“It’s a book,” she pointed at the book I was reading. “A purple one, with gold letters, and this candle thing on the front.”
I nodded, and kept reading.
“Why do you waste your time reading so many books?” She plunked down on the sofa next to me. “There’s so much to do in the world. So many places to go. So much to see.”
I nodded, and kept reading.
“And you sit here, reading books all day.”
Carefully, I placed my folded sheet of paper I used as a bookmark between the pages, and closed the book. “Yes, I do.”
“Why?” She grabbed my book, and put it on the far end of the sofa from me. “There’s so much to life, and you read books? Why not do something fun?”
There are times when words are useless, and I knew this was one of those times. There were no words to explain my fascination with books to her. She would not understand any words I said. Which is why I started saying them anyway.
“They change me.”
“The books. They change me.”
“Oh, really.” She gave me a good look over, “You look just like you did this morning. Nothing changed about you.”
“They change me anyway.”
“How can books change you?”
“I learn from them.”
At first, she didn’t answer. Then, all at once, “You learn from books, but you don’t learn from life?”
“Of course I learn from life.”
“Then why do you read so many books?”
“To learn more than I can from life.”
“What more is there to learn?”
There it was. The reason she would never understand a word I said. Her mind was closed, she’d already determined books were a waste of time. “OK. Tactic change.” I made certain I didn’t look at her eyes, I knew, if I did that, I’d give up instantly, and do whatever she wanted. “Why do you watch movies?”
“The same reason everyone watches movies, silly. To escape reality.”
So much for that idea. I could hear her thinking, “You read to escape reality? Seriously?”
“OK. That’s not going to get anywhere either is it?” Any discussion I could have had with her was already over, and I knew it. “You already know all the answers to everything, don’t you.”
“No, silly. No one does.” I thought she was going to laugh for a moment, “I know what I need to know, and that’s more than enough.”
I wanted to ask her about all the religions of the world. Then about the languages, and why there were so many, and why different languages allowed people to say things they couldn’t say at all in other languages. I wanted to ask her about politics, and Conservatives, and Liberals, and Socialists, and Marxists, and a thousand others.
I already knew. Her mind was closed. She’d picked one religion, one language, one political viewpoint. And she’d closed everything else down.
“That’s not enough for me.” I reached past her, and picked up my book. “It never will be.”
“Idiot.” She stood up, and walked off. I didn’t know where. I thought about following her, maybe apologizing. Maybe doing something like taking her to dinner, and a movie, and spending time with her.
But she was so small. So limited. So set in her ways.
The thought occurred to me, perhaps I should be sad because I’d grown apart from her, and she from me. I was still sitting there, thinking, when I heard the door to the apartment slam.
“This can’t be fixed, can it.”
I swear I heard the walls of the room answer me, with a quiet, “No.”
Written in response to the prompt for week 157 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.