My take on the Prompt-Love from last week’s Flash Fiction competition at Scribblers.
Aurora stepped into the library and began to peruse the aisle market Classics. In 2118, paper books were only found in libraries. She liked to feel them, and turn the pages, instead of swiping the arrows on her digital appliance. The old worldly smell of the books fascinated her, and as she flipped through the yellowed pages, she wondered how many pairs of eyes must have read the words printed on these ancient tomes.
The title of the book said Sonnets, rhyming words that sounded like a lullaby. One word kept re-appearing, love, something she had to find out about.
The robot librarian approached her and scanned the tablet in his hand. “Aurora Ellis, your preferences show you’re into sports and inter-galactic thrillers. You must be in the wrong section. I’ll guide you to your favourites, away from these dusty antiques.”
Aurora fluttered her eyelids. “I’m doing a research on this ancient concept called poetry.” She pulled out her tablet from her backpack and showed the robot her assignment, signed by her instructor, Mr Shelby.
The robot studied the validation and replied in his monotone electronic voice. “I see. If you need any more help, I’ll be around.”
Aurora took a deep breath and silently thanked Basil, her classmate, for hacking into the school system to create a false assignment.
Love was a word from her recurring dreams that had begun to haunt her. It wasn’t a concept learned at home or taught at school. Mr Shelby talked about the poets from ancient times and how they composed an arrangement of words in a certain rhythm. Musical, with a set measure, that somehow stayed in her memory, like the lyrics of songs she heard on old recordings.
Why was love so important then, and not so, now? What was the difference between like and love? Aurora liked her friends, her parents, the books she read, and the games she played with or without her classmates. Did she like them all the same? She decided some were stronger. She liked her parents more than those of her friends’, and her friend, Alma, more than the other girls. Basil was her favourite among the boys.
She scanned the shelves and found a book titled Famous Quotations, inside which there was a section called Quotations on Love. She took the book to a table and began to read.
“Soul meets soul on lovers’ lips. – Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Bound”
“We love the things we love for what they are. —Robert Frost, Hyla Brook ”
Aurora read for a couple of hours, trying to memorize the quotes and copying the longer ones onto her tablet. When she left the library, her head was full of love. Yet, she had to experience the warmth, the spark and the feelings the ancients talked about. Someone had said, “Love is the most profound human feeling.”
She ran to Basil’s house, and once inside his room, she quoted: “You are my North, my South, my East and West, my working week and my Sunday rest.” 1
“What, are you mad?” Basil said, rolling his eyes.
“I’m quoting from W.H. Auden.”
“You’ve been reading too much poetry. Get real!”
“I am real. I love you, Basil,” she said and planted a kiss on his cheek.
Basil pulled back and blushed. She could see the spark in his eyes and feel the warmth that spread throughout the room. Aurora giggled and rushed home.
Her mother met her at the door. “Where have you been, Aurora? You’re late.”
“I was at the Library, Mum. Reading.” Aurora wrapped her arms around her and whispered in her ear. “I love you, Mummy.” Her mother patted her back, lifted her chin, and looked into her eyes. Teardrops landed on Aurora’s face.
“I knew you’d find it, ” she said. “It’s our secret.”
Aurora experimented the power of love on her best friend, her pets, and on her father the following day. The results were the same. Sparks in their eyes, warmth and comfort. They shared her secret. She remembered a quote from The Little Prince. The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart. 2
No wonder the Leaders were trying to turn humans into robots. They were afraid of the power of love, but they didn’t know humans carried it in their hearts since the beginning of time, regardless of restrictions, and shared it only with the ones they loved. Shakespeare was right.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark… 3
Aurora dreamt of love at night and the quotes that would guide her throughout her life. The secret she would pass on to the next generations for the most profound feeling humans are capable of experiencing.
1 The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
2 W.H. Auden, “Stop All the Clocks”
3 Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare