'Somehow though, I've managed to hold my hand this far. These faded and torn pages they are the ones I read the most. I must. I keep forgetting what they contain.'
I pull out another book, place it before her. Quietly, carefully, the torn pages are placed to one side, replaced by something new. Confusion crosses her face, as she struggles to make out the words.
she will not understand this! she will run
'Every time I focus on a word, it seems to shift. Every time I think I'm close to deciphering a line, it morphs into something new. I keep getting so close, but then everything changes.'
She turns to the last page, and finds a simple image, a single star. Not wavering, not moving. Not changing.
'This is my hope. I can't read it either. So many times, I've reached for the words, and they slips out of my reach - like I'm not allowed to read them. So many times, they've found me, before I knew how much I needed them. I did not create these pages. Sometimes new ones appear, sometimes pages seem to vanish in the blink of an eye.'
'Sometimes, I wonder whether they're truly mine...'
She's still staring at the last page. 'And this?'
'All I know, is that one day, that star will move. It will fall, but it will never hit the ground...somehow, I'm sure of this. And I know, when that happens, I won't need to try and figure out the rest any more. It's all I'll ever need.'
'What will it take for that to happen?'
'I don't know. I just know that I've pushed it, so hard. I've pulled, and strained,and it hasn't budged. I can't force it to make that descent.'
And I place another book before her, caught in a headlong rush, no longer caring about the voices pleading for thought, for calm. She catches herself as she realises it's heavier than its size would make it seem to be. Gasps, and stops when she opens it, and sees the blood on the page.
The blood on every page.
'Because sometimes, hope isn't there. Because sometimes, all I can find is despair. I try not to add to these pages - please believe in this. Just sometimes, I do bleed. And if you look closely, you'll see where the tears have softened the red, like a wash over a watercolour. I don't want to hide this. This book belongs in my life. This is a part of me.
she blinks, and I watch the transition of her eyes. hoping i recognise them when they open once again. hoping they still recognise me
And as the pages turn, she finds the thorns hidden amongst the pages. Skillfully placing her fingers, so that not a drop of her blood is shed, the pages fold over.
'They're my hate. I try to avoid these pages, to close the book and hide it away. Still...sometimes it refuses to be locked away. There is no need for such caution...these thorns cannot harm you. Only my own blood stains the paper.'
you fucking fool! walk away, now, before more damage is done.
'Please, show me something more. Please tell me that there's more than fear, and blood and hate. I've seen hope, but I couldn't read the words. I've seen dreams, but the pages were so torn. Show me something that hasn't been broken, confused, soiled..'
...don't you dare
The book swirls, seemingly changing colours in the light. Until, like a disc of colours spun fast enough, all that you can discern is white.
'Please, be careful…'
She opens it, slowly turning page after page. Studying some carefully, flicking past others. Before she has a chance to speak a word, I talk.
'I can't explain what you see. I've never read the same words you do right now. Sometimes, someone will look at a page with wonder, and such a beautiful smile. I look…and there's nothing there. This book…it's not for my eyes. This is my love.'
'When you handed this to me, you told me to be careful. Then you tell me what this is. Why should I fear?'
'Others have read. Turned page after page…then found the thorns hidden within. I don't know where they lie…but these one will cut you if you brush over them.'
She turns back, and continues to fold the pages over.
For one last time, I draw a book from its hiding place, and sit it before her. I can't help shivering, as she reaches towards it.
'…I know. I'm terrified.'
Her hands reach out and turn back the cover. She begins turning pages. Soon, her pace quickens, until she's flicking over page after page, her confusion growing.
'It's empty. There's nothing written…nothing at all.'
'This story…it's not over. These pages, they're waiting to be filled. I don't know what the words will say. I don't know their colour, or shape. They may be filled in years, or days. They're waiting.'
And across the table, I slide her a pen. Reach my hand back, leaving it in front of her.
'Tell me a story.'