i once had a large collection of books, leather-bound with golden lettering, before the fire took them. as a boy i dreamed of having a library, though i grew into not reading nearly as much. and then the books i bought i never read, nor even had the intention of reading, as i purchased them for their condition and their beauty. books judged by covers with contents disregarded, much in the same way other wealthy people keep feral animals as pets. they and i would much rather gloat about our captives than enjoy them and their companionship.
but now i lament the loss of my bookshelves, or at least the filled ones, as my partial collection has passed from this world into the eternally unread.
but those bookshelves, and yes, even those books, were simply a means to an end: an empty space behind one of them with a chain attached to one particularly hefty volume, swinging the whole thing out to a dusty staircase and half of a basement to myself.
in the books were secrets and behind them was my own. or at least, there would have been, if the fire hadn’t taken it before it finished. perhaps i’d have sat in there and read all of those books cover to cover, away from everyone, sitting down there alone, with an empty house above me, reading a volume of an especially beautiful foreign encyclopedia.
and maybe if it had been done the night of the fire, i’d have slowly suffocated in there, lost in a labyrinth of alphabetical facts, oblivious to my oblivion. if it were finished, maybe no one would have ever found me. but it wasn’t. so i didn’t.
regardless, if it were here, i would submerge myself in it and bathe in the solitude and silence. there is something peaceful about being lost to the world.
but it’s not.
so i won’t.