Where Stories Dwell

I pass through smatterings of wet leaves as I wend my way though the streets to that enchanting place called a library. Someone is barbecuing sausages on this crisp fall afternoon—I can almost taste the sweet maple flavor. And despite the drizzle, expensive dogs are out walking their owners: brindles, poodles, basset hounds. Ah, give me a shaggy mutt, I think, even as I smile at whomever I pass.

But the library—yes, the library. Here we are.

Enthroned on a slope, it rises from among elderly trees with Pride and Prejudice-style beauty. Its body is patchwork stone, its crown pale green slate. And it boasts tall windows. For a little while, I can pretend this is not 2014.

Inside, I experience a microcosmic thrill compared to what Belle must have felt in those airy spaces of the Beast’s book collection. These coffered ceilings are not quite as high, but still impressive, and the woodwork dark. I sit at a long, lamplit table where I lay my laptop, and I can’t help but be encouraged by the many published books surrounding me.

On my right is a yawning fireplace—yawning like the carved lion’s head presiding above it. The grate holds birch logs that will not be set ablaze when winter seizes the island; display only, I am told. A pity, I think. What marvelous memories might have been made between two souls chatting over cocoa?

But solace in the chill may be found in gazing out the lofty panes to watch snowflakes cascading from Heaven—God decorating His creation with delicate icing that melts on the tongue.

Here, in the silence between a million pages, I hope to birth a second fruit—a new story, God willing. I’ve been told that more than one historical figure came to Nahant to spin stories, and it’s no mystery as to why: they were bewitched, forced by the sheer nature of the island’s rugged beaches, lush foliage, and serpentine roads to write. It is impossible not to love this place, and a wondrous place to fall in love. Yes, I do believe it is.

Upstairs, there is a creaking wooden staircase that beckons to a low door in the shadows. I confess, I turned the knob, but to no avail. Whatever secrets lie beyond belong to a key I do not carry. Enough secrets on this side, though, to satiate a hungry mind; there are shelves upon shelves loaded with truths and falsehoods and everything in between. Bare lightbulbs illuminate the aisles. Which book to lay my hand upon? Another confession I must make: I will not be renting books here. This library is solely a haven where I can escape the organs within an ordinary home: broom and pan, dishes, spray bottles. Here, locked in the curious balance between sunlight and gloom, I can be an 18th century authoress, pinion poised above parchment. And then I tune into that incessant clicking sound and realize that I am indeed prisoner to the 21st century. Funny that this laptop should release me into other worlds, even as it chains me to this one.

I am rambling, but this must be somewhat impossible to avoid while one is sitting in a place where stories dwell.

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