Home // October.2.2017 // Meia Geddes

Meeting the string woman; an excerpt from The Little Queen

Everyone in the little queen's kingdom knew the story of The Long Book Race. The Long Book Race began because a woman known as the maker of long books once made a book half a mile long, a book she called Long Book I . She never thought anyone would bother reading Long Book I , but people loved this book so much that she decided to write Long Book II as part of a Long Book series. People loved Long Book II as much as they loved Long Book I . And so the maker of long books decided to put on a race for the release of Long Book III , which would complete the series. This race was the first in the world to combine a test of physical prowess with that of reading comprehension. Long Book III had long letters so participants could read and run simultaneously. They would turn the pages as they read and ran by grabbing hold of the handle at each page's end.

The little queen stood at the side of The Long Book Race feeling the whoosh of paper as a page flew by. A vague scent of text and sweat infused her body. She joined the crowd in cheering, making loud, encouraging sounds because no one was allowed to say words, which could distract participants. 

A woman standing beside the little queen cheered with particular gusto. The little queen noticed this woman because she had string wrapped all around her body. Yet despite this, she seemed quite free. In fact, she was slipping and sliding in place with delight.

“Hello,” the little queen said, though not too loudly to distract.

“Hello, I am the string woman,” the woman responded.

“I am the little queen,” the little queen said.

“Oh, I did not know we had a little queen,” the string woman said. “It is a pleasure to meet you. Would you like some string?” She promptly cut a bit of string for the little queen and the little queen tucked it into her pocket with brush and leaf. 

The string woman explained that she was wrapping a string around the world. She had partnered with the maker of long books so that the race and her journey would overlap. This helped the publisher of the long books save money, as their guards could join forces. At the moment, the string woman was taking a short rest from her journey to watch the race, which was particularly interesting because it had just rained.

The string woman looked at the little queen with interest. The little queen could see that the string woman wanted to know what she did as the little queen. “I am not really sure how to explain what a little queen does,” she said apologetically.

“Well, there is nothing like doing something over and over again to know it more intimately,” the string woman said.

“Like walking and walking with string,” the little queen said.

“Yes, or like writing and writing, or running and running,” the string woman said.

“Or living and living,” the little queen suggested.

“I am not sure about that one,” the string woman replied.

“Why?” the little queen asked.

“Walking and writing and running are very purposeful activities, but living we just happen to do regardless,” the string woman said.

“Oh,” the little queen said.

“Or not,” the string woman said.

“Oh?” the little queen said.

“Well, maybe we can live in a particular way that makes things different than just living,” the string woman said. “Maybe we can live, live, if you know what I mean.”

“How?” the little queen asked. She was getting very excited. This could be the answer.

“Well,” the string woman said, “when one goes from not walking to walking or not sleeping to sleeping, one feels and knows and senses a transition and the resulting action, and one feels one knows it well, better than if there had not been the not walking or not sleeping.” 

“That makes sense,” the little queen agreed.

The string woman nodded, agreeing with herself. “But most of us cannot not live and live, at least that I know of, so maybe the next best thing is to ponder not living and then to live,” she said.

“That also makes sense,” the little queen said.

“I myself take a moment each day to think about my impending death,” the string woman said.

“That may do the trick,” the little queen said, though she was not quite sure. She wanted to live in the best way possible, and perhaps pondering her impending death would help with this. Even if it did not, she would try. She was sorry she should have to part ways with the string woman. It was like she had found a new friend.

“Won't you join me on my journey?” the string woman asked. 

Yes, the little queen realized, she would love to. And so she said so. 

The little queen walked with the string woman for what she thought would only be a short distance, yet it turned out to be much longer. In fact, she forgot all about her palace. She enjoyed walking with her friend, for it opened her up in a magnificent and tumultuous way. Each day she and the string woman thought about their impending deaths. The little queen even painted and sang a bit.

Many joined them, so the little queen met some lovely folk. They traveled to the smallest towns and the largest cities, and crossed green pastures and turquoise lakes and the sandiest of deserts. They passed through deep seas and crossed high peaks, and journeyed through the jungliest of jungles and the marshiest of marshes. They edged their way along rivers and streams, not to mention through a tunnel or two…

Banner graphic source: Scan (detail) of an ink and watercolor map of California as an island, created by Johannes Vingboons in 1650, now in the Library of Congress. In the public domain. This version taken from Wikimedia.

See also: [NERObooks homepage] [Meia Geddes' homepage] [tag:fiction] [a review of The Little Queen]

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