The Library’s Tale

Once upon a time, there was a library. The library had three floors, each with its own distinct personality, although the decor was very similar in all. There were wooden tables, wooden chairs, some beanbags and many shelves of books upon books.

The library liked its function and enjoyed being useful to people. It knew that it was even a comfort to many, and that felt good. But there were two periods of time, three weeks each, that came every year, and which the library dreaded.

These were the weeks when its doors remained open twenty-four hours a day. Most of the time, it got at least seven hours of peace and quiet every night, and while its doors were shut it could breathe in peace and maybe even nap, allowing the books to whisper among themselves and the wooden tables and chairs to stretch their legs and take strolls up and down the aisles before becoming stationary again in the morning.

None of that could happen during those three week periods, though. Instead, the tables and chairs cramped up from the need to stay in the same place for days; the books got bored and sometimes allowed the humans to hear them whispering (which was dangerous); and the library itself, poor thing, began to smell a little bit, to become shabby around the edges, and to feel pale and sickly. Worst of all, though, it had to hear the way the people inside it criticized it, talked about how much they were sick of it and hated it. The library always felt deeply hurt and wounded by this, even though it knew, rationally, that the people didn’t actually mean it; they were only taking their frustration out on the library because they didn’t know it was sentient.

So the library took it, year after year, but it always dreamed of one day allowing itself to expel – with a violent shove out the door – all those spiteful people who decided to curse it for their own need for all-nighters.

A Monarch’s Responsibilities

History is a vast and incomprehensible mystery to me in many ways. We have facts about things that have happened in the past – we have dates, records of events, paintings reproducing the faces involved in those events, poems and diaries devoted to giving opinions and preserving what happened in a biased manner. We have all these things. Mystery, to some people, seems like a wide-open book, its contents there for us to look through, sift for what interests us, and indulge ourselves in knowledge of old.

I don’t feel this way. In my opinion, history is full of so much that we don’t know and so much that I wish I could know. True, we know when Martin Luther began to speak and write about his emotions about being a monk and part of the Catholic Church. In his instance, we can find quite a lot of emotional and sentimental writings from his own pen, or maybe quill, and we can see into his mind, as far as he lets us.

But what about others? What about the farmers and the spinners and the dye-makers that England had in such profusion in the sixteenth century? What were the children running barefoot through the streets of London, so much smaller than it is today, thinking? What games were they playing? What was the man smuggling illegal documents from Europe into the English Empire thinking as he worked? Was he scared for his life or merely waiting to get paid so he could go home to his wife and child? What were the nuns, sequestered in their cloisters, talking about? How did they speak to their young students, and how did they infuse them with a love and a belief for the divine? Through fear? Through love? Through simply offering worship as a fact of life?

And if these so-called simple people’s lives aren’t interesting enough for historians to dwell on – well then, what about the monarchs? How could Henry VIII hold such power in his hands and play with it so lightly at times? What did Katherine of Aragon feel as she was condemned? We can guess, surely, but how can we know? What of Elizabeth? How did she feel when she was sought after for marriage through the years? Did she decide on her own to remain a single ruler in order to maintain a stable throne? Did she, perhaps, not find men pleasing in the manner she would have been expected to? Had she fallen in love with someone who never returned her love or never could?

It’s bad enough, thinking of the power that politicians and governments hold today. At least it’s distributed power, and is more or less given by the people. But monarchs… They were born. Some of them believed they were chosen by divinity to be kings or queens. They held so much power in their cupped hands, that they’d let some of it run through their fingers to those sitting at their feet, just waiting for a pearl or jewel to drop from those mighty hands. I can’t imagine how such responsibility could be held without driving the holder mad with indecision, worry, guilt. Such are the things that the annals of history can’t reveal to us. Thoughts, emotions, private sighs of elation or grief.

The Perfect Room

To begin with, it would be large and airy, with tall windows at regular intervals along the wall, to let the daylight in. Curtains, easy to pull and adjust, would hang at these windows, so there would never need to be a glare of the blinding sun at any hour of the day, but only soft light filtering through the cloth.

Comfortable seating would be the next essential in this room. Comfortable couches and saggy arm-chairs would need to fill the space of the room, just beckoning and waiting to be sat on, sprawled upon or even fallen asleep on. The seating must be the type to make even the heartiest and most energetic feel as if they’d like to sink into the pillows and take a little nap.

Next, the lighting. While there must be some sort of strong central light, it shouldn’t be needed most of the time because of the many small lamps, hung with crimson or orange shades so as to cast a comfy, romantic glow. There must be a big, heavy, wooden desk with a good and upright desk chair to go with it.

Lastly, and most importantly – books. The walls are shelves, leaving not one empty space for a picture or hanging. The books are both the adornment and the purpose of the room. Their smell fills every nook and cranny and their soft murmurings are ever present, demanding quietly that you pluck them out of the shelves and lose yourself in them.

This would be my perfect room, and if I ever get enough money to own a house, I’m definitely going to try to create it.