Love and Tattered Spines

I met the love of my life in a bookstore.

Though plain to most who would look her over, the depth of wisdom within her brought a beauty to her homely visage. She is quiet, yet brilliant.

Once you peel the layers away, you learn of the trauma she survived in her youth. The scarring of her abusive, unloving extended family – the people who were supposed to love her as their own.

“There is no use in holding a grudge.” She once taught me. “We are only responsible for how we conduct ourselves in spite of how others may treat us.”

She is my very own Helen.

“There is not much in this world I get to own, but my mind is solely mine and I will tend to that garden with unwavering conviction.” She is my heroine.

My ally in standing above the rooftop and defying the mountains in the distance to hold me back. Her strength of self inspires my own.

“It is not the horizon that scares me,” she kindly reminds me, “but my inability to reach it.”

How could such a feminist as she exist in a world where her kind was relegated to needlepoint and obedience? Minds left wasted while their counterparts ruled the world? And there she stood, at the crossroads among the heather, too true to herself to compromise by returning to those who would taint her for their own salvation. Forward. She always pushes forward.

“Enough of love?” She spat one day, untethered rage burning the calm fields of her heart. “Is there ever such a thing as enough of love?”

The abuse of those who would manipulate her into servitude. Prison. Enough of love, indeed. A selfish love to bastardize the word and all the beauty within. Twisted in a caustic game. Reviled.

She wore a blue cloth wrapped loosely around aging yellow pages. The letters on her cover faded. Her binding frayed along the edges. Just as you would expect of any who do not know her, she was placed out of sight among the broken bindings of forgotten masterpieces. A child’s numbering inscribed on her like a tattoo, devaluing the worth of who she was to those who could ever have a chance to meet her. She was a forgettable thing. Filler for my library of bed post notches. Something to own. Something to feel a need to excuse when eyes lingered too long on her tattered appearance.

And like any ungrateful lover, I left her to gather dust on a shelf until I felt she could serve me some purpose. Expecting little from the musty rough pages. When I held her in my hands that first time, there built a string, so tightly wound beneath my left rib and firmly connected to her own that should too much distance come between us, I fear that string might snap and I should result to bleeding internally.

“I have come to you,” she whispered, like pages turning in candlelight.

My Jane Eyre.

(Please note: I have egregiously paraphrased Mr. Rochester for the sake of this story and borrowed some direct dialogue from the book. I think Charlotte would forgive me.)

Photo Credit: Miranda L. Sober
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