Falling and Feedback
When a new patron at the library catches Tyler's sights, she doesn't expect the encounter to turn into much. But when she realizes that Josh Dubsky, a PhD student at the local university, is translating a poem from a prior civilization, she's even more intrigued.
As Tyler works with Josh to translate the poem and find references for a lost world, she also excavates her own history through her grandmother's stories about society, painting with black market materials, and her own synesthesia.
As the two start a romance, Tyler finds her world changing even more. When Josh's academic friends, his work schedule, and the weight of history becomes too much, Tyler closes her eyes and imagines a future that she pulls from the dark.
He was in the library again. At the back, with yet another book in front of him, completely absorbed by its pages. His personal music machine was on, but Tyler traced the headphones from his ears down to the disconnected jack by the player. The noise spilled out, uncontained, into the library. The other patrons walked by and looked at him as if their aggravation could be communicated through their sneered lips and eyes alone, that together, their faces of disappointment could transmit into a noise.
The man didn’t look up. As far as he was concerned, the music was inside his head and not all around.
So Tyler walked over to him.
“You’re leaking,” she said, pointing to the device. She saw the music in a wash of blue and green, a hue brighter than his eyes when he looked up.
“Oh. Sorry.” He reached down to hook up his jack again, then turned the music off. “I didn’t notice it.”
“No worries. Do you need help with anything?”
He leaned back and took his ear buds out. His expression said, Oh boy do I ever, but he remained silent. Tyler surveyed the poems on the page in front him. One poem was complete, but in another language she couldn’t comprehend, while the second one was only in bits and pieces. It was made of nothing but small words taped together and rearranged like a broken haiku or an ideograph painting.
“Do you need more paper?” Tyler asked. It was a rare resource, only given out to the professors at the school. But Tyler liked him. She knew he was a PhD student, sometimes lecturing in the large glass halls on the other side of the campus. She had seen him in his various collections of blue sweaters through the glass, light fracturing through the corners and creating rainbows as he spoke. The colours always made sounds to Tyler’s ears, so she half expected the strange man in her library to be a musician. She hoped the poem was secretly a song.
“That would be nice, actually.” He smiled. A soft dimple appeared and it reminded her of the caves on Pluto.
“Sure, I’ll be right back. What’s your name?” she asked, hoping to slip it in without him noticing. “So I can make sure you’re logged into our system and have free reign for resources?”
His eyebrows lifted. Pure joy―like being given the key to the city. The Tristero Library was hardly a labyrinth like Borges’ perfect vision, but it was clearly more than he had been expected to receive. Most grad students at the university were doing more work anyway, so Tyler figured he’d need the books far more than anyone who was teleconferencing their lesson plans.
“Josh. Josh Dubsky.”
His name appeared in front of her vision like the crackle of fire. Orangey red, but still nice. She smiled. “I’m Tyler. I’ll be back.”