Sad and beautiful all at once.
It’s like an abandoned library. Somehow, I feel like this is something that will actually happen one day. I need to write stuff about it now.
This is a story about a boy who thought that the stars could be read and held close.
Everybody laughed at him when he said he believed in libraries.
“Libraries aren’t real!”
“Doofus! They’re just myths!”
“Honestly, the idiots we get around here.”
But he still chose to believe that there were such things as libraries. His grandfather had told him many stories about walls covered with books.
“What’s a book, grandfather?” he had asked, sitting upon the old man’s knee.
“It is a star that you can hold in your hands,” his grandfather had said after a moment.
“Yes, Michael. Each book is a star and we keep them in our own universes. Somebody came across the first universe and decided to call it a library.”
“Have you ever been to a library, grandfather?” he asked.
The old man gazed far off into the distance, his eyes glassy with nostalgia. “Yes, when I was a young man. Before they were destroyed.”
Michael frowned. “Why would they destroy them?”
His grandfather smiled sadly. “Because they were no longer of any use to the people of this world.”
His grandfather died a few months after telling him about the libraries. About the books. About the worlds that were now forbidden. However, upon walking home from school one day, he decided to go left when he should have gone right. He did not know what made him do so, but he kept taking all the wrong turns until he had got himself properly lost. He remembered his grandfather telling him that to find what had been lost, you had to get properly lost yourself.
And so, there he was. Properly lost and standing in front of a dilapidated building. He craned his neck upward, looking for the top of the building, but it disappeared amongst the clouds until it could no longer be seen. Hesitantly, he crept forward and laid a hand on the rotted wooden door, which fell open easily, almost as if it had been opened by someone on the other side.
Michael stood just outside the door for a few seconds, still trying to decide if he should go in or not. However, when he took that first breath of old pages and candlelight, he immediately stepped over the threshold and into the library.
“Hello?” he called. It wouldn’t do to be impolite and enter without permission. “Is anybody here? May I come in, please?”
There was no answer, but Michael’s curiosity was far too great to be squashed by formalities. Boldly, he walked down the hall, which seemed to get wider and wider as he went along until he was standing in an enormous circular room. But this room was unlike anything he had ever seen before. Trees were growing from the floor, their branches reaching up to a ceiling that could not be seen, their leaves swaying to and fro without a breath of wind to make them do so. There were no walls. Simply shelves filled with books.
With trembling fingers, Michael reached forward and plucked a book from the nearest shelf, running his small hands across the old, leather cover. It was heavy. He did not know the stars could be this heavy nor this beautiful. Hugging the book (a book!) to his chest, he set a chair upright by the table and placed the book down gently, almost as if it were a baby, before running his fingertips along the edge of the worn cover and opening it, falling immediately into the world that it encompassed.
This is a story about a boy who knew that the stars could be read and held close.
And so they could.