Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Story of G. Serbo
The figure in the hallway shambled along, feeling his way through his own dusk with his hand along the wall. His hand was there only for support. His eyes could still, barely, make out the vague shapes that loomed and wobbled in front of him, but his despair that the beautiful world was fading away made him more unsteady. More and more often, images from his mind would overcome the dim picture in front of him and he would be overtaken with momentary panic that he had seen his last of the outside world. His memory, at least, was rich with images that would maintain his sanity and imagination.
One of his favorite images to recall was that of three construction workers standing in the dirt next to a large fire, green flames flickering between the yellow and orange. Behind them was a large, open parasol, made of delicate cream and fringed with lace. It was like something out of a dream, yet had appeared one tired evening before his eyes as he was heading home. No explanation was needed, nor did he ever receive one. It just was what it was. Sometimes existence was beautiful like that.
He eventually found his way to the door of the library. Not only did he have this place memorized by heart, but he could smell when he was at the door. Bookstores had a similar smell, but it wasn't quite the same: he preferred the library. It was a deeper, heavier scent, enhanced by history and time, the experience of having been read over and over.
The expansive space that existed in even a small library was nearly impossible to comprehend. Pages and miles of adventures, lives, emotions and tragedies existed in the span of only a few bookshelves. He entered the space, made his few greetings, and took his accustomed place next to a nameplate which, he supposed, was meant to make him feel important.
After a couple of hours, he heard and saw the vague outline of a girl sitting at a table near him, reading. He walked over and put a hand on her shoulder, partially out of kindness and partially for balance. She jumped slightly and turned her head. Gazing down at her, he could make out the mass of deep brown that was her hair.
"Tell me, Marie. How are the clouds today?" he asked. She paused for a moment before answering and, he supposed, she smiled.
"There are some large ones spanning the top of the sky. They are thin and spread out, like melted whipped cream."
"There are also a few on the horizon like shining, fluffy pillows," she added.
"Are they really like pillows?"
She thought for a moment. "No. More like cotton balls."
"Ah, I see. Thank you. Please, don't let me keep you from your friends."
She glanced down at her open book and smiled, resting her hand briefly on his before turning back to her story.
He moved to return to his desk, but decided to walk through the shelves instead. The past few days had been particularly shaky for him and he needed the balance of the literature to calm him. A beautiful young woman walked in front of him, a question posed on her lips. The most startling thing about her was that he could clearly see that she was beautiful. His eyes seemed to have returned to him: her inquisitive smile, the individual strands of dirty blond hair. He smiled widely.
"May I help you find something, miss?"
"As a matter of fact, a rich, beautiful Brazilian man has decided to marry me, and I know nothing about the culture at all! Well, darling, I thought that was just dreadful, so I decided I need to brush up!"
He chuckled quietly at her enthusiasm. "Books on Brazilian culture, then? Come with me, we have plenty over in this section." He walked purposefully, although not certain of his footing. He did not want the young woman, whom he saw so clearly, to know that he was otherwise mostly blind. He depended on his vivid memory and the slow counting of shelves with an outstretched hand at his side. When they reached the appropriate place, he gestured to the shelves where she could find all the information.
"Well, look at that!" she exclaimed as she reached up to the bookshelves, pulled out a few books and disappeared around the corner.
There had been something about the girl that he had found startlingly familiar. He was puzzling it over as he rounded a bend and choked on a scream. There, standing in front of him, was a gigantic insect. He was about to turn and get away as fast as possible when he noticed an apple sticking out of its side and the its pleading face as it drew slowly closer. He could see this insect just as clearly as the girl. He then realized why she had looked so familiar. This one he knew all too well and murmured, "Ah, Kafka. Finally we meet." He did not, however, know which book it could possibly want, so he walked away.
Heading to the front of the library, he realized his vision was becoming increasingly clear. As he approached the open area in the front, he heard many murmurs and voices speaking, which were clarified as he walked into view and saw various characters all over the library.
'There he is!" one particularly tall man in rusted armor shouted, and they all turned towards him. They walked over, some asking for books, others engaged in conversation with him and each other. He wondered how they all could have come to be. He looked up at the various characters wandering around and grinned softly. What did it matter? He could see. And he was among friends.