The Diary of Miss Aidyn Hall, friend (to humans and elves)
The Story of an Alliance
“You know,” Apple Blossom said to me as she watched Wildflower copy down the words I had written for her, “it doesn't make very much sense that we can speak two languages, but only write one.”
“That's a point,” I told her, and when she tilted her head at me in confusion, I clarified, “You're right,” before cramming two grapes in my mouth.
“It just doesn't seem right to me at all,” Apple Blossom went on. “The English language was passed down through Chokana, right? So why didn't she ever teach her child how to write it?”
“She might not have known how to write,” I told her. “In those days, a lot of women were never taught to write, or even read. It was a pretty backwards time.”
“I'd like to learn to write English,” Apple Blossom said. She took a big bite out of a grape and swallowed it before asking what I knew she had been planning to ask all along: “Will you teach me?”
I would have loved to teach Apple Blossom how to write English. Wildflower had only been at it for a few weeks, and yet she was doing so well that it was almost time for her to go from writing words to short sentences. But if I taught both Wildflower and Apple Blossom, I had a feeling that I would end up having to teach everybody. “I would love to, Apple Blossom,” I told her, “but I'm not sure when I'm going to have the time. You know that I have a lot of writing to do.”
“If you have time to teach Wildflower,” Apple Blossom insisted, “then you have time to teach me. You can teach me while you're teaching her.”
“Hmm...” I played with the thought in my head, just as Wildflower handed me her finished paper to look over. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to teach the two of them together. Sure, Apple Blossom was five years older, but the writing would be just as new to her as it was to Wildflower. They could copy down the same words and the same sentences—the only difference might be the pace at which they worked. I had never tutored any students before Wildflower (and Wildflower was a perfectly lovely student), but I knew that she was doing well under my instruction. I knew even more as I looked over the perfectly-copied words on her paper, beside the little illustrations I'd asked Hannah to draw, and my heart swelled with pride in my little student. “Excellent work, Wildflower!” I exclaimed. “You did everything just right! I'm so proud of you, sweetie!” I rewarded her with a hug and a handful of eight big black grapes. She accepted them eagerly.
“Come here, Apple Blossom!” I called to her, and she came running from where she and Katie had been picking handfuls of new goldenrods. I took A Dragon's Pride out of my bag. “We can read this,” I told her, “or we can read some of the diary. Which one do you want?”
“Oh, A Dragon's Pride,” Hannah said. “That's a real good one; one of your better stories, Aidyn.” She turned to Apple Blossom and said, “I bought my own copy as soon as it went on sale.”
“She loves it,” I told her, smiling at Apple Blossom. “So which will it be?”
“One after the other, please,” Apple Blossom said politely. She added, “I mean, if you don't mind it.”
“I don't,” I said, and then I got an idea. “When you met Hannah and Janelle the other day,” I told Apple Blossom, “I got home that evening and wrote all about it in the diary. Would you like to hear what I have written?”
“Oh, yes, please!” Apple Blossom said eagerly.
“Hey, I kind of want to hear that too,” Hannah said, moving to sit beside Apple Blossom. Katie gathered up her goldenrods and joined us. Wildflower continued to scribble English letters down in her own diary, but I could tell that she would listen once I started reading. I took out my diary, turned to the page, and began to read.
Ever since my adventures in the Greenwood had begun, I'd marveled at just how much my diary—my very own life—had become a story. To Apple Blossom, it was a story, a story to listen to and comment on, to interject and question, the equivalent of any other good book. Until today, I had never shared my diary-story with anyone but her. But now, I regarded the increasingly-attentive eyes of Katie and Hannah as I read this small passage that featured nothing truly remarkable. I recounted Janelle's fear of the spiders, the ugly sight of the spears lined up along the Bell's Rush (I saw Katie's face fall as I admitted that I resented her and the others just a little bit for being the reason for blocking our entrance to the Greenwood), the picnic we had, and Apple Blossom's little demonstration of the magic of jade essences. Somehow, I had made these simple little events into a story worth listening to. Somehow, I had turned this entire summer into a story worth listening to. If I may allow myself to boast, it may be the greatest story that I've ever written. And it's all true!
But of course, it will never be published. Some stories, no matter how great, were just never meant to be published—at least, not to humans. But what about to Jadeites? What might the true story of a friendship between a human and the princess of the Jadeites mean to them? How valuable would such a story be if it were found in the Grand Greenwood Library, or even the castle's private archives? To have such a record around just might provide the insight that the Jadeites need to consider a real Jadeite-human alliance! In a way, one of those already existed, through our friendship. Friendship was a sort of alliance.
I finished reading the entry. Apple Blossom flashed me her signature smile and said, “Thank you for reading, Aidyn. I'm glad that you wrote that.”
I'm glad that I wrote it too. I'm glad that I wrote everything. “You're very welcome,” I told her with a smile, before getting up and taking her by the hand. “I need to talk to you real quick,” I said.
“Have I done something wrong?” she asked, her eyes widening.
“Oh, no, dear,” I said, “not at all! In fact, I have something to say that I think you're going to like.” I led her over to the patch of goldenrods that she and Katie had been picking. She bounced on her heels in anticipation of the good news, and I couldn't help chuckling. I loved this merry little fox so much, like she was my very own baby sister.
“Apple Blossom,” I began, “I want to give my diary to you.”
“Give it to me?” she asked, bewildered. “But why?”
“If I give it to you,” I told her, “then the story will belong to the Greenwood, forever. The story of a friendship between a human and Jadeite, the story of my world and yours...” I was blown away by my own solemnity, and had to pause for a moment. My goodness, I was getting carried away. “I want you to have that, Apple Blossom. I want the Greenwood to have it. I want the Greenwood's history to hold on to the story of a real, true friendship between a human and a Jadeite. You want an alliance, don't you? Well, you may not have realized it, but there is an alliance now. Our friendship is the alliance, Apple Blossom.”
“Nobody will be able to read it,” Apple Blossom said, her voice just barely above a whisper.
“You'll be able to,” I said, my lips curling into a smile, “once I teach you.”
“You're going to teach me?” Apple Blossom's eyes were so wide that I thought that they would take over her entire face. “You're going to teach me to write and to read it? Are you really going to teach me, Aidyn?”
“Yes,” I said, and I realized that I had made this decision the very moment she had asked in the first place. “I'm going to teach you, because if I teach you, then you will be able to teach everybody else. Someone's got to do it, Apple Blossom. Someone's got to.”