Frayed   2020.08.23*  
Written By: Chris T.
(Trolls Story) (2014 Strong Emotions Contest) A meticulous task drives Thumbprint to exasperation.
Posted: 07/08/14      [7 Comments]
 

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2014 Strong Emotions Contest
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A Perfectly Good Shirt, Ruined

’To the Palace Keepers' dung trenches with spooling spider silk!’

Thumbprint barged into her father's study, marching so fast that when she stopped the momentum of her skirt blew some scrolls off a chair just to the right of the door. Knowing that Inkstain wouldn’t so much as acknowledge his daughter’s presence in his sanctum until the mess was cleaned up, she put them back upon the seat without comment, stewing in irritation all the while.

Her black-bearded sire was seated at his desk, hunched over his latest project as he always was. Surrounded by piles of parchments, scroll-cases, book, and chalk-slates to either side. Packets from the Archive. Interview transcripts, requests for interviews yet to be sent out, replies to request for interviews. Memos and missives yet to be condensed into cohesive form for his next text. The historian did not look up from his writing. “Yes?”

"I did everything you said! To the letter! It's still not coming out right!" The olive-faced lass held out a ratty spool of thread which was falling to pieces, insanely thin strands flying off as she shook the thrice-cursed thing. A large portion of failure was caked over her hair and forearms and chest. Her fifteen-year old fingers felt many times their age, knuckles pulsing with arthritic cramps. Big, stubby, troll hands were not meant for such absurdly fine work! "What use will spinning thread be, anyway?" she groused. "A librarian doesn’t need to make the books! Just know how to get to the right one! And explain what’s in them to fools who never learned how to read properly!"

Inkstain's writing slowed, but did not completely stop, save to refill the quill. "You want to become Pigment's apprentice, don't you?"

"Yes, yes, of course I do!" The young student had never really considered any career for herself but to work and serve in the Library. The place where she could explore the world from shelf to shelf. The institution her father had brought her to many a time while was doing his research. And, most importantly, Pigment’s domain. He was the key to the future she envisioned for herself. While she was five years out yet from applying to the Scholar’s College, competition for patrons — the head librarian included — was already fierce. "All I want is for you to give me something useful to do to impress him!" The remark was as much a plea as a recrimination.

"I did. Pigment accepts only the best as apprentices," he patiently stated, not for the first time. Eyes still on his work. The soft scratches of his quill sneaking in between words. “And the best apprentices know more than they 'need' to. Show him you know everything about how a book is made. From the covers to the ties in the bindings, to the pages and script in between. Work out the questions he may ask you, and have an answer ready before you arrive for the interview. He won’t be able to forget you."

“Ha!” She had him! Pointing the fingers of her free hand at him then the way out of their home, she crowed, “That’s just it. I went to the Library yesterday and asked around! Nobody uses silk string to bind pages! They use linen-twine!” An almost manic grin had come over her face. Surely such a display of forward thinking would earn her a break from this painstaking labor; time with her friends before everyone was buried in study for the next battery of tests.

Inkstain looked up from his papers, sharp blue-grey eyes becoming visible under his bushy brow for the first time. “Then learn how to make linen-twine, too.”

Roaring her vexation, Thumbprint stormed back out of the room. She heard the scrolls hit the floor again, and kept walking.

Collections that include this story:
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2014 Strong Emotions Contest
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A Perfectly Good Shirt, Ruined

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