Scene 1 here
The old shack retained some warmth if she huddled in close to the corner. It was timber, and even though old, it wasn’t yet rotted. Timber meant there must be trees somewhere, and people to cut them, shape them, build places like this cottage.
What could she do to distract her mind, stay alert? Lyra smiled and plucked a string on the harp she imagined she balanced against her body. A harp made from the natural curve of walnut, or maybe messmate. A harp was warm to touch, smooth as the skin of a lover, sensual and inviting.
The first sensation was hollow. She closed her eyes. Imagined the instrument again, this time with strings of thicker width[??], a taller frame made from desert-oak, steady and strong.
Nothing. No sensation but cold still air, damp and thick with the tears of dejection.
Sleep. She just needed to sleep, and then it would come back. It always came back. She was a musician, a singer, a dancer — she’d played these actions out in her head hundreds, thousands of times before she performed. It was always a real demonstration, even if only in her head.
Real. It was real. But she didn’t feel it. She couldn’t sense it in any way. It wasn’t just the lack of sound, it was as if all her creative thoughts were buried within this damp prison.
This was worse than the world without colour. At least then she could still compose, she danced and sang and prepared for her release. There was nothing of that here. It was too dull, too grey, and only silence greeted her body and her mind.
Lyra felt the loss as part of her living soul, a scouring on the edges of it, a roughing in that would scar and damage her inner self. A prison worse than the gated hell of heat and distortion.
All those experiences, the things she undertook for her art, to enable her to share the highs and lows, the joys and sorrow, the fears and exultations — gone.
There was nothing in her mind but the recognition of cold and discomfort, of hunger and unease. Of loneliness beyond being alone. She couldn’t hear her voice, or her movements, or her mind.
She’d go mad.
Did they know that when they sent her here? Was this the prison that would break her, as they’d tried to do for so long?
The clench of sharpness in her eyes forced her to close them, to hide the failure of inner strength, the will she’d forced on every one of the worlds they’d forced her to traverse as punishment for breaking the rules of sublimation.
Maybe she’d use the time to make a new swear word, worse than any she’d ever created before. She mouthed the words, thought them with a level of anger and vehemence she didn’t feel beyond a tight band on her forehead, but she did it again and again.
They would not win. Lyra wouldn’t let them. She wouldn’t give up so. There would come a time when she’d be released. The rules were clear, unambiguous: no prisoner may be confined for more than the lifespan of the signet-moth. In her world, she knew what length of time that was; in some of the other worlds, her punishment phases, it wasn’t always the same. But always, there was a signet-moth.
All she had to do was find one, or better yet, a pupae of a signet-moth.
Update: Hey, it’s April, and I didn’t get done what was on my list … so I made a new list! Which I’ll share at some stage. But there’s a competition sub due on 14 April and a full mss sub to have ready for end May, and yes, there’s the blind woman and her dog story … and I’ve taken down a few stories (housekeeping, never-ending task), started a few new projects … ongoing – but I’ll be back, I’ll be here, and I’ll see you soon!