Photo: Courtesy of Tess Kincaid at Magpie Tales
His hands trembled slightly, this old man who shuffled close to peer at the shelves laden with treasure. He resented the small failure of nerves and muscle, these erosions of time abrading the strength he used to be. He resented in silence.
The old man was never one to waste energy on zero sum games that failed to advance the cause of the mind.
In the middle of the row of bookcases hung an antique lamp. A cage of copper bars riveted to a curved sheet acting as reflector, perched on the end of a burnished walnut handle. A cord wrapped in cotton the shade of emeralds trailed away to a porcelain receptacle recessed in the saddle-colored walnut baseboard along the floor.
The old man gripped the lamp handle and flicked the switch. Warm, golden light flared out over the spines of the books facing the man, eager faces of linen and leather adorned with tattoos of gold and silver turning to the sun. He allowed himself a smile. The metaphor never ceased to amuse him; he took great pleasure in imagining the library to be his personal garden, watered with attention and interest, bursting with blooms of words, glorious words written on petals of muslin and rag, linen and vellum. He drew a deep breath inhaling the deep scent of old paper and eternal contentment.
Today, the old man was unsure of what for which he searched. He stepped slowly, softly to were he last recalled seeing his old friend Borges. There was a volume there, clad in black leather with the name inscribed in letters of fading silver. His eyes were unsure, even with the light, but his hands never failed him. His fingers came to rest, and they knew. Gripping the spine ever so carefully, the old man pulled the book from the soft embrace of its lovers, and held it to his heart. Today, he would know if briefly, what it meant to live forever.