Library Souls

I lay on a massive book shelf watching the clock as each hand moves ever so slowly. The ticking drones on but as I continue to watch the noise grows louder and louder until it is the only sound that I can comprehend. I look to the other souls and each of them looks as lifeless as I feel.

Did you know that books have souls? Each of us takes on a sort of dissociative personality of all the characters within our pages. We are tethered to our binding but can float a few yards away from the covers. In a place like this, an old fashioned library, there are countless numbers of us. Some have light hues, others are shadows, and some (like myself) are mist. The point is, we can all sort of evaporate, none of us are seen by humans, but we all need them to survive.

Suddenly, I hear a door swing open. I jolt up so fast I nearly fall from my perch, I noticed about thirty other souls mimic my posture. We are all waiting, waiting for a face, for attention, for love, for anyone. When we witness the custodian turn from around the corner, each us sinks back into our lifeless existence: of waiting.

It is like this every day. Every now and again the librarian might pick one of us up to pass the time, but she doesn't really enjoy our company. Computers have become the human equivalent of a friend when it used to be us. Books used to be the ultimate friend, if someone asked if you had a favorite, you had an answer. Now people don't read enough to even know what genre they like. They prefer the movie editions. That's why places like this are so bare. Awhile back, a group used to use this place as a hangout. That was the liveliest the place had been in a long time, but we all soon realized that it was not a benefit. The group would highlight, write on, and throw us around. One time, a member ripped a page from a binding. We all mourned the loss of a friend. When a book is damaged like that, it brakes the soul. The book still sits there, but the soul can never be whole again.

Then there are those of us who have to worry about transfers, some can be sold or just thrown away if our relevance is questioned. Popular ones like: Little Women, Harry Potter, Hamlet, and Disney's Biography, never have to worry about such things. But for the rest of us, it is a constant fear.

I'm a simple mythology book made in the 1960's. Mythology is a constant field of study so at least I don't have to worry about a new edition taking my place: unlike anatomy, geology, and all other respectable sciences.

But the truth is, even though I'm safe, it doesn't mean I'm enjoyed. I'm just relevant enough to keep around. I haven't been picked up in years.

I hear keys jingle in the distance, but don't look up. I know the sound too well, the librarian is locking up for the night. Now the only sound is just that ticking clock. If I had to describe what loneliness sounded like; I'd say it was a ticking clock.

I roled over and fall to the floor, not a sound is made, I simply spread out across the floor like dry ice in a club (a reference I got from a friend of mine, since I have never been brought to a club[nobody read there]) a take a moment to collect myself then drift toward a single light. I stretch as far as I can, reaching the very end of my tether, just so I can glimpse out the window. The moon shines through and I feel a wave of sorrow flood my whole being because I know for certain if I were gone tomorrow, no one would miss my words, no one would even realize that I was here. Just an insignificant book amongst the masses, never anyone's favorite.

A shadow blocks the moon, and through blurry eyes, I see the silhouette of a man in the window. With ease, he opens the window and makes his way into our home. I rush past the columns and clutch to my book, my lifeline. The entire building becomes filled with dissipating smoke, shadows, light, mist. Signs that all of the souls feel my same fear, all of us rushing to our books, in case these are to be our final moments. The man holds a flashlight and makes his way past the columns.
After a moment I look past my columns and watch the intruder as he evaluates the building. With his scrawny build, he appears to be a teenager. After determining that he is alone, he pulls his hood back to reveal a baby face boy. He places his backpack on the floor and pulls out: lanterns, a blanket. Then he pulls all of the pillows off the furniture, and makes himself a type of fort.

I breathe a sigh of relief when I realize he does not intend to burn the place down. I find myself more curious by the minute and approach him cautiously. Once he appears to be comfortable, he jumps up and begins looking through the shelves. My body begins to pulse with anxiety as I see him take book after book. When his arms become full he takes them to his fort, then goes back for more. By the time he had finished he had several towers of books.

I watched through the night as he devoured book after book. I couldn't even remember when there was this much excitement in this place. Every soul that had been chosen from the shelf stared with such intensity as they waited for him to get to their book. To see his enthusiasm as he turned each and every page. It was the first time I had ever seen a human that seemed to need us the same way we need him. There was a type of desperation in the way he read. Like his life depended on us.

The night was drawing to a close, and I could feel the sorrow in the room as everyone dreaded having to say goodbye. The boy had fallen asleep amongst his conquests, somehow he had managed to finish every one of the books he had picked up. I drifted next to his sleeping body and looked at him with contentment washing through my soul. I kneeled beside him and hoped that when he awoke and left again for his world, that at least he would remember us, remember this place.

I noticed a notepad lying beside him, and realized he had been making notes to himself. The top note read: To-read list. My heart leaped as I realized that he intended to return to us. Maybe tomorrow, or the next night, but sometime in the future, he would be back. Just when I thought I couldn't get any happier, my eyes bulged as I read on his list, my name. There were several names on the list, I was not a priority, but the fact that I wasn't looked over, the fact that somebody wanted to know me, to understand me, and that meant everything to me. I leaned over his peaceful body and planted a small kiss on his forehead. As far as I am concerned this boy was my world, and my soul belongs to him.

"So please, hurry back to read my soul. I'll be waiting for you."

book, fantasy, and miyuli image