“You cannot leave us. We possess your name.”
“Please... It's been such a long time since I left my home.”
The guardian saw the shelves hanging over her like a mountain that was about to crush her. The thick volumes threatened her with their weight. The thin sharp pocket volumes seemed anxious to jump over her.
“We have your name, guardian. Whithout it you cannot go back to the world. Nobody will name you and you will not exist.”
The guardian sobbed. There was a time when she existed. She looked down at her red shoes and perfect matching skirt. She had always wanted to have shoes like those, but now she knew that there were no more than shackles around her ankles. She exchanged her name for this aspect. Now she was as she had always liked, but nobody would ever see her.
“Words are power, guardian. We have your name. You will not exist out of here.”
“What if I bring you another name? I can bring you somebody else's name, so he can take my place.”
There was not even time for a thought, and the answer came.
“Bring us another name and you will recover yours.”
The volumes entered and left the nest at their will. They were sometimes more, sometimes fewer, but all locked up enough words to content all the world in them. The guardian took the blank book, which was used to create them all. Stumbling on her heels, she sat at the mahogany desk that they had created for her and opened it.
She stared at the blank book and, again her mind was launched in search of the callers who read the words. A whirlwind of images and feelings surrounded her. A little girl spelled her first words in a textbook, an old man with wrinkled eyes behind his glasses read a teen adventure, a young woman focused on the self-help book that would take her out of misery...
Young, old, tall, short, male and female. Thousands of different skin tones in the eyes of the guardian, imperceptible to ordinary readers, the faces of the reader. The guardian passed from one mind to another, like a shot. Most barely noticed her, but some threw away the book they were reading when they perceived that something was looking at them back from the words. She needed to find one that matched.
And there he was. The guardian felt how that mind caressed the words with devotion. He was the one. And he looked like her some years ago. She remembered herself, small and alone in the library, eager to have the figure, the success and the popularity of Alice, with her high heels and confident smile. She remembered the day a book looked back at her and ofered a deal.
The guardian stopped her will on the mind of the man to see his reaction. He was not frightened, in fact, she thought that perhaps he had not perceived her, but it was not the case. He was so devoted to his world of letters that he did not give a chance to fear. The guardian was not wrong. To say that Morris Lessmore loved books was like to say that a fish liked the sea. In fact, Morris Lessmore could not exist without them.
The guardian extended her hands of words through the mind of the man, to the origin of his personality, down to his essence. She embraced it in her hands and looked for the grammar that provided it with a shape in the world of ideas. She pulled it, and was surprised at the ease with which his name left him. As the concepts were removed, there was an implosion, and the world tried to fill the void that was left in that mind. The guardian quickly withdrew to avoid being absorbed by the storm.
Hes eyes focused on the nest, again, and she rose her gaze from the blank book. Her hands dug into it as if it was made of water. Around her, hundreds of sheets and volumes flew in excitement. Everyone in the nest could sense that she had brought a name.
The guard stood up and slowly extracted the name from the book. She held it in her hands, and showed it to everyone.
Linette Farawell felt a twisted happiness while the volumes took her back to her world. Down there, a sad-looking young man, lonely and lost, rose his eyes to her.
One of the volumes flew to him to guide him to his new evermore home.
By Eugenia. B2+
This short story is the result of having worked in class with The Joy of Books.