Drama Sad Romance

I yank out an earthy, musky book, crisp from its flake-ridden shelves, sitting untouched from the pitiable show of powdery shelves, playing its loyal role of anticipation. Neglect steals the centre stage, pulling back at the curtains of a desolate theatre, the seats as empty as the expanse of inhabitants of this library. Its once-teeming days of traction and glory now pale in the motionlessness of a freeze-framed scenery, the snapshot of bookcases in an unkindly light capturing a dulled reality and laughable longevity of such articles; what little life spans they hold onto drone on in its brief expectancies.

A stinging tug to the heart unplugs an unwanted bottle of dread screwed to the lip, a bolt-tight lid, my thoughts stirred from the golden markings embedded, its front cover unfolding open by timid fingers I did not choose to own. 

It is then that I catch a glimpse of an indistinct smudge scrawled onto the side of the introductory title of: The Long Goodbye, Meghan O'Rourke's Prologue. At first, I don't think much of it, the taste of strangeness prickling at my tongue, wafting in a pool of daubed ink.

But the same splotch returns a number of chapters later, lying against the rim of the book, rested upon a sloping center, the division between pages cusping its incoherent frame. 

But was it a stain? No. Dear me, no.

A pinched pair of eyes on opposite ends of the small, flat shape breathing in air from the tiny hairs guarding the entrances to its domain, placed on my face, seemed disoriented and senseless. Had I lost my mind? It appeared that a peculiar figure reflected back its 3D-like build taking up a feeble room on the page. Collecting my thoughts, I gain an intense curiosity over such a character, only to find a deeply confounding truth peering back up at me.

The tremor in my fingers doesn't slow as I hover over the entity like a dangling shadow, almost laying the fat of my prints onto it. The unnatural presence of a micro replica of my best friend, Thana, fills me in scrumpled disbelief, the wind snatched from me like the gentle blowing air of a book's swift flick-though, a taste of stun knocking me back such a way a cold current could only imagine. 

I am dazed.

The uncanny features of the girl that owns a tag to my heart has invited herself to the fleeting moments of calm in my reading world. 

Her voice is almost too lifelike.

"I didn't think you'd take this long, Lennon!"


Long, stretched-out lapses of hyperventilation run their course and gears in the anxiety-running machine that is me, as my breathing exercises finally catch up to speed. I am flushed. Unprepared. Embarrassed. Bewildered.

She speaks again after I'm done, her patience paying off like a charm:

"I've been waiting a while, you know! Why haven't you come to visit?"

How am I to answer her? Walking the line between my innermost honesties of feeling and uncovered notions of uncertainty pose a tightrope of danger to my mentally dysfunctional circus as my tattered leather boots slip from the weight and shudders off the endless cord, the fool that I am making a fool out of all other trapeze artists… or shall I say, the fool of one man such as me makes a fool of humanity.

I decide to go with: "I… I've tried--"

"Nope! I don't wanna hear it!" she interrupts.

I inhale. "Listen--"

"Shh-tuh-tuh-tah! Those silly excuses you usually run by me won't cut it today, no siree!"

Water clings to my throat. "W-well who are you to judge? You don't enter the library without me either! Or did you forget we walk to Pristyme High together and read together and go out anywhere together?"

She sits abashedly, a milky scorebook of notes at her disposal, like any other pretty girl's weapon: sympathy. "Lennon… you used to wait by my door… and walk me out, hand in hand… and we would flee the merry neighbourhoods to make time for ourselves in this place of archived literature."

I pause to soak the space around me and its tingling speckles of suspended matter flitting through the blinds and olden, timely wooden boards bearing a cargoship load-fulls of written works, compositions, memoirs, chronicles and volumes of life all pieced together in a greying village of our safe abode.

"We promised we'd wait for us every day, did we not?" she reiterated our naive words.

I feel a meek, fatigued, almost-forgotten happiness. "I suppose so."

"Then… would you not have checked every place we'd been until you found me? To meet again? To have me not wait any longer? What happened to us? "

I don't know what comes over me. A sudden, unanticipated madness comes bellowing loose, the water contained from dam of my civility and filtration system is abruptly unleashed, a cascade of muddied grime marking its debut:

"You don't get to tell me I haven't been trying. I may not have searched every place-- hell, I may have known for long that you'd be here, of all places-- but the inevitability of my facing the past -- dredging up our times together -- has held me back

and I admit it's selfish, but I didn't have it in me. I didn't have the conviction and strength, because you've been a permanent guest at the lodgings of my mind, a visitor refusing to leave, and if… if I entertain you any longer… I might just break;

you've been living rent-free inside my head, and avoiding this very library proves my point… because it would only remind me more of the life I wish I had with you.

You haven't the slightest inkling how much I've wanted to meet again. But-- but, not like this. Not when I've been kicking myself out of anger for laughing or feeling things that don't involve you. Not when I've been crying myself to sleep each night that passes. Not when I have to grapple with these conflicting feelings of moving on and keeping you with me until death do us part. But the strife of it all is only made worse by the luggage of heartache attached. Loving you has come with a price : losing you. 

I know I haven't kept my word… and I'm sorry. But I have been waiting, Thana. Just as plenty as you have. Just… not for the same thing.

Truth is… I've been waiting for this untiring heat in my chest-- a lump of coal enclosed in fiery embers-- to fizzle out from the pit hollowed out at my core. I've been waiting and wishing away the wax of unfamiliarity, to have it melt away and pool into a bowl until some shape or form of normalcy emerges from the dark… only to remain with a coldness equally as terrifying-- if not more-- than the present burning of a pain I know too well to part with; 

I can't help ponder the dying light that comes after, plunging my cave of thoughts into darkness… how am I to sleep well at night, alone with a bleakness as small as the beginnings of a spark, the guilt swarming in on a soft glow of sanity with its murk and its iciness... Why do I feel as if the whole house I've built for myself will come crumbling down at a moment's notice? 

This -- self-consciousness of a want to move forward in life has trapped me in perpetual self-hatred. If I find warmth in a fire you didn't start… if I find peace in a world you don't play a part in… whatever will I do with myself?

So, what happened to us? I don't know… but what will? I'm afraid to find out."

My monologue concludes, and the silence that follows after is worse than the outburst itself.


She doesn't respond for a full minute. The clock ticks by at a dull, uneasy pace.

I cut through the thick fog of our disquietude with more of what we don't need.

"My world already revolves around you, Thana. How much more will it take to prove that to you? How much farther am I to reach to touch you? But then again, I've kept a distance for my sanity's sake."

"Then have you thought, perhaps, we aren't meant to reach each other?" she says, the seriousness of her inquiry unlike her. 

I pull a look at her, despite my awareness of the hypothesis.

"I- I don't know..."

"Well - then... let's forget the matter. If we spend the rest of this afternoon worrying, we won't get anywhere!" the relieving nonchalance about her finds its way back.


"Lennon, please read the book for me. Finish it, and then we can talk afterwards. I'm telling you -- this one's good." Her hearty chortles before telling a joke she's thought up of are a soothing remedy of their own: "Trust me when I say," she grins, "It's brought me more excitement than you have."

I feel the rim of my eyes brush their lids, rolling it as far back as I can manage. "If it's that good, then leave me to it, will you?" I smicker, giving her the satisfaction of my ridicule. 

With a smugness to her, she bids me farewell. "I'll be waiting at the final chapter… And don't go skipping ahead! You need to read this through and through, mister short-term attention span!" 

"I'll try," I accept the insults, but not without adding one of my own, "miss skim-reader."

"I certainly do not," she gasps.

"Don't trust my word for it. Ask the books," I sneak in a final say, turning the page over at my convenience.

  • »»——⍟——««

And just as she promised, Thana appears at the final page, tainting the last word from completion, the context behind it, muddled and yet, easing. Just as I move to read the acknowledgments page, she awakes, struck by a third-sense reanimation, climbing over to an imprint of a gold seal, the same one from the cover.

She glances at me, and after grabbing my attention like a dizzied deer, she dishes out a line funnily prepared, though I don't presume what comes next was rehearsed:

"I'll be going! Find me in the next book, Lennon! I'm hoping you won't take half as long this time 'round," she says, stepping into the stamp and sinking through its creases, as she and the encrusted emblem merge into one, the nature of her disappearance as odd as her initial entrance.

My dumbfoundedness is replaced by a craving lurch of movement, her absence fueling me, making a farce out of food, the longingness of the nutrition her presence provides keeping up with the frenzy that is my attachment issues. I feel my eyes dart and spasm in frantic waves of untidy visions. 

I am interrupted by an unexpected ringing from my jean's pocket, the vibrant against my leg, an irritation I am too weak to ignore. 

I hold out my phone, watching the display of a girl's name, Halia, invades the reserved personality of my mobile. And yes, I know its character, because it's adopted mine. This is the first call I've received in a long while. I don't see why the caller can't simply text.

Answering it, my body decides to multitask, as one hand is kept on the device, and the other is rifling through the shelves for a sign of her. The signal picks up, and a loud voice buzzes like a radio from my palm.


I am too distracted with my rummagings to notice the volume on her end, as the gratitude of discovery flatters me, finally arriving at the book, Emily's Rapp's: The Still Point of the Turning World, the freshly firm, brilliant yellow gleaming like a ribboned gift. 

"Yes," I reply.

In a zestful hastiness, I pluck the book from its place -- with so much eagerness the page rips at my clumsy hands. 

The sharp, chilling clacks of pointed heels against wood make the planks beneath my feet quiver as a grim-faced, sullen-cheeked, stern-looming librarian pops up 'round the corner, a corridor-worth of steps and a lifetime's worth of stress. 

"QUIET!" she chastises, a scorched dome of magma in her pupils, a smoky frost to the air she wafts in, all the more enhanced at the sight of a severed page.

A resonant, razor-sharp static permeates the room, the audio piercing the thin barriers of such confining walls.

"I'm calling to check in o--"

My fingers don't pat the decline option fast enough. Her words linger well into an unsettling stillness, the royal haze of a sunset-shaded token between my hands, an object of comfort amidst the dense, stifling exchange between an offender-- me --and a scrouge.

"If you know what's good for you, you will compensate for your misdeeds and reimburse our services. After paying back for your defacement of a perfectly orderly book, you will bring it home with you and never mistreat it again, like any respectable person would. You will read it and weep over your carelessness, for a damaged book is a damaged conscience. You will be as soundless as I require you to, and I will not hear a peep from you hereafter, if you're sensible enough to follow any sense of decency and accountability. Do I make myself clear?"

I cannot tell whether I mutter or mouth the word, but it takes shape either way: "Yes…"

  • »»——⍟——««

I take a seat at the far corner of the library to avoid the blazing gaze of its keeper, gently setting the page onto a table before starting the read. 

I flick through several chapters before reaching a line about love, finding Thana to be placidly lolled over the letters, making a bed out of it, as the elevation of l serves as her pillow, the following blocks, her mattress. 

She jolts into composure from her colourless, dreary repose, all semblances of life, mere scatterings of idle dust.

"Pardon the wait."

Seeing me, she takes a crack at another banter: "Oh, this was nothing compared to your delay over a whole four seasons."

But I know underlying allusions to my culpability are what she's really getting at. Who else is there to blame?

"Thana, I'm sorry…"

She sighs. "This place used to be our safe haven. Our bunker. Our sanctuary."

The empty eyes that blink back at me, feeble as they come, wobbling away in a dreamlike state, almost seem softer than before, as the natural depths of dimension fade into thin, careful lines of ink.

"Yes, I know… but I had to get away..." I say.


"Yes, Thana?"

"I can't stay any longer."


"Your memory of me will live on through this place... and through the list of books I'd saved before I left. For you."

"Thana, what do you mean?"

"I've compiled my favourites in pursuit of rich literature, and now... I suppose... the quest is for yours to conquer; only this time, it's for a different purpose. Catharsis. After you finish this one, there's another. Then another. And then another. The golden traces will flit through the powdery spaces and darkly lit gaps, but I will never truly take part in it - In the reality of your world."

I swallow.

"This is the last time we'll talk."

"No, it isn't," I state, plead. "I'll find you in the next book."

"No. It is. I won't be in the next book."

"Then how is it you are here right now? How can I see you in the flesh with my own tired eyes, and yet you deny me the chance to meet again? Why are you leaving so soon? I thought we would stick by each other until death do us part."

"You are mistaking my flesh with your subconsciousness. I am a figment of your creation. A lost soul. A dweller of your mind that does not belong anywhere outside of it. I am the flashing images projected from your unending tape of memories. I am the music from your mental jukebox that has escaped into fallen echoes. I am the tales reflectively spoken from our unwritten future together, having slipped through our plans, but in track with life's. I am the portrait of your longing imagination, but the vibrancy of existence has lost its touch, as the drainage of colours from my frame has left you filling in the blanks with what you remember, drawing inspiration from what I've left behind. 

It is not a matter of me waiting for our encounter, but for your return to normality. But by the end of this tale, you'll have put the pieces together and the charade will have mouldered down into the emptiness of these pages.

But are they really empty? They're brimmed to the blotch with heartfelt love letters and messages addressed to the infinite count of recipients, contributing such intimate notes amongst one another, the intricacies of writing shared, while I am just one of many who have felt and learned so much from the unremitting expanse of ocean that is literature, blessed by the waves of story."

Halia rings a second time.

Awful timing.

Or, perfect?

"Take it," she lets me. 

Or… I let myself.

But something restrains me. I look over at the phone a while and hesitate.

"You'll miss your chances in this world if you don't take them."

The buzzing persists.

"Don't wait for my next book..."

I hover over accept call.

"because I'll be at the end of your chapter, titled Grief, which will come when you're ready to write your next; but, for now, if it's any consolation, I'll last the whole way under your Acknowledgements page."

My heart clenches.

"I'll save you a spot," I say.


And I hear Halia on the receiving end.

May 01, 2021 02:53

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Danny -
10:35 May 18, 2021

Wonderful story, Luisa! This story was beautiful, you demonstrated the emotions of the characters well and had good dialogue to go with it. I absolutely love reading romance and stories like yours show how much thrill there is in writing and reading them. Great job! Love the yellow aesthetic, btw :)


:}} Silverstar
11:56 May 18, 2021

Thank you! I love your yellow aesthetic too :} Is your profile of a lady behind hued drapes or perhaps in front of window-peeking sunlight?? And might I say, your stories are marvelous!! really dig the suspense and engaging descriptions of your writing style :)) !!!! <33


Danny -
00:28 May 19, 2021

No problem! Thanks :] I'm not so sure of that, but yellow's a nice color, it looks like the sun puked on her :') Which color do you think is your favorite? Thanks, I love that about your writing style too :)) <3


:}} Silverstar
12:48 May 20, 2021

haha I'm so jealous the sun's puke gets to be *that* pretty; who gave it the right ??! Ooo my favourite colour would have to be blue sapphire :]] and for good reason! ~My birthstone is actually a sapphire gem or 'wisdom' stone, if we're getting technical. And it's also just a pretty jewel :3 My primary uniform was blue, my denim jacket's blue, my favourite pillow that's heart-shaped with the words 'f l u f f y' knitted across its fabric is blue, and most importantly, my sky's blue. Is your sky blue? and yes, that *is* my indirect way of fi...


Danny -
13:35 May 20, 2021

Aah yeah, the sun's just nice, bright, and cheery, I guess :) A sun in its natural habitat e.e Ooh that's nice, sapphires are so beautiful and their color is too :] ~That's interesting, blue suits you so well The color was made for you xD Are sapphires your favorite kind of gems too? :) Yeah, my sky is blue, is yours? :} I'd say yellow would have to be my favorite color, it's bright and happy, eek No problem! Aah me too from you~


:}} Silverstar
03:30 May 22, 2021

mmhm love the vibe of yellow, and of course, the sun :}} ~ did you know blue is the most popular colour in the world? I mean,,, it sort-of makes sense... but the fact that they have documented most peoples' preferred choice of colour, or perhaps the global frequency of colour usage, like in industries of fashion and textile, is strange to think about. I wonder what it is about blue. ...well, I suppose it's calming, for one. And maybe it has a sense of familiarity to the eyes? with all the blue we see from the water and skies of the earth, p...


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