Amphigory am'fi-ge-ree, n (French amphigouri, of unknown origin)
1. A nonsense verse. Specifically, a poem designed to look and sound good, but which has no meaning upon closer reading.
Dream had no choice, really, but to hold his younger sister while she broke.
She walked in his realm, while her own faded, and at this point she was just beginning to be more Delirium than Delight, but wasn’t quite mad yet.
Or not so much she couldn’t be sane for moments without her body—or what passed for a body—screaming in pain.
“Do you know what an amphigory is?”
She hadn’t spoken for three generations of men, when those words came, and it took him a moment to answer. “I do, youngest sister.” For all words were once dreamed into existence, and thus he knew them all.
And she said nothing.
Perhaps, Morpheus thought, watching her hair turn from pink to red to green, she had not even heard him.
“An amphigory,” she said, eternities later, as she twirled in the library, “is a poem, you know. It is. It’s a poem with verses and lines and sometimes even rhymes.”
The being known as Dream who was once Daniel paused from where he was reaching for a book, and then nodded. “It is.”
“Not just, you know. You know. Sonnets. The stanzas. It’s not like bananas, because the peels are thinner. No. But.” She nodded and smiled and watched as a book fluttered by. “Pretty. It has to be pretty, you know.”
“Indeed.” Taking her arm in his as they walked out of the room and down a corridor.
“But. But. The secret, Dream? The secret is that it doesn’t mean anything. Pretty. Prettiest and lovely and sweet to the tongues and ears. But. Empty.”
His movements were slow as his gaze turned to rest on her. “That is what an amphigory is, yes, my sister.”
“I think. I think. I can do that, you see, even now, but it’s hard to keep at it because they are so very loud. But I think.”
He waited until she continued, expression patient.
“I think I was an amphigory, Daniel Dream Brother Person. I was.”
A slow nod. “And what are you now?”
“Del. I’m. Just Del. But not. Del always is. Everything else is different. Suffixes mean a lot. Delirium. I’m the catalyst. I’m the process that isn’t complete. Destruction was wrong. He was. I thought he wasn’t, but he was. It’s not my next change. The first one’s still happening. This is the delenda and then the deligation has to happen, you know. It does. Get rid of the junk and wrap up the cuts and scrapes. ”
His brow furrowed. “...And what will you be?” Not expecting an answer.
She gave him one anyway.
“That...is not a word I know, Del.” It wasn’t even that he didn’t know the word. He could hear the beginning—the Del, the sound a bell makes when rung—but the end blurred into laughter and screams in his ears.
“No. Not yet. It isn’t one yet. It’s still in the womb. Gestation.” Then, “I am frightened, Dream.” Almost calmly. Almost sanely.
Not quite, though.
Dream found he could do nothing but hold her again.
They hadn’t known, any of them, except for the eldest, in advance. There were no signals.
She simply appeared in Dream’s garden, hands in her pockets and a dog leaning against her legs.
When he looked at her, Dream noticed that she had one blue eye and one green eye.
No specks of silver, though, obscured her vision through either.
“Hi.” Toeing slightly at the ground as she smiled up at him.
She looked older, he thought, than he could remember seeing her before.
He wasn’t quite sad at that thought, though there was a sense of loss. “My sister. Your change is complete, then?”
“Guess so. Doesn’t hurt anymore.” Then, “I need you to give me a name now, my brother.”
Dream nodded slowly, pushing her hair—red, in a thousand different shifting shades, like a sunrise—away from her face with one pale hand.
When the word crossed his lips, he was brother and friend, and, for a moment, father.
He did not expect the word to finish as it did, and yet...
It fit, and she smiled at him.
“Do you know what an amphigory is when it grows up, Dream?”
“Must I wait another millenia for you to tell me?” he asked, voice polite but eyes teasing.
Del giggled. “No.” Her eyes closed for a minute, listening to something that Dream knew he would never hear. And, he thought, that the song she heard didn't seem to pain her like it once did.
“It’s a work of art.”