Short Story: Paracosm
They keep trying to pull the book out of her hand as she cries, ‘no, please, I need to keep reading.’
If she stops reading the demons of the real world would swallow her into the darkest corners of herself.
They don’t get it.
They think the books made her mad, while the books are her last bit of sanity that the world she is rolling in allows her to keep.
No one sees how much is taken from her. How much of her insides are eaten by tiny little parasites. How much she prefers to feel others’ pain over her own. Theirs would end on the last page but hers would go on beyond the pages. She doesn’t know when her pain would end. She doesn’t know where and when the last page of her anxieties is. And each of her last pages would follow a first page and that isn’t thrilling like a new book, it is exhausting. Her true final page would be when her eyes don’t open in the morning but she turns her eyes into books and not what stands out the window.
They don’t get it.
Years and years of running is catching up with her. She sees all the times she was lonely, all the times she was scared, all the times she would’ve wanted to make things differently. Her head is like a movie theatre that plays one thing after the other. Books are her choice of movies over the past that can’t be changed and future that cannot be known.
As people around her glares at her book, for the threat it imposes on her non-existent social life, she remembers a little girl.
Most of her days were spent waiting for her grandma to finish cooking, then dishes, then cleaning. So, she would turn the top of the armchairs into thrones, the carpet into lava. Her hairband would become a tiara and invisible wings would grow out of her back. Only she would see the tinkling magic come out of her fingers, only she would hear the prince, the witch and all the citizens of her imaginary kingdom.
Some days, she would bury herself under the coffee table where her house was built. One side filled with her pans, plates and cups, the other filled with her baby’s crib and clothes. The pushchair had to wait outside the door, as the house didn’t fit it but it was fine. In her world, the rain only started when she wished to and it only wetted what she wished to. Nothing was out of her control.
Some nights, sleep wouldn’t come to her. The mind that’s now filled with anxieties were once filled with fantasies. The walls of that little girl’s room had a seamless texture, white with glitter dispersed. No matter what words were used to describe the walls it wouldn’t tell you about the princesses walking in the gardens of their castles. The kids flying their kites between the ever-changing shapes of clouds. Now a tree, now a house, now a horse. It wouldn’t tell you about the performing ballerinas, knights on quests, mermaids swimming with dolphins, or the orchestra of bears.
The shapes formed by the texture and glitter would fill her mind with stories. As she laid in her bed with the rest of the house quiet, she would tell herself stories to sleep. Maybe it was the walls, reading her a bedtime story. She would’ve liked the thought of that.
When she slept, she dreamed of a girl much older than her, walking confidently in the streets of a big, buzzing city. Small enough to blend within the crowd yet so big within herself. The energy of the city made her feel alive. Made her feel like someone. She walks into a tall building. Somewhere the books are made.
That little girl grew up to lull her brain’s frenzy with others’ stories. They don’t see it. They don’t see the storms going on in her and neither do they want to understand it. Then again, who wouldn’t run when they see a hurricane coming? They are like broken records stuck on telling her what’s she’s supposed to be and what she’s supposed to do for that. She knows what she is supposed to be and what she is supposed to do. They don’t know what she needs. She knows what she needed. Her life is on hold right now and she is trying to face that. Knowing what she needs isn’t enough. Knowing doesn’t equal to the ability to do it. Mountains stand between her and all she wants and she is used to going that mile but god, the road feels never-ending and she is going to go that road again soon, real soon. But she is tired now. No matter how long she sleeps, she is exhausted now. She needs time. Some time and some space of her own.
They don’t get it.
Just one story after the other. Some book hangovers and yet, better than the world hangovers. One story after the other after the other after the other. That is what she needs right now. Doing something, while doing nothing.
All she wants is some peace. Some peace to lull the buzz in her head to hear that little girl guide her back home.
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