I am that girl.
I am the girl who falls over my own feet and trips through doorways and tightrope-walks through life, toes pointed, ballet-dancer-floating, only just balancing on an undulating wall, only just keeping my head above water. I'm the girl who curls up invisible and quiet and thin as paper in the library, and constructs high barriers of Times New Roman 12 to stop the clawed demons from crawling too close. Who savours the alphabet letter by letter, like plucking cherries from a shiny silver bowl. Who builds my own world out of words whenever I'm bored. I'll live in my word-world, immersing myself in it until I can't find a way out. Like Theseus in the Labyrinth, wending and weaving his way through walls of words, guided by a slim scarlet thread. I will begin to talk in prose, treating every conversation like a story about to begin.
And I'm lonely.
I'm the girl who's so lost in my strange, mysterious, magical lands of dragons and silver armour and dancing princesses in worn-out shoes, who's so far into my own strange storyland, that the words themselves are taking over. The words are starting to push my friends out. The words have become usurpers. And here's the trouble, you see; when I fight back, the words just won't oblige. They're tricky that way, you know. They don't go down without a fight, because they have strength behind them; the strength of the mind that crafted them, the hand that carved out their letters like a carpenter might cut the shape of a wooden dove from a rough block of wood. But I am stronger. And when I finally manage to push the words back into their corner, I realise that I'm sad. An absence of words in my world has never happened before, and I don't know what to do without them.
But all the same, I don't want my old world back. I need a real place to live, built from enduring bricks and mortar, not somewhere created from letters and pages and thoughts and dreams and stories, because a world like that may be beautiful, but it doesn't last; it melts away in the morning, the twisted glass spires and crystal stairs shattering to nothingness and leaving a void behind. So I create a new world. A world with new friends. A story twisted up to create walls to support me, and a floor to lift me up and stay strong beneath my shoes. And a ceiling to block me from leaving. To keep me in. Because just the thought of leaving this place is so much worse than the wordless sky that exists like a midnight, velveteen blanket high above me.
And I thrive. Creating words for every whim I have. Words that will bring my friends back. Words that will help them start their own stories, because everybody has one after all. So their own stories will start to form, and so they can thrive and support them and connect to mine. Adding a little more intrigue, a little more mystery, and a few more friends into my world. A web of lives twisted together like a silver skein, a shrieking chorus of voices crying out to be heard, a land of wonders and lost cities where you can have any friends you want. Even if they're fictional.
I thrive. I live until the walls start grow around me, my characters supporting every step I take, and forcing me back on the bad ones. Until my characters are my best friends, nearly replacing my old ones. But I don't mind. My friends are here. And my words. Words that fill me up inside. Words that give me power, words that give me praise, mystery, a name, a legend. A confidence built out of others' words. And a reputation built out of my own. And aren't we all glad, now, that I've never been good at telling others what's real?
And so it goes on, until my life resembles the perfect fairy tale. So full of fantasies, so full of the impossible magic that only words could create. Until my words are cluttering my head, an attic filled with boxes and curiosities and strange artefacts that begin to accumulate until the attic is filled up all the way to its dusty rafters, and my mind is so full the words can't even enter my brain any more, much less go from one ear and out the other. I am too old for my age and too young for my mind, and I don't want to look, but it's no use, because I never learnt how to close my eyes.
I have no choice, so I change my mind. Again. I recycle the words, giving them back to the world, leaving only my favourites, leaving my most dedicated characters; the ones that have been supporting me since I departed from my old world, the ones that know I am coming back, the ones that know I'm not just abandoning them for reality. But I've been gone so long. I've spent so much time locked up in my own world, I've forgotten what the real world looks like. So I scoop up a few of my stories, my very best ones, and pack them into my bag. Maybe I can publish them. Maybe others will read them. Maybe their world can finally enter my world. Maybe they will.
And I place my characters back into the storyland. They were nice, there in my brain, but they'll probably be back anyway. And I relish, rejoice, revel in the freeness of my brain, of its space for knowledge and imagination, of the empty attic and the open skylight, and head off into the real world. I lock my door with a lock of secret words. Words that know when to leave. Words that know they can open the door to the right people, and shut out the rest. Knowing I need to find a real world.
But I can create my own world there. I can create a better world there. Because, after all, it's only the fairytales that I want to believe.