If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, forget em', cause, man, they're gone. –Jack Handey
Question #90441 posted on 10/08/2017 2:26 p.m.

Dear Anathema,

Do you have a story behind your 'nym?

-The Exquisite


Dear Exquisite,

The air is quiet. Not the kind of quiet that is empty; it's the kind of quiet that is full. Full of thoughts that people have yet to think. Ideas pop in and out of existence with a randomness that is routine. This isn't the kind of place that is old, because to be old would imply that there was a beginning. A starting point where once it was new. No, this is the kind of place that has always been.

If one listens very closely, it's just possible to pick out the sound of a pen scratching paper.


A figure conscientiously opens the door to peek nervously around the corner. There isn't really any reason for them to be nervous. They're merely the type of person who always has an air of uncertainty bordering on fear about them. Everything about them is indistinct: voice, coloring, height--the most that can be said is that they are a vaguely hominoid female.

"Ahem," the figure delicately coughs. "Um... we need a story."

"Go on, Shabab" is the weary reply from a man. He's sitting in a comfortable looking chair on the other side of an uncomfortable looking desk.

"I'm afraid all we've got to go off of is a name: Anathema."

"That's not a name, that's a word! 'One who is loathed or despised' to be exact." The man sighs, "Well, I suppose we can try to find something to do with pariahs."

"No, no, no! There is a bit somewhere that seems to fit that, but not now, and not related... " her voice trails off, and Shabab starts twiddling her thumbs.

"Ahah! I've got it! It's a great story--there's the end of the world, foretold by an old witch. And a group of four children, one of whom is the anti-Christ-"

"No. That's one Anathema's story, and I do believe it even inspired the other Anathema, but it's still not precisely this Anathema's."

The man grunts at hearing this. Then, slowly, he withdraws a pen from his jacket pocket and begins to thoughtfully nibble at its end. As he is lost in reverie, Shabab shuffles her feet from side to side and halfheartedly tries to disappear into the wall.


In the place of thoughts is a story. One great story encompassing everything. Like the place, the story has no beginning, and won't ever have an end. It simply is. But what it is is always changing. Right now it's the story of a girl. But when did this part of the great story truly begin? Was it with a plate of Valentine's Day cookies? Or when the sun first dappled the Earth? Perhaps it's like a long piece of string; someone just needs to pinch it somewhere and call it a start.


"Let's start with hope," the man states in a matter of fact tone. 


Hope is woven through the story. People come and go in a never-ending flux, but hope stubbornly persists. The passing people don't always notice it; sometimes it's only recognized by the stabbing pain of being proved wrong. It shows up as bright white bursts of light amidst the thoughts that are always swirling around here.

Hope is in the part of the story that is about the girl. Some hopes grew up with her--changing and maturing in tandem with her dreams. Others darted in and out of her life like summer birds. Others broke.


The probably human Shabab is staring at her hands. Hands are preferable to The Opening. As it is a gaping hole in the fabric reality, the name is rather self-explanatory. It seems to always be Shabab's job to listen for pieces of The Story that come in through it. Most of the time only a few words are discernible. And then there's the singular sensation of wordless, foreign emotion and experience being dumped in your brain to accompany the words. After the dumping is completed, it's the job of the people on this side of The Opening to scout out the rest of the story behind these fragments. Sometimes--like this time--the right story behind the fragment isn't clear, and so someone is sent to listen for more.

A light begins to glow in the depths of The Opening. Pulsating, it draws nearer and nearer. Shabab braces herself before the torrent of information insinuates itself in her mind.

"I see the story," she breathes before scurrying off to the man who writes the stories down.

As per usual, he grunts at her entrance. "Took you long enough. All I've got down is hope, and we need more than that for a true story."

Nervously, Shabab begins to relate the story of a girl who became enamored with a funny little website. She tells of the girl's love for learning, and passion for novelty slowly developed, the circuitous route she took to reach certain conclusions, her doubts and fears, how she came to identify with a strange fictional character named Anathema, and how that identification changed.


The Story goes on.