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Grade
11

    She contemplated the difference between Oxfords and Brogues in the worn leather chair by the fire, knowing these would be the last minutes she had to think of such trivial things. The whimpering flames danced in her eyes as she ran her finger around the rim of her mug. The stone that supported the failing back of the leather armchair breathed as the door opened, allowing the anticipated cold to penetrate her skin. She sighed and sunk lower into her decaying seat before noticing the stranger the wind had brought in. Thick square glasses lay upon the outline of a face, a face covered by a plethora of curly hairs that descended down upon his forehead to cover up all but his two eyes. From her distance in the corner she could see his heartbeat in them. They were not a single color, but every one ever named, all distinct behind his square frames. After paying for his bitter elixir, he walked towards her. His shoes clicked upon the stones, singing a song she would never be able to forget. Despite the beautifully tailored pants, the hat that fell slightly askew on his perfectly proportional head and the curvature of his lips, the only thing that held her attention were those eyes.
     The stranger slowed his walk as images of the thousands of stories he had been a part of were a slideshow on his cornea. Hummingbirds that pierced his pupils one minute turned into a waterfall as she flowed downstream to the open field where there appeared a run down vehicle housing only the whisper of the scent of red wine. With the flick of an eyelid the field turned into a lake and she walked out onto the crinkling glass surface. The vast ocean below her was only a puddle as she gazed at the figure standing in the distance.
    Slowly but surely she proceeded to defy gravity until the journey ended with the thud of his mug on the scratched, wooden table next to her. His handle turned to the left, hers to the right, the porcelain only daring to share the same air. Placing himself on the sofa next to the chair that seemed to age millennia by the second, he pulled a bird from the bag on his side. Seemingly oblivious to her presence he proceeded to pluck a dark purple feather from the graying, blue bird. The creature did not move, but she could see the tiny lungs working to take in the gas it would need to fly. Grasping the purple feather he opened a notebook he had also produced from the bag. Needing no ink, the feather created thick lines. The lines formed words and the words, sentences and the sentences, paragraphs and so on. And so on and so on for hours then days. Word after word he flew across the page lighting his soul like a match and setting the pages afire.
    Though his flurry of words consumed him, he was still able to make out the girl in the armchair. He noticed how the silky fabric she wore covered all but her round face in such a beautiful manner it seemed as though she was a descendant of the gods. She whispered songs through her closed lips as she tapped her fingers lightly on the arm of the chair. Her soul was still, but so alive. He noticed the birthmark that reached itself up from her jawline and into her hair and savored the silvery mist of her breath as the fed him parts of her story to intertwine with his on the pages before him. Although he had shown himself to her through his eyes, she was much less willing to divulge the secrets that laid beneath her soft exterior.
    Many weeks had passed and neither of them had moved. Life had continued around the two but nobody dared to be the one to break the spell. The bartender opened and closed the shop every day, the customers handed over wrinkled dollar bills and frugally counted their last coins for the coffee that had gradually spilled itself into their DNA. Fights broke out on the streets, the little heat the building was able to maintain finally failed and the faithful bartender agonized over the missing pennies from the tip jar. The bird that had given him the utensil to create his masterpiece had long since flown out the door to seek some other soul in need of its service. Despite the turmoil and reality, the two remained frozen in their silent, desperate communication of love.
    The sun rose one morning and he stopped writing. Light came in through the window that had been chiseled out of the stone, creating a halo around the scarf she wore on her head. They exchanged their first spoken words and he stood up and stretched out his large hand. His skin was the color of the latest cup of coffee that had been put on the table in front of them and hers was the cream that sat in a small pitcher to the side. He helped her out of her seat and together they began to collect the millions of pages that had consumed their corner. The movement in the corner of the room drew eyes and eventually applause. The other patrons of the shop applauded like they never had before and flowers grew out of their fingertips.
    The words that had found their way onto his pages were, at their core, words of only love. He wrote an epic poem that rivaled the Iliad and the Oddessy, he wrote sonnets and songs and letters and plays. She composed a musical in her head to the tune of his quill scratching the paper and a symphony to the rhythm of their heartbeats. With so much love and so little time they took their small library and left.
    The weather had changed significantly since he first blew through the doors. The sun was shining and the grass was visible yet the air had a certain bite to it, like it knew they were coming to shake up the world. He took out keys from his pocket that had rusted and opened the passenger side to an old pickup truck to let her in. She climbed into the seat, her long dress trailing behind her. He sat down and started the truck which roared to life with a stutter. They creaked out of the parking lot and after centuries of anticipation they were on their way.
    She could see his reflection in the windshield as they drove on backroads through fields of sunflowers. His face was smooth and unwrinkled and he maneuvered the dense country roads with an ease she was unfamiliar with. He periodically glanced over at her, admiring the way her eyebrows never seemed to frown, how her eyes sang songs and her nose only held room for the scent of flowers. Her hands were folded in her lap but her mind stretched out and touched him. Brushing his shoulder with her thoughts, they turned onto a crowded street and into the first civilization they had seen for miles.
    Vendors sold every item imaginable from their booths on the sides of the street. Oranges, mangoes, guavas, apples and blueberries were all arranged nicely in the fruit vendor’s baskets. The fortune teller in her long robes called out to the pedestrians as she gazed through her thick round glasses into the crystal orb in front of her. The butcher had fresh meat of every kind hung from posts around him. Children played in the streets, none the wiser to the calls of their parents to watch out for the cars.
    The skin of the people was so white the sun was able to burn them through the clouds. They all laughed in unison, wrinkling the skin by their blue eyes and flushing their porcelain cheeks the faintest color of pink. There was one school in the village that stood on a lone hill visible in the distance. The teachers taught stagnant lessons to the impressionable children that bowed before them and blindly accepted their wisdom. They concocted curricula that held every student up to the uniform standards of the village, expecting nothing less than perfection from even those who's minds produced radio static in the presence of letters. 
    Despite the jovial atmosphere of the place there was a bite to the scene. The tailor sharpened his knife beneath the clothes he sewed and the florist grazed her pistol with every flower stem she plucked from her neatly organized baskets. The tea vendor over-brewed those drinks made from leaves with cyanide and arsenic as the coffee seller laced his beans with venom. Underneath the smiles of the passersby the people of the village simmered with dissatisfaction, greed and jealousy.
    He brought the car to a halt in front of a brick building. It was a while down the road from where they first came into the village and it reeked of loneliness. A singular sign had been placed above the entrance and it read the simple word, “Bookstore.” Pushing open the creaky door they proceeded inside. Step by step they gradually scattered portions of the library they had created. A poem here, a short story there, they gradually filled up the vacant building. By the time they were done, the shelves were overflowing with wonder and seeping with adventures of hope and magic. Aglow with promise, the two exited the building to walk among the people.
    As they wandered down the sidewalk she reached out her hand to those who stared at the scarf on her head and asked them to walk with her. He smiled and greeted those who retreated because of the radiance of his skin. They walked hand in hand with each other and the ones brave enough to join them. As they continued down the street they spread once again their stories of love. However, the ones they dispensed on the street were only temporary. When their audience applauded and their flowered fingers grasped their hands pleading for more, they directed them to the forgotten home they had just filled.
     And so the tailor put down his knife. The florist dismantled her pistol and the tea and coffee vendors threw away their poison. They all flocked to the home of the stories in anticipation for more of the love the two strangers had given them.
    The two journeyed back to their car and continued on their way. On and on they went, city to city, country to country. They took their library of love and cut out a piece for each destination. They traveled near, they traveled far, bringing their stories to the places that need them desperately and those happier ones that could possibly do without. After they left a community, the homeless, the damned, the whores and sinners of every kind found refuge in the arms of the condemners, the faithful, the successful, and the unblemished. Religions united and the unlikeliest of opposites attracted. No longer did people fire the bullets of their words at unsuspecting victims, or look in the mirror in disgust, because all they could see was them for who they really were: beautiful. Magazines did not distort reality but only relayed the truth. Love was not burned at the stake but rather cherished and prized in every single form it happened to take.
    Eventually there came a day when the boy and the girl had reached every part of the globe with their library. Everyone had breathed in the love they had to give and no one was left unaffected. Everyone had smelled the scent of their passion and tasted the truth of their words. So they returned to the coffee shop, and with their last breaths they sang a final song of the clicking of his shoes on the floor. He read the last poem of the scent of her smile and together they wrote a short story about their love. Gathering themselves together they sank into the newly born armchair where it all began and fell into a deep sleep until they would be needed again.