(I’ve narrated this story and published it on YouTube! Go check it out if you would rather listen!)
“What’s the most important thing a girl needs to live?” Sage asked.
“This must be another one of your trick questions,” her staff replied.
“Nope! Not a trick,” she said, stamping her bare feet as she jumped across the tree roots. “Just a simple question.”
“But there is nothing simple about that question. There’s too much subjectivity involved.”
Sage stopped in her tracks. There were no appropriate tree roots to jump to. She hated walking in grass almost as much as the grass hated her walking in it. Almost. She turned around and started jumping back across, stepping on the same roots once more. “You know you think a lot for a dumb stick.”
“Would you expect any different?” it’s voice hummed into her mind. “I’ve seen more sunrises than every person on Earth combined.”
Sage frowned. “But the sun doesn’t rise or set here.”
“My point stands.”
“You’re stalling. You never answered the question.”
“The trick question?”
“It’s not a trick question!” her already high-pitched voice rose an octave in anger.
The staff was not intimidated. It was bigger than her, after all. “Very well. A girl needs the same thing that everyone else needs to live. Food and water. Perhaps shelter, too, depending on circumstances.”
“Wrong!” Sage sang.
“Do you mean psychologically? It could be said that a girl requires love, even if that love comes from herself.”
“Wrong!” she said again. It was at this point that she had circled the tree again. No roots to jump onto unless she turned around.
“Sage, I know you hate walking on grass, but we’re going to be here for eternity if we keep going like this.”
“There’s nowhere else to go,” Sage said. She wiped a tear from her eye at the thought of stepping on the grass. Then, she turned around and started hopping the way she had come.
“Why don’t you just use your magic?” the staff said. More a request than a command.
“I don’t believe in magic,” she scoffed.
“Wh-what? The Everlight is a realm governed by magic. It’s the lifeblood of everything here! Especially me and you!”
“Nope. I’m just a normal human girl that has very vivid hallucinations,” Sage decided.
“By the Allsoul… But normal girls don’t have vivid hallucinations.”
Sage stopped, eyes wide. “You’re right! I’m not normal at all! You know, for a dumb stick you can be pretty clever.”
The staff didn’t reply, and the two were silent for a moment.
“So,” her staff offered. “What’s the answer to the question?”
“The most important thing a girl needs to live?”
Sage’s playful smile widened into a mischievous grin. “What does it matter?”
“I don’t understand.”
“I didn’t expect you to.”
“…are you going to explain? Why ask the question if the answer doesn’t matter?” the staff asked.
“What’s the point? An old stick like you has had bazillions of years to figure it out, and you didn’t. You can’t hope to learn now.”
“Allow me to try,” it said.
Sage got to the end of the tree again. Before she could turn around, however, the staff thrust itself from her grasp and split into three. The wood bent and twisted into large tree roots that did not attach to any tree, but instead floated in the air, waiting for her to jump onto then.
Gleefully, she hopped across the new roots. As she hopped, more tree roots appeared ahead of her, leaving the grass below blessedly untouched as the bridge slowly led her to a new tree, where the forest was denser. Once she stood safely on the natural trees, the staff once again formed in her hands.
“Are there girl sticks like you?” Sage asked as she began hopping across the tree roots once more.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re fun to talk to and all,” she explained. “I just think I’d get along with a girl staff better.”
“Are you saying I’m a boy staff? That’s absurd. Staves have no gender. You don’t have a gender, either, if we’re being technical.”
She shrugged. “That sort of talk is exactly what makes you a boy staff. If you knew better, you’d know that the answer to my earlier question wasn’t important. It was the question that was important.”
“Why ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to?”
“That’s what makes you a boy. You’re too focused on getting somewhere.”
“How does that make any sense?” the staff asked.
“These tree roots aren’t any better to jump across as the tree we were at before, you know. Not everything needs to have a ‘why’.”
“But your question didn’t seem rhetorical. You seemed to genuinely want an answer.”
“I already know the answer,” Sage laughed. “The most important thing a girl needs to live is color. Obviously.”
“I suppose you mean metaphorically.”
“Of course,” she rolled her eyes.
“And boys don’t need color to live?”
“Boys can’t see color,” Sage explained. “They only have rods. Girls have cones. I heard a human talking about it once.”
“I think perhaps you may have misunderstood what they were saying.”
“What do you know? You’re just a dumb stick.”
“And you’re just a silly girl that doesn’t believe in magic and hates stepping on grass.”
Sage’s smile broadened. “Looks like we’re finally getting somewhere.”