A Crossing Between Worlds

National Central Library of Florence

Image via Wikipedia

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?  Look below and enter a world know, yet unseen.  A new perspective on the world surrounding you, if you would allow.  Do not fear what you have yet to see, embrace it and all the wonder there is to behold, by opening yourself to another’s senses.  Now, that I have gotten that out of my system, permit me to explain myself.  I was given the following assignment in my ENG 101 class (several years ago) while I was in college:  Write an essay describing something ordinary, yet present in a way so that a reader would not know what you were talking about till the end.

A Crossing Between Worlds

In this unusual place, a sense of untapped possibility lingers in the air, accompanied by that of great wisdom and unlimited knowledge.  One is surrounded by shelf upon shelf of portals to other worlds and times.  For many of these portals there is informational literature about where they lead.  You could call them written guides if you would.

This establishment which controls gateways to other worlds and times classifies the different types of portals and guides it contains accordingly.  For this system there were two types of catalogs that could be used to search for the different guides or portals that the travelers may be looking for. The one catalog was manual, the other is automatic.

The manual catalog was nothing more than a chest with many small draws in it and each draw contains many small cards.  Any given card contains information about a certain portal and where it should be located within this quiet edifice.  Very few patrons used what they considered to be this bit of leftover history when the automated version was introduced.  The cards in the manual catalog were removed when it was seen that the patrons much preferred the newer automated version over the old manual one.

The automated catalog has a few ways in which a traveler may search through the large volume of guides and portals to find the one they seek.  From the search menu, one may choose to search by title, by the writer of the gating matrix, by the subject of the guide, or by several words that may appear in the title of the portal.  After that, it is just a matter of typing in what you are looking for, reviewing the selections that have matched your search and finding it amongst the shelves and racks.

Once one has found the portal or guide he/she was looking for, one usually has two options.  You may take a seat at one of the eight tables or on a couch near one of the two nearly identical old and unused fireplaces that has a large wall mirror hanging over it and start your journey there.  The other option that one almost always has for the portals and for most guides as well is to borrow them.  To borrow a guide or portal all one must do is show the humanoids that operate this place one’s identification card.  I suppose you could call it your ticket.

Each ticket issued is good for an unlimited amount journeys.  A young mother dressed as if she had just come from a job in an office and her son who appears to be about six years of age enter and immediately go to the large counter where a station manager can be found.  They are here to apply for the son’s first ticket.  Upon giving the young boy his ticket, one of the managers of this gating complex tells him: “Make sure you always bring this back with you and don’t lose it because you will have to pay $3.00 to replace it.”  The mother thanks the station manager and it is assumable that the mother takes her son downstairs where the portals are more appropriate for his age.

As the mother and her son went on their way, a group of five young human travelers enter.  They all seem to be thirteen to fifteen years of age and appear to be having difficulties with their tickets and disturb the calm quiet that enfolds those who would enter these walls.  The station managers seem to have had enough with the young patrons and have gotten them to leave.  The quiet once again ensues as order is returned.

All those that come to this crossing between worlds appear human, even those that manage it.  Currently there are four beings running this gating facility.  The one male operator is sitting behind a large desk, there to help lost or confused travelers.  The remaining three are women.  Their post is behind a high counter, from where they control the borrowing and returning of portals and watch the comings and goings of the patrons.

As some patrons leave with borrowed portals, more enter to begin new journeys.
Seemingly by chance, one of the new arrivals finds a portal, Something Wicked This Way Comes, which looks as if it has seen better days.  Similarly to many old portals, this gateway gives one the feeling that it once had a waiting list full of the names of those who desired to visit the world to which it led.

Don’t be misled into thinking that just because a portal is old means that it is all but forgotten.  There are just as many gateways that were written over hundreds of years ago and are still checked out as soon as they are returned to their shelf, such as There and Back Again or Pride and Prejudice.

As it happens two travelers, each sitting at their own table, are using those same portals.  The one patron is a tall, middle-aged, dark-skinned man using the gateway entitled There and Back Again.  One can assume that he is just about to sit to tea with Mr. Bilbo Baggins in his hobbit-hole under The Hill before an adventure to the Lonely Mountain, if the adventure has not already begun.  The other traveler, a young fair-skinned blond woman, appears to be visiting with Ms. Elizabeth Bennet using the gating matrix Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen.  Perhaps the patron is at the ball where Ms. Elizabeth meets Mr. Darcy for the first time.

While one is having their chosen portals checked out it is hard not to think about how truly remarkable this place is, how all these people can visit so many different places without ever leaving this one building.  As you pick up your portals and turn to leave the librarian says, “Enjoy your reading and remember, the books are due back in 28 days.”

Note:  I ended up getting a B+, and to my knowledge, no one ever received an A in this professor’s class.  Not even an A-, so I think I fared fairly well.  I think I shall rewrite it again.  For those interested, this was the third rewrite and was the only copy turned in to the professor.  Unfortunately if I was writing this essay today, it would have quite a different setting.  They replaced my beloved old library with some new fangled one that is not nearly as big and they got rid of at least half of my fiction section! The Brutes!

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3 Responses to A Crossing Between Worlds

  1. Pingback: Wish I Was Having A Sleepover | Novas Log

  2. It would be a great exercise to write about how libraries have changed over the decades. When I first used to visit, people were allowed to smoke in the stacks! Can you imagine? I’d be more interested to hear about how you FEEL in a library. When you touch or smell an old book, when you are surrounded by those tall shelves. I love to visit grand libraries, but they make me feel so small. Like I will never have my manuscript published, which is definitely in my 5 year plan.

    • iamnovas says:

      That would be a great writing exercise, except I am lazy and I dislike interviewing people. A must if I were to write such an essay. Come now, I have just started my 3rd decade of life, hardly enough to write a piece spanning decades without at least one interview.

      Now to write a piece comparing the new library in town with my old beloved one, in terms of looks and general feeling, that is not only a possibility, it is a probability. Haha, oh, dear. I seem to be having the same problem I did when I used to write more, too many ideas and I do not know which to tackle first.

      As for being able to smoke in a library, I am wholeheartedly glad that is no longer an option. Not because I dislike second-hand smoke (which I do dislike), but because they dared risk flames near my precious books!

      Alora Novas
      http://www.iamnovas.wordpress.com
      http://www.novaslog.wordpress.com

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