The old librarian was down there alone for hours in dim light stuffed with lazy, floating dust motes that filtered through neglected windows. It settled on everything, sealing the words inside the books beneath another layer of obscurity.
The silence held all the ancient words no longer in use.
Journals, scrolls, and the books bound in leather and skin, written in inks of indigo, black, and blood, sleep side by side waiting for a scholar’s eager hand to pluck them from the gloom as the old librarian walks the aisles as slowly as the drifting dust. The slow rub of his his rags, intended to beat back the dust and grime that claimed the place a long time ago merely smeared it about and spread it across the shelf spans.
But to his fading vision the shelves were newly made and gleaming, and his off-key humming grew more in tune as he went about preparing places for absent visitors.
He did not know what else to do, and had nowhere else to go, and lived too long.
The ways of the folk that once needed him hardened and died, like winter corn left in the field.
He mourned their passing, even as he knew his years of knowledge of the books, of their ways, and even their secrets, had endeared him to their little town.
He mourned them but didn’t miss them, for knowledge had evolved and they had not.
And in the end, when his body could no longer do the work, he went to a hidden room in the back that had a solitary desk with a book on it, bound in faded black leather with elegant, flaking, gold etched letters that read:
Tell Me Your Story.
So he closed his eyes and opened his mind, and as he let the memories in, the words of his story filled page after page…