[dream scene] The Girl Who Climbed

She can feel Isadore’s eyes on her back, expecting her to hang back and wait for them–for Isaac–but she doesn’t stop. She leaps onto the first obstacle and she climbs, feels the demand on her muscles, the cold iron bars pressed hard under her fingers, the pounding of her heart. She is soon dizzyingly high but she never stops moving, crossing over the top of the barrier. She’s not oblivious: she can feel the eyes of her friend still on her, still burning, demanding she stop.

But she can’t stop, and she won’t. She wishes a little that Isaac would hurry up and catch up with her, call her name, but even then, she wouldn’t stop.

She likes him well enough, but her heart truly comes alive as she is doing this, as she trains and fights and moves on.

Still later, when she is alone with her mother, she cries to know she has lost him. She asks her mother why she couldn’t have been born a boy: were she a boy, and Isaac a girl, she says, Isaac would expect to be left behind. He would be proud of her skill and happy to wait any sign of her affection.

“If Isaac were that sort of girl,” her mother says, “You wouldn’t like him.”

“I’d still rather be a boy,” she says fiercely.

Her mother hugs her tight. “Oh my love,” her mother says, and then is quiet.

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