Whenever Alma thought of an adult, she thought of the firm stiff nature that her mother possessed. Her mother was a force. She could hold people at bay with nothing but the sound of her firm voice. She never wavered when she had made up her mind and she never backed down. Alma often thought of her mother when she was out shopping and someone snagged the last roll of bread or butted into her conversation with the butcher to order their own meat. Alma never had to be hard. She was soft spoken and soft in spirit. She followed readily down any path that others had already made a trail for. Alma was soft in the ways of dealing with anyone. She often saw herself as a cloud and her mother as a tall mountain. The clouds would never break through the mountains, she just had to bend and split and make her way around them. Conforming to the needs and wants that lay before her.
It was a sad but easy life for Alma. Until the day mother died. The brisk men in dark suits showed up and demanded this or that. Stating that her mother had no right to keep them from it. Alma could do nothing but sit by as the men took things from her home to pay for the rest of the debt on the house. She would get to keep living there but with far less of the art and specialty pieces her mother had fawned over. She was left with her own meager mattress and the books. Her father had loved books. He had spent his whole life learning and collecting as many stories as he could. He was a dreamer and very soft as well. Alma supposed that is why mother was so hard, to counter father’s soft. Father passed away when Alma was only 10 years of age. Her mother had made talk of taking out the books and turning the room into a rented room for extra income. That was the only day that little Alma took a stand. Well, rather a sit. She sat in front of the doors to the office all day and night. Refusing to move, no matter the beating promised or candies offered. She sat there clutching tightly the last story her father had read to her.
If she thought back carefully she supposes that one could say mother was proud of Alma for finding something to hold on to. Even mother had hated the idea of getting rid of such a large collection that was such a part of their lives. So she gave in on this one thing, with the solid understanding that Alma was to be the sole owner of the office and as such, it was her job to keep it neat and tidy. Every morning Alma would set to work dusting off all the shelves of books, stacking neatly the last round of reading, shoveling out the ash from the fireplace and hauling it all out. She made sure that nothing was out of place or kept incorrectly. One small thing for her mother to latch onto and Alma feared she would take all of her joy.
The books were a shared world where Alma didn’t feel small. She felt as brave as the young lost boy on a magical island, or as fearless as the small girl who followed a rabbit. She would find herself wondering how such wonderful and amazing people were even thought up. The only people around her were all quite practical and reasonable people who kept to themselves and worked hard to keep their reputations quite high. She never was able to find people like in her book. Until the night she met Ro’dan. Ro’dan was a young boy who had attempted to cut her purse. Alma having read every book in the large office found many that talked about how to avoid such things from happening. She also realised that this boy likely didn’t have any choice in the matter and was doing so just to save his own skin. Alma caught Ro’dan’s hand swiftly and pulled him close.
“Listen closely, I will make it seem as if I am so upset at what you are doing and hauling you off. You must follow and make it look good for whoever might be watching you.”
Ro’dan was just confused and shocked at the speed of this younger looking lady. By the way she dressed and acted he had thought her to be a spinster for sure. Now looking at her closely he could tell that her eyes and face showed a much younger and lively looking young woman. He wasn’t sure what she was talking about but when she started making a fuss and talking about constables, he was pulling as hard as he could to get away from her shrill voice of alarm. However, her arms and hands were much stronger than he suspected and she easily pulled him down the street and around to an ally way out of sight of his crew. He looked up in worry as this crazed young woman watched people running around and looking confused. She had managed to cause chaos as people started to notice their own pouches emptied. She had a mad smile spread across her face and she turned to face him with those excited eyes.
“You are someone I have been waiting to meet for a long time. Please come with me and have tea.” Before Ro’dan could give a response, Alma took him once again leadingly by the wrist and dragged him all the way to her home.
From the outside, Ro’dan could tell this girl was well enough off. She should have been no different than the average victim of his snatches. However, this girl had reflexes too fast for him to see and a power that rivaled even his own master’s power. She was strong in a surprising way that kept Ro’dan silently waiting for an opening to get away.