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Every adventure came to a close, however, or at least a pause. The characters in the books knew that, and so did he.

It seemed like this year his own adventures were coming to their pausing or ending moments, no, never the end, always just a pause. He could never let his story have an ending. The lions and tigers could never be cats, and the pterodactyls could never be birds. Reality throbbed in the back of his brain, reaching weak childish hands to grasp him, but he still shook free. For now.

Summer was taking its time arriving. The buds on the trees, and the seeds in the ground were only starting to burst forward now, and it was already halfway through Spring. The leaves on the palms were larger than he'd ever seen, and drooped almost low enough to touch on the top floor deck. Aunt Nina was thinking of trimming them she'd said, but he convinced her not to, at least not until he got to see. That's why he was in the car on the way to the house with her at that very moment.

Elliot turned his head to stare out the window, at the memorized plains, the long stretch of field and ocassional horse or cow. He watched the sky change from the smog of the city into a grand tapestry of blues and whites.

Beside him, he heard Nina coughing and inhaling sharply, and a strange feeling squeezed at his stomach.

"Aunt Nina?" He mumbled, looking up at her eyes, now dulled from age, to her white knuckles clutching at the steering wheel, and finally at her fading blonde hair that was slowly being taken away by the grays. "Are you alright?"

The car gagged and choked as it came to a stop in the driveway and Aunt Nina gave a sigh that sounded almost like the coughing engine. She turned to the side and faced him, every feature of her face aged more than he'd ever noticed. "Elliot..." She hesitated, and then placed a single kiss to his forehead, like she was too scared to tell him what she'd wanted. She patted both his hands before putting her back to him and climbing out of the car, her coat pocket jingling where all her keys were. "My dear Elliot."

Confused at her sudden pause, Elliot followed close behind, glasses slipping down his nose, and book held firmly underarm. "Aunt Nina.." He said again. "Are you sick? You've been coughing." He placed a hand firmly on his hip and stamped both feet on the first step of the property. "Don't try to avoid my questioning, Aunt Nina."

The woman continued to struggle with unlocking the front door, and avoiding his questions. She finally succeeded and pushed the door open, shuffling indoors. "Elliot my dear boy. I promise I will tell you everything. Later, alright? I have a surprise for you right now." That was the end of the conversation, as she saw it. "Come sit."

His interest perked, Elliot allowed her to dismiss his questioning and prying, and headed inside. After he shed his coat and shoes, he settled on the couch beside her, doing his very best to ignore how different she looked.

How long had it been since he had taken the time to look at her? It seemed to him that it had just been one blink, a very long blink, because he remembered looking at her what felt like a second ago, and she'd been a young, energetic woman running about here or there. Now all of a sudden she was older. She was different.

Nina took a parcel out of a small bag beside the sofa, and placed it on his lap. The wrapping paper was cheap, simple, and was sloppily put on, much like it usually was when she got him gifts. His name was scribbled on a small card taped to the paper. Tt didn't say what the gift was for, or who it was from, but he didn't need to know.

Elliot tore into the paper with eager hands. It shredded easily and he left it to fall to the floor by his feet. The paper had been hiding a box, and that was quickly discarded as well as he slid open the flaps on the side and emptied its contents. Two large books spilled out from the box and onto the couch. The first was black and leather bound, no title or author written and the other featuring a sort of forest design, thick trees had been painted onto the cover, and the title was scribbled over them. It was from his favorite author, one of her older works. . He lifted his head and gave his Aunt a queer look, brow raised up. "Thank you for this.." He said, gesturing to the book he was already impatient to tear into. "But what is this?" The this he was referring to, was the other book, the one he didn't recognize, which lacked a title and author.

Nina's eyes almost lit up again as she opened the book to show off its bare, virgin pages. "This is for your story, Elliot. The one not on pages yet. The one you have to write."

"You mean a diary?"

"No! Diaries are so silly, Elliot, child... no, I don't suppose you are anymore are you? You've grown into such a fine young man.. This is not a diary. This is for your story! The world wants to meet the hero, Elliot, they want to meet his antagonists, his best friends, his family.. they need to see where he visits, and read about what happens to him. And the best person to tell them, is you." She nodded her head approvingly, and opened her arms to hug her nephew as tightly as her thin arms could.

"Thank you very much." He wrapped his arms around her frame and shut his eyes tight, his lashes brushing his cheeks, to try and keep his eyes from welling up. "You're going to be okay, Aunt Nina... right?"

It was those kinds of questions she always hated, but he had to ask them. Bad things always happened if a character in a book asked them, and he usually ended up crying because of it, but it was okay, because he could close his book, he could stop reading, and it would go away. He knew in reality however, when bad things happened, there was no way to make them go away. There was no book to close to stop the story from progressing.

That was thing about reality. It kept going even if no one was paying attention. The world would change and the people changed with it, whether he or anyone else noticed or not. Everything he used to know had changed. The trees grew larger, the ocean seemed to get bigger, and even Aunt Nina was not the same, and neither was he.

"My dear Elliot.. I never wanted this day to come. I always wanted you to live as I had, with your head so far in the clouds you would never have to come back down. But i've got to tell you. You'll be so unprepared, and I promised your mother that you would never end up like that."

"I don't understand." He gulped, clutching ever tighter to the woman.

"Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end... Mine has reached its end."

He sucked in a breath of air and choked over it, vision in his celeste blue eyes blurring over when tears spilled down his cheeks, soaking his lashes and skin. "You.. c-can't.. l..leave.." he stated with a tiny shudder coming up from his chest, where his heart began to ache. "You're my favorite character..."

"Thank you." She said, and he could hear her smile through her words, but it did not ease his heartache any. "I want you to go into my office. Behind the old and worn copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, there is a box, take it. Do not open it until I have passed on. It will help you more than I can, unfortunately. You see, when two people who live with their noses in books live together.."

"...They tend to run into each other!" Elliot finished in a half sob. He still remembered the silly phrase from when he was a little boy, but the joke didn't lighten the mood, if that was what his aunt had hoped for. He felt so miserable.

"I love you very much, dear Elliot." She cradled him to her bosom and began to pet his hair back, brushing it out of his face, her fingers lulling him to a calm state. He was beginning to fall asleep, his lids were heavy, and the last of his tears were drying. He was barely able to mumble his returned affection for her as he drifted off further into his dreamland.

Usually his dreams were what saved him. They took him away, comforted him. They stopped things from bothering him. He could so easily drift away and stay there. It didn't work this time, not at all. His dreams were filled with horrible scenes. It was almost like he was constantly in a run through of Macbeth, and everywhere he looked, he saw death. Closing his eyes haunted him. Reality was clawing at his chest, and his dreams, his once saviors, were prying the flesh from his spine. At times he could honestly feel the pain of those claws, or the ache of his chest.

Once Summer arrived, and the flowers were full bloom, tree leaves trimmed and back up into the air not on the deck, and suddenly life was busy, Elliot's mind wandered. He lost track of the days, and the hours. He forgot about the worries he'd had before, forgot about almost everything that'd been going on before. It was one of the charms of Summer, one could forget anything and everything they wanted when the warmth of the sun was upon them, and color was everywhere from the lively Spring that'd just passed.

So when it happened, when the inevitable day he'd tried to stop actually came, he was caught so off guard he was sent reeling.

It happened on the fourteenth of June, shortly after breakfast. Nina hugged him and told him she was going to curl up with a good book. "We can get pizza for supper tonight. I am feeling lazy." She said. They shared a laugh and then she disappeared into her bedroom, the door clicking shut behind her.

He found her just like she said. A book was cradled on her lap, its bindings worn, and lettering faded, its pages yellow and ripped in places. He could see a few of its pages littered on the floor. Nina's eyes were closed, and her soft grays brushed over her cheeks, stirring gently from the open window. She looked so perfect, so peaceful, like she was asleep, or lost in thought from the world the book had opened up to her.

Elliot had knelt down in front of her and lifted the book from her cold hands, turning it over to read the faded gold print on the cover. A Midsummer Night's Dream. He'd carefully slid the pages back in their places, and tucked the book underneath his arm. "I hope you're having fun on your new adventure, Nina."

Aunt Nina was buried the way she'd always wanted; with her favorite books alongside her. All except for one. Elliot couldn't part with the copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream. He kept it with him at all times. It was like the book had a part of her with it, and if it was near, so was she.

Saying goodbye to Aunt Nina was harder than he'd thought. When the casket was closed and lowered into the ground, he felt the tears stream down his face and soak the collar of his shirt. Words slipped out of his mouth, and jumbled together in a mess of a sentence to the woman who wouldn't hear him anyways.

However much it hurt to say goodbye to Nina, it was ten times that to walk back up the rocky pave to the Summer house again. His hands shook when he took the keys out and shoved the old silver one into the lock.

The house felt so much colder now. Its glamour coat had been shed and now all it was, was an empty shell, made of wood and brick, that held his memories. It was no longer a castle, just a house. A cold, empty house.
Summary: Elliot Davenport spends his every moment with a book in his face, and his head in the clouds, paying no mind to reality. But there will come a time when he will have to put the books away, and take a step into the world he thought was boring, into a world he thought he knew, only to discover he knew nothing about it at all.

here at fictionpress: [link]
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March 14, 2012
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