His eyes were moist with the words he had not yet read. The air around him was moist too, from wall and cupboard and chair. He felt herself quiver as the tears rolled down, in a puddle of alphabet soup. And he sat still as he drank himself bit by bit, knowing that in this halt between today and tomorrow, he would hold herself like no night could.
One by one, they flew off the shelves into her hands. The hardcovers, the heavyweights, the ones with folded pages, the ones with half-eaten bookmarks. Dust and cuts from pages untouched - her only company, her only fear. She looked at the seam on her backpack and decided, “Only one or two more.”
As a hoarder, her dreams were made of stacks of books, cover to cover, crease to crease, like neatly folded sarees. The stack, like a new (and old) rope ladder of words - slippery and painful as she climbed up.
Every morning, a new routine, a fresh haul. And every evening, exhaustion, withdrawal, and a stack on unread, untouched books.
At least let us wither together
Fall to the ground in unison
In one heap of dust
And just a handful of memories.