“You must stay away from that creature!” Finch’s father said, “It is dangerous!”
“She’s just a normal girl though.” Finch told him.
“Listen to me, okay? That girl is a monster. Stay away.”
Finch went to his room and sat on the bed. He didn’t think that his dad understood. He hadn’t met Alice, so how could he know anything about her?
He didn’t like breaking the rules, so after that Finch did his best to avoid Alice. He took the long way north, avoiding the bench where they first met. Everything returned to how it was.
One day he was playing out on the streets and he spotted Artus.
“Hey Finch! I’m going to go play with Alice! She’s got a real big group of friends now.” He said.
Thinking about Alice just made Finch uncomfortable and unhappy.
“Come on! We’re going to play territory fight!” He continued.
“No, I can’t” Finch said.
“Aww, it’ll be so fun though.” Artus pleaded.
“I know.” Finch replied, “But I’m not allowed.”
Artus left without him. Finch ambled into the alley and sat down, leaning on the side of his home right underneath his room’s window. His dad would call him in for the next class soon, and then supper after. Finch liked learning, but it was starting to get boring. Even his Natural Studies texts weren’t able to keep his attention anymore.
His father found him. “Come son, it is time for maths.”
Finch learned about the order of operations. The things inside of brackets must be done first, then the powers, then multiplication, then increases and decreases. He did all the practice questions diligently and then had supper with his dad. His dad was a tall man, at least tall compared to him. Compared to other adults though, he was fairly short. Just like Finch, his dad had black hair, dark eyelids and pale brown eyes.
“I still am obligated to work for three hours today in order to continue teaching you myself.” He said, “So stay safe inside the house until I come back.”
Finch wanted some new texts from the library. “Can I get some books though?”
“Fine, but take the quickest route.” He said, putting on his jacket, then pointing, “No other stops.”
Finch followed, and they left together after a hug. Finch headed east to the library, and his father went north to the gate. Finch’s father was a domestic hunter, someone that hunted animals whose daily migration habits were well documented. Finding the animal was not hard, but killing it in a way that preserved meat quality and then transporting it afterwards was. That’s why his father worked with a team. Finch had always wanted to be part of a team.
He passed a bench, thinking of what topic he would read about.
He recognized the voice. This was not good. He turned, and there she was, sitting.
“Hello Alice.” He said, still walking.
She stood and fell in step with him.
“Where are you going Finch?” She asked
“I’m going to the library to get a new book.” He replied.
“Library? Book?” She asked wide eyed, excited. She was often excited.
“Yeah. You can borrow books from the library for free,” He couldn’t believe he was explaining how a library worked, “And then you give it back later.”
“Wow!” Alice jumped in the air, “What’s a book?”
“Don’t be stupid, you know what a book is.”
Finch turned to her. She had a thoughtful expression on her face, like she was trying to remember what a book was. What a strange girl!
“A book is a bunch of pages of reeds paper with words on them. They can hold information, or stories.”
“Woah! I like stories! Can I get a book?” She asked.
“I think so. As long as you don’t destroy them.” He said.
“Do I look like someone who destroys a book?”
Finch looked at her hands. Her fingernails were long and curved.
“Well, you have claws.” He told her.
“Oh yeah.” Alice nodded, “Well I’ll have to be extra careful then!”
They walked to the library together. Finch felt a little bad that he was disobeying his father, but like any kid he made excuses to justify himself. Technically, he made no other stops. Technically he stayed away from her, because she was the one who went to him. He felt there was some flawed logic in that thinking, but Alice was interesting. He liked talking to her.
The library had shelves of books that stretched all the way to the tall roof. A Solune man ran the place, and the Solune people were exceptionally tall. Thus, the library had a very high ceiling. A man with long brown hair was taking some books off of a shelf and putting them on a cart. He was older, maybe fifty or sixty.
“Hello Finch!” The librarian said, “Who is your little friend?”
“This is Alice. She wants a book too.” Finch said.
“Well, you surely came to the right place,” He replied, “What kind of book are we looking for today?
“I want a story!” Alice said.
“Ah, there are many kinds of stories. What interests you?”
“Umm.” Alice pondered this question. She was interested in everything as far as she knew.
“Everything!” She said
“What an excellent choice. How about you Finch? Another Natural Studies text?” He asked.
“Umm… I think I want a story too.” Finch replied.
The librarian brought them to the youth fiction section. Alice looked at all the books, at the colours. Finch read the titles. None of them seemed interesting to him, too childish. He wasn’t sure he wanted to step down this far from the textbooks he had been reading before.
“Can I get something that’s… harder?” He asked.
“Ah right, you are the reading prodigy, aren’t you!” The librarian laughed.
He lead Finch to the adult fiction section. Finch looked around.
He read titles aloud, “Timeline, Men at Arms, Small Steps, David Copperfield, Jurassic Park.”
He took that one, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. It had a picture of an unusual skeleton on the front. He read the first page and found it very interesting, so he took it.
Alice took a book that was blue and then met up with Finch at the librarian’s desk.
“Okay, so when you take a book, I take the card from the last page and write your name on it. That way I know what books are gone and who has them. Make sure to return them in two weeks, that’s sixteen days, remember!”
They left the library and Finch took the most direct route to his house. Alice followed, looking inside her book. She liked the pictures, but nothing else made sense to her.
“What is all this?” She asked.
“All what?” Finch said, looking over to her.
Alice pointed to the words.
“Words? Letters? Sentences?” Finch asked.
“Yeah. Does it mean something?”
“Umm,” Finch couldn’t believe it. Alice didn’t know what books were, and now she didn’t even know how to read? Maybe she really wasn’t lying when she said she had no parents. Finch was stunned into silence for a few moments.
“Understanding those symbols is called reading. They each represent a sound, and the sounds form together into words.” Finch explained.
Alice looked at her open book. “Oh.”
They walked in silence until they reached Finch’s house. He opened the door and then turned back to face Alice.
“I’m sorry I can’t play today. My dad said that I have to stay inside. He said I need to stay away from you.”
Alice looked up from her book, her heartbroken expression cut into his heart. But then her eyes widened, a warm glow spread from within to without. She raised her arms.
“Then just don’t listen to him!” She said excitedly.
“No! I need to listen or he will get mad!” Finch replied sternly, trying to copy his father’s voice.
“Okay. Okay.” Alice was undeterred. She thought for only a moment before, “You have to stay in the house and keep away from me?”
Finch nodded suspiciously.
“Well, you already broke one of those!” She said, “Anyway, take a step backwards, Finch.”
Finch was confused, but he listened to her, stepping over the threshold into his house.
“Now you’re inside. Since you’re home, and sort of keeping away from me,” She smiled, “Can you teach me to understand the pictures of words?”
Oh no, Finch thought, she’s bending the rules even worse than me!
Alice turned the book to face him, “Look, I don’t think I can figure out what all this says without you. And like that man in the book library said, you’re a reading pro-der-gy!”
They sat down, him inside, and her on the cobble outside. Finch pointed at the small words first.
“This is ‘the.’ And this one is ‘I'” He said.
“Why does ‘the’ have four little pictures, but ‘I’ only has two?” She asked.
“Those are letters. Each makes a sound. Look, this one makes the ‘ah’ sound.” Finch pointed.
He tried to point to the little letters on the page, but eventually got frustrated and got some reeds paper from inside, as well as a flow pen. He wrote out the alphabet, all twenty-three letters, then he went through them all.
“Right now just remember these ones, the vowels.” He said.
Alice nodded. “I think you need to go over it again…”
Finch did. It was kind of fun teaching, he understood why his father did it.
At some point, the sun had set and it got too dark for them to read. Finch made a sudden realization.
“Oh no!” He said, “My dad will be home soon! You have to go! And take this with you, I don’t want him seeing it!”
Finch thrust the alphabet into Alice’s hands.
“But…” Alice looked distraught, “We didn’t even start the book.”
“I can’t, not today anyway. You have to go.”
“Well,” she sniffed, “When can I come back?”
“You shouldn’t come back. Not when my dad is here.”
This made her look even sadder. Finch couldn’t stand it.
“I-I’ll visit you. I’ll bring a pen.”
Alice looked up at him, brightening.
“And,” He continued, “It’ll be tomorrow, so don’t make any plans. Remember, it’s not goodbye. It’s see you later.”
Alice smiled, revealing her terrifying teeth. Finch became unnerved, but he tried his best to hide it.
“Go, quick! I think I see my dad!” He said.
Alice ran off, and Finch closed the door, his primary heart thumping in his chest. He ran to his room and pretended to read. Moments later his father entered the house. He rummaged around for a bit and then went up the stairs, where his room was.
Finch breathed a sigh of relief. He took the Jurassic Park book into his bed and lay back. He read a couple chapters, wondering why the main character kept changing. He read until his system calmed down from all the tension, and wondered what tomorrow would be like.
You know, I’m kind of happy with how this series is turning out. Writing children is kind of fun too, I’ve never done it. I know author’s should be constantly thinking about their target audience, but honestly I have no idea who this would appeal to. Until next time, (Part 3 is here!)