Post Road Magazine #25

Apology Number 21, or What You Should Know About the Library

Edward Hardy

Your surprise! Imagine my surprise when a mere three hours before dawn I realized this was entirely possible without adhesives! At first I feared that the paperbacks would be too slippery to be structural, and I was never sure about the hardcovers, or the amount of required friction, and yes, the glossy dust jackets were problematic, but the naked clothbound covers offered surprising stability, or as I suspected beneath the oh-so-many stars, and thanks, thanks (!) to insomnia, perhaps it was the combined weight of the nouns and prepositions (never the verbs), the indexes and endnotes, the page numbers, the contents, which compressed here have led to the new "contents" of this archway. I understand, this was not what you asked, especially in the shadow of the argument, which we both (I hope) now realize was not about the library itself, but a result of the multidimensional stresses encountered here, given that you were put in an impossible situation by your stepfather and his will which required us to burn our remaining vacation days and fly (on demand!) across the Atlantic to learn that the contents of the undisclosed room you inherited, and not the "castle" itself, which is going to your estranged brother, consisted of this collection of outdated technical volumes in a language that neither of us can fluently speak and only one of us can barely read, but your oddly jolly stepfather, knowing how impossible it always has been and always will be for you to throw out any book, left this to you as a joke, an experiment in sly spite, and I watched, fascinated, as you serenely opened each of the library's arched second floor windows and shouted, "These volumes have no earthly use," and "I am defenestrating the library," while I stood by drinking your stepfather's merlot and admiring your technique and knowing better than to intervene as I listened to the whisper and the eventual desultory thud of volume after volume spinning into the magenta sky before tumbling to the ancient and grassy courtyard, and after you went to bed in our chamber, which has no electricity, which has never had electricity, I sat in the suddenly drafty library drinking even more of your stepfather's merlot, until the giant candle guttered out, creeping up on the conclusion that this was a sort of emergency, a cul-de-sac of frustration and humiliation which filled me with a sudden fear that this sadness could overspill and hunt us down at some point in the future, and that by finding an "earthly use" for these volumes, and not boxing them up to be disposed of, I could reframe the question of "usefulness." So I took action. I saw an opportunity, a way to wall off this surreal segment, and as dawn threatened and I ran low on hardcovers, I created the window (because isn't every book both window and a wall?) in the hope that when your stepbrother arrives this might reframe his view and now, before you finish this page or your extremely strong coffee, it is time to call the taxi, s'il vous plait, to unfurl our return tickets, and run off to Paris, as we meant to do in the first place.

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