For me, a library is a magical maze; a bookshop, the definition of heaven; a book, my life, my dreams and my future. I love to smell old books, to touch the rough pages, to admire the typography, I take notes, and even write (with pencil, always) thoughts or just mark my favourite quotes. I put things inside books, papers or train tickets and then forgot about them. I have many books, but not enough.
“Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.”
Once I visited a town, a northern town, where old brick houses could tell many horror stories of desperation.
One of them caught my eye. By the window I saw a figure through the white curtains. She was staring out, completely frozen, her gaze fixed on the children playing with a football in the street. I stopped looking for a fragment of a second as the football almost hit me, and when I stared back, the window was empty, just the white curtains retaining the smallest of movement as the figure left.
My job kept me occupied most of the time, but I tried to visit that window a few times a week, then everyday, and as I grew obsessed with the figure I couldn’t help to scape work to visit The Window. I was supposed to stay in that northern city for a couple of weeks, but I kept postponing my return, I just wanted to see the figure, the mysterious woman I saw everyday, always staring out The Window, inexpressive, through the curtains, hoping she would look at me at last.
Finally she looked back. She looked back!!! Her dark eyes focused on me as a smile run through her face, I felt a shiver as she smiled more and more, her pale hand touching the glass of The Window, her gaze upon me kept me frozen at the other side of the street. I even remember hearing an eerie piano music coming out of that brick house before it turned into a whistle, a high pitch that finally made me collapsed.
The next thing I remember is the bright light of what seemed a hospital, and me asking as from the most remote of places where was the woman I saw. “No one has lived there in the last century” I heard. But I knew I saw her, I saw her by The Window.
The office was always hectic, full of life and people moving from one place to another with papers, notebooks and juicy news of the latest scandal. The beautiful noise of typewriters never stopped, to the annoyance of the adjoining houses, the newspaper had to come out without delay. The smoke of cigarettes was often mixed with the smell of fresh ink, meat and tomato from the sandwiches of the shop downstairs, oregano from the pizzas from around the corner, and coffee, so much coffee we had more of it in our veins that actual blood.
But now there’s just silence, no typewriters, no more tasty smells to accompany the lonely nights, the smoke has vanished, the ink has dried. It all remains in silence.