is going to kill someone.
She has a name, but it doesnt matter. Slowly meandering along the concrete riverbank, she looks just the same as any other murderer. Young, barely fourteen, with a long face, sour expression and coarse yellow hair pulled back into two rough bunches. Watch her fan the ground with those long blond eyelashes, fluttering tightly to keep the sun at bay. See her pause, stoop, pick a stones from the ground, weigh it in her hand like lead, then throw it. Bleached blue eyes arch after it and touch the water where it lands, and thin lips smile as the sun turns the spray to diamonds. It splashes across her wrist, and she tilts her arm to catch the sun, admiring her new jewels.
She walks on.
The market bridge looms up ahead like an overloaded tortoise, groaning under the weight of food and cloth and time. She wanders the stalls, thoughts and fingertips drifting in and out of coloured cotton. The sun tries to turn her jewels to steam, so she runs her arms over a rack of pashminas, leaving them sprinkled with diamond dust. The damp spots turn the colours deep, so they glisten like fat scarabs. But the sun calls and they heed it, unsheathing iridescent wings and spiraling into the air. Steam clouds.
She watches them go.
Something catches her eye and tugs impatiently, like a beesting. She slaps her arm, and it pulls her to tiny, smudged stall in the middle of everything, just crowded enough to make it interesting. Approaching slowly, she frowns, then slides between a satin slip of a boy and tall woman clad in thick olive tweed. It's an junk stall, of course; she's always felt an affinity with cast-offs, and there's something about the smell of other people's houses, the way it wraps around their possessions like stale silk, that attracts her. She wrinkles her nose, surveying the contents critically, and digs her hands into a promising pile.
She pulls out the book.
Large, leather bound and older she cared to think, with bites of silver framing the corners. She traces eyes and fingers over it, the metal surprisingly cool in the midday sun. The cover is plain, at first, but the wear on the cover tells just as much about the content. This book has been through hell or high water and back, and it has been loved. Her fingers press into the cover, leaving dents lined with leaf-skeletons, and it latches onto her young mind like a bear trap.
She looks up.
The stall owner stands over like the Styx boatman, pulled thin and splintering like a stalk of wheat. There's a price to pay, silver for safe passage. But mother said not to deal with death, so when hes not looking, she wraps her arms around it and steps back, letting the crowd fill in behind her.
Trees and houses blur to little more than measures of distance and time, 'till the concrete ends and her feet are beating soft music in the dust. She hits grass and the rhythm slows, stumbling heels crushing dew from the green 'till one trips the other and she tumbles, gasping and spilling out over the ground. The river drifts by, slowing as it passes, as if gawking at the young thief on its bank. But she shoots it a fierce glare, clutching the book like a nursing child, and it hurries on with its business. It's a long time before the glower lifts from her eyes.
Her fingers drift curiously over the book's edges, as if not quite sure what shes just done. She presses it closer, and feels her heartbeat slow, so folds her arms around it and slips a finger in the crack of the pages. It feels safe there, between the heavy covers. As if they could keep time itself out. The idea is strangely calming to the girl, cold and gentle. She's not quite sure why.
The river drifts past, wondering what curiosities lie between the pages that make the girl guard it so vigilantly, scrutinizing the world with jealous hawk eyes. She flicks them in it's direction, reaching out with imaginary claws, and it ducks, rippling profusely in apology. The girl narrows her eyes, then closes them and nestles her chin between the covers.
Sunbeams sink lazily into her arms, turning her skin to caramel, and her hair reflects lines of yellow-white onto the tree, casting intricate patterns of light. An eyelash flutters, and the world shivers in the breeze. Slowly, carefully, she rests the book in her lap, stroking the edges. Her fingers rasp on the worn leather, purring like a calico cat, fur permanantly ruffled from the pudgy grasp of a hundred adoring children.
She smiles, slightly dreamily, and lets the book fall open in her lap.