The Careful Textbook’s Measure

There are many large things to regret in life – enabling my mother’s obsession, not seeking help for my father’s alcoholism, trying to forget my problems while the fire claimed them both will be with me my whole life. But those are the easy things to regret – the things that anyone can regret. It’s the small regrets that fester, the things that are hard to put to words, the things that others will never fully relate to.

Running back home that night – falling into the mists: I regret not having paper, ink, and quill on me.

I think it was the fourth night in the mists – trying to fall asleep in the cold dark forest. I thought it first a dream – an amalgam of gears and springs slowly coalescing, until I woke up – a sudden bolt of inspiration going through my brain like lightning. Instinct had me scrabbling for my journal, but alas, no such luck. I set about trying to draw it in the dirt, scratching it into bark, making a model of it. I found that I eventually had memorized the device fully, down to the last excruciating detail, and satisfied, I moved on.

The next such bolt came maybe two days later, this time for a completely different device. Then another the day after, two the day after that. It wasn’t long before these bouts of inspiration were coming near each bell. Never before was I so single-mindedly obsessed with the mechanical – coming up with systems that could keep time to the second – that could ambulate of their own will – that could transport more people than in Luisant – of nature both benign and malignant.

Each inspiration had a price though – it wasn’t long before I realized I was forgetting things about Luisant – first it was small things like the menu at the tavern or the paths through the forest. Soon it evolved into forgetting bigger things – people’s names, the layout of my own house – by the time I had enough schematics memorized to fill ten tomes, I couldn’t recall the faces of my parents.

And yet the torrent of inspiration continued – I tried to record it as much as possible – I’d imagine that half of the mists is covered with trees showing gearing ratios, of engraving patterns drawn in the dirt, of moldering models depicting frameworks and enclosures. I never felt like I needed it though – my memory was good enough.

Or at least – so I thought. I heard stories growing up that people who spend too long in the mists forget names, places, and experiences, but what I did not know was that the inverse was also true – that your memories of the mist will also begin to fade, that you will recall broad strokes, but never specifics.

As soon as my foot left the mists I could feel the ideas begin to unravel – starting to forget what must have been seasons worth of these ideas. In a panic I sprinted through the snow to Luisant – trying to remember where I could find ink and paper. By the time I recalled the path to my house, I had completely forgotten most details – the gearing ratios, alloy choices, dimensions, and other minutia were gone. By the time I was rounding the final bend I had forgotten most of the major concepts. By the time I made it to the burnt out remains of the building that was once my home I had forgotten everything, leaving me hollow.,

I’ve been digging through the snow and ash covered remains of my home for who cares how long. I’ve managed to find a few remnants – some of my father’s wine stash, some of my mothers tools, the only thing of mine I could find was my calipers. I traded the wine for some paper and ink, but it was far too late. I know I should be mourning the loss of my home – of my parents, but I can’t focus on those things – instead I mourn the loss of the inspiration.

I’m still deciding if I should stay in Luisant or not – maybe the Veneaux have the right of it – going back to the mists to reclaim the inspiration is just as alluring as seeking the truth. I’m not sure what Luisant has for me anymore, I haven’t recognized anyone yet, I have nowhere to live, and I’m not sure if I can contribute in any meaningful way. I’ll see what I can get at the market day tomorrow, maybe I can find some more supplies and advice for wandering the mists, maybe I can find a reason to stay here.

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