All her life she dreamt of a paradise in between and away from the wars that existed, bloodied in a rage endlessly, the incompetence of the living, the stench of dead, and the eyes she had shattered herself. She found one in the place she had least expected it. A small bookstore where no one dared to enter because it contained nothing of importance, no food to search, no strategic position, no sense of worthiness amongst the destruction around her. There she found knowledge, she found enough life in herself, and found herself reading and spending her time reading, and thinking about reading. A heaven away from her family who was lost and could never be found, a shelter for the desperate who wished to immerse herself in the unknown, the wild, the disgusting, the beautiful, the horrors of other lives during wartime worse and worse and better. Why had she never before discovered the smallest of pleasures? The words flowed and eased into her tongue to live in her fingers. The stories went ahead and were imagined and they themselves silenced the gunfire outside, the screams of unforgiveness, a war etched collectively, there they stayed and died and suffered, the souls who never experienced a single letter following another letter.
She took care of each book personally, like her fallen comrades, like enemies too pitiful to ignore, like addicts to the bloodshed and the bones, and cleaned them, always humming. Her fingers caressed each cover as old in their smell or as new as her mind would allow it to travel. They were ancient creatures, devoid of any time, culture or war, eternal like she could be if she kept on reading and reading and imagining a land she could walk on, a sky to fly across, friends she could betray, food she could devour and take away from the poor and the hungry, where she could be so selfish to let herself die. A motion that made sense, to be always in dreams and thinking and reading All she ever cared about lay in this paradise and the pages that bred from it.
The battle raged on forever just like the histories that went through her eyes, that she repeated in her mouth. They enjoyed dancing there, making love, enjoying life and solving their problems, striving to the top and making it, or failing, or nothing, but they always did something inside. She looked upon them with suspicion and fear but also admiration. What were behind those words? What of the souls like her that cried for understanding but could not find there anywhere? She had no wish to share her heaven, her cycle of reading again and again until she knew it all by the strength of word because every word filled her with conscience. The things outside were as permanent as the words in her hands and, if so be it, she would die holding onto them dearly, clinging to victory.