Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Life's Story"

This is a short piece I wrote back in 2012, inspired somewhat by a passage I had read in N.D. Wilson's nonfiction book "Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl."

(Picture taken by me.)

I didn't really try to be quiet. My feet made contact with the stairs hard as I made my way to my room. Once I got there I slammed the door. Today hadn't been a great day. Everything seemed to have fallen apart on me without any hesitation. I had applied for a job, and expected to have to wait a few days. I had waited a week and a half before finally receiving an answer. And all I got was a big fat rejection slip. I could almost hear the scorn in the potential employer's use of words.

And to make matters worse, I somehow managed to lose a good friend. She and I had been close, but all of a sudden we argued, we yelled, we accused, and she stormed away. After a while, I couldn't exactly remember hat we had been arguing about.

A quick look at the clock told me how late it was. I shivered as I closed my window, blocking the night breeze. After changing into my PJs I crashed in bed. Almost literally. On the way down and knocked over the lamp and shattered the bulb. Grumbling, I got up, carefully swept up glass and fixed a new bulb in place and got back in bed. I stifled a yawn. Sleep came easily. It was probably the only easy thing that whole day...

I stood in the middle of a long corridor. It was bare wall on my right, and windows every three yards on my left. But for some reason I couldn't make out the outside. I looked behind me. The hall led straight into darkness. Ahead, it was still dark, but a dim light was up ahead. I started forward. Slowly, something pulled at me. I halted and backpedaled, but whatever pulled me kept me from going anywhere very fast.


I froze. There was no one else in the room, but I couldn't deny that heard someone. I cautiously moved forward, going slow, seemingly making no sound save my breathing. The dim light got brighter as I advanced. And soon I found myself passing through a doorway. I stopped and stared. Before me stood bookshelves. Tall ones, short ones, square ones, rectangular ones. They were everywhere. I stared for a long time. I kept walking, slowly, almost reverently. I lost count of the bookshelves as I walked.

Do you know where you are?

I froze again. I listened, trying not to panic.


All lives end. They are like the cast of a story, or a story all their own.

"Come again?"


This time I followed with more confidence. I was somehow led through the strange library. I entered a second room. This one was huge, not as big as the library, but still monstrous. There were millions of tables, too. One each table were open books. And in every book, words were being printed. There was no pen, no writer. Words would form themselves on the pages.

"What is this place?"

Life is a story. Each story needs to be written.

"I don't get it."


I follow again. Whoever was talking led me to a table, and on the table was a book, among perhaps fifteen others. All were being written in, but I couldn't make out any words except the one I stood in front of. My eyes widened in realization.

"This is my life..."

Yes. Your story must be written, too.

"So all these other books are the lives of other people?"


I stare. I notice a book being laid open, its pages blank for a moment, then writing begins to appear.

"Was someone born?"

All are born.

"I mean that book."


"Why can't I read the other books?"

They are not your story.

"Oh." I suddenly see a book close a few tables to my right. It fades away and disappears. "What happened?"

Just as life is written, so must it end.

"Someone just died?"

Yes. Come.

I follow again. But I stop short when the book I had seen open close and fade away. My heart began to pound. "What just happened?"

Not all lives reach a full chapter. All too often is it halted by man.

I swallowed. I looked away kept following. I was led back into the library, where I was taken to a shelf that had only one book. The book, instead of standing upright, lay on its side and took up the whole shelf, leaving no room for any other book, not even on top of it.

"Who lived that?"

The oldest man who had ever lived. His story carries almost a thousand chapters. Each chapter a year of life.

"Wow..." I looked at the large volume for a long time. Then I turned. I wasn't led this time. I wandered through the shelves, not desiring to return to the writing room. I stopped at a very short book.

"Is this another book with only one chapter?"

Not even half a chapter. This life was killed before birth.

"So, a life's story begins even before it's born?"


I looked at the book. I go on until I stopped at at another book. This one wasn't short, but it wasn't long either. "What happened to this one?"

This life found its story too distressing.

"So, it just..."


I swallowed again.

Some lives aren't meant to be lived long. Some are chosen to be short. Come.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to come. But I did. I followed until I stopped at another shelf, this one held a book that was very large, but not nearly so large as the one who had a whole shelf to itself.

This was a life well lived. It had troubles, it had trials. But it also had joy, love, and triumph. That is a life to be lived. Not wallowing in one's troubles.

I looked at the book. I felt... different. I don't know how, but I just felt different. I touched the book's binding, and I could almost feel everything the Voice described. It had been a happy life. A life that had grown full. I wanted that kind of life. I didn't want to sulk about my problems. I wanted to live.

I opened my eyes, staring out at the window which let in the early morning sun. I lay still for a moment, thinking. Finally I got out of bed, feeling lighter. I winced as my foot was stabbed by a missed shard of glass. I almost smiled. I bent down and pulled out the tiny piece of light bulb and tossed it in the trash. No more sulking. I wasn't going to let my worries bother me. I was going to live life until I was full of chapters.

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