As I neared the end of the book, the main character’s dialogue spoke in my head.
“So I guess this is it, isn’t it? There are no more chapters, right? You said you were getting close and that was a while ago.”
I stared up into the sky. It was the same old sky there had always been, except for some rainclouds. It wasn’t raining but they were still floating there. Then he said….
“Don’t ask me how I know, I just do. Things feel really final right now, like the downward slope is starting to level out. Eventually,......... we’ll hit the back cover, right?”
I sat down on a bench- had that been there the whole time? I hadn’t seen it.
He asked, “Did I hear you say yes? I think I heard you! Your voice keeps getting harder to hear.”
Thunder started to rumble, but….. it wasn’t like the thunder I was used to. It sounded like you, and it sounded sad. From one of the clouds, a single drop fell onto the old, metal bench.
“.... You’re crying, aren’t you? I’m sorry, I’m really sorry. I wish I could change this. I wish I could be where you are.”
The thunder rolled again, and behind it was a voice. His voice.
“Me? I’ll be fine, I think. I don’t know if this has ever happened before. I don’t really know what happens when you… close the book.”
I ask “Are you afraid?”.
“Oddly, I’m not. Because…. it doesn’t matter what happens to me when you close the cover… You can always open the book again, right?”
That’s when it hits me. The realization, the epiphany jolting me to stand up. “That’s it, isn’t it? I can open it back up. The words won’t change, but you’ll still be there. I can meet me all over again and You can meet me. Everything we have will come back.”
It’s raining now, and the clouds have merged together, and in them, for the first time….. I see you. You’re crying, but it’s quiet. Maybe that was the sound of the rain hitting the paper. I realize I don’t have a lot of time until I have to close this book.
“Listen- before it’s all over- I want you to know that everything, even this… Even being over, it was worth it. It was worth it to meet you, to get to know you. Even if when I close that cover, you disappear- it was all worth it. I love you”, I say.
You love me too, I know it. I can feel it. Just for a moment, I can feel what it would be like to hold your hand.
There is a very long pause filled with silence, and I realize I’m prolonging what has to happen.
“You can do it.”, he said
For the first time, I have to be the hero. I have to close the book so we can move on to our next adventure together. And you believe in me.
The sky gets darker, slowly, but then the sun appears again, but your face is still in the remaining clouds. You open your mouth, and for the first time I actually hear you. Not just hear what you’re saying or understand you in my own head. Your voice comes through the pages in your world and into the reality of mine. It reverberates and I can hear every little nuance, down to the hitch of you crying.
“I’ll never forget you,” you say. “I’ll come back soon.”
Your thoughts enter mine. What you’re really thinking, Please don’t close the book. I don’t want to die. But you trust me, and I respect you for that.
I close the book, knowing you love me and trust me. I hope I can see you again. Hear your words again.
10 years later, age 24
The book it still sitting on a shelf at the library. No one else had had the experience I had. I finally decided to go get it again.