In the corner of a house there’s a room full of books. Big books, small books, books full of color and books full of black. No one could possibly read every book in this room full of books, surely; there are books about cooking, books about history, books about dinosaurs and books about what Sally did on holiday when she met Harry. No one could be interested in all of these books enough to read them all, cover to cover. But no one minded if no one did, because someone read some of these books and read them cover to cover. A kid.
A kid? Of course a kid, what else but a kid. Scrawny and white, all pale and shy, with dark brown hair and bespectacled eye. A kid in form, in mind and in wit, a kid whose heart and mind was lit by literature and writings, all ordered and free. For no one would push back the pages they read, and no one would pinch or say what they said, for in this room in the corner of a house this kid read alone as hushed as a mouse.
As they read alone in this room so quiet, in their mind the world was a colorful riot- what wonder, what power! What passion, what sorrow! How they smiled at the thought of what words had to follow. This is faith, this is light, this is everything right! So the kid read through each day and waited each night.
Time, though, wraps its chain onto every living soul, and as time carried on so the kid became old. Soon gone were the days that they could fill with written page- the rat race soon came forward for those of their age.
The day that it came the kid ran, feeling dread, for the world was not the way that literature had said. Right had no sway on the evil that walked, and the kid needed teaching in rules that weren’t taught. The way of kindness was hollowed with every mistrust; for every step that the kid took, their faith began to rust. Every lesson took heart until the heart gave no more. The kid wandered and stumbled and never found whatever for.
You should be more like him, but less like them, they said, in a loud and righteous cry. You should worship her and him and be grateful for their time, they said with suspicion and fire in their eye. You should be strong, they said, you should be funny. You should know all this.
Why can’t you be more like them? The kid asked themselves, unable to answer. Why couldn’t you learn? The kid asked again, still unable to answer. Why did you turn out this way? The kid cried, over and over, still unable to answer. What good has come of all the time that you spent? They all asked, again and again, and each time the kid was unable to answer.
Until the heart had enough and took everything it had. It screamed to the kid and drove the kid mad. It chased the kid back to the room full of books. It hid from the sky, and the world, and the looks.
In this room full of books, full of memory and peace, the kid found their smile, and the heart its release. Alone in this room of accordance and dreams, together they could hope, reflect and believe. The kid’s story was written and the kid had grown old, but its words can be read again, and the story re-told. Believe in this heart, wherever it may lead, the kid told themselves. Believe in all the good from the things that you read. Believe and be kind, whether you see or remain blind, for this world will forever remain empty and hollow without a song to be sung and dreams it can follow.
And with that, the kid walked into the world once, knowing nothing of strength or of love, or what for. But the words in the room that raised them remain, and what good is a hero without troubles to be slain?
It says a lot about mankind that, of all the titles to endow upon a glorified fish-tank for the rich and the rich-friendly, Open Space seemed like the perfect fit. For the convenience of anyone to whom irony is a mythological creature (ranked just behind Santa Claus and Free Will) however, someone decided to point out that this title is not literal. I’m not entirely sure who was laughing more on this one- my guess is the phantom scribbler, because people of a certain class seem to laugh at anything.
HH tells me I needn’t worry about oxygen, as they installed an atmosphere here three thousand or so years back. I hate to think of the loading screen. What if it gets an update? Can the people of Mars ignore it, or do they occasionally wake up to find that Mars has reset itself…?
I’m starting to think that the blank Look* is a thing here. Every single person I’ve shared a conversation with so far slips it on, and then seamlessly pretends that the empty husk staring back at them from the surface of every glass is gentility incarnate.
They like that word though, gentility. It’s the Mars equivalent of a poster that said “Keep Calm &…” in 2012; if you could wrap it up in pastry, skinny jeans would well and truly be a thing of the past. A typical Martian quote wraps around the word like cotton wool over a dried grape, forgetting any sort of purpose in favor of just saying it at random**. I would ask them about it, but somehow it feels like they’ve done too much explaining already.
I didn’t expect it to be like this on Mars. Everyone’s happy. I don’t know what’s working for them, but it doesn’t seem to have an end.
There are no blanks in the world of Open Space. And that…worries me.
*This particular Look comes in several widely-known varieties, such as the zog-off-I’m-in-the-middle-of-something-and-I-don’t-have-the-emotional-range-required-in-order-to-scowl-Look; the oh-dear-lord-can-it-speak-?-Look; and the I’ll-just-wait-here-patiently-until-you-start-making-sense-Look.
** For the purposes of dis-section, here is an example (freshly caught during a conversation about breakfast) : “So this wine here speaks volumes of the exquisite gentility that surrounds this place like a ball gown, you know?”***
***They also end a lot of sentences with “You know?”, in the manner of a three year-old explaining why rain feels wet when it lands on you.