The Little Ink Girl by Eleanor at the Young Writers Group

Once there was a girl who lived on a white page. She didn’t know it was a page. All she knew is that she lived in an inky black hole in an abyss of white. But there was one more thing, that she rarely thought about, and when she did, confusion twisted her mind. It was the squiggly line. Yes, right in front of her cave was a strange squiggly line. Like her and her cave, the squiggly line was made of ink. On the left and the right, it went on for as far as the eye could see. Yet beyond the line, and behind the line, there was nothing but endless white.

Often, she would sit in her cave and stare at the squiggly line. She marveled at its loops and twists, its curls and its dramatic peaks and dips. She knew the line like the back of her hand. Yet whenever she tried to get past the line, some sort of invisible barrier pushed against her, forcing her to stay back and sit in her cave. And although, for that split second, she desperately wanted to know what was beyond that line, she was reassured that she had stayed put, in her cave, away from the unknown.

Her cave was so black it seemed endless, and she would walk for hours into the blackness, intrigued, only to turn around and see the entrance right behind her. Again, her relief stamped out her curiosity, relief that she was away from the unknown.

However, one day, she saw something beyond the line that made her tiny heart pound. Distantly, a great mass of black, like an inky tentacle, was oozing towards her. But she reminded herself that if she couldn’t get past the squiggly line, then neither could the inky mass. She was safe in her cave.

But one day, she woke up to see the inky mass had crawled over the squiggly line, and was steadily making its way towards her. She didn’t know what instinct told her to get away from that inky mass, but she ran. For the first time, she ran away from her cave of safety. Only to realise she was running in circles.

She had no escape. Breathing very fast, she ran towards the squiggly line, and desperately pushed against the invisible force-field that had stopped her crossing the line before. Through fear and desperation, she pushed harder than she’d ever pushed before. And to her immense astonishment and joy, a little black dot accompanied by two little black oars appeared on the other side of the line. Apprehensively, she stepped over the line and onto the dot. For the first time ever, she was over the boundary she thought she could never cross.

Full of curiosity, she reached out her hand and touched the white that surrounded her. But instead of lying on top, her hand sank into it. She pulled her hand back out, astonished, and realised the only explanation. The squiggly line was a border between land and sea. And as she turned her head to look at the inky mass that was now almost touching the edge of her cave, she also realised that she was now alone on a wide stretch of unknown – she had done something she had never dared to do before: she had been too afraid to push hard enough against the barrier…until now.

Yet she didn’t feel scared. Or sad. Or even worried. She took hold of the oars and gently rowed away from the cave and the inky mass. But instead of travelling away from the squiggly line, she travelled along side it and followed its course. She followed its patterns, its dips and turns, its peaks and curls and swirls. She noted its rough parts, its smooth parts, its changes in direction. It could have been many years she followed that line, it could have been seconds, because there was no time on that page.

At last, she saw she saw something in the distance. It was the seeping black mass that had made her flee from her cave. Except her cave wasn’t there anymore. She knew that the inky mass had engulfed her home. But she didn’t feel sad. For the first time, she felt sure – sure of what she needed to do. Because she now knew, if she followed the course of the squiggly line, she would travel in a loop. The squiggly line was the border of the island on the page that she had lived on all her life. And it was her security. Recognising this at last, she rowed not beside that line, but away from the line – her squiggly line – her security.

Was it months or was it minutes that she rowed? She didn’t know. But as she realised she could no longer see the squiggly line, she realised she could see something else. She saw something incredible. She could see colour. It was the colour we call blue. Of course, she didn’t know what colour was, nor what to call blue. She, throughout her whole life, had only seen the colours black and white. Plain and simple. The white of the page did not merge in to the blue – no, there was a clear definition between the two. Although she didn’t know it herself, this was the edge of the page she was living on. As she got closer to the edge of the page, she saw it was a long drop, with solid blue beneath. All she could see over the edge was blue.

She became obsessed with the edge of the page and the blue beyond, and never left that spot. Ever. She went over theory after theory in her mind, each one confusing her more than the last. And finally, the compulsive obsession she had with the edge of the page, and with the blue beyond it, drove her insane. In her oblivion, she did not see the inky mass creeping up on her like the silent predator it was. She had no escape. The ink oozed all around her until she was engulfed, becoming one with the inky mass. The page was now stained a sticky black, and like poison, the black ink dripped off the white page and into the blue beyond. The Little Ink Girl was swept from existence.

 

This story was written by Eleanor during a creative writing workshop at Chesterfield Library with Emma Pass.