The Bookshop

They rode through the towering mountains and skyscrapers, reaching to the moon. There was a little crack in forever and they crawled through leaving the world, spinning and losing its pages inscribed with no way in, no way out and no return.

Oscar sat opposite Hyun Su and sipped at the porridge. “Where are we going?” Oscar asked gently. There was fog on the window and Hyun Su traced with his finger the lines of an X. They sat in silence as they passed the giant tower blocks of a deserted city. Bran chewed on the bone of his steak as the train entered a dark tunnel and jerked to a halt. Hyun Su rose from his seat and whispered, “Come”.

The doors of the train parted. There were butterflies everywhere. It was mild and warm. Oscar decided to wait for Hyun Su to explain the presence of the butterflies. They all began to descend from the air and cling onto the train. There were so many that they almost completely obscured it. The train began to light up, just as it had before, and moved through the tunnel and soon it was out of sight. It left a faint glow behind.

Hyun Su stood in front of the two wooden door panels, engraved with plant like swirls. He pressed a button and said, “Let’s go”, as the doors opened. Oscar looked down and the grey monk was still on his shoulder. The lift ascended with its quiet and careful passengers. When they reached the top, they were hit with a bitter wind and rain that shook the rows and rows of lit lanterns along the deserted streets. The cold was so unpleasant; Oscar felt certain one would perish if left in it for long.

Hyun Su walked at a hurried pace, tapping his white cane in front of him. Oscar remembered the photos of the streets of Tokyo Joe had sent. They looked just as wide as these.

The buildings were buried in the black oily night. The wind blew the lights into yellow shadows like those of a ship on a choppy sea. They crossed a bridge and across from it, a sign lit up against the freezing darkness. It was written in some kind of characters. “Book shop”, Hyun Su intonated and began to feel for the handle of the door. It opened.

Inside it was silent, apart from the ticking clocks on the wall. Hyun Su disappeared into one of the hovels of the room. Oscar saw his book light up with the words:

This is the way in, the way out and the return.

Above ground, Greg had decided to pay Oscar a visit when he hadn’t collected his books the previous day at the bookshop. The house was pitch dark from the outside and no life stirred from within it. Greg rang the bell and knocked on the door many times. He turned the handle of the door and it opened. He walked inside calling out to Oscar but there was no movement except for the fluttering of a grey butterfly shining in the moonlight of the hall.

Greg felt compelled to walk towards it. He opened one of the doors that lay ajar and turned on the light. He gasped as he saw Oscar inside his bed, pure white and frozen. Bran looked up from his slump in the corner but did not move from it.  Oscar had the Encyclopaedia of Moths and Butterflies in his hands.

A tear fell from Greg’s cold cheek as he saw the bottle marked “poison” by the bedside and realised that Oscar had drank it. The grey butterfly flew in through the open door and Greg watched it land on his shoulder, and asked  “Why on earth did you drink it?”

The End

Lena O’ Connell

Lena O’ Connell graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2009. She specialised in fine art, sculpture. Lena currently lives and works in Tipperary, Ireland. She teaches art to children and is aspiring to undertake a higher diploma in
art teaching.

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