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Stories

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Terminus sat on the floor of his small darkened room, a book of fairytales on his lap, his eyes eagerly scanning the page. It seemed like the story had sucked him into a different world and he had no desire to come out. It was not an unusual site in Fabula for a person to be so into a story, but it was very unusual for this thing to be happening in the small, cold house up the hill, secluded from the rest.

Here, no books or stories were ever welcome, but instead were thrown out of the house never to be seen again. It had been that way for many generations, and the tradition (as horrible as it was) continued.

It was in this unfortunate house that young terminus hid out in the corners of his room sneaking in books and devouring them with great pleasure. He feared the day when his mother would find out about the books, and prayed that day would never come.
“Terminus!” came a shrill voice from somewhere in the house, causing terminus to jump in surprise, taking him completely out of the fairytale world. “Come into the living room now!”

Thinking quickly he stashed the book under his pathetic excuse for a bed (a bunch of thin blankets bundled together), and straightened out, making sure his mother could find no evidence of him having a book or reading a book in her house.
“Terminus!” she yelled again, “I said come now! Obey me or pay a punishment!”

The scrawny little boy scrambled from his room and ran into the living room, knowing quite well about the severe punishment he could receive.

His mother stood by a bookshelf; empty of course, her hands on her hips, a menacing look on her ghastly pale face. Terminus knew it was her worst expression, and that he was sure to get into trouble.
“Mother,” he called out to her in a voice just barely over a whisper, shrinking under her threatening gaze.

She did not answer, but looked at him, which was probably worse. Her pupils bore into every single detail of Terminus’s face, as though she was looking for something she could not seem to find.
“What were you doing just now?” she asked in a voice that seemed so calm it could not have possible been more that just a question of concern.
“Nothing much mother,” Terminus answered nervously, racking his mind for some kind of an excuse.
“Nothing much?’ she asked in that same quietly calm voice that seemed to frighten him more than her yelling. “Nothing…forbidden?”

Terminus’s heart began to sink, but he still shook his head as truthfully as he could muster. His mother began to make circles around him. Finally she stopped, and turned to a drawer in the corner of the room. It was something that would come up unnoticeable had there been a guest in the house, but Terminus knew only to well that that was where his mother kept all her documents and anything else she found important.

Opening the drawer she pulled out, to Terminus complete horror, a book of fairytales.

Terminus let out a gasp. Even at the age of ten he knew that this was the end for him. The end of all those great days spent reading and daydreaming about a different life, a better life.

His mother did not burst out like he had expected. Instead she handed him the book, her mouth so thin you couldn’t see her lips. He didn’t take it, nothing of his body would move.
“Take the book,” she hissed, the word book like poison on her tongue, shoving it in his arms. Almost hypnotized, he grabbed hold of the book, looking down at its worn but still beautiful cover.
“Reading,” his mother began her dreaded speech, “when you knew that it was a disgrace in this family. Have you no shame for us all? What do you think you can get out of stories; real life lessons, money, food, shelter…? What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?”
Terminus stood still as his mother yelled out to him, but the last part he could not ignore. What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true? The thought raced through his head over and over again, but he could not find the answer. He had read so much, knew so much of distant worlds, but they all were not true.
“I am forbidding you out of the house Terminus. And if I ever catch another book in your possession again, then you will be kicked out of this family!” she went on to say, in quite an evil tone of voice.

Terminus looked down at the cover, the book still clutched in his small hands. With her long pointy fingers, his mother snatched the book out of his hands and threw it into the small burning fireplace, the only light in the house. What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?, raced through Terminus thoughts as he watched the pages slowly burn into ashes.




(loosely based on the idea form the book Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salmon Rushdie.)





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