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Stories in the Library: The Carter Family Part 2

When June Carter’s vision cleared she stood in a vast room, though its walls were obstructed from view by thick growth and rushing water and its ceilings disappeared into shadows.  The murky pasteurized taste of the drink from the misshapen wine bottle dominated her senses; she scrapped her tongue against her teeth and solidified bits of it came free.

“All here?” she asked. None of her children responded.  The sisters had their heads tilted back and were pointing out to each others things hidden in the shadows on the ceiling.  “There!,” one shouted, “Look at the monkey. He’s wearing a hat!”  The other sister giggled and searched for something even more amusing than a monkey wearing a hat.  The brother was inspecting the wall composed of huge white flowers, dark green leaves, and the bluish-gray of water over rock.  Rather than being vertical, the wall came down at a sharp incline with ledges and jut-outs providing texture.  The water ran down in several clear-cut paths surrounded uniformly by vegetation.

Mrs. Carter joined her children in inspecting the room.  They stood at the head of a path leading deep into thick ground vegetation.  The path split almost immediately so that she could only see in a few feet.  The room was dark but the over-saturation of green made it easy to see detail and color.  To her right at the head of the pathway stood a sign with “THIS WEEK IN THE LIBRARY: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness” in purple lettering.  Mrs. Carter smiled and called to her children, “This is a highly significant book that in someways marked the beginnings of modernism.  Oh, I love what they did with the place! It’s so pretty.”


A blood-curling scream echoed in the room.  Mrs. Carter tensed and reached for her children.  The youngest of the sisters and the brother clung to their mother crying and the oldest sister held on to her younger sister.  “It’s alright, loves.  Probably just part of the ambiance. I suppose Heart of Darkness is a bit more complex than can be captured with just sight.  We’ll go through it quickly, okay?  Come along.”

The family set off into the jungle.  The two youngest children stayed close to their mother who kept tripping over them.  The oldest child led the way with clinched fists and on tip-toes.  She choose to go right at the split.  On either side, thick growth surrounded them.  The mother felt claustrophobic but talked brightly about how she spotted at least fifty shades of green.  After five minutes, the path met up with a miniature river that cut through the room.  A boat awaited them.  The Carter family piled into the boat.  Once they were all sitting, the current of the river pushed them along quickly downstream. Another scream pierced the air. The children huddled anxiously, wanting both to be the closest to their mother and the furthest from the edge of the boat.

The oldest child lunged suddenly to point out a brightly colored hennaed elephant in the green.  The boat rocked dangerously, but the children now settled down and began happily looking for hidden objects on the bank: a two headed snake, beautifully crafted sculptures made from ivory, gold ornaments hanging from trees.

And suddenly they stopped.  They reached the far wall of the room.  An awning over a door interpreted the flow of water and growth of vines.  Before going through it, the Carter family turned to survey the room.  The mother commented, “They outdid themselves this week.”  And the children are talking of the fantastic creatures they saw on the ride.


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This entry was posted on June 18, 2012 by in Novellas in the Library and tagged , , , , , , .
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