We enter on the balcony. The room opens below us and before us–a jewel of a library. This second-floor balcony encircles the chamber below–crowning the library with softly glowing wooden shelves filled with cloth-bound books. A spiral staircase leads down to the floor below. The chamber is empty. I imagine grieving Armand Gamache with his dog at his feet, reading, wondering, remembering.
Later our guide tells us that Charles Dickens and Mark Twain both spoke here. I pause, struck by the notion that I am breathing the same molecules of air as they did, standing on these old wooden floors, surrounded by books. Molecules don’t die, do they? Surely the answer to that question lies within one of these books, but instead of researching, I breathe deeply, capturing the molecules and holding them deep in my core, sharing a moment with Dickens and Twain and Inspector Gamache.
Oh, Molly, I’d forgotten about Dickens and Twain. Thank you for reminding me of our trip and this first site where we met the prisoners and the library’s patrons.