The Routine

Image: Edmund and Tayatra
by Megan Suttner

The week that followed was spent in a whirlwind of repetitive activity.

Edmund woke up every day, washed and dressed for breakfast, and hurriedly ate his leftover soup as quickly as he could before Mr. Shobbinton’s lessons. After an hour of maths and law, he would run back to the library, and his new friend.

There he would spend hours speaking with Tayatra, and learning everything he could about her and the Master then Patron Rotchild Moulde. A few days after he re-activated her, he tore out more of the nails from the wall and fixed a small clasp to the corner. When Junapa wasn’t around, he pulled the entire tapestry back, letting the gaslight kiss Tayatra’s pale form again.

The rat began to appear more and more frequently, until Edmund began to see it almost as a pet. He fed it bread, sometimes soaked in soup, and before long it was crawling into his hands and squeaking as politely as a tame mouse.

Once a week he would meet with each of his cousins. Junapa continued to play more and more complicated games with Edmund while he desperately tried to learn from her. Chess was his favorite, though there was an organic appeal to Go that he found fascinating.

Pinsnip kept drilling him on stealth and silence, on stillness and shadows. He would talk for hours about skulking in dark corners only to suddenly stop, his eyes losing focus as he vanished into his thoughts. For some reason, he rarely stuttered during these lessons…

Kolb was impressed with Edmund’s progress, and Edmund could tell that he was sounding less and less sick whenever he tried to be stern or adamant.

Wislydale’s lessons on manners were boring, but Edmund still learned, and he could usually reward himself with stopping by Tunansia’s room just afterwards to see what she was doing, and if he could help. He usually could, but never by doing any more than holding some test tube, or stirring some oddly colored liquid. Tunansia rarely even looked at him.

And once a week, Edmund made his way to the east tower door where he gently knocked on the wood, and then talked about the things he was doing. Sometimes he heard breathing. Other times he didn’t.

Any time that wasn’t spent with Tayatra, his rat, or being tutored, was spent reading, sometimes in his room, other times in the library.

The first thing he read was Plinkerton’s journal. It was written in tight handwriting, covering his entire life, and Edmund spent a few hours flipping through it, reading random pages and entries looking for anything interesting.

At first the journal was dry and boring, full of the minor interests of a young child, dramas of pulled hair and scuffed knees, which gradually moved on to mentions of interesting dinners or intriguing correspondence with someone-or-other. He flipped through as quickly as he dared, looking for anything interesting or useful, while being mindful that any small detail might be the secret to understanding the author. When he did find a word or phrase that interested him, he would quickly go back to the beginning of the entry and read the whole thing.


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