Librarian of Alexandria

XVIII: The Whale's Share Of What You Might Call Unalloyed Affection For The Arboretum, Or, The Tale Of Saving Nine

"Under different circumstances," she said, "I think I might enjoy this." Her clothes—a smart red jacket worn over a loose-fitting white shirt and a plaited burgundy skirt with a difficult-to-understand sort of hem—were now twisting and curling around her body in strange patterns, and it wasn't quite clear to either of us whether what had happened to them. They might have been conscious, attempting to communicate complex ideas to us in a geometric, spatiotemporal language, layering meaning upon meaning like a semiotic braid of fine silk, stitching together morphemes and embroidering lexemes. Or they might just have gotten cut or something. It was kind of windy, really, now that I paid attention to it.

"Look," I said. "I came here to rent a movie, and I'm gonna rent a movie, dammit. Do you want to rent a movie?"


"—wanttorentamovie got it we'll rent a movie." I turned back to the rack, one of about seven scattered around the otherwise empty street. A bored video rental clerk nearby was tapping his foot and idly adjusting his sunglasses as we browsed. "What movie. We should pick one."

"I didn't say that thing you just said, you did," she said, "but I really want an action movie."

"What do the clothes want?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said. "I'm beginning to suspect that they exist at least partly between dimensions, and this is merely reflective of a state of oscillation between the laws of physics of our universe and the alien and unknowable physics of a dimension to which we barely have access, barely can have access, to the degree that it's an ontological impossibility to describe of existing there at all."

"Fair enough," I said, and grabbed the box of an 80's action classic, the plastic tape inside rattling as I took it from the rack. It later turned out the clothes wanted a romcom, but we really had no way of knowing that at the time.