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I found her ’round the back of the Cloud, perched upon one of the older giant cogs; a monster of a wheel, nay, a behemoth of curved metal several feet deep, fat with teeth and a layer of troposphere dust nigh on five inches high – no longer needed, a sleeping iron beast. Waiting.


The dust came up to her waist on either side of the spot she’d chosen to rest upon, and gave the impression she was making an impression in cotton wool. Should she stay there long enough, that creeping soft, immutable layer would cocoon her I thought; a small chrysalis hidden away in a place no one ever visits, because no one remembers they’ve been there. But they have. Once upon a cog, many gears ago.

She holds a long quill in one hand. A quill so very lengthy that its tip dances in the air, high above her long, soft curls, scripting its own personal message to the breeze in secret, whilst the nib of the humongous feather scratches carefully upon a piece of voluptuous, pale cream vellum, as her brow furrows, then clears as each word is pressed into place, complete.

Time after time.

I say nothing, though she knows I am here of course, and as I lean over her faded green velvet-clad shoulder, I pass eyes over her words. Just three little words, repeated again and again.

“When? Why? Where?”

All, to a (woe) man, excellent questions.

She fills several thousand sheets and then pauses. Waiting to see if that is enough. Enough for today.

A stretch of the arms and a small sky-high sigh tells me it is. She tears the words out speedily, like the dickens, and strews them pell-mell upon the four winds with a wild flourish of flexuous fingers, wondering if this time any shall return, cap in hand, or guns a-blazin’ with the answers she seeks, or if they are simply lost and forgotten, passed over and gone for good – then stands on her tippy-toes, turns tidily on a sixpence, looks me straight in the eyes, glaring, and falls backwards, down, down, down. . .her wings slipping out after only the most stomach-churning wait. Gets me every time. Tsk.

I look up at the vast gears, now abandoned, and decide to count all the previous indentations my little ghost in the machine has made over the years.

I may be some time . . .