July 14, 1988—9:25 P.M.
Miranda waited till it was quiet before climbing out of her toddler bed. She walked to the window and stared at the night sky. This earth can't be my home, she thought. There's no one like me. All the other animals have others like them. And other people are like each other. But Mother and Daddy aren't anything like me. Her eyes grew sad as she remembered their response when she tried to ask them to buy a meal for the hungry man she had seen sitting on the curb. They didn't even listen to me. It was like I wasn't speaking English. Or French. She already knew they didn't speak her nanny's other language; she had tried saying something in it and they just patted her on the head. They thought I was playing, she thought with a scowl.
She set her lips in a firm line that would have caused amusement in any adult watching. If they're going to think I'm playing, I might as well say exactly what I think. But I need a language to do it in that no one else will understand. A somber expression came over her face as she considered her options. I'll just have to make up my own, she decided. She would start with the word 'mu', talking beyond mere words, what she had tried to do and failed. To that, she added 'ktulu', true, real; something else that was lacking in her life. "Atun muktuluno," she whispered. She would speak true for herself, at least.
June 25, 1995—8:30 A.M.
"Miranda," her latest nanny called through the door. "Your mother wants you ready for the interview in an hour. Are you already wearing the dress she selected?"
Miranda sighed. "Not yet," she called back, "but I'll have it on in ten minutes, and then you can do my hair." She was fortunate that this nanny understood the concept of personal space. Or maybe it was only that she was so new. Ost iyut hunulok tlamut, Miranda thought with another sigh. They're always new. Her parents had years before figured out how little time Miranda needed to absorb a new language; the result was a constant stream of temporary nannies.
She frowned a little at the dress laid out on her bed; it was frillier than she liked. She pulled it on quickly and took a look in the mirror. Of course it makes me look like I'm seven, not ten. She would wear it, though; what choice did she have? She would be a good, smart little girl, who could speak more languages fluently than anyone else alive. What good did it do, if there was no one to actually talk to? She didn't dare speak Muktuluk out loud anymore, in case someone heard. They would try to make it their own, and analyze it and try to crack it, searching through her words for a Rosetta Stone. But Muktuluk was her language, the only one she could properly think in, and she would make sure it stayed that way.
August 20, 2000—8:45 A.M.
The suitcase lay open on her bed as Miranda folded her clothes. Her mother stepped into the doorway, and ordered Miranda, "Finish packing your case and come outside straight away."
Miranda could hear her mother's voice echoing throughout the house as she declared her opinions of the Periodeses, who had been wise enough to go on a long walk at the first sign of her parents' arrival. One last shirt to fold, and Miranda laid it in the case with the rest. Instead of following her mother's orders, she walked to the window and looked out. She gazed at the small sliver of the lake visible through the trees, and sighed. "Ktum," she whispered. It had all failed. Just when she had found people she could communicate with, even someone to share a little bit of Muktuluk with… What good was it, anyway? What point was there in speaking a language no one else knew, in keeping it hidden from those who would exploit it, just so she could have her own private language? It didn't help anything, without someone to speak it with, to share it with.
She swallowed hard, blinking back tears that came to her eyes at the thought. "Timuft nefat atun tokarakuno," she said for the last time. English's "I will miss you" didn't have the same intensity as the Muktuluk idiom, but she was in the United States, with its vast numbers of monolinguals. It would have to do for now.
October 14, 2008—
SUBJECT: The future?
FROM: "MIRANDA ELLENBY" <Mirellen@childwel.UNchil.org>
DATE: Tues, 14 Oct 2008 7:30:14 -0400 (EDT)
TO: Douglas McAllister
Moft! I got your message. Taryn did always have that foreknowledge. I remember the poems she wrote back at Laurel Mountain, calling herself a dreamer and a prophet. All true names, I think.
What's next, do you think? A riot in Belfast one day, a battle somewhere in the Middle East the week after? And I wonder how long it will be until Elijah finds us again? I dreamed the dream again last night, and the raven was still soaring up high. It seems incredible that he survived the woods, but I believe it. We've seen a lot of incredible things, at the Ark and more recently.
I quit speaking Muktuluk after Laurel Mountain. When I shut down and stopped letting anyone in, I felt like there wasn't any point to it. A whole language all my own, and no one to speak it with. A bit ironic, really. But last night after I read your message, I tried to remember what I could. It's coming back, in bits and pieces. I thought, maybe, if you were interested, I could teach you more than "hello" and "goodbye". Let me know what you think.
I got to thinking last night—I wonder how many other children there are like we were, needing an Ark, a place of refuge. Creating one would fall under the purview of my agency, technically, except they'd never go for a "home for psychic children". Couched in the right language, though… And what about the children at your institute? Kpenamift prusu klotek tlamut. Which is the Muktuluk way to say that the future is full of possibilities.
I won't say ktum—see you this weekend!