The Rainy Library

In the rainy library, anyone can find a book about herself.

I remember huddling in warm drizzle in the atrium, looking up over eight stories of sagging shelves and waterlogged stacks of books, to the clouds bumping against the ceiling.

I’d printed out online instructions. They led me to muddy side corridors that kept splitting at sharp angles, each new hallway decorated like a different culture and era.

I squelched upstairs and downstairs and up again.

I rode a horizontal elevator, and crossed catwalks over book vaults.

The windows showed a mirror-surfaced lake, a living city whose windows were eyes, and a mountainous sky bristling with the glossy black fur of some planet-sized creature.

In the final room, an orb-headed mannequin posed by an enormous rose-window.

I joined the mannequin at the glass.

We looked out at darkness that seemed both flat and vast.

But wherever my glance landed, the darkness softened—not becoming light, so much as giving way to a whiteness that wasn’t really white, but a color I’d never seen before.

And this color grew vast curves and crosshatched shadows, spiraling open like the furled layers of an antimatter rose.

Unwhite petals swirled out, larger than the sky.

And inside the rose? At its center?

A gigantic golden eye tracking from side to side.

My eye—

Reading me.

The mannequin shifted and gasped.

Now she looked exactly like me.

She turned in my direction.

We spoke at the same time.

We stopped.

We leaned toward each other.

I gazed deep into my own apprehensive eyes.

I began to read.