A Literary God (in Love)
I was the classic angsty narrator, pessimistic, brooding, searching for something until I found it. I stopped here, there, learned lessons, developed into something greater—but I was no symbol—so I took a puff of my cigarette, leaned against the brick wall of the university, and thought—only one other person in this world understands me.
I exhaled, waited for something to happen, knew it wouldn’t, and went into the library.
It’s where Sara goes after class.
And if anyone understands me, it’s her. At least she will. I know. By Chapter 9. She’s written just for me, I can tell—so when I find her sitting in the very back, scrunched up in a Harry Potter novel, I tap her book gently.
Sara, I say, you’re the girl I’m supposed to meet. Right here. I know it. Give me a chance?
She laughs, turns a page.
I promise I’ll make you happy. You won’t regret it, I say. We’ll go to dinner, discover we like the same music.
She flips again.
We’ll eat at this little corner place, it used to be a book shop. I’ll order what you want, you’ll order what I want, we’ll switch after the first mouthful. It’ll be perfect, just wait.
Sara turns the page, doesn’t look up, and worse, I can’t remember if it’s a Harry Potter book or some other one. I know in my book she’s reading. But what if it’s not this one?
What if we’re only in Chapter 6?
Sara, I say, can I tell you something?
Her page turns. She’s heard this before. I’ve told her at least three times since I cut Modern Lit and spent the night in the library—since I found her in the morning, sitting in the back corner, just like I’d read she’d be.
Sara, this is real, I say, I know you. I knew your name before I made it down the library stairs, before I said hello. I understand what’s going on. I do.
She yawns, turns a page.
Sara, you, me, we’re going to make willow trees weep, we’re going to love each other the way that only happens in stories. I get it. Who I am. What I’m looking for. Where I’m going—it’s you.
Sara starts to close the book, stops.
Wait til I tell you about Chapter 27. Oh my God, Chapter 27, you’re gonna cry, maybe hug me. I can’t wait. I can’t.
But Sara, she doesn’t believe me. Not at all. I can tell because she goes back to reading the same chapter of Harry Potter she started on before I interrupted.
But that’s the thing, Sara re-reading the chapter, me interrupting, it’s just like in the book—it has to be her.
Hey, I say, what if I prove it? What if I find that book I told you about?
Sara looks up, smiles, and it’s better than the ending of any book. She’s so pretty, and she gets me. She understands—exactly—more than she knows.
Oh yeah, she says, the book about us, the one you found in here but can’t ever seem to locate.
Yeah, that’s the one, I say, keeping my eyes on her hazelnut hair, all curls like it’s in my book. Her eyes roll, and it drives me bananas. God, she’s the cutest thing, not just because in my book she loves me and we get married, no because she really is—beautiful.
There on the shelf—a book about me. I flip through and it’s all there. Everything up til the moment I reach for it. Better yet, the part where Sara takes it from my nervous hands, puts down Harry Potter, and reads—it’s there—her turning page after page of our world—it’s magic—we’re magic.
At least I think it reads that way, to me anyway.
It’s so perfect with her. Chapter 12, when she sprains her ankle, I tell her it’s okay because I own a magic carpet, then swing her onto my back. We zoom down the street, away from the bar, pretending we’re flying the whole time, all the way back to our apartment where I kiss her because she has these little tears in her eyes and I can tell it still hurts.
Every page with her is a better story.
And it’s real. I mean I knew it was. That this book was about us. That I’d find it again. That what I’d read was about me. About Sara. It’s just I wasn’t sure because I skipped a few chapters the first time. In fact, I really didn’t pay attention or get close to figuring the book was about me until the page where I met Sara.
The stuff before didn’t even make sense.
Because after Sara, my narration seems so on point, like I really get how this story works, how I should tell it. It’s like I understand what’s important, the rising action, how it should climax. All of it.
And it’s there. In my book. The pages explain it.
I’m a first-person omniscient narrator—because reading my story, reading it aloud to myself, it’s like having God whisper the answers to all my questions—but better, because I’m the one doing it. They’re my answers.
Me telling it.
And I understand exactly what’s going on, like why I kiss Sara in the back of the library even though she hasn’t finished reading Chapter 15.
In the book, I take it slowly out of her hand, brush her hair out of the way, and meet her eyes with mine. When we look at each other, she knows how much I love her. She’s just read it. She says, Excuse me, your book? It’s our story. How about our book. She says it just like that and we kiss. We both cry, big tears that drip salt over our lips, because that’s what happens, third paragraph, page 54, Chapter 9.
That’s how I describe it.
Because I love the way we read. I love our story.