The first time that I see you is through the pages of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Before then, I've caught glimpses, from tomes of baby prose, tumbling, erratic, through cat and rat and dog. I've stolen glances, obscured by obnoxious illustration, and the limitations of simplistic sentences and short words. But you weren't you, yet. Not yet ready for depth or complexity, still learning, still growing, not yet understanding me fully. So far from what I know you as now.
The first time that I see you, really you, is through the pages of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. And I think it might be the first time you really see me.
Here, I have something to work with. You gift me a modern classic. An erratic, eclectic universe, springs to life in your mind, sweeping towers wrought from iron and stone imagination, creatures constructed from paper and ink. I watch you, tentative, from windows of gentle wit and flowing wonder, opening wider at last. And in nooks and crannies formed of characters with heart, nests of new worlds, we meet.
At lines of blunt, blank humour, textured to a level you can't yet fully perceive, you laugh, and you light up my world. Neville Longbottom caused a slight diversion by turning into a large canary, and you made me so happy that I think I could die. I am wrapped in warmth and yellow light, and for a moment, everything is safe, and comfortable, and home. You make me aware of a level of comfort I have not until this exact moment had even the vaguest understanding of.
Somehow, a layer of anxiety and dissatisfaction had crept over me, and into being my norm.
Somehow, you laugh, and lift it back, until nothing remains but calm bliss.
I live for moments like these.
The first time you cry in front of me is when Sirius dies. Book five, page 711. Grey floods over me, staining my sky, darkness gathering, and a gentle, mournful rain mists into everything. My clothes cling limp to cold skin. But it does not chill my soul. In your sadness, I see true, ecstatic beauty; true, ecstatic joy, as I am truly, ecstatically aware that you care for me in a capacity beyond mere entertainment. I have reached into you and touched your very heart. I have access to the weakest, and the strongest part of you. You feel absolutely, acutely, my words. You don't just see them, you don't just read them. You live them. The words are your worlds. We feel truly, ecstatically alive within them.
Hand in hand, I walk you through all seven stories. Though you get through the whole lot in less than one month, it could have been a lifetime. In my arms of paper, you are held through a lifetime of love and of loss, rebellion and bravery, and of tiny moments of joy between friends, stolen from times of cruelty, fear; in dusted corners of libraries, in a dank and moulded tent. In the dark, and the cold, and the hopeless. In my arms of print, you are held through injustice, and isolation, and abandonment, and death. No, it never happened, but you live it, and I with you. As your body is wracked by sobs, your mind fraught, as you learn for the first time, the dire cruelties of reality; the message cold and sharp and cutting, even through fantasy; I embrace you.
It's not until sometime around Twilight that I realise I am in love. These books are different, I don't know why. They're no modern classics, and I don't much care for them, but they reach you on a level somehow different to those that came before. They reach you in a way that opens you up, the child you once were, no longer. Clear cut teen, now. The comprehension of emotion and experiences within the pages that you now hold is far greater, more real. I do not need eloquence and beauty, I do not need semi colons or hyphens to access you now, because these books cut into a need within you, a desperate need to be accessed. What these characters are to you becomes hope in a time devoid of hope. You are a teenager, and it sucks, and so do sparkly vampires, and the idea of love and validation despite your flaws, tugs at you to such an extent that it brings you to tears that blacken my sky, choking me in heavy, heavy rain. This sky leaves me lost, blinded by mist and rain and strange, insidious, destructive self hatred, and I realise that, for the first time, the struggles you read of are struggles you know. I realise that if anybody has ever questioned the legitimacy of your pain, they have clearly never been a teenage girl, and I realise that I love you. In touching you, I have been touched by you. Irrevocably.
And from then on, every time you close a book, I die. Suffocated by silence and darkness and nothing, nothing, nothing, all there is, is to wait for you to open up another, and there are times, when the darkness and the silence and the nothing stretch out into forever, that I'm doubtful you ever will.
The time of textbooks terrifies me. In boxes of regimented, blank monotony, I march solemnly amongst words that say plenty, but mean nothing, shouting their a fretful message to the world, remember me, remember me, remember me, I matter! There is no room for love amongst these pages. I have nothing to give you. You offer me nothing in return. Obliging, I march, if only to catch a passing fragment of your face, beyond the numbers and the photographs, and the half-hearted enthusiasm of forced exclamation points.
One day, though you know you shouldn't, you binge. The Maze Runner. You read it cover to cover, in that one day. You never meant to read it, never even meant to pick it up, but in moving it from your desk to the floor, you scan the blurb with a cursory glance, and find you can not stop, will not stop, not for anything! Every second is laced with anxiety and guilt, and I can tell that you have lost interest as soon as the girl shows up, but every second between us is laced with a sickly rush of concentrated joy, with the intensity of need for every sentence, every word almost crushing. That day, you open up the floodgates, and you get waterfalls. Everything that is you and everything that is me is pressed up tight against the walls and trying endlessly to find a way through any gap there is, and on that day there is love, and that day is worth every moment of textual torture that I force myself through. One day with you, really you.
And on that day, I know, that I will never let go of you. I will be there, in every word you ever read, on billboards and in Bronte, Shakespeare and subtitles and signposts and Stephen King, and on the backs of cereal boxes. I will be there. For you, I will run roads of commas and questions marks, swim seas of semi colons, moving, always moving. Through allegory and antithesis, caesura and syntax, over mountains forged in metonymy and castles cobbled of cacophony, no matter how bland or dry the remark, no matter how far or how fast I must move, I will be there, building our homes of paper and ink and of prose.
And we will live our life in Lexis.