Beginnings

You’re sitting in a café. Post-modernist art covers the walls, combining haphazardly with the retro, second-hand couches tucked away in the back corner. You raise your cup to your lips to take a sip of cappuccino when you pause to listen to the sounds around you. The whirring grind of the coffee machine, the clinking of spoons—but rising above both are the sounds of voices. High pitched sopranos, deep laughter, the caterwauling of children. A blanket of sound wraps around you, but then you begin to pick up words, fragmented pieces of four different conversations near your table. Slowly you begin to understand who these people are at basic level—students, business people and preschool moms. But then you hear a language you don’t understand. There is sound, but there is no meaning for you. After a few more minutes, you finish your cappuccino, get up, and leave the café. You need to get a book at the library.

The biggest library in town is at the university, not too far from the café. You walk over, pull open one of the big double doors, and step into a mausoleum. Silence engulfs you in the form of students studying for their midterms. Only after you listen can you discern the rustling of pages, the scraping of a chair against the tiled floor. You walk past the study carrels, your footsteps echoing loudly in the quiet. You dart to the right, into one of the rows of shelves holding a dukedom large enough to satisfy Prospero himself. You scan the titles and see the names of distant places you have never visited, the names of famous people you have never met. You keep walking through the epochs of chronicled knowledge. A silent tomb, but it holds so much wisdom, so many texts…no.

These are not texts sitting between faded covers. They are potential texts, waiting to be realized.

You pick up a hefty tome at random and flip to the first page: “Once upon a time…”

Now we’ve started a story.

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