It is absolutely terrifying when you know that a book is coming to an end. You sit there devouring the last taste of intimacy and yet dread the moment of parting. You see, parting is inevitable and simply cannot be avoided. Once the last word has been read, seasoned readers know that it is crucial to breathe before observing the full stop. The amateur – well – they just steam roll to the end and before they know it one foot has overstepped the cliff’s edge. They struggle to step back and regain their balance; usually they just crumble to the ground panting and wanting to grasp onto what they let go in haste mere seconds ago. That space between the last word and the final period is sacred: deserving full recognition and reflection upon the journey experienced, the knowledge acquired and the characters that kept you company. The seasoned reader knows that it takes but seconds to relive the adventure yet the impact lingers pass the closing of books many, many, many moons away.
The humour of this one tickles your funny bone, the inhumanity of people tear at your heartstrings, the vulnerability of being hurt by a loved one stings before becoming a dull, aching pain. They lived it and you’ve lived it – through them. You know their thoughts and their ambitions, the passion they have for deception and the lengths they’ll go to for revenge. You know it all. You relive it all in that space.
Once you leave that space and observe the inevitable, you are one book wiser. Seasoned readers know that that is a lot and of little consequence. Amateurs think that the world will change hue, when in fact, their perspective of the world is the only thing altered. But at the end of a book, you know more about a world you’ve never lived in. You know more about human nature though you understand it less and grow softer in your judgment of others. You come out reframing certain moments in your life and re-evaluating actions that you thought were strikes against you. You either chuckle or blush at your arrogance when you realise that it had nothing to do with you.
The emotional journey you took could only be matched by visualising the places and spaces that the novel delicately, subtlety and expertly depicted. You revel in the smells and scents of unfamiliar places. You know that you’ll know it if you ever got the chance to experience it in the real world. The textures and tastes of exotic and bland dishes cause you to salivate. It is of a different place and time and therefore, it is desirable. You want to be anywhere but here and if anywhere is there, so much the better.
Eventually, you look up and into the distance. You don’t want to witness the end as your hands close the book with a soft but final thud. The portal closes and you’re back were you were at the start but you are different. You’re one book different. You’re one book wiser. You’re one book older. You’re one book smarter. You’re one book different. You’re back at the start. This beginning is different. You lower your eyes to the closed book in your hands and smile an almost rueful smile. You’ve read through the night to battle the demons that haunt you once the sunsets and the moon rises: the morning beams struggle to penetrate the darkness. As you get up, you nearly stumble because while your mind was in another world, your leg went to sleep. As you wonder down the passage, you flick on the bathroom light and start running a bath. The water steams up the mirror, you decide what needs to change in your life and resolve to change it. Once the bath is run, you close the door and soak the night away – this dawn deserves a clean start.