Many Words, Many Worlds

She sits there reading, sucked into another world.

I watched her in the bookstore. I saw what spines she lovingly caressed and which she pulled out for further examination. I watched which she purchased, and which she sighed at in longing. And I knew that if I were to ever have a chance with her, we had to live in another world.

I was so scared. I had no other worlds to offer her. My imagination is linked to words on a page. I have never been able to make them myself. I have never been able to string together letters into words into sentences into whole worlds made of prose. But… but I saw the books she chose. And I knew that if maybe, maybe we loved the same worlds… would that be enough?

I broached the topic of books with her when we met in the fantasy aisle. She liked Gaiman. I preferred Pratchett. We laughed together. We ended up with coffee inside the store. We promised to meet again.

And we did.

And we read the same books. We found that yes, we loved the same worlds. Ness and Priest and Vance and so many others that we both knew. And I loved the worlds she loved. Eddings and Card and Weeks… Her worlds were… they were marvelous. The way she lit up when she talked about them. The way she looked when she read beside me at the coffee shop. The bend of her neck, the faint smile if it was any good, no matter the subject.

And then she opened up more worlds to me. She sent me PDF’s of the stories she had tried to publish. And I fell in love with each one.

And somehow, even though I offered her no worlds of my own, even though my words would never string together moons and barbarians and spells and spaceships, somehow… I was world enough for her. I do not know how. She brought me universes; I brought her coffee. But somehow, it was enough.

That was seven years ago, and now she sits, reading a world I purchased for her from the bookstore. And here I am, proofing her latest world.

I’m not sure which of us trapped which, but I am delighted by my prison. And if one day the worlds that spring from her fingertips stop, I will be contented with the worlds in her eyes. And if those worlds close to me, I will love her still.

She is worlds enough for me.

And somehow, somehow, I have become worlds enough for her.

And that, that is beyond anything I ever could have imagined on any world.

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