In the first part of the third chapter of A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany spends her first night with Miss Level and is disturbed by a number of confusing events, which leads to two shocking revelations. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Oh, fuck y’all, I just realized that the title of this chapter is a goddamn spoiler, I FELL RIGHT INTO THIS. There are so many clues to Miss Level’s true nature, and despite that I got close to guessing the truth, I still missed it because… well, I’ve not heard of a “single-minded” person quite like this.
Tiffany’s observant behavior leads her to notice practically immediately that there are little things in Miss Level’s house that don’t make sense at all. She notices that the boiling pot, the baked bread, and all the signs that someone else lives in the cottage. She even asks as much, and… well, Mis Level doesn’t lie, does she?
“No, there’s only me,” she said, and somehow Tiffany knew she was telling the truth. Or a truth, anyway.
That’s not wrong! It is only just her. But I fell for the red herring that Pratchett left for the reader in the bedroom that Tiffany is staying in. As the weird force began to clean up after Tiffany’s meal, I assumed that was related to Miss Level’s “situation.” Given that Tiffany could separate herself from her body and create something like an invisible ghost, I assumed Miss Level was doing something similar. She could split her body, and this invisible version of herself wanted to help out. It was creepy, sure, and as Tiffany noted:
After all, whatever had done it even had the decency to bolt the door after itself, which meant that it respected her privacy, even while it ignored it.
So… Miss Level was trying, but still not trying at all? I just felt like all of this could have been avoided if Miss Level had been upfront about it all. Granted, she doesn’t wait more than half a day to tell Tiffany the truth, and I misunderstood what was going on here completely.
Before I get to that, though, I did want to talk about the parallel set of scenes that Pratchett writes that allow us to understand Tiffany and Miss Level through objects. There’s a moment when Tiffany gets to her room, and she unpacks a bunch of things that mean something to her, all of which have some relevance to the Chalk or to Granny Aching. It’s a methodical thing as described in the text, and that ritual gives her an anchor to where she came from. So, I think it’s interesting that when Tiffany wanders outside of Miss Level’s home, she’s met with the things that Miss Level uses to build a sense of her own home. I feel like even with the cultural divide, there are people here in America that do exactly what Miss Level does; they buy knickknacks and weird little crafty creations, and there’s no sense to them as a whole. They are only individually sensical. Thus, Miss Level’s garden conveys a feeling of creative chaos, and that’s not at all far from Miss Level herself.
Which we must discuss, because it’s not that she can split herself into two parts. She is two bodies with a single mind. Not twins, mind you, and the distinction is made early and very, very clear. This is one person—one mind—shared by two identical bodies. That being said, I could still identify with a lot of this as an identical twin. I’ve always grown up with another “version” of myself in close proximity who looks just like me and with whom I shared an unbelievable number of similarities. My twin and I have always been close, and we used to do a lot of that weird twin shit as kids. We had an entire invented language of babbling that creeped our parents out because it truly seemed like we were having full conversations for hours at a time without a single “real” word spoken between us. We have always been able to sense emotional changes in one another, and that’s especially true if we’re living together. Seriously, we’ve gotten injured in similar places within minutes of one another; sometimes, I will feel a burst of anxiety and will text my brother and find out something bad happened to him; and y’all, don’t let us play any sort of guessing games like Taboo or Scattergories, because we will DESTROY you.
Miss Level’s backstory felt familiar to me, but I’m actually very fascinated in how the logistics work. It’s clear that she was stigmatized for having two bodies, that it was hard for her to find a community as a kid, and so she spent years in a circus in order to get by. I feel like she enjoyed that time since the presence of the posters came off as an affectionate display of something she spent a lot of time invested in. But her thoughts might be complicated on the subject, and I wonder if Pratchett will have her discuss it more with Tiffany.
Finally, though, there’s the ondageist, whose name I am certain is some groan-worthy pun that I don’t understand, but y’all. A poltergeist who is only obsessed with being tidy. THAT’S WHAT WAS IN TIFFANY’S BEDROOM. And their name is Oswald??? Oh my god, a super shy ondageist who doesn’t like being around newcomers but is so compelled to be tidy that they can’t help but put everything back where it belongs.
WHAT IS THIS BOOK.
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