Bereft of a Sister

The hallway permeates a sound through the silence. A soft-tune expression layering an empty space. The furniture connects the music to the foundation while left in quiet isolation. Every picture a portal into the sound’s resonance as they hang unmoving. Harsh layers of dust corrode the surface of it all, a signal of age even as vibrations activate them in a rhythm.

A slow, calculating, harmonious rhythm.

No, not a rhythm. A melody.

Manuscripts are crowding each other on a tall, mature bookshelf. There’s no negative space to be found; history colliding with philosophy who’s lovers with poetry. Well, those amongst others.

Built into the wall and anchored to the very frame of the house, only the most drastic of circumstances can unseat this bookshelf. And if one looks close enough, carefully hidden in the dark stain lay grooves and small, etched designs. Light, frantic notches expressing themselves in foreign code. But only on the left side of the fourth shelf, the one just above average height, where the dust isn’t as heavy, and the books themselves show a much more worn condition.

A heavy beat of music surges from beneath the house, sending puffs of dust dancing in the stifling air, and eruptions of color burst from the spines of some of the books. Especially on that fourth shelf.

It’s odd to put such a magnificent structure in the hallway. Comparing the bookshelf to the rest of the house is as to compare a champion stallion to the fifth runner up. While their appearances are arguably similar, those with the wisdom to see knows that the devil lies in the details.

From one perspective, it is often said that nothing in that house can be described as ordinary. In past times, eyes would widen, and breaths stop at the craftsmanship, detail, and expense in any of the intricate details. A dining table inlaid by wailing faces on the legs and underbelly with a flagrantly dull top…the porcelain wash set immovable from the circled hardwood in the parlor…a shimmering wall of scales that put any viewer into a euphoric trance, mirroring the effect of being totally submerged in water…

Despite all of these, the bookcase is the most consistent comment when guests would leave.

“Why did they put that bookcase in the hallway?”

“You’d think it’d be the natural pairing of the granite fireplace in the lounge, just opposite it in the room beyond.”

“Wait, the one inlaid with Cherubs on the top, with those brutish mastiffs posing as pillars? I once witnessed them with an enraged fire burning in the hearth. The light played tricks with my mind. I could swear they were snarling.”

“Of course, that’s the one I’m referencing, Matilda. The master bedroom’s fireplace is grand, but quartz stone can’t hold up to the grandeur of marble. Not too mention, the one in the lounge has depth as tall as I am, and can fit the three of us in it side by side, standing up!”

“Yes, but Ronald, you have to concede the humble designs of the quartz to be much more amicable than those horrid dogs! I personally admire the garden of flowers and trees. I swear the artist grew them into that stone. Even without the fire, there’s a warmth and a sense of life to it. Hope springs from those flames, whereas the dogs and Cherubs resurface nothing but the worst of my life. I recall every personal shame or guilt imaginable when they burn.”

Oh yes, why put the bookcase in the hallway, indeed.

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