“I don’t read,” Satya says.
They are sitting in Satya’s kitchen. Samantha is in one of the chairs. Satya is on the floor with her back against the dishwasher.
Samantha looks at the stack of books on the kitchen table. One is about Mary Magdalene. Another is called Eyebody Technique.
“What do you mean, you don’t read?” Sam asks, gesturing to the books on the table.
“Oh, a page that looks interesting, yes, but not novels. I can’t sit still that long.”
Samantha thinks of her own bookish habits. Sometimes she’ll have three novels going simultaneously, and one for the gym, and an audiobook for the car. She especially likes to listen to Jane Austen on the way to work. Austen can make Sam laugh out loud.
Satya doesn’t strike Sam as the restless type. Sam knows that Satya watches videos. Sam squirms in her chair and lets out a huff of air. She doesn’t like this feeling of passing judgment, either on Satya for not reading, or on herself for spending so much time in books.
Sam has always been surrounded by books. As a child, Sam’s bookcase in her bedroom was only one quarter the size of the wall-to-wall bookcases in the dining room, the ones her father built. Sam read and reread the Little House books, the Narnia Chronicles, and all of Marguerite Henry’s horse stories. Laura and Lucy were as well known to Sam as her friends at school. In fantasy play with her friends, they acted out events in the books. Sam remembers that she always chose to be Susan, Lucy’s older sister. “Why Susan?” Sam wonders.
There were the E. Nesbit books, also, and George MacDonald’s fairy stories. Edward Eager’s magic books. For years, Sam believed intensely that one day she could find a magic coin or step into another world. Sam and her friend, Marcia, used to stand next to an ornate lamppost near the school playground with their eyes squeezed shut, waiting for a faun to call them into Narnia.
But in the silence while Satya stares at the floor and Sam sips her tea, Sam returns to Susan in Narnia. Susan was a warrior, strong and decisive. The exact opposite of Sam’s girlchild self who was timid, too eager to please, afraid to speak her opinion—it’s taken years for Sam to step away from those qualities. To be honest, she’s not gotten that far away from little Samantha.
Who was Satya when she was a girl? Was she as ethereal and unusual then? If so, she would have been teased and bullied by her peers, that’s almost certain.
“I went to a private girls’ school,” Satya says, as if reading Sam’s mind. “The girls tortured me. I didn’t have a single friend there. I hid in the library and read books.”
Fans of Narnia, Harry Potter, and the other books mentioned above might enjoy my Karakesh Chronicles: