Flash Fiction: Something About Books
Updated: Nov 21, 2019
She walked around the stacks searching for her next world to live in. There were so many books and so little time to read them all, but that is what made each one memorable—those additional lives she chose to live. It was pleasant when a writer understood that people were giving away part of their lives to be involved in their world. And so they made it rich, made it lovable and horrible; but most of all, faithful of the human experience.
Where should she journey to during the relaxing bites of her day while the coffee warmed her insides? In her last thoughts before sleep? There was the past: so varied with many cultures. Perhaps to be involved in the diary of a Californian cowboy, or travel to Victorian London with a dash of vampire and warlock thrown in. There was the present: a lighthearted romp with friends could be what she needed on a fragrant spring evening. There was the future: a dystopian world where humans communicate with animals or a retelling of a Jane Austen novel set among the stars.
Books are better than movies, she thought. They may lack the emotions created by music or detailed visuals, but they were slower, broader. You can fall in love with a character, with their world in days and weeks rather than hours. Picture them within you, rather than be shown. And when they are broken, you break. When they find greatness or truth within themselves, you find it in yourself. Yes, movies can do this, but there's something about books, especially the ones that never leave after they are read. Worlds and those who live in them become part of us together with their story, written by a voice that may not have existed for centuries.
She enjoyed holding library books. The contacted cover was thick and satisfying. It felt like she was part of a community; reading a book that many people had read before and would after. She rejoiced when finding receipts or other makeshift bookmarks within the pages. She also wanted to lay fingers on the untouched books: the new or forgotten ones. She missed the board books from when her daughter was younger. They were grubby with food smudges, but this meant they were loved.
A Robin Hood retelling plus the first book in an epic fantasy series boasting dragons, made it into her elbow nook before she moved to non-fiction. This was a place to visit Earth. She loved looking through books about nature—jungles, forests, forgotten animals— and those which promoted the next creative impulse such as crochet or sketching.
She was deep in the halls of an English manor house when she felt warm arms wrap around her waist. Her daughter's backpack thumped down between them. The seems barely held together with the weight of picture books. She smiled with her daughter across portable worlds.
The best thing about stories was to be able to share them.
Written for Australian Writers' Centre Furious Fiction, October 2019. (Edited)