When I was a kid, I never questioned that so many stories my family told me were about young girls also named Melissa. It’s not an uncommon name; surely there were all these girls, just about my name, running around and having adventures somewhere out there.
I got a little older and started reading stories myself, and found that there were far fewer little girls having adventures in them than I’d been led to believe. Lucy and Susan got to participate, but not to the extent that Peter and Edmund did. I loved Millie, but Christopher was the star of the show. So many girls my age relegated to background roles, love interests, kidnapping victims.
Except Lyra, of course, who lied so well it became part of her name. Lyra who got to be the hero, who befriended armored bears and witches and traveled through dimensions because she was smart and capable and rash. Lyra was everything, even if I, myself, was nothing like her.
I savored His Dark Materials and hoped it would never end. It did end, of course, but the beauty of it was that I didn’t understand it at all. I’m still reading it, still processing it, still finding new things to appreciate. There are still stories to be found even in a text so intimately familiar to me.
Anyway, here’s a drabble.
(Adjective) From Latin fini, for end + fug for flight
A hatred or fear of endings.
Rita has not heard of Scheherazade, but she is old enough to know her tricks.
While her father is the softie, the one who can’t resist a quivering lip alongside a request for ice cream, it is her mother who tells the bedtime stories. She smoothes the blankets over her daughter and her voice gets far away, as if she’s remembering, not inventing.
Her mother tells stories of young girls on adventures. Sometimes her eyes tear up, and Rita asks, “What happened next?” The story continues, though sometimes another girl takes the place of the first, always just Rita’s age.