The Words

by Victoria Nations

The little girl held up her hands and willed the books to come to her. When they stayed on the shelves, she wasn’t disappointed. She figured it might work someday, the way the words came to her. If the words came to her, perhaps someday whole books would fly to her outstretched hands.

She didn’t call the words to her. They just came.

When she told her parents the words crawled on the pages like ants, they took her to an eye doctor. The doctor found a minor correction at the pressing of her parents, so she wore glasses with thin lenses.

When she bent over the words, the glasses slid a bit down her nose. When they got too far, she lifted her hand to push them back up. But she had to be very careful not to smudge them with ink.

The words didn’t frighten her. Nothing she read really frightened her. Sometimes the words made her giggle, the way they scampered over her fingers. Sometimes she could feel her heart race when they startled her and all ran at once. Sometimes they made her sad, the way they stumbled after running for too long. They moved slower and slower, until they lost their shape and covered her fingers.

She tried to keep the words with her as long as she could, until her parents clucked at the dirt under her nails and made her wash them clean.

I Go To The Bookshelf

I go to the bookshelf and take off no clothing and take down a book and strip myself bare

I go to the bookshelf and surrender on my knees, raise arms in supplication and roll my eyes up

I go to the bookshelf and lean bodily against it and rub my face on it, purring its name

I go to the bookshelf and take down a book, press against my heart and it sinks in my skin

I go to the bookshelf and stand poised and waiting and hover my hand over them, choosing my fate

Photo credit: Bookshelf. Photograph by [ Stewart Butterfield].

(Thank you to Elizabeth Sims, whose comment on the Newbie Writers podcast made this run through my head.)