Talent Appreciation Week: "Ink Spots"
By Minerva Grace
I take a deep breath before walking into the Pixie Dust Mill to see Terence for my daily dose of dust... and something else.
The parchment tacked onto the Pixie Postings billboard told all interested parties to see Terence for further details.
"Hey Minerva!" Terence greets as I fly in the door. "Haven't seen you since yesterday!"
"Oh shush you big jokester," I roll her eyes in amusement. "I have to visit you every day and you know it."
I stop for a minute to marvel at the sight of the Mill. Dust from the Pixie Dust Tree flowed in from an intricate pipe system to the container in equal time increments.
"It's very mathematical," I think for the first time ever, admiring the complexity of the machine that I take for granted every day.
"Hey Terence?" I burst out before I could stop myself.
"Have you ever thought about switching talents?"
"Don't tell me," Terence's eyes sparkled with mischief. "Minerva is considering participating in Talent Appreciation Week?"
"I've already decided to participate actually." My voice is cool and insusceptible to Terence's joking tone.
The Dust-talent shrugged. "Your choice. I do wonder how you'll fare though. Come to me if there are any problems, y'hear?"
"So which talent would you like to switch to?"
I think for a minute. There was something that I love besides the persistent flowing of water.
The smell of freshly pressed paper. The smell of ink dotting the page. The smell of old libraries.
"Scribe. I want to be a Scribe-talent."
Terence smirks, but nods once and heads in the direction of a ink-black vat of dust. The Scribes' symbol is stamped on it. He scoops up exactly 180 smidges and sprinkled the black dust over my head.
A tickling sensation rises on the skin where the dust had touched it as I absorb the inherent knowledge of every Scribe in the Hollow.
"Normally that would have hurt enough to kill you," Terence offers. "The Queen lifted all that for this event. Although it still would have been painful if you had picked the wrong one. Good thing you didn't, right?"
Thanks a lot.
"Over here is where the Scribes normally do the copying work for the different books in the Home Tree Library," my guide, a cheery raven-haired fairy named Liri Aspenleaf says as she waves a hand over a polished oak table. Fairies sit at the table, bent over their work.
It's certainly less exciting than picking up dewdrops and setting them on plants as the sun paints the sky shades of magenta and violet, and helping fish find their way upstream.
For starters, it's... inside.
This is going to be a long week.
"I was surprised when I heard we had a participant in Talent Appreciation Week for the Scribes," Liri continues, practically bouncing forward. "We don't usually get many."
"It's because everyone else thinks we're boring!" a bitter voice calls. It belongs to a sandy blonde-haired Sparrowman. He meets my eyes. They're a striking storm cloud gray. As much as I hate to admit it, he's quite handsome. Even so, he has the personality of a gnat.
"Everyone in Pixie Hollow thinks we're just book-copying machines," he says, almost angrily.
"Uhhh," Liri steers me away from him. "That's just Calder. He's grumpy all the time. Not all of us are like this."
I follow her bouncy black ponytail to a desk where she searches for my name in a directory.
"Here you are," she says. "You'll be in the writing station in between Ash Nightlace and... Calder."
"What are you doing here newbie
?" Calder spits, glaring at me like I'm something that stuck to the bottom of his shoe.
Charmed to make your acquaintance, good sir.
I bite back a sarcastic remark and spread my papyrus pages on the table. I maintain my composure as I flutter to the opposite wall.
The wall isn't so much a wall but shelves. The shelves contain inks of every color and shade organized meticulously by shades and hues. I grab a black, blue and red vial of ink and pick a fountain pen.
It's a beautiful thing. The metal body of the pen is embossed with what looks like tiny swirls but at closer glance appears to be scriptures. It's heavy and sits perfectly in my hand.
I think I'm in love. With a pen, of all things.
I shake my head, smiling as I head back to my workstation. Looking over his mess of hair, I stare at Calder's work.
He's dipping his quill into a vial of a Prussian blue ink and scribbling words onto the parchment arranged in a completely different way. I've never seen anything like it.
The swoops of the handwriting speak to me more as an art than mere words. Calder has illuminated letters at the top and the piece felt alive and vibrant.
In that stolen moment, looking over the shoulder at the work of someone who gave the impression that he hated his role, I learned something about Calder. He's really
"That's beautiful, Calder." The words catch my air, drifting out with the breeze from the open window in the room.
He snaps his head around to glare at me. "What are you doing?" he hissed, pulling me down to my seat.
"What?" I'm astonished that he has the nerve. "I'm honestly complimenting your work!"
He blows a piece of hair out of his face in frustration. "No," he whispers. "Not that. I'm not supposed to write original material."
"Oh. Why is that?"
"How am I supposed to know? It's protocol!" He explodes, before frantically looking around.
"Sheesh, sorry for asking."
"...Besides, it's not like I'm any good --"
He's cut off as a tall figure swept into the room. She's wearing a shimmering golden gown; white teeth stand out against tanned skin; blue eyes as clear as a summer's rain; golden hair pulled into a sleek bun.
She's regal, but for one reason. She's our Queen. Clarion.
She moves like water, I note as she flows into the center of the room.
"Excuse me," she says, and I'm impressed by the way she commands the room without raising her voice. It's a quiet dignity, really. "Excuse me, I'd like your attention."
The buzz in the room dims to a hum.
"I'd like you all to switch the focus of your work this week," she says. "You all have been working on writing out copies of the Home Tree Library. This week, I'd like you to write, but I'd like you to write something original. Something different. Something you
I nudge Calder, who's sitting beside me. He's slack-jawed with disbelief and I know it's because this is the exact opportunity he's been looking for.
"I hope you can all write some brilliant stories this week," the Queen continues, scanning across the room and looking surprised when she sees me. "Show the new ones here how it's done, hmm?"
She swept out of the room, and the Scribes begin chattering eagerly about the challenge issued by the Queen herself.
"So," I turn to Calder. "What are you going to write?"
He's turned to his work now. He hasn't heard a word I've said. He's already focused on his work. The sunlight streaming in from a narrow window above our work space hits his hair and turns it the color of gold coins. It glints off his hair for a minute and I watch, mesmerized.
An idea strikes me for my story. It hits me as I'm watching the Sparrowman sitting beside me who seems so hostile and inhospitable when he's become my first friend among the Scribes.
I glance out the window and give my pen a twirl before putting it down to the papyrus.
The sunlight struck his hair, turning it into the color of gold coins. He's lost in contemplation as he spins a pen around his finger before sighing and putting it down. The weather was warm outside. It was impossible to think.
It was going to be another terrible, horrible, unproductive day. Another day that would unfold just like the ones before, and he would never be able to put to pen what he truly felt.
It's a pretty short story but that's ok.
I just wanted to give an idea of what I'd do if were actually a Scribe! If you guys liked it (or not), just leave me a comment below letting me know, because I love hearing from you :)
Do you want to see another installment? I might write one. ;)
And hopefully I'll see you next post, which won't be late!
Fly with you later,