She was taken as a child. Cute and creative, loved fairy tales and made up stories as easily as breathing, and born to cruel parents and an uncaring world-she was precisely the sort of child They sought. She was taken.
When she turned up in a field outside the university, no longer cute, no family to speak of, she enrolled. What else was there to do?
Nobody shares her room now. The first year she was there, they tried assigning roommates-the first one requested a transfer. The second was a freshman. Two days into rooming with her, he packed his things and left. She’s a scene of what you risk here.
She doesn’t use a name, goes through stick on “Hi, My Name Is” tags like water, wears one everywhere, Call Me Jenny, Call Me Sal, Call Me Tari. Her first month she went by twenty-three different names. She tries them on the way some of her classmates try on tops at the mall, seeing what fits, discarding what doesn’t, into a pile bigger than she is. After so much time Away, she doesn’t really know who she is, but she’s two years into her degree and has found, so far, 389 people that she isn’t. When a classmate invited her to their study group, she accepted, and showed up, five minutes early, set up chairs and notes, and gave every bit of knowledge she had. A bargain was made. Bargains must be kept.
The rest of campus shied away from her, the face that never changes expression, the eyes that seem to see too much or nothing at all. “That strange girl” they whisper as they pass, “the one who hid under the porch of Hagerworth Hall for a week, who walked around campus unclothed for a week when she was new.” And of course she had, of course freedom frightened her, of course she had no clothing, for the very same reason the stray cats about campus didn’t wear shorts, but she was strange, and she reminded them of the strangeness of EU.
One day, though, a student saw her walk into the library. She had nothing with her but a notebook and pen, and when she stepped inside she smiled, the way a dying flower smiles at the rain. She sat for hours at a small table with one chair, back to the corner, writing. When she got up to leave, the pages were torn out, fed to the fire, offerings to the ones who had raised her, and the ease in her face vanished as she crossed the threshold.
But the whispers changed, a little. And they call her what she asks, they check her for who she is today, but amongst themselves, they call her Story.