Return to The Books of The Dark Library

Book of Dreams

She lifted the leather-bound book from the shelf and opened it to the marbled fly-leaf, feeling a sense of anticipation as she recalled how, when she first came to the library, she had lost herself in its pages. Stories of life as a famed ballerina rubbed shoulders with tales of undiscovered geniuses - a painter in one chapter, a poet the next. Then there had been the romances: daring escapades with a dashing, dangerous hero and quieter interludes with a gentle, romantic lover. So many lives, and by the end of the book she felt she had experienced them all.

Candlelight illuminated the book as she turned to the contents page, but she felt rather than saw the librarian's presence at her shoulder as she fixed her eyes on the single word the page contained: 'Life.'

She turned the pages, reading of meetings and partings, the struggle to make ends meet, the excitement of success. Flicking further, she read of a mother's tender gaze as she watched her child sleeping. Opening it again at random, she found herself in the midst of a lengthy description of family life in a pleasant country house.

The story filled perhaps the first third of the book. The remaining pages were blank.

Puzzled, she gazed up at him.

"What happened?" she asked, blinking as the candlelight caught her eyes. "There used to be so many stories."

"What are you reading?"

She frowned. He would know the answer, of course. So what was its significance?

"The Book of Dreams," she answered. "But I don't see..."

"Well, when you chose one of those dreams to pursue, what do you think happened to the others?"

She paused to consider this.

"You mean that when I made one of my dreams real, I also destroyed my other dreams?"

He smiled sadly as he nodded, and for a moment she thought she caught something familiar in his gentle smile. Then he turned away, his expression masked in shadow as he murmured something which might have been, "And mine."

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