Are stories “all one story” or rewarmed versions of one another?
The smell of paper and musty books worn down to bone fills the room.
The bookshelf stands in the middle of the floor. Despite its frailty, it wears the proud shine of younger wood, incandescent in the reflection of the stark white walls.
I run my hand over the bottom shelf, watching the dust gather underneath my fingernails. The layers become finer as a I reach up the shelves, until the last book is nearly pristine. The spines tell a plethora of different stories from thousands years of humanity, from thousands of lives, from thousands of experiences, but the tongue that reads them to me in my head remains the same. The same lilting accent with which my mother speaks.
I pull the first book from the shelf. It’s on the verge of crumbling between my hands, my fingerprints making a home with the ghosts of others. The papers are yellowing, more so than the rest of them, tears and notches creating artwork in the flaking leather. Gently, I pull it open.
The words don’t stay on the page. I watch them leap from age-old paper, dancing through the air around me. They spin and they tumble and they laugh, illuminated by the glow of my wonder. They race each other to the other books, and all of a sudden they all fall open in a thunderous clatter.
Stories of all sorts surround me. Of limerence, of loss, of desperation, of desire. They hum through the air, a chorus of words that crescendos into a wave of raw emotion. They soar to the walls with purpose, painting themselves on the surface until not a hint of ivory white can be seen. When the clattering dies down, I take a step back.
The books lie empty on the floor. On the walls, symphonies of colours and textures and lights stand proudly on display. From facades seemingly so different, so unfamiliar with each other, their words worked in unison to create the great painting before me. From so many experiences and loves and losses and lives, came one story.