I was lonely. I felt it deeply and permanently, that this state of being on my own might never disappear. But I welcomed the lonliness, which had everything to do with being anonymous. It's never lonliness that nibbles away at a person's insides, but not having room inside themselves to be comfortably alone.
I feel the monster of grief again, writhing in the empty space where my heart and stomach used to be. I gasp, pressing both palms to my chest. Now the monstrous thing has its claws around my throat, squeezing my airway. I twist and put my head between my knees, breathing until the strangled feeling leaves me.
Later, when we've found this mysterious ship of Hector's and are safely away, when I have time to rest and worry and a quiet corner to hide in, I will coldly remember that being a queen means being strategic. And I will imagine sending off the man I love to marry my sister. I'll rehearse it in my head, maybe. Get used to the feeling.
I feel strangely free at such times. To behave properly is to be always courteous, always clever, and subtle and elegant. But now, when I am so alone, I do not have to be any of these things. For this moment, I am wholly myself, unshaped by the needs of others, by their dreams or expectations or sensibilities. But I am also lonely. With no one to shape me, who stands here, watching the moon, or the stars, or the clouds?
And I knew in my bones that Emily Dickinson wouldn't have written even one poem if she'd had two howling babies, a husband bent on jamming another one into her, a house to run, a garden to tend, three cows to milk, twenty chickens to feed, and four hired hands to cook for. I knew then why they didn't marry. Emily and Jane and Louisa. I knew and it scared me. I also knew what being lonely was and I didn't want to be lonely my whole life. I didn't want to give up on my words. I didn't want to choose one over the other. Mark Twain didn't have to. Charles Dickens didn't.
Miss Abigail, I want to be an author because writers know when a person is lonely. I mean, when Molly read me some books, those writers reached out and said, Look Gideon, we know about your loneliness and we know you're feeling downtrodden. And they said...I'll stand up for you. You're not lone anymore.