’ entail? I mean, there were schools of thought, swordsmanship, and pretty much anything that required someone to tutor you but just ‘school’ in isolation was too vague for me to grasp what she meant.

Well, I suppose the thing that connects all of them is a dedicated tutor so perhaps this ‘school’ is like a non-specific tutor? But, then, why not just call it tutoring? It’s what it was called when I was the prince and is much more specific than just school.

“Well, there are two options,” I suppose my silence must’ve indicated to her that I needed my options narrowing, “Either you start the year subsequent to the last whole one you’ve completed or you start where your age would place you, but that requires you to do a lot of studying to ensure you’re caught up on where you’d need to be. There’d also be tests, as well.”

Ahhh; I don’t know what to pick! Both choices are meaningless to mean. I suppose, if I had to choose, it’d be the latter; I wouldn’t want to be taught at the same time as Gwendoline, for instance.

“Uh, the studying one.” I gently mumble out, my confidence in what it entailed adjusting my volume.

“Are you sure about that? I can tell you already, it’ll be a lot of hard work and effort to make up for what’s collectively a year or two you’ve missed.”

I nodded my head, my action convincing myself in my choice. It’s better to be confident about something uncertain so you stop thinking about it rather than worrying yourself into oblivion.

“Okay, then. Well, I’ll send an email today and we’ll see what happens,” She squeezed my hand that was resting on my lap.

Very quickly after that, she left to go upstairs, presumably to send whatever this ‘email’ was.

Well; time to get back to reading.

By the time the thick, orange-coloured book made a soft sound when it landed on my bed, I fell backwards in a huff, feeling tired already.

How many books have I read by now?

[21 books archived and ready for reconstitution]

System? You’re still around? I haven’t heard from you in ages! It’s good that you recorded all the books; I was reading through them so quickly my comprehension level plummeted. I barely remember anything.

I wonder; does it demarcate between different books or is it more a synthesis of knowledge? Well, firstly, now that I finally have some books stored in there, what is the ‘reconstitution’ like? Quick; show me all my knowledge on snails!

As the corner of my vision dims, it’s like the hive-mind of evanescent particles absorb the light, collating into one majestic, mythical whole. With a plop, the book settles down right on top of my chest, opened up. Ah; the cover is the strange, magic leather rather than one of the books I’ve read. That’s boring.

I shift backwards, sitting up, and begin to investigate. First things first; is there only one Illusory Book? Asking for all my knowledge on ants, book in lap disappeared while an identical book fell out of mid-air again. Why does it always have to fall?

Alas, it seems there’s only one. Something else I want to check is whether the thickness changes at all. Uh, I want to see everything I know!

Ah; it’s the same book again. I guess it doesn’t change after all.

Well, that’s enough experimentation for now. After checking to see the state of the snails--there’s apparently eleven of them but I’ve only seen seven; I think the rest of them are quite shy--I call up the Illusory Book once again. Helpfully, focusing on what I specifically want to know has the book open up right to where I need to be. Ah; I see.

Grabbing my crutches, I prepare myself to face my most challenging enemy yet; stairs.

Or, at least, they would be challenging, but I’ve prepared a new strategy! Walking up and down the stairs the way I did before took too much time and was too tiring on this body so I briskly plomped myself down on the ground, my left leg resting on the top step.

With one hand resting on the carpeted stairs and the other loosely holding both of my crutches, I push myself forwards gently and lower myself to the first step, steadying myself as my leg descends a step lower.

This way, as strange and pitiful as it looks, should hopefully be faster. Am I in a hurry? Not particularly. Why do I want it to be faster? I...Don’t know.

To be honest, I was probably just too engrossed with what I thought was a good idea to actually think about why I was doing it.

Well, anyway, I managed to make it down the stairs and headed into the kitchen.

Ah; I hadn’t expected this obstacle to come up. You see, I went to get some lettuce but I don’t know where the lettuce is.

Is it in the first cupboard I see? No. The second? Not that one; there’s silverware there. The third? By this point, you get how I went about this. Actually, I found the head of lettuce resting on the shelf of the grey, cold block that was called a fridge.

Ripping off a leaf, I walked back upstairs the old-fashioned way and placed it down in the snail home. Perfect; now they’re fed!

Why was I so eager to feed them. I don’t know, but I feel that the ‘Snail Diary’ touched me… In some way. Plus, they were cute.

But slowly, my mind began to grow bored. Truly, I had spent so much of my time reading that I hadn’t thought about what to do after I had read all the books. My face contorts awkwardly and a light flush arose on my face when my thoughts starting to go into a certain direction. No; I couldn’t bring myself to do that; it’s a blatant disregard for privacy.

Instead, I can… Read more books? Well, I can go outside; I suppose that’s an option as well.

With a sharp intake of breath, I’ve come to an amazing decision; I can go outside to read books! In my opinion, it’s a far greater idea than either of its two constituents while losing none of the benefits.

“Mom!” I say as loud as I can--which, admittedly, isn’t that loud--while I’m hugging the doorframe of my room (my room’s small enough that crutches are just awkward). She’s sat at the end of the corridor, her arms hardly moving. It looks like she’s writing but the weird black slab in front of her displays oscillating and forever-changing lights.

As soon as she hears my voice, she spins on the chair--this chair also has wheels but when I called it a wheelchair, she found it funny for some reason--and asks:

“What is it, sweetie?” Ahhh, now that I’m being asked, my nerves are catching back up with me and my previously confident demeanour slowly erodes into the recognisable hesitation that plagues me.

“Um… A book shop?” The books had prices on them so it would only make sense there would be a shop for them. I decided not to think about how amazing it is to produce enough books constantly to have a dedicated shop for them.

“Sure, we can go back there again. When do you want to leave.”

“Now,” I said, after a brief period of thought.

“You want to go now? Well, let me finish what I’m doing and I’ll meet you downstairs.” She had a smile on her face before turning back to continue what she was doing before.

Yes! More books. My face, also, was wearing a smile as I got changed into a skirt and shirt combo. Sure, Avery had other clothes that weren’t just skirts and dresses--they were the minority, in fact--but the freedom I felt in a skirt was too tempting to resist.

Finally, more books!


About the author


Bio: Birb

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