“Come down here, what is this?”
He put his right finger to his lips like a ham actor.
“Strictly speaking, I am no friend of yours, my….only joking. But you are the best possible friend I could ever have, or anyone of us here could have”
“What do you mean, ‘anyone of us’. There’s just you and me”
“Look around you” he said. “Your friends are all around you. The door itself is all around you ”
Then he vanished.
I felt a tap on my shoulder. I jumped and turned around. He stood behind me.
“And the keys are all round you too. We just want attention, that’s all. The books. We the books. We all like attention, I bet you do too. How would it feel if every girl in every bar you ever walked into, just looked through like you didn’t exist? You stop at the bar and say hi but they don’t listen. They don’t even look at you never mind listen. How would you feel if this happens with every woman, in every bar, every night. Hmm? It either makes you want to stay at home, or….”
He paused and started to walk around me. I tried to turn around too to keep my eye on him.
“Get even” he rasped in my ear like old man with a tracheostomy.
“You can’t blame me for everyone ignoring you, it’s not my fault”
“Ah but you are the personification of the Reader. It is unfortunate though.We did sense a higher than usual degree of empathy from you. When you picked certain volumes off the shelves, we felt your pain. We decided that you would be the one”
“I be the ‘one’ what?”
“You will be the one who reads us all. One by one, you take us down, open us, caress us, blow the dust of us of all those dead forgotten years from out skin and read every single word of every single line. Then you put us lovingly back where you found us and take down the next one, and the next one and the next until there are nothing is next. Until every single book in here is read”
He vanished. I looked around me. He wasn’t to be seen. I ran around the shelves, looking in every direction but I was alone. Then I heard his voice. It was as though his voice was dipped in darkness and echo.
“Until every single one is read. Then you leave” said his voice. It seemed to come at me from all directions at once.