Welcome back to another short story! As always, enjoy!
If books were water, the room would be beyond saving. The keepers of words lay sprawled in every corner. Some have been crammed into a red bookshelf that looks like it will collapse at any moment. Others gather dust on a brown desk. Still others can be found under a nightstand. Wherever one looks, books are watching, as if they have eyes. This room could be a hungry trap, the books waiting to devour any unfortunate person who steps in it. However, she absolutely adores it. This is her room, her paradise.
It's been almost 20 years, and yet she still remembers. Then again, she supposed she would never forget when she read her first book. She had been just a tiny two-year-old, with no one teaching her how to read. Her family couldn't understand why or how her first reading happened. Even she did not know what possessed her that day. All she understood was that as soon as she picked up that book, she never looked back.
The textbooks tower before her like the world's tallest mountain. She stares at the stack with her a disgusted glare. She should be used to this by now. After all, she's a junior in college. She understands the books she reads on the campus will be nothing like her beloved ones back home. And yet, she can't help but clench her fists in frustration at the thought of having to drag herself through the dry, tasteless, material. Her professors claimed these heavy bricks they called textbooks were designed to help educate students. All she saw was something designed to help promote boredom. She longs to say it, to voice her displeasure in the most direct way. Unfortunately, she bites her tongue, because she knows she can't. She will never say she hates the books, no matter what she reads.
"It's not possible." People said. "Two years is too young." They claimed. "She can't read. She's just imitating what you taught her." That insult was directed at her and her parents. She hated it most of all. Insulting her was fine; she could understand others' disbelief. But why drag her parents into it? They hadn't done anything wrong.
"There is no frigate like a book to take you lands away." Emily Dickinson's line could not have said it better. It is her favorite, always. When a second, she has flicked open one of the pages. Another, and she is gone. She has boarded the boat, already further away than can possibly be found. Who knows when she'll be back? Only the books hold the answer.
Even her extended family was skeptical. How could a two-year-old that could barely walk read books without anyone's help? There was just no way. Two years after she picked up her first book, the questions still flew like birds. That is, until the day at her grandmother's house, with her parents and uncle. She remembers that she was sitting contently on her grandmother's couch, reading a children's book. Grandmother had always been technologically challenged, so her uncle had written down directions for the television. During this time, someone brought up the fact that she could read. Her uncle said no. He insisted that she could only read simple books, like the children's story she greedily devoured on the couch. In order to prove that he was right, her uncle had passed her the directions. As soon as these directions were placed in her hands, the words effortlessly flowed from her lips. No family member doubted her ability again after that.
A huge grin plasters itself on her face as she picks up the book. It is written differently than all the others she has read, but it is this difference that she craves. The book is written in an elegant code. She tears through the pages, marveling at letters with sharp accented hats, squiggles that seem to dance across the area, and pairs of identical letters that are like romantic partners just made for one another. The emotion conveyed by the words pours into her with part she deciphers. The ever-widening smile never leaves her face. There is a reason these books are her favorite.
Ten years ago, she made a decision. She had decided that reading the books was not enough. No, she was going to write her own. Her future was all planned out. She would become a famous author, with book signings, tours, fan clubs, and, her favorite, school visits. The goal would involve a lot of work, but she didn't care. For many years she toiled over and tried to perfect the craft of book writing. Which word goes here? Is that portrayal accurate? Do I bring out the emotion of my characters? These questions rattled on in her head as she attempted to create the best written book the world would ever know. But then, one day, she saw the reality. Competition, editors, publishers, lack of funds, and even copyright all lurked in the shadows of book writing. When they saw a naïve and ambitious new writer, they could take one look at the work and destroy its chances. She learned that the fate had befallen so many that it was impossible to name them all. She didn't want to share that destiny, and so her hopes of book writing were quashed.
She glances around her room, focusing on the numerous books she owns. Thanks to them, she finds her path in life. She decides she wants to become a teacher, so she can show others how to love books. The watching books seem to offer silent congratulations. If they had hands, they probably would've applauded. After all, a choice of career is the first step to adult future. But then, the choice is not because of her alone. She has the books to thank, as well. Without these books, she would've had no passion to fuel. And without a passion, there would have been nothing to teach. Her life, both as a child and as an adult, has been molded by books.