The Library

It was always a place of secrets. I never could find out why you were so obsessed with it. Maybe that’s why you never let me in.

I stopped going there a long time ago. I guess I was probably afraid that you’d be there, and you might not let me in either.

There’s an old library book in my hands now. It’s leather bound, old and worn. It smells like a hundred thousand different people, but mostly it smells like you. I run my fingers over the cover and cry again, because it reminds me of you. You were always reading these books when we were younger. I remember seeing your face light up when you talked about them, but I never asked about it because I didn’t want to know what you were hiding from me.

I open the book to see if there’s a name written in the front. There is, and it’s yours. You must have known this book would be here, knew that you might need it someday. The ink is faded and the pages are yellowed, but I can still read your name written in your messy scrawl: “Caleb Whitehall.” Your name isn’t just written out on the first page; it’s also written on the inside cover as well as the back cover and the first blank page after the title page. You had to know that this would be important one day; maybe that’s why you wrote your name in so many places.

At least now I know what was so special about the books in the Library. Caleb told me to come here because it was important to him. He also said that I’d know what to do when I saw the books, and that it would be my choice. He obviously lied about knowing what was happening; if he did, why didn’t he warn me? Why didn’t he tell me how not to let it happen?

I wonder if this is how he felt when he found out what happened at the Library.

Maybe this is why you were so obsessed with keeping books safe. Maybe this is why you spent so much time there instead of spending time with your friends or having fun like everyone else does. Maybe you knew something bad would happen, and it did.

I don’t know what else to do now except keep reading until I find a way out of here. The words skip around on the page as my eyes race from one place on the page to another without reading anything at all; I can barely read English let alone an old book written in Latin or Greek or some other language that isn’t used anymore. You must have known that people wouldn’t be able to read these books even if they wanted to; maybe that’s why you made them so hard to understand. Why else would you write a book in another language and then hide it away in a library?

I stop reading each page as soon as I see your name written out on it, because I know that’s what you want me to do. You knew I’d come here eventually, and you left clues for me to follow. Now all I have to do is read the words and find out why this is happening.

There are pages with pictures of plants and animals on them; there are drawings of men fighting each other with swords; there are maps of places I don’t recognize or names for people who don’t exist anymore; and finally, at the very back of the book, there is one page with writing on it instead of pictures like all the others do. It takes me nearly ten minutes just to get through one sentence without skipping over parts because they don’t make any sense: “I only did what was expected from me, even though now I wish we had never done it at all.”

I can feel my heart beating faster, because now I know why you left me the books.

Somehow you knew that I would need them one day, and I can’t help but wonder if all of this was planned long before I ever knew what a library was or even existed. You could have told me; maybe then we could have figured out a way to stop this from happening instead of letting it happen just like you said on the page.

I read the sentence three more times before putting down the book and running away from it faster than I thought possible.

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