The story takes place in the realm of the purse pods along the chasm that exists at the northern tip of the black earth. The chasm formed from a succession of seven earthquakes that occurred over the course of fourteen days in the distant past. The protagonist is Glass. When we meet Glass he has just shattered; he can say "I am broken," and this is worthy of note. No one ever shattered. It was rumored that a man an epoch prior had come close. He was also of the black earth, but he was an almost.
Glass is just a boy still young enough to have fluffy cheeks. It's the second day after summer had gone.
"Have you broken?" asks a truthful whisper.
Glass responds, "I am broken."
"Then you will be commemorated," says the truthful whisper. "This promise will be fulfilled in a seed."
On the next start, Glass wakes and finds under his pillow a brown seed the size of his thumbnail. Guided by the truthful whisper he takes the seed in his hand and, before bathing or brushing, carries it to the chasm, a great fissure that smells like water down high mountain creeks.
Still being guided, Glass, with a nonchalant underhand toss sends the seed into the chasm. The seed is diving and Glass is listening to a rhythm composed by the truthful whisper. Two beats after the seed makes entry the black earth crescendos to a strange rain.
The up-falling rain sounds like the black earth has sampled the western showers, slowed them, added chops and breaks, and now played them in reverse from out of the acoustically rich chasm.
"The rain is falling up from out of the black earth," Glass says unpuzzled.
The rain, as it falls toward the sun, pushes up a single plant that situates itself with its roots between Glass's feet. Still obeying guidance, the boy utters a secret verse to the rhythm the whisper had sent him. Then, he unearths the vegetation and carries it home.
The walk from the chasm takes Glass 484 or so measures. He settles in, places the vegetation in a bowl of water, and leaves it where the sun can find it. Then, he goes about bathing, brushing, and listening to the whisper.
The truthful whisper was not so much a voice, but more a commensal and gently-tempered touch that reached each of Glass's senses. All day Glass had moved to the whisper's pulses. Still doing, he returns to the bowl and the plant. By now, the sun has made its play and ducked off to shine elsewhere.
"If I offer, will you drink?" asks the whisper.
Feeling no reason to say no, Glass thinks to himself, "Yes."
"Then drink." says the whisper.
Glass drinks from that bowl of water he had prepared, leaving the plant in place, then makes his way to bed.
Glass wakes the next day feeling fine, but not the same; he has fuzzy focus and an urgent curiosity to take in the world outside him. In the realm of the purse pods (a historical term noting that a pod stores nearly everything its person values) nearly everyone is connected. Glass, too.
Glass's fuzzy focus latches to a figure moving in the background of a pod-fed image. When Glass sees this figure he stops. The figure still moves. Glass's curiosity demands that he seeks this figure and so he follows the tag attached to it.
The tag tells Glass that the figure is Thissle. His vision clears. She is unassuming and perfect. Until now, Glass had come to understand perfect as relative. Until now, the boy had been wrong. Perfect was not relative. It was absolute.
Glass had fallen into a feeling like kinship, but better since it precluded all of the imperfect effections.
It was the drink of plant-bathed potion that had made Glass fuzzified, a state he escaped only after he identified Thissle. Now, per curiosity's orders, he has to reach Thissle. She is far away and in the realm of the purse pods where roughly everyone is connected, concepts of "reach" and "far away" are relative.
"The way you see Thissle is your gift for eleven rays." says the whisper.
Glass resolves to discover a token worth giving to the perfect and soon-to-be-blurred-again figure, then responds, "I can try to reach her with eleven days."
"How?" asks the whisper.
With his curiosity still playing captain, Glass asks, "Can I reach Thissle by reading her sprite sayings?"
The whisper is still.
So the child chases his question and ponders each Thissle-tagged expression hoping to learn directly from her presentations a fitting way to prepare her an honor. Four days he ponders. He takes her in how only his temporary vision allows. Her works and wonders affirm that Thissle has no complement.
Determined to give an acceptable salute upon reaching Thissle, Glass sets on a different way.
His curiosity chimes in. "Can you write honors?" it asks.
Glass can feel it; his curiosity is gassing him up, egging him on. It works.
"I can write honors," he responds.
Glass moves to write all that he had pondered during the four prior days. He crafts his writings with his pod and, as such, his tribute can be pursed in every pod.
Day-to-day, Glass's tribute forms like a colorful mosaic made from a thousand pieces of brilliant glass. In crafting longsuffered pens to Thissle he finds witnesses. There is no witness that sees Thissle. Glass does not show her. Even if he does it's not like those seers see how Glass sees. Still, through his musings made word, those bearing witness come to think highly of an anonymous perfection. Seven days pass; that's all eleven rays. Glass has distilled Thissle into words using glimpses from a potioned mind. These are lost texts, now.
Still, the seed promise had been fulfilled. Glass shattered and was commemorated by the movement of his words through the black earth's people.