I thought her name was “Alana” but actually she spelled it “Alone” and she was alone, because she had carved out an intricate house from the wooden doors that opened into our courtyard during the day and were closed by the Two Guardians at night. I don’t think she carved it with her teeth or ate wood because I don’t think she was that kind of thing, but what kind of tool she used to create the chambers and hallways and indeed doors! — inside the door, I never found out. She had no companions — she was alone — but also she was in a sense aloneness itself, because later in my life when I had to leave and I was deserted by everyone (I don’t blame them) I felt when I was alone that I was Alone, and therefore Together with her. Together? Because to gather something together it must first be alone? First? Maybe last, or at least it would last long enough for us to wonder if it was first.
And at those times when I felt truly alone and deserted and aband-oned, I would ask her whether she felt that way too, that when she was most truly Alone she was actually the companion of everyone else who was alone? And for a moment there were three of us — me, Alone, and the Asking — but that moment was a thin and thick as a door, swinging between now and what was yet to be, opening and shutting, separating us and joining us at the same time.
Her name Alone? Was she her name alone? I think so. Just as a door is not inside or outside but is just the way, alone, just that, so the name was all there was to her, all that was left when she tried to tell herself what she was — “alone” — or when I tried to tell her what she was when I felt her, meaning, I felt “alone” and named how I felt “alone”. Nothing I could really hold on to, but something I could name I think.
I never learned for sure if it was something or someone who I could name.