therapeutic thump

i like your moxie, sassafras!


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Perspectives on Paper (The Dot and the Line - gen, PG)
i'm a janeite, women's work, shapely sentences, a room of one's own
innie_darling
Aaaand here's the last of my Yuletide stories, a little treat in a fandom I didn't even know was a fandom until I saw it pop up on the pinch-hit list - Norton Juster's little book The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics. Summary: The Line, the Squiggle, and the Dot all contemplate quests.


There were times when his vision blurred because of his tears, times when the light hit the moisture in his eyes and created copies of her even when she was all the way across the room. She might as well have been on the other side of the world, for all the good it did him to be so close and yet unable to catch her eye. Right now, he could see three of her, all in a row, making him wait . . .

But she was waiting too. For that wretched squiggle, no doubt, who had yet to grasp basic hygiene, if his exuberance and wildness were any indications. How could she fail to see that he was her proper match, both of them perfect and defined? There was no room for error in him, no possibility of error in her. They shared an elegance, a quality that hateful squiggle could never claim with any hope of being taken seriously.

He was the right one for her, the proper balance of straightforward masculinity to her sweetly feminine curve. He had to think, to figure out how to show her the truth about him, about them. Politics, law, art, sports - what did they matter? It had to be something immediate, something that would grab her and not let her go.

He paced and paced, trying to think of how to get her attention. There was nothing that mattered more than having her in her rightful place at his side.




The squiggle wasn’t a boastful fellow. If the line had ever spoken to him, even just to comment on the weather, he might have been surprised by how friendly the squiggle could be.

What was the point of bustling around self-importantly, the squiggle sometimes wondered when he saw the line striking dramatic poses. There was so much to do, to see, to explore; surely the gaze should be turned outward to the world, rather than inward, on oneself all the time?

The squiggle liked birds, whose nests looked like his sisters. The squiggle liked children, who created new cousins for him every time a crayon was clutched in a chubby hand. The squiggle liked fresh air and asphalt and crowds; he liked the quiet sounds of country nights and the crackle of electricity as a brush was dragged through hair. There was so much to look at, so much to like.

He was darting glances up at the sun through a tangle of branches and leaves, careful not to let his eyes linger, when the dot rolled up to him. “What are you doing?” she asked. He thought she sounded more bored than curious, but that was no reason not to answer her.

“Looking at the sun, and at this tree, seeing them both at the same time. I don’t think I could look at one of them without the other, not right at this moment anyway,” he said, considering how the light lent the leaves a hazy outline and how the tree drew patterns across the blazing brightness. And it was all here, for anyone and everyone to see, to experience, to enjoy. There was something marvelous about that.

He glanced at her over his left shoulder, or at least the spot where his left shoulder had decided was a good place to settle for the moment. He could see both sunlight and shadows in the shapes of leaves on her face, and she looked confused. “Why?” she asked, and he pulled a new answer for her out of each of his many twists and turns, but not one of them satisfied her.

It was only after she’d rolled away that he knew what response might have satisfied her. Because. But that was hardly a real answer.




She was so bored. And that wasn’t right.

The dot looked across the room, the vast, nearly empty room, and saw the line, pacing and muttering furiously to himself. She rolled sideways, ducked behind a pillar, and looked again. There was no new perspective to be gained; he was doing exactly the same thing and looked exactly the same as he always did.

At least he had a quest. All she had was this unfulfilling perfection, an eternal, unvarying constant that made her want to scream in frustration.

I am the Alpha and the Omega! she wanted to shout, to bellow, but there was no depth in her that would lend her cry the resonance it needed. When a pen is put to paper to record any idea, I am the first thing that is created. I mark all beginnings. And when the transcription of a fever dream is done, I am that tiny puddle of ink on the page that signals the end. I am always there.

And always overlooked.
Because it was never about her, it was about what came next or what came before. Even though any line was merely a tracing of the distance between her and one of her twins, even though any line was itself made up of millions of her, she barely held any sway.

That, she decided, was about to change. And she hopped off the page


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As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

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