Once upon a time, when the day was still and the lonely sun hung quietly in the sky, I stole away to the old book section of the local library. I wanted to desert the world for a place where books lined the walls, were piled in corners and covered patches of the floor.
I tiptoed up creaky wooden stairs; stirring dust and sound song the silent stories. Sunlight clung to suspended dust and I was walked beside the rows of yellowed books filled with forgotten words. My fingers danced along the gold-laced spines and frayed sleeves; my eyes felt the titles and my hands followed my heart.
I pulled a single book from the crowded shelf. Strange Stories. The Man Who Loved Trees. “This book was first checked out of the library in 1952”. It hasn’t been stamped in over three decades, and yet the words still breathed life into my imagination. The story was about a man who painted trees with all the life that’s trapped in their leaves. His wife seemed to envy his infinite love for the green beings, yet at the same time, she loved him for how he loved to paint them. At the end of the story, although she has been widowed, she still hears his voice calling from the forest canopy. The sound helps her forget that she’s alone.
I find something in the next book. An Ever-Interesting Topic. A student soars on the wings of creativity as he leaps into the art of his heart.
The air is enchanted as another book opens in my hands.
Flowering Wilderness. A girl searches the sky for her lucky star.
A different book, a dog howls at the feet of his master, whose whiskers no longer hum to the secrets of that summer.
A detective admits that he’s a craftsman; and someone is glad to have never been found by fame.
I read the final pages of two dozen books. Opening covers, turning pages, returning the story to its place. Lifting a spell of floating flakes and frozen time. I tried to imagine the millions of moments that carried each story to those words: that character in that scene with those thoughts at that time.
To each story, I arrived only at the end.