The festival was like bright paint on the island, and for one afternoon they had been allowed to marvel in it. Lilian looked out the window of their motor carriage at the lamplit streets, cobblestone roads still covered in rainbow colored dust and thousands of little white strips of blank paper. Paper prayers that the people hoped would be carried to truth in the historias. But Lilian knew that come morning all those strips of paper would have just blown away with the wind. That there were no ‘truths’ in the historias, only wonderful stories. But this is something only someone who could read would know. And she wasn’t supposed to be able to read.
Overhead, a burst of colour lit up the night sky.
“See, you still got to see your fireworks,” her dad said, as he climbed into the front seat of the motor carriage, turning to look back at her. He shook her knee with a comforting smile, turned around, and the vehicle rattled on forward. In the passenger seat, her brother turned around to face her, holding something in his hands with a smile on his face.
“Dad found this one while we were at the festival. I read the first few pages. I think you’ll like it,” he said, green eyes beaming under his red hair. Lilian’s eyes widened as she took in the plain leather cover and binding. She grabbed it quickly, opening the first page and seeing the familiar script of a true historia, then glancing up at her father in the front seat.
“You went out there alone? Are you okay? You should have told me, I would have gone with you. Jasper, you should have gone with him,” she said, turning on her brother.
“Hey, I didn’t know that’s what he was doing, either”
“Really, Lily, I’m fine. Your father isn’t completely useless, you know?,” her dad defended with a shake of his head. He was smiling, but she wasn’t fooled. He looked disheveled, tired. He hadn’t combed his dark hair and he clearly hadn’t shaved today, with a mottled shadow of light grey and brown in the stage just before a full beard. She stared down at the book in her hands, wondering over the cover. It was faded, but you could make out the light image of a tree, like a willow, with a knotwork of roots that kept hold of a sword, like fingers wrapped around something precious.
“You’ll have to read quick, though. We’ll be in Corseil by tomorrow morning,” he said. Jasper turned round in his seat, and with one last glance to the fireworks going off over the town, Lilian opened up the book and began to read. She read knowing that come morning, she may never get to read it again. And like a very good dream, it’ll be gone by tomorrow.