Prompt: You wake up in the middle of the night. The books are talking to each other.
Her sleeping habits are not habitual in the least. Each night is different. The time in which she lays down is never set, it varies from night to night and not purposefully done so.
Some nights, she falls asleep quickly and other nights it takes over two hours to fall asleep. Mostly, though, once she does find her rest she stays in a state of half awake and half asleep. Every time she finds a new position it tends to wake her up, if she sighs or breathes too loudly in her sleep she will end up waking herself. The slightest shift in the wind that continues to caress the windows at night, the softest creak of the house anything can wake her in those hours.
The nights where she falls asleep in a decent time frame and finds a deep slumber are very rare nights indeed. Not even the loudest storm, commotion from barking dogs, or even a tornado could wake her. Tonight, however, is not one of those nights.
She lays sleeping, voices drip into her sub-conscience becoming parts of her ever changing dreams. It soon rouses her fully, for the voices never cease even when her dreams change and that alerts her. Groggily, she sits up hoping the voices will fade, hoping she can shake them from her head.
She realizes that the voices are coming from her room! She freezes. She dare not move an inch of her person. Someone, no, someones were in here room, but where? No..no no noo no. This wasn’t happening. Her apartment is small and she would have been woken sooner if someone managed to get through her locked doors or climb through in any one of the windows. Then, what… what was speaking, no, what was whispering?
In one swift move she turned on her bedside lamp and … nothing. There was no one in the room. It was just as she had left it before she had climbed into bed the previous night. She moved the covers aside and went to stand in the center of the room. Turning slowly in a complete circle she found nothing amiss. Standing very still and she listened through the rest of the house. She could tell from where she was standing that nothing had disturbed the other rooms while she had been asleep.
The longer she stood there she realized that when she had moved the voices had ceased, but as she stood they returned. It was just the softest of whispers, one would have mistaken it for the wind, but no this was distinctly coming from her book-case.
Creeping closer, she slowly sat in front of it and listened. This was definitely the source of the voices, but what could be whispering? There was nothing there but the books… The books couldn’t be the one talking, could they?
The more she listened the more she was convinced that the books were in fact speaking, but wait, not just speaking, but speaking to each other. Several different conversations were happening, but the longer she sat the more she came to realize they were comparing their stories.
She listened closely enough to one specific story. She leaned in and realized one book was constantly repeating itself. While many of the other books were reciting their full content and others were continuing the story even after their pages ended, this one was stuck. “The Soldier of the Great War” by Mark Helprin was only reciting about the first twenty pages.
Within a moment she understood what was happening. The books, the ones she had finished reading were the ones that were able to tell their story and continue on and the ones she had abandoned were the ones that couldn’t continue. They were stuck and unable to communicate with the others.
In another instant it broke her heart to realize that there where many, many books upon her shelf that were completely silent. Those were the books that she had bought, but had never gotten around to reading. They had no voice.
All night she listened and was awed at the stories the books could continue of themselves. In the dawn they ceased their whispering. She had to get to reading. She couldn’t leave the books here to rot without letting them live their own story and she couldn’t leave the abandoned ones half read.