Between the Pages of Books

Once upon a time, there was a girl who drowned between the pages of books. She had always loved reading, ever since she was young. Then, she read a book that broke her heart. She spent the rest of her life searching for something to heal the cracked, broken pieces, and found nothing but a sour world that told her to straighten her back and wipe away her tears. After all, it was just a book, for God’s sake. She couldn’t find anything to ease her grief, but she got better at hiding it, at smiling and pretending everything was okay until she was alone in her room, and she could lay down on her bed and stare at the ceiling and wonder if anything could ever be okay again. Then, one day, she slipped away, drowned inside her own heart. The dams she’d built up around her tears damning her to a watery death as the waves rose until she couldn’t find the strength to tread water for a moment longer. You see, the floodgates never opened. She drowned inside herself.


Once upon a time, there was a girl who was lost between the pages of books. The stories were like a deadly bite of faerie fruit or a dose of poison, like Will o’ Wisps that led her deep into a thicket of enchanted trees, a bottle of wine that sent her head spinning away from logic, a broken love that kept hurting her over and over and over again. Each day, she found it harder and harder to put down her newest story and continue with the harsh world; school, sports, chores, friends, family, drama. It was so hard to exist sometimes. But when she picked up a book, she didn’t exist, and that was the most glorious part. She was gone, and it was effortless as nothing had ever been for her in her entire life. Each day, stories and words filled the ever-widening cracks between her daily existence, until the seams split open and one day, when her parents came home from work, she was simply gone, the way that she had always liked herself best, because she was just a book.


Once upon a time, there was a girl who fell between the pages of books. In real life, she was the quiet nerd in the corner of the room, the one who was smart in school but lost all the words in her mouth when she was talking to someone else, the one whose parents didn’t quite know what to do with her, the one who didn’t have a best friend but rather a scattered handful of friends who all liked her second-best to her other friends and always conveniently forgot to invite her to go shopping or sleep over. Whenever she was brought along, she shuffled a few steps behind, mouth sewn shut. Then, one day, she found a book and stepped inside, and felt the air rustle past her ears as she fell and fell and fell until she landed on the back of a horse, clad in beautiful silver armor with a sword flashing in her hand. And in an instant, she was no longer tied down by the word “shy” but instead she was a million possibilities in the breadth of a second. She was a fearsome enchantress with her staff held high, a dragon rider racing through purple skies, a fierce warrior, a kind princess, and if she so chose to withhold words, her silence was a weapon rather than a burden. Sometimes, sometimes she was just herself, but even then, she had a lightning tongue hidden behind the stack of books in her hands. She never looked up, though, because then she would see the library above just as she had left it, and she never wanted to go back to where her life was just a book. 


Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to read and write books. Sometimes she wondered if it was worth it, for in the end, she was always hurt in some way. There were the stories that filled the cracks in between her every breath, darting looks down at the pages in the middle of class; there were the stories that she dragged herself through like a wounded warrior, grimly plowing on to the end; there were the stories that lifted her up in a golden joy but ended in an abrupt, shattering plunge; there were the stories that never ended, the last pieces lost… and then there were the stories that climbed inside of her heart and stayed there, stubbornly, even after they had turned their last page, watching her shatter over and over again, then rush up to the bookstore anew, still aching from the last one but ready for more. They say the best books are the ones that mark you, but she can’t help but wonder why she does this to herself, like driving a knife into her chest over and over and over again just because she is capable of healing in between. She is raw, she is aching, she is cracked, she is broken, but no one can see it and no one can help, because in the end it is just a book. She looks down at the tearstained pages in her hands; why does she pick up the next book, then? Why doesn’t she just stop? Well, she supposes that this is a little like love. Each time, it’s like taking your heart out of its pretty little leather cover and offering it up between cupped hands, only to have it returned with ripped pages and dog-eared chapters and maybe even a new part that you never asked to be written on the blank pages at the end. But maybe it’s worth it for the ride along the way, she thinks. Because that means that sometimes she can lift her favorite stories out of their perfect little place on her shelf and page through them gently. She knows how it will end, how it will hurt, but she reads it anew and lets the pain remind her that she is alive and aching in this wonderous world just waiting to be paged through, chapter by chapter, word by word. 


In the end, maybe it is worth it just to love something enough for it to destroy her, for it to become more than just a book. 

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