I must say, in spite of my reservations, it has been a thrill to teach Thalia. Her progress in these last few months has been incredible, and there is something utterly fresh and fascinating about watching a new Voice just beginning to take shape. Flourishing indeed. She can already form basic sentences and her style is deliberately blunt. She chooses her words sparingly, tactfully, just as she chooses only the healthiest vegetables when picking in our gardens. Not that we have had any healthy vegetables lately. The park is a poor substitute for farmland, and it has only gotten worse, but since most of the farmland on the island is scorched and irradiated, we have no choice. Due to the weak harvest, I’ve sent the Grant brothers to Aley Green to see if the community there has had any more luck than ours. We have little to offer them, apart from our collection and our weapons, but none of the refugees at Aley Green can read, and I refuse to offer up our Voices to be used as sanitary paper. We will have to trade one of our crossbows if there is anything worth trading for. I expect them to return tomorrow, but I dare not hope for good news to accompany them.
I find myself afraid to write new journal entries, and I am not entirely sure why. Perhaps it’s the limited ink supply weighing on my mind, promising an end to my Voice just as surely as my raw and failing lungs or my stuttering heart. The ink is pre-War, and I doubt another bottle like it exists on the island. Perhaps it’s also the fear that the next time I pick up my quill, the words will not shape the same. I wonder if my Voice is a fluke. I feel it changing day by day. It’s a rare day when I feel the courage to test my Voice on the page.
Instead of writing, I have been devouring and redevouring Thalia’s book, Something Wicked This Way Comes. I will never know the full scope of Bradbury’s vision, but as far as incomplete beginnings go, this one is almost disturbingly appropriate. Two boys, Will and Jim, hiding from some phantom force, take refuge in the library where Will’s father works. There is mention of a carnival. Autumn people, whatever they are. The story is beyond my reach, scattered across the land, but there is more than enough sustenance in Bradbury’s loving rendition of the library and the eerie parallels to my own life. Like me, the boys fled the night of their world to ‘that warmer book-breathing night inside.’ Given a choice of darknesses, this one is the better. It is a night for echoes and bitter sweetness, and though the shelves are full of pain and human terror, they also stand as living proof of immortality. If only our ancestors had known that the secret to eternal life could be found in a library.
In the book, Will’s father contemplates the meaning of love. He realizes that love is common cause, experience shared. This brought about a realization of my own. The Voices of the library have not only shared their experiences with me, they have taught them to me. My fingers have never burned with the hot string of a kite slipping through my hands. I have never seen a train or smelled calliope steam. I know these experiences only through the Voices of the past, but they are generous. They share. And for that, I love them. I have never thought to apply the word to a book before. I have never thought to love anything. It has happened just the same. I must remember to thank Thalia. This book is a treasure, even wounded as it is.
– Mr. Gordon continues to impress me with his entries. His analysis of Bradbury’s work is excellent and appropriate, and has changed the way I view the book myself. His fascination with Voices intrigues me. I wonder what he would think of my Voice. It’s a shame this is the only record of Julius Gordon’s Voice. I can only imagine the things he might have written, given the time.