|The Ruined Library by J. P. Wilder|
Friday, April 15, 2016
The Library - Flash fiction
The odour of burnt wood and paper lingered in this once-upon-a-time library. My eyes teared up at the sight, even though it wasn't mine.
"I know this is heartbreaking for you," Alex said, not joking with me for once. He knew how much I loved books, and it was one of the few things we shared. He wouldn't spill it out loud, but he too loved reading.
I trudged amongst the blackened bookshelves, a lingering finger here another there; my heart breaking with every step.
There were torched down chairs, splinters of wood and of course long forgotten and abandoned books, bits and pieces of written and empty parchment. A worn out chandelier hung from the ceiling. It looked old, must have been the type lit with candles for the wax seemed to have melted and dried again till it became stone-like.
"The keeper outside said this library has been abandoned for hundreds of years," I heard Alex tell me over the bookshelves.
"Too bad no one has ever considered coming here to rebuild it or salvage what was left," I answered back.
"May be it was for the best they didn't. They would have probably brought it down to the ground and by modern standards built a mall or something."
I shuddered at the thought. A mall – or worse – instead of a library. I don't know but modern times seem to have lost all the glory of modernity and buried the essence of antiquity and beauty. At least that's what I thought.
I reached out for a book. Its cover was dark red. I believe it would have been a much livelier red if it weren't for the fire and the lingering smoke. I couldn't make out the title. Too blackened. I coughed after blowing out some of the dust. My eyes becoming waterier.
The pages were so soft they could break to smithereens in my hands. I had to be careful. It was a medium-sized volume. The English was old but readable, although it was mixed with what I assumed to be old German and bits of ancient Irish or Scottish.
There was something else to it. At first, the book weighed a lot but as I began to read, it seemed to get lighter, welcoming me to go on. There was a lot I could read but not understand, although I felt tied to the pages and not in the I-can't-put-it-down sense but like it's a part of me.
"Delia, where are you?!" I heard Alex call out, bringing me out of my trance.
Somehow the volume wasn't as big as I thought it was the moment I held it and I slipped in to my bag. "Stay here," I told the book, which didn't seem to mind. Why would it?
"I thought I lost you in here," Alex said when I appeared from between two burnt out rows.
I smiled, gently patting the book in my bag.
He led me out. As he did, I turned back and made a silent promise to return and explore the library some more.
This piece was inspired by the first image in Takhayyal prompt 31. Click the link to read more amazing pieces.