Emmple (emperial) wrote,

The Art of Speaking

On one of her better days, when she could sit up and stay awake for long periods, Sylvia read to Grigorii, and it was like someone had turned on a light in his head. When Sylvia spoke, she did not merely recite sounds from a page, but instilled them with feeling and meaning, the way a good reader should. Listening to her was more akin to experiencing the story than when Grigorii recited passages.

Sylvia came alive in her reading. She had known these characters since her childhood, grown up with and shared things with them that she could not share with real people, used their stories to interpret her own life. She fell into a natural rhythm when she read the words, familiar as her own heart.

Grigorii was absolutely enchanted by her reading. Concepts he had only peripherally grasped came to life at Sylvia's lips. Things he had been striving to figure out seemed to become real.

Yet all too soon it was over. Sylvia tired, her wrists shook, and she succumbed under the immense burden of her own distended body and its passengers.

Grigorii slipped the book from her fingers and almost took it, but it was too precious to her. He left it on her bedside table beside a glass of water and went to find one of the other books Alexandre used in his tutelage. Grigorii avoided Alexandre at all costs and sought out the smallest, quietest place he could find, a little nook under the basement stairs. He took a quilt for extra cover and hunched down with the book in hand. He opened the book to its first page and read. "Sun Tzu said: the art of war is of vital importance to the State."

The reading was still too dry, still too flat, and Grigorii read it again and again in his head and with his voice until it sounded more impassioned and closer to his memories of Sylvia's voice. "Sun Tzu said, the art of war is of vital importance to the State." Now it actually sounded like the words he was reading were true.

Grigorii went on to the next sentence. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. He found it even better suited to his practice, infused each word with all the dire prophecy he could muster, all the command of law, all of the vital importance with which these words deserved to be read. He wanted to convince himself of their truth, and only when he was convinced did he read on.

He continued until the creaking of the floorboards above his head alerted him to Alexandre's presence. It was probably near enough dinner now and Grigorii was hungry. He folded the quilt and tucked the book under his arm. Best to return the tome to its original location without drawing Alexandre's notice. Grigorii did not know what his guardian would think about his efforts and was not eager to find out. Alexandre had many secrets. Now it was Grigorii's turn to have a few of his own.  
Tags: alexandre, grigorii, sylvia
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