It is deafening,
A void of nothingness
Shattered by even a pin drop,
Broken by a breath,
Cracked by the beating of a human heart.
It is a drug,
Unlike anything else we know,
Sought out by thinkers
and writers and philosophers
Across the ages of our world.
It is a gift.
In a world of emotions so powerful
Like pain and joy,
It is a haven,
But it is lonely,
A solitude built
By those who were hurt,
Those in pain,
Those who just need…
It is a moment
So quick…so nonexistent.
How do we know it was even there?
We know because it is clarity,
A time to figure everything out,
A place to lose yourself,
A thing so fragile,
Like the thinnest sheet of ice
Or the smallest fragment of glass,
Golden in the eye of the perfect beholder.
It speaks volumes,
The loudest nothing you will ever hear.
But what is this gift?
Simply silence yourself
And you will discover all the secrets it holds,
All the mysteries it has secluded,
And all that it has to offer.
Age to Age
Knowledge is something that everyone should have access to. We should depend on it, confident that we can turn to books for answers to new questions. Knowledge is power… and now the people of Puissance have none…
Kathryn Marshall walks down an empty road. The sky a canopy of stars above her, warding the remaining darkness away as the sun begins to slowly ascend. She appears confident, her piercing grey eyes set on a building in the distance despite the secret responsibility weighing on her conscience. Her feet hit the cracked pavement hard with every step as she thinks about the secret she holds, a secret that was passed down through her family from age to age.
Many years ago, Kathryn’s great, great, great, great-grandfather began taking books from libraries all over the world when word got out that Puissance’s government was planning to remove the books from every point of access the citizens had. Puissance wanted to keep their power over the people and gain even more by taking the books and earning from them. They didn’t want their citizens to have a strategical advantage over them, so, like cowards, they removed that possibility...almost. Kathryn’s distant grandfather stored millions of books in his own secret library; the books ranging and varying in genre and information. He wanted to keep the books safe until the people of the world needed them and could be trusted with them once again. Every week, he would preserve the books in plastic covers and dust off every page until it they were all spotless. Months after he completed his mission, he told his oldest son about the library, trusting him with the secret that Kathryn now knows.
Kathryn never wanted the burden of such a big secret because it makes for such a lonely life. She didn’t want it and now, because of her family, she had to lie to Asher, her best friend from birth and current boyfriend.
What makes it even worse is that she has to break the law while doing it. Every Sunday, Kathryn tells Asher that she has to do homework, or go to an extra class for school, or meet up with one of her nonexistent friends so that she can take inventory and clean the library. Every Sunday she has to lie...to her perfect boyfriend who has done absolutely nothing wrong.
Kathryn’s thoughts slowly wander back to the incredibly long walk she has to take in order to get to the stupid library from where she gets off the train. The nearest train station is three miles from the library, so by the time Kathryn reaches the doors of the abandoned building it will be light outside. Already, the stars are fading above her, vanishing in the light of the morning sun. Every step makes her even more angry about the fact that she has to give up a Sunday with Asher for a couple of old books that will take hours to clean. It’s hard enough to find time to meet with Asher as it is because he is in training to become a Soldier of Puissance, a highly respected position in their government.
Kathryn actually first met Asher one morning when the forgetful young man was late for his first training session. He was running down the street where Kathryn was walking, her eyes downcast, on his way to catch the 8:00 am train, and he ran into her, knocking the belongings out of her grasp. Kathryn remembers tripping over her own feet before hitting the hot asphalt, embarrassing herself in front of the boy. Being the gentleman he is, he surprised Kathryn and helped her pick her things up off the ground, offered his apologies, and then his phone number, a smooth move in any guy’s book. They had been together since then, and they are the perfect couple...almost. Kathryn’s huge secret and constant lies keep their relationship from being truly perfect.
The old red doors of the ancient building loom over Kathryn’s short figure. Kathryn takes the tarnished metal doorknob in her tiny hand, the cold of the metal cutting through her pale skin, and pulls the ivy-covered doors wide open, revealing a dark hallway. She carefully steps over the threshold, pulling the doors shut behind her. Immediately, she is encased in almost complete darkness except for the light breaking in through the dirt-caked windows that line the red brick walls. At the end of the ominous hallway, Kathryn reaches a set of stairs that spiral down into the heart of the secret library. She takes one step down...then another, and underfoot, the wooden boards creak, moaning as unfamiliar weight is applied to them. They have been abandoned for a while now. The incessant creaking makes Kathryn nervous, shattering her confident facade, but she remains calm and continues her steady descent. The downward climb is made easier by the flashlight feature on her old cellular phone, guiding her farther and farther down into the earth.
At the bottom of the rickety spiral staircase is another hallway, this one lit by warm lights in the ceiling. Kathryn’s feet pad along the stone floors to a set of heavy, black metal doors. To the right of the doors hangs a keypad, and Kathryn punches in the familiar seven-digit code. She is rewarded by the sound of whirring machinery that wards off the ever-present silence that surrounds her. She is greeted by the musty smell of old, decaying paper as the dense metal doors open to reveal a circular room. Its walls are decorated with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that stretch all the way up, about seven stories. The books are organized by genre and themes. The main room that Kathryn stands in is the Hall of Classics. It contains classic books from all over the world; their covers adorned in gold lettering and varying images that accompany the stories inside. From the central hall, twelve tunnels branch off. Today, Kathryn has to begin counting, taking inventory, organizing, cleaning, and preserving books from the Hall of Fiction through the fourth tunnel. It will surely take hours. Kathryn groans in frustration as that realization hits her. She closes her eyes, hoping she will just disappear, her responsibilities vanishing with her. The oak shelves that spiral above her seem to shimmer in the glow of the early morning light that pours through the five triangular windows on the ceiling as she opens her eyes. The windows are in pristine condition because Kathryn cleans them every Sunday, trying to preserve the natural light in at least one room. She takes a deep breath in, reminding herself that if she has to do this, she may as well do it right.
Kathryn sets the bag that was strapped to her back on the wooden floors and takes her phone in her hand as she ventures down the fourth hallway. The room at the end of the narrow hallway is not as grand as the central hall but grand nonetheless. The shelves contain thousands of fictional novels that wait patiently to be opened, read, learned from, and appreciated. Their covers are just as beautiful as the classics, painted with many colors that seem to blend together, forming a picture. Kathryn takes no time to admire the beauty of the room, but goes right to the small wooden table in the middle where the supplies she needs sits. She picks up the hefty inventory list and sets to work, leaving the safety of the stone floors and climbing the ladder. The ladder is attached to a track so it can slide around the circular dome, allowing Kathryn to reach all of the books despite her height. She takes her time on the ladder, careful not to fall. When she finally reaches the top, her job begins and does not stop until 4:00 PM when she realizes she has to leave the quiet of the library in order to avoid being late for dinner again. Ever so slowly, she makes her way down the ladder and places the half-completed inventory list on the small table. She’s not disappointed in her work as she moves down the fourth hallway to the central room then out of the central room. She locks the doors and starts her way back up the spiral staircase, backpack on her back, seemingly ready for anything.