The Last Book
by Guanani Gomez
The book had first been captured by my great-great-grandmother, back when ink life was common in the forests behind our estate. It had been kept in a large silver cage and passed down through the generations, a magnificent specimen for all children and guests to behold. As the forests were cut down and drained of their ink to draw more useful things like new factories and apartments, the wild books slowly died out, poached by literary hunters and purchased by ink collectors. Our family's book became the last of its kind, at least that anyone knew of.
As a young child I would lay on the carpet of our mansion's empty library, watching the book for hours as it flapped its dog-eared pages, or sometimes banged against the bars of the cage over and over again.
"Can we let it go?" I asked my mother once, tugging on her velvet skirts one evening as we all circled around to watch the last book in its cage.
"Heavens, no," she said, touching a fine white glove to her chest. "If we let it free, it would lose its ink and die. That book is the last of its kind. Imagine how valuable it will be when you grow up!" she tussled my hair. Giggling, I climbed into her lap. Later I learned that my mother had put things nicely for my sake. The book wouldn't "lose its ink" as she had said: the ink would be sucked out of it by some greedy merchant to sell on the black market, where all the rarest and strongest reality inks were traded.