Chapter no 10 – Midnight Library

The Midnight Library

As she spoke, Mrs Elm’s eyes came alive, twinkling like puddles in moonlight.

‘Between life and death there is a library,’ she said. ‘And within that library, the shelves go on for ever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be dierent if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything dierent, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?’

‘So, I am dead?’ Nora asked.

Mrs Elm shook her head. ‘No. Listen carefully. Between life and death.’ She gestured vaguely along the aisle, towards the distance. ‘Death is outside.’

‘Well, I should go there. Because I want to die.’ Nora began walking. But Mrs Elm shook her head. ‘at isn’t how death works.’

‘Why not?’

‘You don’t go to death. Death comes to you.’

Even death was something Nora couldn’t do properly, it seemed.

It was a familiar feeling. is feeling of being incomplete in just about every sense. An unfinished jigsaw of a human. Incomplete living and incomplete dying.

‘So why am I not dead? Why has death not come to me? I gave it an open invitation. I’d wanted to die. But here I am, still existing. I am still aware of things.’

‘Well, if it’s any comfort, you are very possibly about to die. People who pass by the library usually don’t stay long, one way or the other.’

When she thought about it – and increasingly she had been thinking about it – Nora was only able to think of herself in terms of the things she

wasn’t. e things she hadn’t been able to become. And there really were quite a lot of things she hadn’t become. e regrets which were on permanent repeat in her mind. I haven’t become an Olympic swimmer. I haven’t become a glaciologist. I haven’t become Dan’s wife. I haven’t become a mother. I haven’t become the lead singer of e Labyrinths. I haven’t managed to become a truly good or truly happy person. I haven’t managed to look aer Voltaire. And now, last of all, she hadn’t even managed to become dead. It was pathetic really, the amount of possibilities she had squandered.

‘While the Midnight Library stands, Nora, you will be preserved from death. Now, you have to decide how you want to live.’

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