A Book to Hold Your Breath

It happens sometimes with books, that they consume me so thoroughly there’s little room left for anything else. They are on my mind when I wake, they are on my mind when I sleep, and they are always on my mind in those in-between moments, weaving together dreams and reality. It happens sometimes, but not always.

It happened once many years ago when I picked up a book at random, needing something to read (always. Always needing something to read), and was swept away into a magical land that was so far from my own. Maybe it made it easier to be swept away. Maybe it didn’t matter, because it’s not the setting that often sweeps me away, it’s the people. And there they were, youths a little older than I was at the time, and we were all going on an adventure. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know it would take 13 years for that adventure to end.

I have been holding my breath for 13 years, reading a book at a time as they slowly came out over the years, and I didn’t even realize it. Not until today. Not until the very last pages of the very last book, when everything was falling apart and then pulled back together so that I could breathe again.

And now, having reached the end, there’s a moment in time when it’s hard to breathe (still? Again?). A moment where there’s a book-shaped hole in my heart where for years I’ve been sharing an adventure with these people.

A moment in time, the in-between. There’s no telling how long it will last. This moment that it takes to accept the end, the no more. It changes from book to book, and sometimes it never really goes away. It just gets pushed away to leave room to deal with the real world, rather than the fictional one.

Today, I have a book-shaped hole in my heart. A hole that’s been shaping for 13 years. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind was gone.” – A Memory of Light / Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

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